Suggestions for a lighting kit for small portrait studio?

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by jerry_cargill, May 6, 2016.

  1. Hello,
    I would like to upgrade my current Genesis 400 system (I have two). The heads are stripped and no longer hold a softbox at a particular angle longer than a few minutes, they're only good for grids and umbrellas at this point. I have a pretty small studio, about the size of a two-car garage. I don't want to overpower myself should I need to open up a lens all the way.
    I was looking at Profotos in particular, and could spend up to $1500. I have been looking at some used sets of monos as well as packs. I admit I'm a bit dizzy from the choices. I don't think any profotos out there are bad... but my concern, like I said, is to get a set that is better than my current set, which I can dial down pretty low for a small space. I also like the idea of upgrading into the pro realm.
    Can anyone recommend some solutions? I don't have my heart set on Profotos, its just a brand that I have experience with. I have also used Speedotron Black in a small studio space and found that I could not really open up greater than f5.6 even with a softbox.
    Thank you.
  2. Let me preface, I'm retired!

    I looked for and used window light, plus, usually one, reflector. I'm a simpleton and I believe simple is best. Challenges can be present and every time they needed to be solved.There is good light everyhere you just have to find it and, of course, use it during daylight hours.

    For location photography, when I needed to use lights, it was Quantum in conjunction with Pocket Wizards. The most
    power I ever needed with my Quantums was 1/2. I used them for my studio photography as well!

    I ran everything manually, flashes, pocket wizards and camera. I worked at getting proper balance the entire photograph
    with no blown out areas, meaning blue sky showing clouds rather than blown out white and green trees and other plants that are true
    color and exposed properly. And, of course, the people with their faces and costumes with true to life colors. To get an idea please look at my portrait here on Photo Net as this is a sunset photo taken with classical lighting patterns and the use of one reflector. It was made by my coach and mentor Monte Zucker. He used a Canon 10D and the camera I'm holding is 35mm film!

    Smiles and fun!
  3. There are always a couple Profoto 600/300ws Compacts on eBay for good prices. I have an Acute2 kit and just added a 300ws Compact which will get plenty of use. There is no reason to not take advantage of used gear as long as it's in good shape.
  4. A suitable ND filter would let you open as wide as you like, and with almost any flash power.
    Personally I'd buy something with a Bowens S speedring fitting. Then you can get a huge number of modifiers to fit without paying a ridiculous price. Preferrably Bowens strobes themselves. The Bowens-S bayonet would be very difficult to wear out to the point where a modifier fell off!
  5. i am a Buff fan. Can dial down Einsteins to 2.5 watt seconds, low enough for me to shoot at 1.4, 1.8. $500 /head. And service? I am still reeling from a call to them this morning. Melody there helped. First they actually answered my call, try that with some of the other manufacturers. Second, she speaks english. My question was the difference between their shovel background reflector and regular reflector. She took the time to take 4 photos of each showing what you get against a wall and emailed it to me. Where you gonna find service like that on a $20 item? I always get someone who can help and knows the products. They helped me get over the cyber commander learning curve, a key part of my workflow. Why einsteins, 640 watt seconds, pops up to 10 frames per second, I am usually shooting at 6. flat line color consistency. 1/13,500 sec fastest flash duration for stopping motion. Cyber commander controls not only on off of light and light power, but also on off of 250 watt modeling light and whether it is full power, follow or adjust power. All from my stool. Has a shoot recently that the promised 3 hrs they could give me became less than an hour and they wanted 3 background shades, and 2 setups for 2 people. Try going to each light to adjust and then chimping all that. Made the changes in seconds from my stool. Dialed in the second set up quickly with meter and cybercommander. Once Lights were hung, less than 2 minutes to dial in the exact ratio at the exact aperture desired.
  6. I use Profoto B1/b2 but would love to have a studio with 3-5 of these at $600 each. They also have a 600watt version for $749. Battery and AC:
  7. So Dan do you recommend the Dynalite you left a link for, or the Profoto B! for a small studio?
  8. Hi,
    I like how Dynalite has dome built in. I think you can remove it, too, according to one video I was watching, for a more bare bulb effect.
    I think Profoto and Dylalite are great options although the Dynalite would be great for studio where you can switch it to AC power and have the modelling light on during a shoot.
    That is the only issue I have with the B1: limited modelling light time due to battery. Light Ignition, a company that makes good loocking knockoff Profoto modifiers, stated are working on a AC plug for B1 on an ebay page. Perhaps Profoto will add an AC option in a future version..

    q. I am inquiring on an item that you might already have or could be made. I am looking for a battery ADAPTER that could use power from the outlet plug ins. Not a battery charger but a simulation to an external battery cell that could be used in place of the actual battery which in this case connects directly into the wall outlet to produce power for the portable battery power mono light when you are indoor. I have seen a lot these made for older canon and sony camcorders. So it could be done. Basically it just a power converter from AC current to Dc current. Please let me know. Thanks Mar-29-16
    A: We are working on it. It will not be cheap, and the market is small.
  9. Another vote for Einsteins & Cybercommander. After several years of natural light (that I still prefer btw) I decided to go back to using artificial a couple of years ago (I'd previously used Norman and Bowens). As a system the Buff stuff works well and that it is a system makes setup as quick and easy as possible.
  10. I have lots of Profoto Acute gear, great quality of light and lots of modifiers. I don't like their new monos since the flashtube is recessed. The new monos may be faster, but who cares if it doesn't fill in a beauty dish correctly or fill out a softbox as nicely as the protruding flashtube design.
    I've been slowly moving over to Dynalite. The flashtube still protrudes on some of their monos and on the SH2000 head. Also, the flash duration is shorter, which is better for freezing objects and eliminating ambient light than my Acutes. The Pro 8 line will give you the protruding tube and great flash duration, but you can fill the garage with used cars for the price of a full kit.
    The Profoto accessory prices are quite high. Factor in a new flashtube (who knows how much life is left in it) when looking at used gear, it's almost the same price as a Dynalite head.
    If you're overpowered in your small space, you can use a Neutral Density filter or polarizer. Something I've also done is simply use the modeling light when I wanted to shoot at f/1.4.
  11. I would say select your power level appropriately. A blackline 4800ws pack would indeed be too much for a small studio, but a lower power unit would likely work fine. A friend of mine has a small studio, and if my bad memory is correct, he uses a brownline 800 or 1200ws pack powering 2 heads (background + softbox) or 3 heads (+ one at the back of the studio aimed into the back wall). My guess is that you can do fine with even a 400 or 600ws pack. Most blacklines have a continuously adjustable power level where you can lower the output 2 or 3 stops (depending on the unit). A 1000ws blackline pack adjusted down 2 stops becomes a 250ws pack. Some of the brownlines have a full/half/quarter or full/half power switch to drop the power level. I would imagine the other major brand have a similar way to adjust the power level.
    The monolight has the advantage of infinite individual light level adjustments with extreme ratios. Whereas the Speedotron packs have fixed ratios. So with monolights you could have one light 10 be stops brighter than the other. I can't do that with my Speedotron pack.
    Do you have enough 20 amp circuits? You should. Because after firing off several monolights the combined surge current to charge the units might/will pop a single 15 amp breaker. You need to discuss this with someone who uses multiple monolights. This is one reason that I like packs. There is only ONE charging unit sucking current. I would put in multiple 20 amp circuits for the lights and other stuff you will have running. Since electrical is expensive, think really carefully about how many circuits and where the circuits/outlets are. I would put the lights on dedicated circuits.

Share This Page