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Lighting Equipment Suggestion
Old 01-30-2007, 09:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I'm looking to spend $5,000 on lighting equipment in the next few months but the options are overwhelming. Does anyone have any suggestions on the type of lights I should buy? I plan on doing a lot of on location shoots so something portable would be great. I believe I have enough for studio lights as well. Should I spend the money on studio lights while I have the cash? I do plan on converting a spare room into a home studio within the next year. Here are my questions:

1. What brand lights should I buy for on location and studio
2. What other equipment should I buy first? Would the obvious be Reflectors?
3. I have a Canon Digital Rebel, should I upgrade the camera before buying the lights?

I would like to thank you all in advance for your help in this matter.

Anthony
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Re: Lighting Equipment Suggestion
Old 01-30-2007, 10:09 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I personally would look closely at the Alien Bees or White Lightnings. For the money you have to spend you can get a stunning system and with their vagbond battery power supply can use all of the equipment either in studio or remotely. Naturally you need light modifiers such as softboxes, reflectors, light stands, etc, but these can be added as needed.
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Re: Lighting Equipment Suggestion
Old 01-30-2007, 10:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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When considering your lighting purchase here are my suggestions:
(1) Do not cut back on light stands - buy quality that will last.
(2) Remember to save a couple hundred for a good dolly - it makes moving lights and camera cases around a lot easier.
(3) If you don't have a flash meter - buy a good Sekonic or Minolta.
(4) Double up on sync cords, even if you plan to use radio or infrared transmitters - sometimes even they die most inconveniently.
(5) Remember a couple of good reflectors are always worth more than an extra soft box.
(6) Master clamps, gel filters and good booms are part of any good light system.
(7) This should probably be #1 but get a Wein SSH Safe-Sync - Sync Voltage Regulator - Canon's can be a little pesky it your studio lights jolt it with more volts than its little circuits can handle.

I agree on the Paul Buff White Lightnings - great lights and great customer service.
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Re: Lighting Equipment Suggestion
Old 01-30-2007, 10:50 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
(7) This should probably be #1 but get a Wein SSH Safe-Sync - Sync Voltage Regulator - Canon's can be a little pesky it your studio lights jolt it with more volts than its little circuits can handle.
Instead of this, buy a set of Pocket Wizards or the WL equivalent. This works with all Cameras and means you no longer need a pc cord connection between the camera and the lights.
Cheers,
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Re: Lighting Equipment Suggestion
Old 01-30-2007, 11:29 PM   #5 (permalink)
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You mention that you intend to do a lot of on location shooting. Can you anticipate how desirable a battery-operated set of strobes would be? If you will always (or nearly always) have electrical outlets nearby you probably won't need a battery powered solution.

You haven't mentioned what you intend to shoot. Knowing what you primarily intend to photograph will help in recommending modifiers and accessories. The size of your subjects and/or sets would be good to know too.

How often do you intend to shoot? Is this (or will it be) your livelihood or is this more of a hobby?

If you can provide answers to the above then we can offer targeted recommendations. In general I think you'd be well served to purchase a single set of lights that will work equally well at home and on the road. I have a few recommendations in mind, but would like to hear your answers to the above first.

Regarding upgrading the camera: The amount of money you're willing to spend qualifies as an "investment" in lighting. You should expect whatever you purchase to outlast several cameras. I still have (and use) the first lights I purchased in 1988. In that time I've owned somewhere around 12 camera bodies/systems. I'd rather have $1000 in camera bodies and $4000 in lighting gear than the other way around. Unless your current body isn't doing something you need it to do, I'd keep it.

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Re: Lighting Equipment Suggestion
Old 01-30-2007, 11:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChipBulgin View Post
You mention that you intend to do a lot of on location shooting. Can you anticipate how desirable a battery-operated set of strobes would be?
I would love to do work in the forest, near waterfalls, etc... I won't have access to an AC plug

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChipBulgin View Post
How often do you intend to shoot? Is this (or will it be) your livelihood or is this more of a hobby?
This is a hobby at the moment but I plan on making it as my livelihood.


I want to shoot females/males both glamour and casual. I also want to shoot models next to import cars, especially mine.

The only issue with my camera is that it's so slow when I preview the image. I think it takes great photos. Here are some of my photos that I've taken a few weeks ago. http://www.flickr.com/photos/38278869@N00/ I plan on uploading those images to this site this week.

Thank you both for helping me out here.
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Re: Lighting Equipment Suggestion
Old 01-31-2007, 12:10 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
The only issue with my camera is that it's so slow when I preview the image. I think it takes great photos. Here are some of my photos that I've taken a few weeks ago. http://www.flickr.com/photos/38278869@N00/ I plan on uploading those images to this site this week.
Often the slowness for preview of images is not the camera's fault, but rather a slow CF card. I know on my 20D if I put in a slow CF card from several years ago it can take 3 or 4 seconds or longer to display a preview as opposed to less than 1 second with the latest crop of CF cards. Surprisingly, my oldest card, a IBM 1gb Microdrive (5 or 6 years old) still rivals the 80x and faster cards that are now coming out.

Cheers,
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Re: Lighting Equipment Suggestion
Old 01-31-2007, 01:06 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mal at Hidden Creek Photo View Post
When considering your lighting purchase here are my suggestions:
(1) Do not cut back on light stands - buy quality that will last.
I whole heartedly agree. I thought I could scoot by with cheapy Smith Victor stands. Because what the heck I mean the'll make the lights resist gravity as much as the next stand, right? Nope Last year I got a Calumet boom arm/stand and an extra stand. There's no comparison. Calumet's kick but hands down. Pricier but definately worth it. I had a section on a SV stand break, and on two others the 1/4" threads pop out so easily I don't bother using them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mal at Hidden Creek Photo View Post
(7) This should probably be #1 but get a Wein SSH Safe-Sync - Sync Voltage Regulator - Canon's can be a little pesky it your studio lights jolt it with more volts than its little circuits can handle.
I know DRebels need the safe sync, but 20d's can take 250v. Most anything you buy off the shelf with a brand name on it should be "digital safe", used is a waaaay different story.

As for the OP for location work i use a JTL Mobilight 300. They now make a 600(ws). You can purchase the 300 with a battery for $320. It's a nifty light that I use in the studio as well as on location. If you're shooting event/location a 580ex will serve you well and a Quantum flash with the new wireless plugin looks purdy spiffy. Personally I like pack and head systems in the studio. There's lots of reasons for either monolights or packs-n-heads, I just prefer the latter and often end up using a mix anyways. Stay away from Novatron packs and heads though, or anything with a fixed reflector for that matter (one you can't remove).
-James
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Re: Lighting Equipment Suggestion
Old 01-31-2007, 01:37 AM   #9 (permalink)
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send me a PM and I'll send you my private number to call via phone as lighting is a long-term investment that should be spent wisely and takes time to explain. Avoid uncoated UV flashtube types that can change colors in clothes and other areas of an image, like those that sting, seriously, while a flash may flash, not all flashes are created equally, many use confusing advertising practices to sting you like a bee...lighting should be a well-thought out investment, stay away from the marketing hype, thanks, rg sends!

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Re: Lighting Equipment Suggestion
Old 01-31-2007, 06:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
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many photographers here use the products that "sting you like a bee" and make wonderful images. i think it is a little insulting to imply that anyone not using premium lighting equipment is taking subpar images. I may not be a lighting guru but I would tend to think that blowing 5 grand on 1 or 2 lights instead of a whole setup is not necessarily in the best interest of everyone. i think having one or two premium quality lights would make such a negligible difference in your photography that the investment would be counterproductive. sorry to have a dissenting opinion but this light prejudice creeps up whenever the lighting topic comes up.
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