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My .02 Worth On Studio Lights
Old 10-28-2007, 07:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I have seen the various brands of studio lighting debated hot and heavy in this Forum and I would like to add from my own experiences.

The first suggestion I can make is to get what works for you and what you can afford. There is absolutely no need to bankrupt yourself simply because you have heard that Brand "X" is the absolute best and is used by "all" the pros on the planet. Most of the well known and established pros get their lights for free or at a greatly reduced price so their name can be used. There are a lot of good lights out there like JTL, Photogenics, and Excaliber to name a few. They all work and there is absolutely no need to be lusting after the Brand "X" lights when a light in a lower price range will do fine. The pro lights are way over built and with good reason but a semi-pro or occassional photographer can do very well with less. The one suggestion I can make is to get a light with more power than you think you need right now because sooner or later you will need the power and if you don't have it now you will have tospend more money to buy it over again.

I photographed corporate events and also for the U. S. Navy for 5 years took between 200 to 400 images per event and I used a set of Britek monolights which if you ask ten people 9 of them will tell you they never heard of them but they held up and worked fine for me with no failures of malfunctions in 5 years. They didn't have all the fancy stuff like infinitely variable power or a digital remote connection but how often does an occasional photographer really need all of that?

I do heartily agree with the reccommendation to definitely over buy on the light stands because you will not regret it. The first time you get your lights set up with the soft boxes or umbrellas or whatever attached and they are swaying in the breeze you will wish you had spent more money on stands.

As far as monolights or power pack lights that is largely a matter of personal preference and both have their pluses and minuses. As an option, I was at a shoot recently and I saw a photographer using two Vivitar 283 flashes on full power on light stands into a set of 42" umbrellas and I didn't think it would work but somehow it did much to my amazement. He was shooting F8 at 1/125 at 10 feet and his exposures were spot on every time. I wouldn't reccommend this for large groups or heavy duty use but for an occasional studio session I think it would work fine.

Radio slave are nice and a worthwhile investment but as others have mentioned always have a sync cord (or two) on hand in case of a failure.

Anyone can do studio work without breaking the bank, they just have to spend their money wisely and try and get the most for the dollars they are spending. As with anything you have to start with a plan as to what you want to do and how you want to do it and go from there.

Good luck.
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Re: My .02 Worth On Studio Lights
Old 10-28-2007, 10:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Amen!
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Re: My .02 Worth On Studio Lights
Old 10-28-2007, 10:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
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but i will add this: recycle time is very important to me. i HATE waiting for lights to recycle. as i shoot mostly glamour and portraiture, i don't need a lot of power. my novatron m-300s are often turned down to less than half-power while i'm blowing them through some fair-sized softboxes with double-baffles. inexpensive instruments like JTL and Britek (yeah, i'm one of the one out of ten) are not for me though... they take too much time to recycle.
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Re: My .02 Worth On Studio Lights
Old 10-29-2007, 12:32 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Recycle speed is indeed crucial. My old Novatron pack and its four heads are still working like a champ after 30 years and I still get 1/2 to 1 second recycle time. I think that a must for studio type flash is to have good modeling lights. This really speeds up seeing where the light is going to fall. For shooting Glamour you usually only need 200 to 400 WS total and that will give you more than enough power even with softboxes and panels, etc. About the only time you need greater power is for overpowering the sun type stuff, or very big objects like cars.
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Re: My .02 Worth On Studio Lights
Old 10-31-2007, 08:56 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thank you David. Well said.
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Re: My .02 Worth On Studio Lights
Old 10-31-2007, 10:55 AM   #6 (permalink)
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My JTL's on full power take about 2 seconds to recharge, on half or three quarter the refresh is about a second.

I almost never shoot full power.

I also use two sb600 speedlights, for my money nothing's better for "no power available" shooting.

Nikon's commander mode works, but ya gotta read the book. [grin]

And I too thank you for your comments, Dave.
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