Help Please: First Studio Lighting Setup

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by heider, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. I was always intermediated by studio lighting setup. I feel that now is the right time for me to do it. In the past I have done architectural, street, landscape, and infrared photography. Now it’s time to learn portrait photography. Every portrait I have done so far was naturally lit with a golden reflector occasionally. I want to move into a more proper setup, and start getting some consistent results.
    The main hope is that within few years from now I will be shooting some quality portraits, I hope to have some really high end shots in my portfolio by then. The good news is that I am NOT doing this for money, it’s my passion. And so I will be more concerned about getting the best shots possible and not worry too much about the “number” of clients. Quality is way too important for me at this point, money is not. In fact I am not going to charge my first few clients anything at all.
    Also I will be doing wedding, children, and social/ corporate events photography. Needless to say that I will be doing head shots as well as full body shots and 4-10 people group shots.


    Initially, my first studio is going to be in the basement. I know, not the most faltering space to start with, especially with the low ceiling (230 cm. 7ft7in only), which means that I have many limitations. However, I will be shooting on locations (a client’s home, the outdoors, or corporate events). So portability is important too. The budget for this project is around $1500 at this point. And that is ONLY for the lighting kit.


    I thought I should list my gear so you have an idea
    Canon 7D, converted infrared Canon 450D 665nm, Canon 350D
    24-70mm f2.8L, 85mm f1.8, 50mm f1.8, 15mm f2.8 FE, and the Kit lens
    430EXII Strobe


    I am looking at many starters lighting kits, I would like to get one that I could still be using few years from now, so I don’t want to end up with 5 strobes, 4 soft boxes and 3 umbrellas 5 years from now. It should be powerful, versatile, durable, consistent and reliable. Also it should be expandable, so I can use more lighting modifiers later on as I grow. A gear that would last for 4-5 years is perfect at this point.
    I am thinking Elinchrom vs. Bowens. What do you think of this?
    Option 1: Elinchrom BX 500/500Ri Basic Kit:
    2x BX 500Ri Head, Transmitter, 2x Large Stands, 2x Softboxes, 1x Kit Bag, 1x Stand Bag
    Option 2: BOWENS GEMINI 500/500 PRO KIT
    2x Gemini PRO 500Ws Monolights, 1x of 23.5" x 31" Softbox, 1x 35" Silver/White Umbrella, 1x 120 degree Wide-Angle Umbrella Reflector,2 of Lighting Support Stand, 1x Trolley Case, 1x of Sync Lead.​
    Thanks for your help,
    Heider
     
  2. I am not a big fan of kits. In the two of these, I don't see the accessories as being all that great. I started out with White lightening units and have kept them through 20 years of professional work--great flexibility.
    As to modifiers, you don't generally need two softboxes or two umbrellas--and certainly not to start with. In a small space, umbrellas will be your worst enemy (too much spill light everywhere). A softbox, not too big for your space and light with a reflector (and some grids) would be a good start. Umbrellas that are convertible from reflective to "shoot thru" type are better than single purpose ones--at least to start.
    Radio poppers are a good inexpensive way to get wireless.
    Getting a couple of monolights will keep the power of the units undiminished as you add more. Pack systems are affected each time you add a head as they need to divide up the power between the heads. On location, you will often find you need two packs to split the lights as you want while monolights can be put whereever you want without regard to a power source--except electricity.
    But the best thing is to move slowly. Kits sell things you don't need and unless they are cheap enough to not worry about getting something you wont use, end up being expensive.
     
  3. The simple answer is that between the two, I would choose the Elinchom's. One reason would be the Skyport triggering system. That said however, I don't think the answer is as simple as all that. I might suggest checking out Kelby Training .com. There are several tutorials and even a recent one using just a single light. This site does cost a little bit, but it is well worth it. From there you can get a better idea of how to use the lights. In one tutorial they outline the benefits of using a C-stand (as opposed to a simple light stand). In other words, $1500 is an OK starting budget, but that will get eaten up fairly quickly!
    Radio poppers are a good inexpensive way to get wireless.​
    I am going to have to disagree with that one! I don't think Radio Poppers are going to allow you to control monolights from the camera position. As such, there are "dumb" triggers that will be much less expensive. Depending on the strobes, many manufacturers have their own way of triggering AND controlling the strobes from the camera position. Elinchrom has the Skyport system, Paul Bluff (Alien Bee/Einstein etc) has the Cyber Commander and so on. Which, by the way, if this is just a hobby, I thing the Paul Bluff systems are very tough to beat in terms of bang for your buck.
     
  4. John, radio poppers will control Buff's lights--as well as some others. Controlling the lights remotely is nice, but not necessary--especially starting out in a small studio. Buff's own controller is more precise than the popper light controller and very nice--and more expensive. Buff lights, at least white lightening, have excellent durability--maybe better than most. I have 12 of them and several are over 20 years old now. I have used them hard over the years and all of them are still fully functional.
     
  5. "As to modifiers, you don't generally need two softboxes or two umbrellas--and certainly not to start with. In a small space, umbrellas will be your worst enemy (too much spill light everywhere). A softbox, not too big for your space and light with a reflector (and some grids) would be a good start. Umbrellas that are convertible from reflective to "shoot thru" type are better than single purpose ones--at least to start."
    So shoot through umbrellas give less spill??!!
    This is a bit contradictory. A bit more explaining to make your point clear?
     
  6. David, these were two different points. In a small studio, umbrellas are many times too much light because they can't be controlled--bounces everywhere.
    But Heider also mentioned shooting on location-I was merely suggesting what type of umbrella, should he choose to get one, might be a good place to start.
     
  7. I would also suggest you look at whitelightening also. Very good items there for low use and medium use.
    The cost is also good and the service better than most.
     
  8. Alien Bees have an excellent reputation. I'm looking at switching to them from my current pack system. You can also buy a lot of modifiers/extras for them, which you have trouble with with some pack systems (don't know if that's true of the kits you mentioned). If you go with the Bees or some other monolight/ a la carte system, you can spend as you go and better put the money precisely where you want it to go.
    While I have wireless triggers, they aren't a necessity, especially in a smaller studio. You could spend the money elsewhere if you omitted them and always add them later.
    HTH.
     
  9. This is a great movie explaining some different light setups.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/snapfactory#p/u/126/IdcdWkc7xEI
    It´s true you don't need a transmitter, but its a great tool to have if you can afford it. especially if you want to start to play with the light on different location having the flash giving you light trough a door from a different room for example.
    I don´t think its important what brand you buy, the critical part is that you stay with it to mix different brand can give you color problems, the kelvin is often pretty close but you can get strong variations in the tint. If you buy a sheep set you might afford a light meter too it´s a great tool.
     

Share This Page

1111