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in what order should i buy equipement for my studio?
Old 03-27-2008, 01:54 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Hi i am an amateur photographer wanting to start my business in this field. I already found some contracts before without any studio nor equipement (only my canon rebel) by simply doing outdoor shoots. Now i want to have my own studio.

I am a dreamer but still i don't want to invest too much in it in case it doesn't work out so my idea is to reinvest my profit only. What i am asking you pros is: if you had a particular order in which you would buy your equipement, what would be that order and equipement? thanks.

Let's say i have a nice loft with nothing in it and want to shoot amateur models mostly...

I am asking you this because the most common answer i guess will be to invest in starter light kits at first but i was thinking of maybe investing first on a nice piece like a very large Elichrom octo box. This way i will easily differenciate myself from competitors, what do you guys think?

Thanks
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Re: in what order should i buy equipement for my studio?
Old 03-27-2008, 06:27 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Scott Kelby had a series of blog posts last week (maybe two weeks ago) about lighting. One day he talked about a studio lighting setup for around $2800. It might seems like a lot, but it looked pretty complete.

Just my 2˘.

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Re: in what order should i buy equipement for my studio?
Old 03-27-2008, 10:35 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Differentiate yourself with your work, not your equipment.

As far as equipment goes, you want reliability and compatibility and systems. So buy the best with the features you need and add units as you can afford them.

First buy a book or three on lighting to see what is out there and how to use them.
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Re: in what order should i buy equipement for my studio?
Old 03-27-2008, 07:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by babytarantula View Post
...if you had a particular order in which you would buy your equipement, what would be that order and equipement?
Just had a very similar conversation with a young photographer wanting to establish herself in high end portraiture / illustration. Of course, getting started, money is definitely a consideration.

My suggestion was for her to purchase a medium powered monolight (White Lightning Ultra 1200 or 1600 or something similar) with a light stand, a "normal" reflector, a beauty dish, and a large softbox. Add in a couple of reflectors. All told, less than a grand.

Suggested she learn how to use one speedlight, by itself as the main light, and as an adjunct to natural or incadescent ambient light. Shoot with that single light for a while until she's feeling like she's got a good understanding of light and how it works.. By then, she'll be ready to add another light and start the learning process over.

Perhaps that may help you with your considerations?



You can do a lot with one light.
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Re: in what order should i buy equipement for my studio?
Old 03-27-2008, 09:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I echo everything Wayne said. I see TOO many young photographers who think more equipment will make them a good photographer. Truth is ... TALENT will make you a good photographer, and learning the basics of lighting early on wil make you a better photographer.
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Re: in what order should i buy equipement for my studio?
Old 03-28-2008, 10:53 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I echo everyone else, but would add, that the quality of the glass you are going to use is the most important component. All the lighting equipment wont compensate for marginal glass. If you are going to be shooting studio only a 50mm 1.4 will be your best friend.
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Re: in what order should i buy equipement for my studio?
Old 03-28-2008, 01:21 PM   #7 (permalink)
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While I agree with what has been said, I think we are missing the point of the question.... I will assume you have a basic knowledge of lighting and photography overall. If not, you need to start there. Assuming that, I would tell you the following as to how I would start a home studio, as follows:

1- Lighting. I would look into a two light setup as a starting point. (Remember...I am assuming you have a basic knowledge of lighting). With a 2 light setup you'll have something that gives you a level of flexibility. If possible, look into a pair of softboxes and reflector with barn door options. With that, you'll have a good start.

In terms of dollars, obviously, budget is always a question. Like anything else, lower costs will be, functionally, good but there are higher end units that offer certain benefits that are worth looking into. Lower end units like Alien Bees and White Lightning are excellent but limited to a certain extent particularly when you are working with modifiers like softboxes ect. Higher end gear like Elinchrom provide more power, consistent output control, more consistent color temp throughout the power range etc.. The price, however, is significantly higher.

Like the lights, there are choices with modifiers. Particularly the softboxes. If you go with the manufacturer's gear (AB, WL or Elinchrom, etc.) then you are limited to that manufacturer's lights. If you go with Chimera, for example, as your softbox manufacturer, you can cahnge a ring and the softbox will work on different lights. This is key if you mix lighting and/or upgrade later.

Remember the stands. You need enough height to get the front of your modifier above the subject. Keep it in mind. If you get good lights, don't skimp on stands. Remember they hold the weight of your lights.

1A. Reflectors. I suggest pop-open styled reflectors. Get the combo (5 in 1) style. These are great b/c they will work on-site as well. If you can splurge on stands for these... do it. If not, a chair and some books works too.

2. Background. You want some ability to vary your background. I would suggest seamless paper, if possible. You get nice solid backgrounds, you can roll it under your model's feet.... well worth it. A roll of paper runs about $70 delivered to your door for an 107" wide roll. It'll last you a couple of shoots b/c you loose a couple of feet each time (if it's under foot traffic). The other background to consider would be some sort of rod to hold fabric and/or muslins. Muslins are a good investment and with some patience you would be amazed what you can find on eBay for $40 to $60. Look into Amvona.com and the sales they place on eBay. This is important b/c you want some level of variety beyond the wall of the room.

3. Paint. Usually overlooked. If your room is painted a mustard yellow, you'll have a problem with color temperature in your photos. I suggest a neutral tone for the walls. White is great b/c you can use the wall as a reflector. If you don't want the reflection you can drop a black reflector in the way. It's not pricey but it not free either.

4. Lenses. Yes a f/2.8 mid range zoom for $1,000 to $1,500 sounds good but it's not a critical need. With good lighting you will be shooting in the f/5.6 to f/11 range typically. I always suggest that you get the best glass you can afford. However, don't think it's a must if you already have decent, mid priced lenses. They'll work. The focal length you need to be at is about 50 to 100mm (on a cropped sensor ie. lens factor of 1.5 to 1.6 etc.) for your average work and 100mm to 200mm for tight shots. Don't use an 18mm lens for a headshot!

While this seems crazy and expensive.... it's not really that bad....

1. Lights... most costly. Anywhere between $1,000 to $3,000 over all for decent to high end.

1a. Reflectors. about $100 for two.

2. Rod to hold paper and/or muslins less than $30 at a home supply. Add a bit more for mounting hardware. I roll of balck paper, $70 and 1 Muslin $75 (being nice). $180 total....ballpark.

3. Paint... $50 for 2 gallons... worst case.

4. Lenses. Varies widely. A good mid range zoom $400. Good Mid to long zoom $400.
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Re: in what order should i buy equipement for my studio?
Old 03-28-2008, 06:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Ask yourself how often will you use the studio. You may be better off, at least initially, renting studio time with lights. You may also find that you are taking your lights to various venues and not using a studio that much. If so, why spend $ on a studio? I still think a good light meter is critical even shooting digital. As for lights, WL and AB are acceptable start. They are also are portable being monolights.

A lot depends on what you want to shoot. Studio rental with electricity, security concerns, etc. can be expensive. Even use such as once a week does not justify a studio. You need to use it 4 or more days a week to justify or find other photographers to share the cost.

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Re: in what order should i buy equipement for my studio?
Old 03-28-2008, 11:26 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photomart View Post
...I see TOO many young photographers who think more equipment will make them a good photographer...
And, truth be told, more than a few old farts, as well!
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Re: in what order should i buy equipement for my studio?
Old 03-29-2008, 03:44 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
  • Lights... most costly. Anywhere between $1,000 to $3,000 over all for decent to high end.
  • Reflectors. about $100 for two.
  • Rod to hold paper and/or muslins less than $30 at a home supply. Add a bit more for mounting hardware. I roll of balck paper, $70 and 1 Muslin $75 (being nice). $180 total....ballpark.
  • Paint... $50 for 2 gallons... worst case.
  • Lenses. Varies widely. A good mid range zoom $400. Good Mid to long zoom $400.
After considerring all the costs mentioned above, if you decide you STILL want to get your own studio ... consider all the things you'll want to buy after a few months ... like some furniture -- Cha-Ching$$$ ... more props Cha-Ching$$$ ... different backgrounds Cha-Ching$$$.

And then one day you're driving to your cool studio to shoot with a TFP model (who won't show up) ... and you suddenly realize how much gas you're wasting and how much time your wasting just getting to and from your cool studio - CHA-CHING$$$$ CHA-CHING$$$$

No thinks! Been there ... done that ... now shoot in my HOME STUDIO!

Here's a shot taken in my Home Studio!


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