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Author Topic: Which lighting kit?  (Read 3571 times)
dante
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« on: November 09, 2009, 08:44:00 AM »
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I am starting to get into portrait photography and want some recommendations on which lighting kit to buy. I use a Canon 5D Mark II.
I'd like to get a starter kit by a good manufacturer that I could build on as I go. I don't want the cheapest nor the most expensive...
Any suggestions?
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2009, 09:21:56 AM »
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Quote from: dante
I am starting to get into portrait photography and want some recommendations on which lighting kit to buy. I use a Canon 5D Mark II.
I'd like to get a starter kit by a good manufacturer that I could build on as I go. I don't want the cheapest nor the most expensive...
Any suggestions?

If you already own a shoe-mounted flash, just start with that. It's amazing what you can accomplish with it using bounced flash, or an umbrella or other diffuser. David Hobby's strobist blog is the place to go for very detailed information about how to get very sophisticated lighting from small flashes. I've never felt the need to go any further than three speedlights and some modifiers (two umbrellas, a softbox and some snoots/grids).

If you're aiming a bit higher and want studio-style mono lights for more power, many folks rave about White Lightning's value and service. You can easily spend tens of thousands if you start talking about high end studio gear like Bron or Profoto.
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Thomas Krüger
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« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2009, 11:08:29 AM »
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At the beginning we used continous light, it's easier to study if you can see the lights and shadows on the object. Something basic for the beginning should be ok, for example: http://www.calumetphoto.com/item/SV3562/
Otherwise a kit with studio flashes with pilot lights from a good brand, but don't forget to  check the strobist website, there are a lot of great ideas for homemade lightformers and tricks!
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k bennett
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« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2009, 12:35:50 PM »
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A reasonable starter kit for strobe lighting would be the Alien Bee 800 with an umbrella and a light stand. You can do a lot with one light in an umbrella, though a 2-light kit would be more versatile.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2009, 11:24:33 AM »
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+1 on the Alien Bee recommendation. They may not be as sexy as Profoto or Elinchrom, but for bang for the buck they're very hard to beat. I have 4 of them (2 800s and 2 400s) that I've had for years with few issues and great results.
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lightstand
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« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2009, 03:19:54 PM »
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I also like the Alien Bees for strobes, lightweight and not expensive.  Although starting out shooting portraits I would look at some of the new florescent continuous lighting, granted I have not used any but they seem like best of both worlds being able to see the actual light yet cool in temperature. I'm sure they don't put out the intensity to use small apertures just wanted to throw the idea out there.  

photoflex.com  sells modifiers like softboxes, etc and has a lot of online tutorials where you can kind of view different set ups that you might be interested in
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k bennett
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« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2009, 04:52:48 PM »
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Let me add that the Strobist blog is looking at studio lighting in the next week or two. He'll compare Alien Bees, Elinchrom, and Profoto. As I too may be in the market soon, I'm looking forward to it.

http://strobist.blogspot.com/
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DanielStone
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« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2009, 12:16:49 AM »
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are you looking for continuous or strobes?

continuous, I've found that the 300w clamp lights from wal-mart (like 9.95 a piece) work well with the "daylight balanced" CFL bulbs. I jury-rigged a softbox-type of enclosure for it with a 20x24 LEE diffusion gel over it. works for me as a main light.

I just do the same with 2-3 more lights(I have 5 of them total) with black cine-foil to make custom-shaped modifiers.(I've been using the same roll for going on a year, roughly $30 at a good camera store).

if you're looking for strobes, I'd recommend renting some different kinds first. dynalites are terrific, but you might prefer monolights(pack built into the head itself). So white lightnings, alien bees, or if you're feeling a bit spendy, the profoto compacts are probably the best of the lot IMO.

if you're feeling spendy that is .

speedlites work very well too. check out the strobist site. you might become addicted . the older METZ and Sunpak flashes with the proper AC adapters are nice, and recycle fast too. Modifiers are a DIY thing though. You can use the Softlighter(Annie L uses one just so you know) http://www.photekusa.com/Softlighter.html   . very nice lighting "like moonlight" from what some people say. IDK about that one, but I've never used one, just seen them in action on a few sets I've worked on. very nice light, and cheap compared to Elinchrom and Profoto umbrellas.

I'm rambling though.

-Dan
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James Godman
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« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2009, 01:48:56 PM »
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I'm all for Dan's suggestion of the clamp lights!  Here are two pictures I made with something very similar, but with a daylight fluorescent tube:
http://bit.ly/8bD2VA

But for portraits with electronic flash, as has been suggested, try the Alien Bees.  I use Profoto and Hensel, but I like to make my own modifiers anyway so my light doesn't look like other people's.  But if you need something with a shorter flash duration, you may have to look beyond the Bees.

Good luck!

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