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Finally setting up a studio -- need any/all advice available :)
Old 10-08-2005, 06:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I'm designing a 4-light studio setup. I've been reading up FOR MONTHS, and now I'm ready to "jump in". My initial goals are the following:

* Portraits both groups (up to 8 ppl) and individuals
* Glamour including full-length
* The ability to take 2 or 3 lights on location on occasion (10% of the time)

My camera equipment is a pretty complete setup (Canon 1Ds, 20D backup,
L zooms and primes, tripods, etc.)

Here's what I have on paper so far. Trying to stay under the $4k
range. The White Lightning accessories include 20% discount because of
the 4 light purchase.

Questions:
* I'd like comments on any of the choices below
* I'd like recommendations on lighting stands and backgrounds
* Am I forgetting anything?
* Have I under/overestimated equipment needs?

Lights & Power: ($2675)
$480 Main WL X1600
$480 Fill WL X1600
$480 Hair WL X800
$480 Background WL X800
$515 WL Wireless Remote Kit (1 transmitter, 4 receivers)
$400 Vagabond V300 portable power

Modifiers: ($607)
$104 WL Beauty Fish + Diffuser Cover
$24 WL Background Reflector
$40 WL LiteMod Barn Doors
$72 WL Speedrings (3)
$30 Photoflex White Convertible Umbrella 45"
$27 Photoflex Hot Silver Umbrella 45"
$60 Photoflex LiteDome 16x22" Softbox (hair)
$89 Photoflex 16x22" Fabric Grid (hair)
$0 (own) Photoflex Multi-Reflector
$185 Photoflex LiteDome 54x72" Softbox

Stands: ($??)
$20 WL Backlight Stand
$?? ==> Need two heavy duty light stands
$?? ==> Need one heavy duty boom + light stand

Need advice -- Bogen heavy duty?
Boom?

Meter:
$0 (own) Sekonic L-358 Flash Meter

Backgrounds:
$132 Amvona AS-014-2 Background Stand Support System
Two muslims (undecided) -- advice?
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Re: Finally setting up a studio -- need any/all advice available :)
Old 10-08-2005, 11:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Well,....You could save a few bucks by picking up the Alien Bee 1600 lights.. they feature just 20 watt seconds fewer than the X-1600's ...I'm not sure why they rate their lights so high.. all you have to do is be concerned with the "true Watt Seconds", which they list there as well.. I have 3 of those 1600's and I like them.. Their top of the line light,...the x-3200 is of a lower power rating than my Ultra 1800's which have 900 watt seconds.. but mine don't have a built in fan either, wich lead to one buring out on me last year..

Check this out.. http://www.alienbees.com/flash.html

For $359.95, you can buy a more compact, lightweight, powerful, and easy to use light.. the draw back is that the modeling lamp isn't as powerful,....but so what..if works just fine for me in my studio..and on location,...with the Vegabond power packs, you aren't suppose to use the modeling lamps anyway,....in addition,....modeling lamps don't "model" very well in lighted places anyway..even at 250 watts.. Allien Bees offer a 150 watt quartz modeling lamp.. I outfitted all my AB lights with them..

The wireless remote,...you can shop around a bit..I have seen some really nice usits lately..I somewhat doubt if you need at the bells and whistles that some offer for what you have in mind..

The Beauty dish,..I just bought one.. it works well... uhmmm... the price of it with the sock and shipping the bulky thing up here was about 175 bucks..

Here is a shot from my AB beauty dish taken with AB 1600 lights, and a Chimera strip light:


You should pick up a full set of gels, and grids...

The Vegabond 300 costs 500 bucks now.. you can get the 150 model for 150 less, but it is sooo damn slow........and also,...be very careful to turn those inverters off before charging it.. I accidentally left one of them on, frying it,..and basically turining it into a 150 unit..which is why I know that it is soooo slow.. their service guys actually replaced it for me for free!! .....BTW, you couldn't find a better place for product support.. they are amazing!

Speed rings..I personally like Chimera speed rings, which can work with Photoflex boxes....and I prefer Chimera soft boxes...they are made better.

Photogenic makes IMO, the best umbrellas for general purpose use...they feature a "ribless" design..so the catch lights in glasses and eye balls look better,...more smooth...

Light stands,... well, you can get the kit stands that come from WL / AB,...they are O.k... I however prefer the ones from the Bogan "Avenger" catalogue...their hardware, and ruggedness are among the best for general porpose lighting stands, and if you are shooting on location a lot,..like I do,...you will appreciate them even more.. You may want to look into picking up at least one light stand that features a "lazy leg"...thus enabeling you to set up a light on a stairs case, or a hill without it falling over.. One leg extends out, providing stability....they are great to have on location,...plus they are very rugged, and built to withstand a good load.. and wind because of their large "foot-print"..

Yep,...the Bogan boom... I have one that features a geared head that you can control from the end...which is very very nice.. It is a monster...it is about 8 ft long or so..and I normally have it set up so that the stand has 20lbs on it, and the boom arm has up to 30lbs on it.. because with a large light bank, and with the arm extended past the halfway point, you will need some extra weight on it to keep it more stable,...in addition to this, I re-hardwared the clamp on mine so that it locks more tightly.. Also,...it's a good idea to check up on your business liability insurance before using one of these, because one time, I had a boom fail on me.....just missing the subject bellow....that could have been bad..

Calumet makes this really nice background stand set.. it features steal stands and a sure-lock 4 section pole, that all fits in a black heavy duty case for like 120 bucks or so.. It seams that they always have it on sale.. I know lots of photogs who use that set... the stands are made very well too,..(if only they had better knobs on them).. I just used mine the other day when shooting a furniture catalogue on location,..I had to keep a 12' wide roll of seamless paper on the thing, and be able to roll it out smoothly (with the aid of a helper),...and it worked flawlessly..

You may want to look into picking up a Bogan "Auto-pole System"..for your backgrounds if you are planning on using seamless paper, muslins, and change them very quickly in the studio.. they can go up past 10 ft high, (the hight of my studio's ceiling)..and lock between the ceiling and the floor without stand legs..and feature a chain drive..(also available is the electric motor)..for pulling them down, and roolling them up.. Perhaps you can "get-by_ with what you have in a background stand set for now, but the Auto Pole system is just sooo darn nice to have! They run about 300 bucks these days..

Well,....good luck! I hope this helps you out! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

JP
 
 
Re: Finally setting up a studio -- need any/all advice available :)
Old 10-09-2005, 12:21 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Excellent -- thanks so much for the time and effort you put in to help me!

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Re: Finally setting up a studio -- need any/all advice available :)
Old 10-09-2005, 08:48 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I may be wrong on this but why do you need 4 wireless recievers ? Why not just use one reciever and slave all the other lights ? Unless your studio is so big you need the recievers because your slave pickups are not picking up the light from the master.

Mike

That Look Photo
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Re: Finally setting up a studio -- need any/all advice available :)
Old 10-09-2005, 09:57 AM   #5 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
Two muslims (undecided) -- advice?

[/ QUOTE ]

Interesting. What will their role be in all of this?

I couldn't resist [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]
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Re: Finally setting up a studio -- need any/all advice available :)
Old 10-09-2005, 05:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I'd say you could probably cut your w/s in half on your lights. But I like to shoot rather open most of the time.

For stands I would recommend Matthews C-stands. Durable and less chance of falling over. They make even Bogen stands look pretty wimpy.

I have the Bogen Super Boom & wheeled stand. Nice for controlling the head up high. I use a pack and head so I can change power without lowering the boom.

For a background I'd recommend the soft photo black from Denny Mfg. Packs in a bag and sucks up the light. I have a 10ft x 24ft.

Rosco makes a nice 15 gel set for color effects.

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Whoooeee... nice setup.
Old 10-09-2005, 07:58 PM   #7 (permalink)
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You have listed an impressive collection of stuff. I guess my first question would be is it all necessary?

You didn't talk much about what your plans for shooting are. I am going to assume you are shooting for money, and will be using it a great portion of the time.

In regard to stands, you mention heavy duty. I have one of the Alien Bee's/White Lightning heavy duty stands. Frankly, for the 30 by 40 softbox I use on it, it's overkill. It's way heavier than needed, and it's big footprint is sometimes awkward. Now if I was using it outdoors, I MIGHT need something that heavy, but I doubt it. It might be just the thing for your big softbox.

I'd also second the recommendation on getting some gels. I don't use them much, but when they're needed, it's nice to have a selection in a variety of colors.

Think about how you are going to schlep all this stuff around. You ought to get some suitcases or a trunk or something to put the smaller pieces in. The light stands, background supports, etc., can go in a traveling golf bag. That's a bag the pro's put their regular bags inside when they fly, they totally enclose the regular bag and zip up so they can be locked. A lot of them have wheels so you don't have to actually carry them. You can frequently find them used and in excellent shape.

Sounds like you have done a lot of planning. I hope it works out for you.



[b]Some gels used here...







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Re: Finally setting up a studio -- need any/all advice available :)
Old 10-09-2005, 08:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
Two muslims (undecided) -- advice?

[/ QUOTE ]

Interesting. What will their role be in all of this?

I couldn't resist [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

[/ QUOTE ]

crap -- so much for trusting the spell checker!
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Re: Finally setting up a studio -- need any/all advice available :)
Old 10-09-2005, 08:33 PM   #9 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
I may be wrong on this but why do you need 4 wireless recievers ? Why not just use one reciever and slave all the other lights ? Unless your studio is so big you need the recievers because your slave pickups are not picking up the light from the master.

Mike

That Look Photo

[/ QUOTE ]

My understanding is that the WL remotes allow for individual output adjustment, whereas slaving them together would only give me remote firing capability.
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