$1K budget

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by isphotography, Aug 2, 2007.

  1. hey all,

    i have a $1,000 budget to get some better equipment for headshots.

    i take some decent ones, and more people are starting to offer me money to do
    their headshots, but my equipment is just not up to par, and i'm getting sick
    of renting it every time i need to take photos.

    my own equipment is a rebel xt, and that's about it. i rent everything else
    when i take shots.

    my research seems to indicate that the canon 85mm f/1.8 usm is a good place to

    that'll leave me somewhere around $650.

    now, what would you guys get next?

    my experience is with hot boxes... i like the ease & the even light, though i
    see much better results when i use them inside -- i've had a hard time
    adjusting the color temperature post-facto when the tungsten mixes w/ outdoor

    i'd appreciate feedback from those more experienced than myself here, though.

    would you look at a different lens? would you buy a flash w/ the lens, and
    continue to rent the lighting? i need a little guidance here.

    and yeah -- i know the xt is not the optimal body to use, but it seems good
    enough for me right now. i'm happy enough w/ it's results when there's a good
    lens on it. the body seems to be a purchase for a later date, when i'm more
    sure of this (potential) business' growth, ya' know?

    anway - i appreciate any feedback.

  2. First off - how much gear do you rent? A lens and one Canon speedlight is one thing; a Profoto pack and three heads + softbox is another? How do you find that equipment - what is useful what is not? That should be a good guide.

    The 85mm is a great portrait lens. Although a nice mid-range zoom could give you more flexibility in composition. I do like shooting a fast prime for headshots.

    Next I'd suggest get the speedlight for your Canon - I use Nikon, but I guess the 430 or 580EX.

    I do headshots and most of the time indoors I use one monolight (with 3x4 softbox) and a reflector. Sometimes I add a hairlight (monolight w grid).

    If you shoot outdoors, you can get a stand for the speedlight (buy a $20 adapter) and maybe a umbrella or small softbox. You can get a simple PC cord to sync with your camera if you don't have a remote system like the Nikon. Pocket Wizards would blow your budget. But it really improves your work to get the light off the camera if you're using flash.

    Frankly, there are many ways to skin this cat. I do a lot of natural light headshots with a reflector and maybe a touch of fill - so a basic setup for you at around $1000 might be:

    85mm 1.8 ($350) Canon 580EX ($430) Light stand ($40) Hotshoe clamp for stand ($20) - will take an umbrella too 36" umbrella ($30) 32" multi-reflector ($35)

    This should be able to get you started without investing in some studio light set up - and it's flexible and should serve any photographic needs going forward.

    Good luck.
  3. I've found that my 39x72" light panel ($100 w/ one fabric) is worth more than the price tag. I use it for a 1/2 diffuser, or a white bounce. I bought the cheaper PVC version and will probably replace it w/ the aluminum one in the next year.

    Other than that, I agree w/ the previous post. You can play w/ the distance of the shoot through umbrella to the light source and get different lighting patterns too. Fun stuff on a budget.
  4. What Am I missing here?

    If you have been renting equipment, why don't you buy what you have been renting and using? Sorry to sound blunt but Ian, it is always better to go with the devil you know and if the results are good enough for people to keep coming back to you then you have the answer....even if it is Cannon...jokes.

    The alternative is to rent the gear you THINK may do the job and test it out...why would you ever invest hard earned money on something that "may" produce good results because someone on this site suggested it.

    I don't for a second suggest that you will get bad advice here...quite the contrary - that's why I love this site...but only you know the style of photo that makes people come back to YOU Ian. Just the other day I shot some corporate portraits outdoors hand held using a 200mm lens. Not right but the results were fantastic and the client extremely happy...might even try it more in the future.

    Just my thoughts...good luck with your hunt.

    Mike Sea
  5. Ian,

    I'll second Mike Sea's suggestion. If you're familiar with the equipment, and your business is increasing while using it, you'd be well advised to buy that particular equipment. There's a reason more people are coming to you. When you become more familiar with different types of lighting, and how they affect the final image, then you'll KNOW what kind of lighting you'll need for a particular situation. Until then, experimentation could hurt you.

    As for mixing equipment for outdoor shooting, there's no need for it. Build yourself a couple of inexpensive light panels (simple translucent white rip-stop nylon) and pick up a couple of 5-in-1 reflectors with stands and grip arms. With some smart shopping, you'll come in well under your $1K budget. With a quick browse on eBay, I put together a simple kit like I've stated for under $300 total. Two 7'x5' scrim panels, two 5-in-1 42" circular reflectors, two basic light stands and two grip arms. Voila! Inexpensive professional outdoor portrait studio.

    If you want to budget even further, you can use foamcore and other materials as substitutes. I prefer to use manufactured equipment because it presents a more professional image, but the results are pretty much the same.

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