Good starting set of studio lights for Nikon D100

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Axinar, Jul 13, 2004.

  1. Axinar

    Axinar Guest

    Hi, all ...

    Well, with my extended family having firmly announced that they are
    much more impressed with the pics I have taken with my trusty Nikon
    D100 than the professional pictures that they paid through the nose
    for, I have decided that it is time to do something more "serious"
    about lighting for portrait work.

    Question ... can anyone make any good recommendations for a good
    "starting" studio lighting set?

    What specific lights/stands would you recommend and what do I need in
    terms of control hardware and metering equipment?

    Thanks!

    Ax
    Axinar, Jul 13, 2004
    #1
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  2. Axinar

    Charlie Self Guest

    axinar asks:

    >
    >Well, with my extended family having firmly announced that they are
    >much more impressed with the pics I have taken with my trusty Nikon
    >D100 than the professional pictures that they paid through the nose
    >for, I have decided that it is time to do something more "serious"
    >about lighting for portrait work.
    >
    >Question ... can anyone make any good recommendations for a good
    >"starting" studio lighting set?
    >
    >What specific lights/stands would you recommend and what do I need in
    >terms of control hardware and metering equipment?


    If I were doing a start-up now (I'd be using a Pentax *ist D instead of the
    Nikon), I'd go for two small Alien Bee lights, get umbreallas for them, and
    good stands. Check the site, www.alienbees.com, for specifics. If you do a lot
    of larger groups, bump the lights up the the B800 models.

    Metering gear? You're digital. Set it up, experiment until it's right, and keep
    that setting. The PC cord included with the lights should do all you need. One
    light will trigger the other. After that, it's a matter of experimenting some
    more, until you've got reasonable placement for particular situations. When
    metering seems essential, I use a little Sekonic Flashmate, L-308B.

    You should quickly learn the best settings for various distances from the
    lights to the subject, with or without a meter.

    Enjoy.
    Charlie Self
    "Conservative, n: A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as
    distinguished from the Liberal who wishes to replace them with others." Ambrose
    Bierce
    Charlie Self, Jul 13, 2004
    #2
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  3. Axinar

    Crownfield Guest

    Axinar wrote:
    >
    > Hi, all ...
    >
    > Well, with my extended family having firmly announced that they are
    > much more impressed with the pics I have taken with my trusty Nikon
    > D100 than the professional pictures that they paid through the nose
    > for, I have decided that it is time to do something more "serious"
    > about lighting for portrait work.
    >
    > Question ... can anyone make any good recommendations for a good
    > "starting" studio lighting set?
    >
    > What specific lights/stands would you recommend and what do I need in
    > terms of control hardware and metering equipment?


    look at white lightning and alien bees.

    I have 5 heads from white lightning.
    no problems with any of the equipment that I got.

    for most people, 400 or 800 ws is probably enough.

    the stands seem all right, but I got manfrotto.
    theirs may be manfrotto too.

    their caster wheels fit manfrotto and are far better quality.
    their customer service has been responsive except in one case.

    they have some nice 22" reflectors.
    the only problem is that they are not white, but cream colored.
    they do not mix with other reflectors well.

    several calls have gotten no logical answer.
    I really should try one more time.


    >
    > Thanks!
    >
    > Ax
    Crownfield, Jul 13, 2004
    #3
  4. Axinar

    Ron Guest

    go to www.calumetphoto.com and look at their travelite kits- great
    monolights with stands,umbrella,etc- built well and not expensive
    "Axinar" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Hi, all ...
    >
    > Well, with my extended family having firmly announced that they are
    > much more impressed with the pics I have taken with my trusty Nikon
    > D100 than the professional pictures that they paid through the nose
    > for, I have decided that it is time to do something more "serious"
    > about lighting for portrait work.
    >
    > Question ... can anyone make any good recommendations for a good
    > "starting" studio lighting set?
    >
    > What specific lights/stands would you recommend and what do I need in
    > terms of control hardware and metering equipment?
    >
    > Thanks!
    >
    > Ax
    Ron, Jul 14, 2004
    #4
  5. Axinar

    Crownfield Guest

    Ron wrote:
    >
    > go to www.calumetphoto.com and look at their travelite kits- great
    > monolights with stands,umbrella,etc- built well and not expensive



    one advantage of the white lightning lights
    is the 32:1 power reduction range.

    I also elect to use booms on the stands almost all the time.
    they allow positioning the lights everywhere.


    > "Axinar" <> wrote in message
    > news:...
    > > Hi, all ...
    > >
    > > Well, with my extended family having firmly announced that they are
    > > much more impressed with the pics I have taken with my trusty Nikon
    > > D100 than the professional pictures that they paid through the nose
    > > for, I have decided that it is time to do something more "serious"
    > > about lighting for portrait work.
    > >
    > > Question ... can anyone make any good recommendations for a good
    > > "starting" studio lighting set?
    > >
    > > What specific lights/stands would you recommend and what do I need in
    > > terms of control hardware and metering equipment?
    > >
    > > Thanks!
    > >
    > > Ax
    Crownfield, Jul 14, 2004
    #5
  6. (Axinar) writes:

    > Well, with my extended family having firmly announced that they are
    > much more impressed with the pics I have taken with my trusty Nikon
    > D100 than the professional pictures that they paid through the nose
    > for, I have decided that it is time to do something more "serious"
    > about lighting for portrait work.
    >
    > Question ... can anyone make any good recommendations for a good
    > "starting" studio lighting set?


    One possible choice is a couple of White Lightning monolights, a
    softbox, and suitable stands. You'd probably want some additional
    reflectors and stands to work with that.

    Flash is handy for people; less hot, and will freeze little motions
    for you.

    > What specific lights/stands would you recommend and what do I need in
    > terms of control hardware and metering equipment?


    Don't waste money on a flash meter. They're great, wonderful tools,
    glad I have one -- but I haven't used it since I went digital. You
    get a *lot* more information from the histogram display than you do
    from any meter.

    Okay, if you get serious enough you may one day want a flash meter;
    still useful for measuring lighting ratios and such (though you can do
    that through a digital camera too, with a little work). But don't put
    it on your must-have list right away, anyway.
    --
    David Dyer-Bennet, <mailto:>, <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/>
    RKBA: <http://noguns-nomoney.com/> <http://www.dd-b.net/carry/>
    Pics: <http://dd-b.lighthunters.net/> <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/>
    Dragaera/Steven Brust: <http://dragaera.info/>
    David Dyer-Bennet, Jul 14, 2004
    #6
  7. Axinar

    Ivan Guest

    I have decided that it is time to do something more "serious"
    > > about lighting for portrait work.
    > >
    > > Question ... can anyone make any good recommendations for a good
    > > "starting" studio lighting set?

    >
    > One possible choice is a couple of White Lightning monolights, a
    > softbox, and suitable stands. You'd probably want some additional
    > reflectors and stands to work with that.
    > > What specific lights/stands would you recommend and what do I need in
    > > terms of control hardware and metering equipment?

    >
    > Don't waste money on a flash meter. They're great, wonderful tools,
    > glad I have one -- but I haven't used it since I went digital. You
    > get a *lot* more information from the histogram display than you do
    > from any meter.


    I must concur with the suggestions of White Lightening. I bought three of
    those WL10,000 tin can monolites some 15 years ago. Also a WL1800 with a
    large soft box. These have never failed me yet. Not having used extreme
    professional flashes yet, I can't testify as to how WL measures up to them.
    I'm sure they lack some of the finess, but I can't really compare. All I
    know is that for family and friend's events they excell!! If you're digital
    then all the better....experiment and take notes. You'll love the
    versatility of mono lights. WL has some barn doors and honeycome grids that
    are kinda fun to play with too. I've made all sorts of my own attachments
    using foam core and velcro. Look for a cheap muslin back drop large enough
    for groups, plus a couple complimentry smaller canvases for portraits. Have
    fun!!! and show us some samples!!
    Ivan, Jul 14, 2004
    #7
  8. Axinar

    Skip M Guest

    "Axinar" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Hi, all ...
    >
    > Well, with my extended family having firmly announced that they are
    > much more impressed with the pics I have taken with my trusty Nikon
    > D100 than the professional pictures that they paid through the nose
    > for, I have decided that it is time to do something more "serious"
    > about lighting for portrait work.
    >
    > Question ... can anyone make any good recommendations for a good
    > "starting" studio lighting set?
    >
    > What specific lights/stands would you recommend and what do I need in
    > terms of control hardware and metering equipment?
    >
    > Thanks!
    >
    > Ax


    Well, I faced pretty much the same quandary until this weekend. I picked up
    2 JTL Mobilights, 300w/s heads that run on both AC and DC, so they are
    portable. The packs are good only for 100 full power flashes, and I'm
    hoping that I did the right thing, they were much cheaper than the other
    portable battery pack lights, coming in at under $700 for the pair, with
    stands, PC cords, 1 umbrella, 1 reflector and two battery packs. And two
    "car cords" so I can run them off of the car battery. As if...
    I also picked up a Sekonic L-358 flashmeter, about $250 from B&H, I thought
    it gave me a little more flexibility than the 308, and seemed easier to use.
    It also can use "PocketWizard" radio transmitters to fire flashes, so a PC
    cord isn't always needed. But at $150-$350 for the transmitters,
    transceivers and receivers, that will have to wait. The transmitter for the
    meter, though, was on special for $25 if you buy it with the meter. I've
    been working with photofloods for the last 15 years, so this is a bit of a
    leap for me.

    --
    Skip Middleton
    http://www.shadowcatcherimagery.com
    Skip M, Jul 14, 2004
    #8
  9. Axinar

    zeitgeist Guest


    >
    > Well, with my extended family having firmly announced that they are
    > much more impressed with the pics I have taken with my trusty Nikon
    > D100 than the professional pictures that they paid through the nose
    > for, I have decided that it is time to do something more "serious"
    > about lighting for portrait work.
    >
    > Question ... can anyone make any good recommendations for a good
    > "starting" studio lighting set?
    >
    > What specific lights/stands would you recommend and what do I need in
    > terms of control hardware and metering equipment?
    >


    my standing recommendation is that you start with one head and learn to
    light and get a printable image with detail in the HIGHLIGHTS as well as the
    shadows, before adding on other lights, especially fill lights. I emphasis
    highlights cause people look at their results and think the harsh lighting
    is a problem cause the shadows are dark/black they tend to skip, ignore,
    don't even see that the main problem is with the highlight.

    I like to point out that lights don't make shadows, (they were already
    there) lights only make highlights.

    The problem that studio lighting starts out with is that it is the complete
    opposite of all the natural lighting we like best. The most favored light
    is twilight, that's when people come out of their caves, or air-conditioned
    homes and sit on the porch, great neighbors, kids play on the streets,
    people feel comfortable, and they look lovely, their skin glows and the hair
    is a halo. They are lit by a huge softbox, the whole semi directional open
    sky. Other lighting we like is the soft semi directional light from
    overhangs, porches, trees, then huge windows. all light from a large arc,
    90's to 180'

    photogs have been using a point light source, first they used spot lights to
    collect, condense and focus every bit of energy they could aim at the
    smallest area they could throw it at, they used slow film in big cameras and
    tungsten lighting wasn't the most energy efficient, there was not such thing
    as fire proof fabrics. as film got faster, they used metal bowl
    reflectors, and instead of placing a 12 inch light about 18 to 24 inches
    from the face they placed the 18 to 24 inch bowl about 3 feet. Then they
    invented flash and started using umbrellas, the greatest advance in the
    60's. and they set up the 36inch brollie about 6 feet away with that
    powerful 100ws powerpack.

    the short answer is, you don't need to buy a kit, those thing are based on
    60's concepts of lighting. take one good head and shoot through a large
    scrim, basically you want a light source twice as big as your subject, or
    bounce off a sidewall, with a reflector to kiss a bit of light back. You
    can do this with a shoe flash that you can swivel and bounce.

    recommends, a decent solid tripod, one good flashhead, a reflector (sheet of
    styro insulation panel striped of the blue plastic) and a good background.

    worst thing, buy a kit and put an umbrella on either side of the camera like
    seems logical, the thing that just about every hack at a shopping mall
    kiddie kiosk, church basement family portrait hustle, and dirty old man
    amateur porn and model portfolio shooter does. I could go on for 20 pages
    about the evils this does to faces.

    as for gear, I've always used bogan pods and stands, anything solid and
    sturdy will do. (you can use a 2x4 2x3 stud and a spring in a can to make
    light and background stands, drill a few holes for a long 1/4-20 bolt. If
    you background has a dowel with a balanced hole drilled you can use one
    stand instead of two.

    make a curtain with four or five yards of rip stop nylon. a styrofoam
    insulation panel (a bunch of them can be used to make a way cool 3d
    background, carve stone texture, make an arch or window, go to "off the
    wall" for inspiration.

    second light should be a hair light, third a background light.

    this reply is echoed to the z-prophoto mailing list at yahoogroups.com where
    I spew lots of foam about cross lighting and other portraiture topics.
    zeitgeist, Jul 15, 2004
    #9
  10. Axinar

    zeitgeist Guest


    >
    > Well, with my extended family having firmly announced that they are
    > much more impressed with the pics I have taken with my trusty Nikon
    > D100 than the professional pictures that they paid through the nose
    > for, I have decided that it is time to do something more "serious"
    > about lighting for portrait work.
    >
    > Question ... can anyone make any good recommendations for a good
    > "starting" studio lighting set?
    >
    > What specific lights/stands would you recommend and what do I need in
    > terms of control hardware and metering equipment?
    >


    my standing recommendation is that you start with one head and learn to
    light and get a printable image with detail in the HIGHLIGHTS as well as the
    shadows, before adding on other lights, especially fill lights. I emphasis
    highlights cause people look at their results and think the harsh lighting
    is a problem cause the shadows are dark/black they tend to skip, ignore,
    don't even see that the main problem is with the highlight.

    I like to point out that lights don't make shadows, (they were already
    there) lights only make highlights.

    The problem that studio lighting starts out with is that it is the complete
    opposite of all the natural lighting we like best. The most favored light
    is twilight, that's when people come out of their caves, or air-conditioned
    homes and sit on the porch, great neighbors, kids play on the streets,
    people feel comfortable, and they look lovely, their skin glows and the hair
    is a halo. They are lit by a huge softbox, the whole semi directional open
    sky. Other lighting we like is the soft semi directional light from
    overhangs, porches, trees, then huge windows. all light from a large arc,
    90's to 180'

    photogs have been using a point light source, first they used spot lights to
    collect, condense and focus every bit of energy they could aim at the
    smallest area they could throw it at, they used slow film in big cameras and
    tungsten lighting wasn't the most energy efficient, there was not such thing
    as fire proof fabrics. as film got faster, they used metal bowl
    reflectors, and instead of placing a 12 inch light about 18 to 24 inches
    from the face they placed the 18 to 24 inch bowl about 3 feet. Then they
    invented flash and started using umbrellas, the greatest advance in the
    60's. and they set up the 36inch brollie about 6 feet away with that
    powerful 100ws powerpack.

    the short answer is, you don't need to buy a kit, those thing are based on
    60's concepts of lighting. take one good head and shoot through a large
    scrim, basically you want a light source twice as big as your subject, or
    bounce off a sidewall, with a reflector to kiss a bit of light back. You
    can do this with a shoe flash that you can swivel and bounce.

    recommends, a decent solid tripod, one good flashhead, a reflector (sheet of
    styro insulation panel striped of the blue plastic) and a good background.

    worst thing, buy a kit and put an umbrella on either side of the camera like
    seems logical, the thing that just about every hack at a shopping mall
    kiddie kiosk, church basement family portrait hustle, and dirty old man
    amateur porn and model portfolio shooter does. I could go on for 20 pages
    about the evils this does to faces.

    as for gear, I've always used bogan pods and stands, anything solid and
    sturdy will do. (you can use a 2x4 2x3 stud and a spring in a can to make
    light and background stands, drill a few holes for a long 1/4-20 bolt. If
    you background has a dowel with a balanced hole drilled you can use one
    stand instead of two.

    make a curtain with four or five yards of rip stop nylon. a styrofoam
    insulation panel (a bunch of them can be used to make a way cool 3d
    background, carve stone texture, make an arch or window, go to "off the
    wall" for inspiration.

    second light should be a hair light, third a background light.

    this reply is echoed to the z-prophoto mailing list at yahoogroups.com where
    I spew lots of foam about cross lighting and other portraiture topics.
    zeitgeist, Jul 15, 2004
    #10
  11. Axinar

    George Guest

    "Crownfield" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Ron wrote:
    > >
    > > go to www.calumetphoto.com and look at their travelite kits- great
    > > monolights with stands,umbrella,etc- built well and not expensive

    >
    >
    > one advantage of the white lightning lights
    > is the 32:1 power reduction range.
    >
    > I also elect to use booms on the stands almost all the time.
    > they allow positioning the lights everywhere.
    >


    I'll second the vote on Calumet/Bowens lights. When I bought, White
    Lightning was on the market and I did consider them. One thing that really
    made me leery of them was that when I posted on the Internet asking about
    reliability, I got A HUGE NUMBER of responses telling me how good their
    service is...while that IS important, it made me worry that they might break
    down a lot (rather than reassure me) and that combined with a few other
    things swayed me (previous experience with Bowens in a rental studio that I
    sometimes used, UV coated flashtubes (UV filters on your camera DO NOT do
    the same thing), and being an established brand (White Lightning was new at
    the time) made it much easier to get speed rings and various other
    accessories). Heck, can you even GET a snoot for a White Lightning? BTW--I
    cannot tell you how good Bowens/Calumet service is because none of my four
    lights (10+ years old) has ever needed service. (I also didn't like that
    White Lightning used standard light bulbs as modeling lights as they
    partially block the flashtube.)

    Now, if I were going to buy lights today, I'd stick to monolights due to
    their versatility, redundancy (of PS), and ability to handle higher power
    outputs without rewiring your house due to being able to spread the load to
    different circuits. They are also far easier to get whatever light ratio
    you may want.

    Figure out WHAT you want to do and WHICH accessories you'll need to do that.
    Some brands that you might want to consider include: Bowens/Calumet, White
    Lightning/Alien Bees, and Photogenic. Some other excellent (but pricier)
    brands include Balcar, Elinchrome, and Broncolor (about as pricey as they
    get). Also, unless you love mail order, you might want to see what stuff
    you can get locally as it can be quite a pain if you need something and are
    waiting for the next shipment to come in from Asia (or other distant
    location).
    George, Jul 16, 2004
    #11
  12. Axinar

    Charlie Self Guest

    George writes:

    >When I bought, White
    >Lightning was on the market and I did consider them. One thing that really
    >made me leery of them was that when I posted on the Internet asking about
    >reliability, I got A HUGE NUMBER of responses telling me how good their
    >service is...while that IS important, it made me worry that they might break
    >down a lot (rather than reassure me)


    Or that a lot of beginners are using them and damaging them early. Or, like me,
    you find that the old and original resin based clamps to hold the light on a
    stand don't hold up well with a softbox set-up on a boom, so you request a
    second. They send, free, a metal unit.

    >White Lightning was new at
    >the time) made it much easier to get speed rings and various other
    >accessories). Heck, can you even GET a snoot for a White Lightning? BTW--I


    Check www.white-lightning.com, under Products, Light Modifiers for snoots, barn
    doors, grids, etc.

    Charlie Self
    "When you appeal to force, there's one thing you must never do - lose." Dwight
    D. Eisenhower
    Charlie Self, Jul 16, 2004
    #12
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