Studio lighting kit recommendations?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Clicky, Jan 20, 2004.

  1. Clicky

    Clicky Guest

    I'm tired of having to do portraits using just my on-camera 550EX. Can
    anyone recommend a worthwhile portable studio lighting kit for a cheapskate

    I was thinking about either #SPSTARTKS from Digital Foto:

    o 1 SPs920 Strobe.
    o 1 SPS100 Strobe.
    o 2 SPRSTAND Steel 6' lightstands.
    o 1 SPBRACK Flash Bracket.
    o 1 SPBRK920 Flash Bracket.
    o 1 SPUMB33B 33" White Umbrella.
    o Cardboard Carry-all case.

    Or, for about $200 more, the # SPPORTKR from B&H:


    o 2- 920MDLVP Strobes
    o 1- SP100 Strobe
    o 1 each: SPHOLD AC Socket and Cord, SPCLAMP AC Socket and Clamp
    o 2- SPBRACK Swivel Brackets
    o 1- SP-Snoot for SP-100
    o 2- Steel Lightstands
    o 1- SPBARN100 Barndoors
    o 2- 33" White Umbrellas
    o Corrugated storage case

    Or should I spend big bucks and build up my own kit, buying more 550EXs?
    Clicky, Jan 20, 2004
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  2. Clicky

    B. Peg Guest

    70 w/s strobes are pretty much useless unless you have a really fast lens
    (f/1.4) and can tolerate virtually no depth of field. I use some Paul Buff
    White Lightnings Ultras rated at 1800 w/s per head and can get around
    f/11-16 (w/white umbrellas) with ISO 64 set, maybe more at 6' distance.

    I'd hold off and get a higher powered set if you are serious -- or I hope
    your focusing is really good!

    B. Peg, Jan 20, 2004
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  3. Clicky

    JR Guest

    You get what you pay for.....Cheap strobe kits will not get the results
    you want. I bought the Hensel kit with 2 500 w/s strobes, umbrellas,
    stands, 300w modeling lights, wireless sync, etc....The system is built
    very well. My only complaint is now I want 2 more! Entire kit was
    $1000...I shoot ISO 50 film @ f/8 at about half power....

    JR, Jan 20, 2004
  4. Clicky

    Charlie Self Guest

    Clicky asks:
    Got to and see what you can build up from their smallest
    units. I think they may also give a discount for buying either over a certain
    price or number of pieces.

    Charlie Self
    "Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves."
    Dorothy Parker
    Charlie Self, Jan 20, 2004
  5. Another vote for Alien Bees.
    I am professional photographer and along with my other expensive lighting
    equipment, I use Alien Bees on location.
    Light, versatile, and pretty consistent light output and color temperature
    and durable. Made in the US and has one of the best service departments in
    the industry. Stay away from Britek too.
    Robert Brodie, Jan 20, 2004
  6. Clicky

    Wdflannery Guest

    Could someone supply the formula governing .... strobe power in w/s, distance,
    film speed, and f-stop.... to give an idea of how powerful a strobe is needed
    to shoot f8 at 6ft. using ASA 100 film, for example?
    Wdflannery, Jan 20, 2004
  7. Clicky

    Clicky Guest

    I have just read that I can't use my DRebel with an optical-strobe-fired
    monolight because of the E-TTL pre-flash. I suppose that means that I'll
    have to build my own lighting kit out of 550EXs?

    The one 550EX that I already have came with a fitting to mount the unit onto
    the screw of a camera tripod. Will that same fitting mount it onto a light
    stand, do light stands have the same screw top?

    What about diffusers and umbrella reflectors? Are there any stand/diffuser
    kits out there that will work with 550EXs?
    Clicky, Jan 20, 2004
  8. Clicky

    Charlie Self Guest

    Clicky asks:
    No, but adapters are fairly cheap, IIRC. The adapter (Porter's carries one, I
    know) slips over the light stand upright and tightens with a thumbscrew. It has
    a shoe mount on top. Just checked: the still have it, looks fancier than the
    one I had a couple decades ago, but is $13.50 USD. check under
    light stands.

    Charlie Self
    "Character is much easier kept than recovered." Thomas Paine
    Charlie Self, Jan 20, 2004
  9. I have a similar kit and it is barely adequate. Output is such that
    shooting with an umbrella your aperture will be about f4 to 5.6. The
    stands are flimsy, etc. Having said this, it did work for me since I
    was using a Toshiba PDR-M70. This camera has an f2 lens and, because
    of its short focal length, enormous depth of field. I have gotten
    some good pictures with my drebel (check out the pistures of my
    grandson Ben at with an f1.8 50mm lens but now
    wish I had more power.
    James Cassatt, Jan 20, 2004
  10. Either use a small flash on the DRebel to trigger the strobe, or use a hot-shoe
    to pc-sync converter. In either case you need to make sure the flash or
    monolight don't put excessive amounts of voltage across the terminal and burn
    out your camera.
    Light stands generally use a 5/8" post.
    For umbrellas get something like:

    It attaches to either a tripod or a light stand, and allows you to fire the
    flash into the umbrella. Note, if you are using auto-thryistor flashes with
    the light meter on the flash itself, you need a flash whose head can swivel
    around 180 degrees (point the flash into the umbrella, and point the light
    meter to your subject). Depth of field may be a problem with the DRebel (with
    my prosumer camera that I'm currently experiemently with the setup, f/4 is
    plenty of depth of field, but the larger sensor on the DRebel means less depth
    of field at a given f/stop).
    Michael Meissner, Jan 21, 2004
  11. Clicky

    Carl Miller Guest

    Those are some rather cheap strobe sets. I'd be looking at something
    from or I'm trying to decide between
    the two myself. Currently I'm leaning towards the Alien Bees. (I really
    like their batter pack that makes the whole setup portable.)
    Carl Miller, Jan 21, 2004
  12. Clicky

    Carl Miller Guest

    Robert, what's your "other expensive" equipment? I'm trying to decided
    between a set of strobes from Alien Bees or from Novatron. Just curious
    if you're using Novatrons too, and which you'd recommend? I'm leaning a
    little towards the Bees at the moment. (Price is a little better plus
    they give a 10% Student Discount.)

    Carl Miller, Jan 21, 2004
  13. Robert, what's your "other expensive" equipment? I'm trying to decided
    I don't know about now, but Novatron used to be pretty crappy stuff.
    Years ago there were guys getting shocked with 'em. I've always used
    Randall Ainsworth, Jan 21, 2004
  14. Clicky

    Crownfield Guest

    I have been looking at them for a while.

    perhaps more interesting is that for each light you buy,
    you get 5% off all the accessories.
    4 heads, 20%.
    you get 60 days to return if you are not satisfied.
    Crownfield, Jan 21, 2004
  15. Clicky

    Patrick L. Guest

    Alienbees B800s will do it. The B400s will probably do it, as well. They
    have charts on their output.

    Patrick L., Jan 22, 2004
  16. Clicky

    Patrick L. Guest

    With an adaptor for a PC chord to the strobe, that should disable the
    preflash. Another nice thing about AlienBees, they have low trigger
    voltage, won't harm digital cameras.

    Patrick L., Jan 22, 2004
  17. Clicky

    Patrick L. Guest

    AlienBees have a low trigger voltage, won't harm digital cameras.

    Patrick L., Jan 22, 2004
  18. Clicky

    Carl Miller Guest

    Hey Patrick, are you and Alien Bees Salesman? :)

    (I'm only asking 'cause I'm thinking of buying some Aline Bees.)
    Carl Miller, Jan 23, 2004
  19. Clicky

    Clicky Guest

    Okay, so you've all convinced me that if I'm going to buy a portable studio
    lighting kit that I shouldn't buy the cheapest.

    But is the next level above cheapest okay? Novatron's 240 Fun Kit has
    caught my eye. It includes:

    1- V240D 240ws Power Pack, 1- 2100C Std. Flashhead, 1- 2140-3-Way Flashhead,
    2- 7032W 32" White Umbrellas, 2- 5008 8' Light Stands, 1- 15' Sync Cord, 1-
    6002 Carry Case, 1- AC Cord

    For under $625 at Adorama.

    But I've been very disappointed with the cheap Novatron FM02 strobe meter I
    bought. It won't work at all with my thrystor strobes. Would I be equally
    disappointed in their Fun Kit?
    Clicky, Jan 23, 2004
  20. Clicky

    Clicky Guest

    I'm itching to buy a light kit. I'm sitting here, hot credit card in hand,
    ready to buy a Novatron's 240 Fun Kit, but first I want someone to share
    their own experience with Novatron. As I wrote before, I found Novatron's
    low-end flash meter to be stinko. Is the rest of their stuff worthwhile?

    The 240 uses a single power supply for two (or I think maybe up to three)
    lights, instead of using independant monolights. Is that good or bad?

    The set-up looks powerful to me, but Novatron describes it as suitable for
    classroom photographs or passport photos. Can't it do more than headshots?
    Clicky, Jan 23, 2004
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