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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Sorry, folks, but yet another lighting thread...
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01/10/2015 07:24:12 PM · #1
Yeah I know, there have been a few threads up recently on lighting gear, but they're usually specific to the OP. Which only makes sense.

Anyway I've decided that I'm getting tired of having just a couple of homemade floods to use as studio lights. The SB-910 is a huge help for things like splashes, and the reflector is useful for bounced light. But I want to spend some $$, approx $500, on a simple, versatile light setup for primarily indoor work, from small studio stuff like food to portraits and full-length shots as I'm now going to start using a room that is approx 12x12 for bigger projects.

I might want to use them outside on occasion but really am not planning on shooting stuff like wedding parties anytime soon. Even so I prefer ambient light.

I've been looking at both strobes and beauty dishes, but honestly have no way as which way to go. I am shying away from umbrellas due mostly to space limitations.

So what are the pluses and minuses of both? Strobes seem to be more popular, but I've also seen nice beauty dish work too.
01/10/2015 07:51:05 PM · #2
If $500 is your budget and you want more than one light, that might not be enough for Alien Bees but the brands like the Cowboy Studio mentioned before are probably fine.

I think every light modifier is going to take up space - for full length if you want soft and even light it'll have to be a big light modifier, if not - maybe bounce off a solid colored wall?
01/10/2015 08:33:47 PM · #3
Just to be clear, a beauty dish is a modifier, not a strobe. You should also think about whether you want one or 2 lights, since you can do a lot with one, but it's rather limiting. Also, modifiers in general are large.
01/10/2015 09:04:28 PM · #4
I started out with flood lights and shop lights when I got the bug for studio shooting. Portraiture and abstract studio work have been my passion for several years now. I graduated from the shop lights a few years ago by purchasing various strobes from //www.cowboystudio.com

They have a lot of various affordable options and you can grow and scale up with them as you learn and can afford to upgrade. I started with one light and a bounce card (white foam core piece) and they worked great for me at the time. In fact, I think if you are creative it can work for you long term. It's like expensive golf clubs - they don't really make the golfer a better player.

Let me know if you'd like some recommendations.

01/11/2015 09:12:33 AM · #5
Ok just to clarify, I do mean 2 lights, not just one...even I know better :-)

@ ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' MadMan2k...thanks for the mention of Cowboy Studio which has since cropped up, I didn't read the last lighting thread all the way through. I do have solid coloured walls and may be investing in some backdrops.

@ ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/user_id/96751.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/user_id/96751.gif', '/') + 1) . ' tanguera...I was thinking of beauty dishes that are 18' to 22' so not overly huge ones. RKT has some nice work up that made me think beauty dishes.

@ ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' stupidcat...aha, we seem to be on the same wavelength! I've long used big flats of white foamcore to bounce light, and aluminum pie plates for reflectors. Will definitely check out Cowboy Studio and go from there.

Thanks all for your help and input!

ETA: That troublemaker who makes me spend $$, ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Enlightened, sent me a link to this page of goodies which includes some strobes listed at the bottom. Plan to try and get the seamless at least, and want to look at the strobes too.

Message edited by author 2015-01-11 09:23:46.
01/11/2015 09:33:52 AM · #6
Ok, I had purchased two AB400s (alien bees) and an AB800. A beauty dish, a soft box, and a PLM umbrella system from Paul Buff.

I've now returned the 800 and got an einstein. I've returned the PLM, and I'm going to save up for an octobox when I bring in some money.

The reason the 800 went back is 33.-fold:

1. I figured I needed a higher wattage than the AB800 had (320w). So I was thinking about the AB1600 (600 or 640 or something like that). The problem is, you couldn't really turn it down enough for a small indoor studio. The Einstein had it all, and could run from 2.5w to 640w -- hitting all my indoor and outdoor needs. I didn't want to buy cheap and have to upgrade quickly. So I got the Einstein for my main light.

2. The AB800 had a slower flash duration and I was worried about action shots and outdoor high sync. In action mode, the flash duration can go as fast as 1/13,000 of a second.

3. Ok, I guess it's just two fold, not three fold.

I kept the two AB400s. Because I figured that outdoor shooting, I probably would just use one light and a reflector. And the AB400s are fine for fill and hair lights.

The beauty dish is great fun and the soft box is always nice.
01/11/2015 11:38:29 AM · #7
Thanks for the update and info Wendy, will come in handy!
01/11/2015 11:47:19 AM · #8
Originally posted by snaffles:

Thanks for the update and info Wendy, will come in handy!


My pleasure! I was really nervous when I bought the stuff, but I think I made the right choices. I didn't want to buy cheap and be unhappy with it in a short period of time, but I didn't want to spend a lot and not ever use it. It was still more than I wanted to spend, but I feel good about the choice.
01/11/2015 02:58:55 PM · #9
Wendy, why did you return the PLM?
01/11/2015 03:21:37 PM · #10
I realized that the PLM was bigger and brighter than options I had, but I was buying it mainly because it really reflected the light and I thought it would be good outdoors.

However, I bought the einstein instead, so I didn't need my modifier to really throw things. I already had a couple of umbrellas, a soft box and a beauty dish. So it seemed like the PLM was redundant. I'm interested instead in an octobox. It's amazing how often photographers seem to use those. JoeyL recommended them for outdoor shooting. The light wraps around nicely and it helps cut down the shadows because of it's wrap. Plus, since I was buying the PLM for outdoors, someone pointed out that with that large of an umbrella, it was really going to catch any wind.

So I'm saving up for the octobox.
01/11/2015 03:29:30 PM · #11
With the exception of different catch lights...isn't the octobox just a different kind of softbox?
01/11/2015 04:11:50 PM · #12
The light wraps around the subject a bit more because of its shape.
01/11/2015 04:15:13 PM · #13
Originally posted by vawendy:

The light wraps around the subject a bit more because of its shape.


I'd be curious about the physics of that. Not that i disagree with you, I'm honestly just not not sure how there could be all that much difference between a square and an octo of similar proportions.
01/11/2015 04:17:48 PM · #14
Originally posted by Parabelle:

Originally posted by vawendy:

The light wraps around the subject a bit more because of its shape.


I'd be curious about the physics of that. Not that i disagree with you, I'm honestly just not not sure how there could be all that much difference between a square and an octo of similar proportions.


From what I understand, the square is more like flagging a light; it has a bit harsher edges.
01/11/2015 04:41:35 PM · #15
I guess I can see how the shape could lead to a more feathered light than the harder edged square/Rectangle
01/11/2015 05:09:42 PM · #16
I have two large sheets of Insulation foam board which I use at 45 degree to subject works well for me .
01/11/2015 06:09:56 PM · #17
I'm not adverse to bouncing the flash off of an angled reflector, usually with pretty decent results. Just don't know how well it would work with a living subject apart from myself! :-)
01/13/2015 12:10:26 AM · #18
Since I am causing you to spend your hard earned cash here is an article that may be helpful. I actually don't have a clue about flashes, strobes or any other lighting technique so the article may be brutal!! 50/50 chance!!

Spend away... oh and maybe you can get him to make me a deal for the 70-200 he is selling!
01/13/2015 08:11:38 AM · #19
Originally posted by Enlightened:

...oh and maybe you can get him to make me a deal for the 70-200 he is selling!


Ah, so then I can sell it to you? We'll see...at least I can ask him about it when I go over Thursday to get the seamless. I also plan to ask about the SB800.
01/13/2015 04:09:32 PM · #20
Considering the money you want to spend, your probably should be going for a second flash (you already have the SB910) and some low end modifiers and triggers. A Yongnou 568 EX II ($160) would probably make a good match for your existing flash, with basically the same specs.

As for modifiers, two umbrellas and stands would probably be your best option for your price range. I have two of these, which I found to be a good start ($80).

You will probably want radio triggers, although this is optional if you are only considering indoors, as CLS should be sufficient (with umbrellas). For use outdoors though, optical based triggering can become unreliable or simply not work at all, especially in bright sunlight. You can get a pair of Yongnou 603's for pretty cheap (pair for $30).

Flash -> $160
Umbrellas - 2 @ $80 -> $160
603's - 2 pair @ $30 -> $$60

Sub Total -> $380
HST -> 13%
Total -> $429.40

I think you may get a lot more bang for your buck to avoid the studio lights altogether, plus you have the portability and ease of use outdoors with the speedlights. The downside is that you are battery powered, and have less lighting power than using studio strobes, but considering your budget, I don't think studio strobes are much of an option for you, they aren't that useful without modifiers, which you won't have any money left over for.

I currently have something similar to that setup, but I have the 622's (for Canon) and got the 622 TX for Christmas, which I have found very handy. These will give you easier control from your camera, as well as TTL, groups, HSS and second curtain support. They will push you over your budget though, as they are about $190 per pair. I also got a softbox and an Octobox, neither of which I have gotten to use yet (and my wife says the Octobox is my birthday present for later this month so I had better not open it).

Message edited by author 2015-01-13 16:12:30.
01/13/2015 05:30:09 PM · #21
This might be helpful.

//www.shootingonabudget.com/can-you-build-a-complete-starters-kit-for-400/

ETA: Just skip the camera/lens part and go to the lighting bit.

Message edited by author 2015-01-13 17:54:47.
01/13/2015 08:01:18 PM · #22
Originally posted by damjanev:

This might be helpful.

//www.shootingonabudget.com/can-you-build-a-complete-starters-kit-for-400/

ETA: Just skip the camera/lens part and go to the lighting bit.


That's is pretty darn close to what I suggested, The biggest difference is I suggested a higher end flash. I should have also pointed out that my prices are in Canadian dollars, since the OP is Canadian (and lives pretty darn close to me I think).

Message edited by author 2015-01-13 20:07:20.
01/13/2015 08:02:23 PM · #23
Delete double post

Message edited by author 2015-01-13 20:06:47.
01/13/2015 09:03:21 PM · #24
I think that I will be giving my lighting gear that I have left,Free to a good home if I dnt't start using it this year. I am really losing interest in photography right now and am ready to throw the flannel in.
.
Just cant get any real interest worked up to do anything at all. It just is too much effort
01/13/2015 09:49:17 PM · #25
Originally posted by Parabelle:

I guess I can see how the shape could lead to a more feathered light than the harder edged square/Rectangle


The size of the light source matters more than the shape as far as how the light wraps around the subject and the shadows that are cast.
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