£1,500 for basic studio equipment incl. camera?

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by aleksander|1, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. Hello,
    I'd like some advice on possible ways of setting up a small packshot studio within £1,500 cost including a camera. In particular I'd be grateful if you could suggest the most essential lighting items as I don't have much experience with studio lights — flash vs continuous, umbrellas vs softboxes, etc.
    Products to be primarily shot in the studio would be printed items such as books, catalogues, annual reports, calendars. The studio itself is a 3x3.5m room with window w/blinds).
    The shots would be used mainly for a website but I'd like to be able to produce at least a full A4 print @300dpi (min. 10Mpix).
    As the budget is quite tight, I was thinking of the following spec:
    • Camera: Canon EOS 500D/550D
    • Lens: Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM (or a couple of manual prime lenses like a 24mm f/2.8 and a 100mm f/2.8 macro).
    • Tripod: optional, not too fussy here
    • Lighting kit: a big "?"
    • Backdrop: white and black muslin with support
    I'd appreciate your opinion.
  2. For the stated purpose I would think you'd be better off with a slower (cheaper) lens, a decent tripod (cheap ones are no fun to use) and save some money for lights/modifiers. It sounds like your subjects are generaly small enough that you don't need a large backdrop, it can be more tabletop. The objects are large enough that you won't need macro-class close-focus distance. I'd imagine a stopped down zoom lens (probably on the longer end of a standard zoom) would be useful for this, many will offer magnification like 1:5 or better. Sigma 17-70 might work well as it offers better than average magnification of 1:2.7. It is likely that constant lighting in a low-cost kit will not be bright enough to stop down without using tripod, you'll probably need flash if you need quicker shutter speeds, and you'd probably want at least two and a way to trigger them.
  3. I'm not familiar with Canon gear, so I'll quote Nikon gear instead, and you can perform the equivalent translation to Canon products, if desired:
    1. Nikon D5100 DX-format body.
    2. Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G (macro).
    3. Nikon SU-800 IR Commander.
    4. Nikon SB-700 Speedlights (3).
    5. Lastolite Ezybox softboxes for hot-shoe flashes (21" and 30").
    6. Harbor Digital Design Quickspot honeycomb grid (large, 1/4").
    7. Matthews C-stand, black, complete w/40" arm (2).
    8. Manfrotto stands (2).
    9. Matthews 15 lb. sandbags (4).
    That list may total over your budget, but it's a great starter set-up for table-top photography. I recommended a "Strobist" lighting package since it's easier to set up Speedlights in tight-quartered, table-top set-ups. Also, the Nikon SU-800 (and the Canon equivalent) give you wireless, i-TTL controlled Speedlight triggering, and may control an unlimited number of flashes in up to three different groups.
    The Lastolite Ezyboxes are great, but there are many other brands to choose from as well. The Harbor grids are excellent, and are made for your specific flash. I bought both the 1/4" and the 1/8" but I only ever use the 1/4" grid. Extremely useful for table-top. Good luck!
  4. 10. AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G
    11. AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR.
    12. Manfrotto tripod with ball head.
    Also, Nikon just announced a lower-cost, shorter, AF-S 40mm f/2.8G macro lens for DX-format cameras. You should probably go with that instead of the 60mm macro, since the 60mm may be a bit too long on a DX body (if you chose to go Nikon, that is). Plus, you'll save some money.

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