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Stobe Lighting Newbie Shopping For a good basis setup
Old 12-17-2005, 07:34 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Hey All,

Since the time that I began shooting I have either used natural lighting/reflectors or struggled with various "make-do" studio lighting such as Home Depot work lights. These make do solutions, to say the least, most often leave a lot to be desired in terms of color cast, etc. and often, I end up having to spend way too much time in Photoshop getting the image to a decent standard. Even then, they are not close to the quality of my natural lighting shots.

With winter upon me here in the arctic northeast, I am contemplating spending a little dough($1000.00 - $2000.00) to get a basic strobe set up so I can spend the winter learning how to use them and add the ability to do "real" studio work to my toolset.

Would be interested and very grateful to get input from all of those experienced with purchasing strobe lighting set ups i.e. your recommendations on brands etc. I am particularly interested in self-contained kits so that I can use on location if desired.

Would also love to hear from those who have gone through the learning curve of using strobes and get any tips/shortcuts in terms of shortening that curve at all.

I know this is a big question. I appreciate any of you taking the time to answer.

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Re: Stobe Lighting Newbie Shopping For a good basis setup
Old 12-17-2005, 08:18 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Tim,

I certainly don't have your answer but I wanted to take a second to tell you what great work you do. Your work and the website are some of the best I've seen. Stay warm through the winter and good luck with the new lighting.

LSC [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif[/img]
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Re: Strobe Lighting Newbie Shopping For a good basis setup
Old 12-17-2005, 09:14 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Just upgraded from a cheapy Novatron to PhotoGenic and love it! One thing I didn't know before purchasing is that you can get the bulbs specially coated as an upgrade at time of purchase to get better white balance to match today's digital cameras. This was something I'm glad I found out before buying as I had always shot film in the "olden days" and never had this need. I purchased the Photo_Genic 500 WS from B&H as I found them to have very good pricing on this product as opposed to my local retailer who wanted $150 more per light.


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Re: Stobe Lighting Newbie Shopping For a good basis setup
Old 12-17-2005, 09:14 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Damn awesome picture by the way.
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Re: Stobe Lighting Newbie Shopping For a good basis setup
Old 12-17-2005, 10:01 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Can look at a mix of the Dynalite, Photogenic, Norman, Elinchrome, or Alien Bee packages, plenty of lighting kits there in the mix within your budget range just gotta pick what is right for you in them.

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Re: Stobe Lighting Newbie Shopping For a good basis setup
Old 12-17-2005, 11:19 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Looks like you have done very well with "make do" setups. I would suggest the Alien Bees packages ( http://www.alienbees.com/ )... These guys have done it right for the price range you are talking about. Wireless sensors, cooling fans built into the strobes, model light, full power adjustments, etc....

I am on many forums and these are the most commonly sought after/recommended lights for beginner to pro. Also I see they hold their resale value strongly, just like Canon gear [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
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Re: Stobe Lighting Newbie Shopping For a good basis setup
Old 12-17-2005, 01:13 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The Alien Bees seem to give you the most for the money along with a great value. But as for your color casts problems with hot lights, keep in mind that if you're shooting digital, then you can set custom white balance and you don't get any unwanted color casts. I shoot with cheap hot lights all the time and I just dial in whatever color balance I want either with CWB or by just setting a Kelvin temperature that I like. I tend to often want an overly warm shot, so that's what I set the WB to.



And here is the ultra cheap lighting setup:



The light is one of those $39.95 dual shop lights.

Cheers,
rfs
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Re: Stobe Lighting Newbie Shopping For a good basis setup
Old 12-17-2005, 02:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Without looking at what the others wrote bellow,..(I never do)..

There are several light kits that make for some great starter kits.. I use Alien Bees by Paul Buff/White Lightning.. and they are a darn good light for the money, especially with all their available accessories such as a portable power pack,..which would be great for you on your locations,...their grid set that comes in 10,20,30, & 40º spreads..that fit snuggly into either the 7" parabolic reflectors, or the "Lightmod" which can also hold a gel, + barndoors.. They have a very nicely made beauty dish,..and their heads feature a cooling fan, infinate power adjustment..not just full clicks but everything in between, a decent modeling light option, a good flash tube, a swivel clamp that is very easy to use, and a spring clamp to securely lock on speed rings from any sized soft box or otagon bank.....they are a bit cumbersome to get on, but once they are, they are staying on..

They are rated like 640 true watt seconds for the highest powered light, which is the "1600" model.....somehow they come up with that number for output but it doesn't mean anything,...and 640WS is quite a lot of power, even for outdoor lighting work..

I'd personally suggest..(on your budget) picking up 3 of the 1600 model Alien Bee lights, and some accessories.. The "Vegabond" powerpack comes in two types,...the 150, and the 300...the major difference is the recycle time is slow as hell with the 150,..but if your shooting style allows you to have several seconds of delay between shots, then that isn't a problem.. I have two of the 300's, and I enjoy them so much, that they have replaced my trusty Norman 400B light kits! The only thing is,...you shouldn't use the modeling lamps when they are powered by the Vegabond, because that continous light drains the power really fast.....but since you are shooting digital, it won't matter all that much.. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

There are other light kits,...like Calumet's "Travel Lights" which are an offshoot of the "Bowens" lighting line, which accepts all the Bowens accessories,...and then Speedotron has a very nice system, but they cost a lot more..however, you can use the same accessories as their "Blackline" power packs do, which are much more powerful, and great for lighting up interiors..& larger banks of light from a longer distance away outdoors.....which is something to think about in the long run..

Well,...which ever you choose,.... best of luck to you! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

JP
 
 
Try the bees or WL
Old 12-17-2005, 02:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I have both AB's (400's and 800's) and a White Lightning 1600 (both made by Paul C Buff). The WL 1600 is a solid professional mono light and costs about $120 more than the Bees for comparable power. While I love the Bees, the WL is very solidly built .... a very good mono light.

I would suggest that you start with the Bees (save a little money and learn). But, I really don't like their softboxes... they are fairly inexpensive and not very flexible... buy the lights/stands from AB and your softboxes elsewhere.

Dave

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Alien Bees
Old 01-02-2006, 01:38 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I am generally pretty happy with the Alien Bees (2x B800's) on a cost and performance basis. With your budget, I would go with 1 - B800 and 1 - B1600, two of the Alien Bees' carry bags, a couple of Manfrotto stands and umbrellas or soft boxes. That should leave a little extra in the budget to buy some toys to play with.

While your budget is decent, if you want a cheap starter monolight unit, Adorama is offering a 300 ws monolight, the Flashpoint II Model 620, which looks pretty good at $199.00. I haven't tried it, but the specs looked good. I took a look at it in their store last week. It's not configured like the Bees. Its more of a rectangular than square design, like my old Novatrons. At 15" long, it didn't work for my travel needs.
Just my opinion....
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