Bought some studio lights (my first) they are 200 watt.

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by BuddhaBelly, Mar 17, 2012.

  1. BuddhaBelly

    BuddhaBelly Member

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    Bought some studio lights (my first) they are 200 watt. Now i see 300 watt and 400 watt ones advertised a bit more frequently than the 200 watt. Will two 200 watt studio lights be sufficient to light a room?
     
  2. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    200WS ( watt second ) lights depending on how you use them ( bare bulb, straight up! )
    can put off a fair amount of light ... not TONS ...
    i have lumedyne lights and its bulb is a 200WS bulb
    bare + straight up they say can light a 8' x8'x8' room

    it's not enough to light up a stadium, but enough for portraits and product work, and fill light &c ...


    have fun with your new lights !
    john
     
  3. BuddhaBelly

    BuddhaBelly Member

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    thanks mate so you mean if i used them with umbrellas they wouldn't be all that powerful? forgive me i am a bit of a newbie to studio lights.
     
  4. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i think it all depends on what you want to do with them ...
    what size room is it ? do you want the whole room lit up like a xmas tree or
    a light here, and a light there, to accent the light already there / available ?

    ... with umbrellas you will get some light but you still will not light up a whole room
    an idea might be to extend your light stands and lights all the way up, use umbrellas
    and then without them and see how the light looks ... ( how many do you have ? )

    you might to get a basic book on architectural and portrait lighting .. it will give you better ideas
    than i can suggest from 3000 miles away and an internet connection :smile:

    john
     
  5. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    For the record... when we were buying studio lights we bought two 160W/S strobes, one 320W/S, and a 640W/S. Of the four, we use the 160w/s lights the most.

    And we use a 4x6 softbox on them with an internal diffuser regularly for portraits.
     
  6. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    wait wait wait. Are they strobes or are they continuous lights? The power is measured quite differently in the two cases.

    Continuous light (actually, the electrical power into the light) is measured in watts (which is joules per second, i.e. rate of energy flow), whereas power of strobes (being instantaneous) is measured in watt-seconds, i.e. joules. So with a strobe, 200W-s means 200J, which is the total energy going into a single pulse. If you were using a 200W continuous light with the same efficiency as the strobe, it would take 1s of illumination to get the same amount of light. Say you had a 400W-s strobe, it would take 2s for the 200W continuous light to produce the same illumination*.

    The next issue is efficiency. If they're continuous lights, the efficiency varies hugely between technologies: tungsten, HID/CMH, fluorescent. You get more light from a 150W fluorescent than from a 500W tungsten, so just quoting the electrical power consumption is not sufficient unless you know what sort of light is involved. The technologies also differ in their colour temperature (orange/blue ratio) as well as their colour quality (CRI), i.e. ability to accurately render different hues.

    Oh how I wish light vendors would start selling their lights with luminous-flux numbers as the primary measurement!

    Edit: to answer the question... it depends. If they're continuous lights and you have stationary subjects (not people), you can just expose as long as necessary. If they're people, 200W fluorescents are probably fine as long as you're not expecting to shoot at f/16 1/250. If they're strobes, 200Ws is enough to get about f/16-f/22 from a small (60x60cm) softbox at a metre, so good enough for single-person portraits probably, depending on how you like to shoot and how big/slow your film is.

    *
    Power(W) = Energy(J) / Time(s)
    Energy(J) = Power(W) * Time(s)
    hence people quoting strobe energy in "watt-seconds". A physicist would slap you if he heard such a term.

    Given that a strobe's duration is typically about 1ms and say it had 400J=400W-s of energy, the power from the flash is actually 400/0.001 = 400 kilowatts. But the energy is still only 400J, and it's the total energy hitting the film that matters, not (ignoring reciprocity-failure issues) not how fast it hits the film.
     
  7. BuddhaBelly

    BuddhaBelly Member

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    Thanks all of you. They are just basic budget (strobe) lights made by a company called Quantuum, here:

    http://www.quantuum.pl/detal.php?lang=gb&id=1361&curr=PLN

    So what can i do with them?!

    Ideally i could take portraits (with umbrellas) and enable the background to not be too dark too.

    Or maybe i need to get different lights :-s
     
  8. BuddhaBelly

    BuddhaBelly Member

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    In an average sized room... not massive... not tiny...
     
  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Do you have a flash meter?

    If you do, you can do some test measurements to see what you will get from the combination of the film speed, the light output of these flashes and the reflectors or other light modifiers you will be using.

    My guess is that you will find that an ISO 400 film will be more usable than 100 or 125 - 200 watt-seconds into basic reflectors means at best moderate amounts of light when normal portrait distances are involved.

    For close-up and still life, they may provide more than enough power. To do a studio portrait of an extended family - most likely they will be stretched.

    Strictly speaking, the watt-second measurement is merely a measurement of electrical power. Better flashes may make more efficient use of that power, and therefore produce more light from each watt-second of power, but these are probably at least usable.

    You may find having just two moderate power flashes limits you a bit. Lighting backgrounds or hair works better if you have another light source available, although small portable flashes can be used in conjunction with these studio units to good effect.

    These are probably good to learn with, so don't dismiss them out of hand. If you find yourself bitten by the studio lighting bug, you will soon find yourself wanting more :whistling:.

    One caution - be very careful about anything you see that recommends using a digital camera as a flash meter. The differences you will encounter between a good flash meter and a digital camera when it comes to measuring light are sufficient to make it inadvisable to use the digital camera for that purpose.
     
  10. werra

    werra Subscriber

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    These should be absolutely capable for portrait work. Just start experimenting, with classic lightning schemes. You get the idea quickly. Ah, yes, the flash meter is of a tremendous help.
     
  11. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    They will work just fine, and if they are too weak for your work, buy 320 ones and use the 160 ones for fill.

    The only real issue you may experience, is overpowering the sun if you shoot outside in the middle of the day with these.
     
  12. Zewrak

    Zewrak Member

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    My first studiolights were 2 300ws. I used them with umbrellas and 60 x90cm softboxes. I primarly shot full body on models. 90% of the time I had them set on minimal output. I guess people here shot iso 25 and f/16.

    :wink: 200ws is good enough for starters. When you upgrade, get a stronger and the 200ws will be good for hairlights, fill, background etc.

    Ps. It's worse to have 2000ws where you cannot go low enough and need ND filters.
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    they'll do just fine -

    have fun !
    john
     
  14. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    More is not necessarily better

    A common fallacy is the more the better. I've fallen into the trap many times. I have a set of Mole Richardson Mini Moles which are 200 watts. They're fresnel lights and they're my favorites. I shoot mainly tabletop and portraits and 200 watts is more than enough for me. On a recent assignment, I had to use some scrims to dim them over a stop to balance them with the ambient lighting. I don't know what you shoot nor what your approach is, but use your lights a bit and come to your conclusion through experience. If your lights permit, you might be able to up the wattage just by changing the bulb. But read the instructions first.
     
  15. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    The first half of this is true, but you cannot increase a flash's power by changing the bulb. It's the quantity of capacitors built in that defines the energy storage.

    But certainly 2 of 200Ws is enough to get started, more than enough for 35mm and OK for many purposes with medium format. It's only LF where it would struggle.

    I will disagree with MattKing and strongly advocate the use of a DSLR for metering, if you have one already. If you set it up correctly (absolutely no dynamic-range-adjusted modes, M exposure), it can give a very accurate indication of exposure, especially if you look carefully at the histogram. The greatest value though is in visualising how the light falls on your subject, which can be a bit difficult initially with flashes. A flash meter is also highly valuable but they're not cheap.
     
  16. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Here we go again. A DSLR for metering!?
    Rubbish!
    Use a flashmeter with incident/trigger ops. The expense of a separate meter is part of an overall working studio set up.
     
  17. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I know this is heresy, but shooting with a digital camera to learn about lighting and ratios are useful despite being useless for metering film. I spent a lot of money on Polaroid learning about lighting. Still have more to learn though.
     
  18. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Sure, use an incident flashmeter, that works too. However, many people already have a DSLR but not a flashmeter; buying a flashmeter is expensive for a hobbyist. A DSLR works extremely well for metering, it's not rubbish and it gives perfect results if you do it properly. I have quite the collection of chromes to prove it.

    No one is forcing you do throw out your beloved flashmeter but just because a process is different from what you personally do doesn't make it wrong.
     
  19. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    i use 1200ws to light a whole roomand could get away with 800ws,but 2x 200ws is getting tight. Don't forget that you can always add lights later and fire them through slaves. you don't need to buy sa full set rihht away.
     
  20. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    I would really advice to use a flash-meter to measure the lights and to get the ratios correct. (the ratios are important to document, should you need to set everything up again and repeat that light).
    - you also have control and consistency over what you are doing when you are using a light-meter to gauge your flash-outputs.

    Using a DSLR is a very convenient way to determine and fine-tune your ratios and angles, this isn't "cheating" either, as most photographers during the years used polaroids to gauge exposure, ratios and angles of light, since polaroid is more or less extinct, I think it's only fair game to use a digicam in it's place.

    When I do this, I still think "zone-like" though, because dslr's are more like slide-flim (expose for the highlights, not the shadows), so after setting everything up, you need to start thinking how you will develop your film and how you will end up printing, to decide where you will place your (BW) exposures.
     
  21. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    One thing you might think of packing in your light kit are neutral density filters. I have a stack of 1/2 stop filters in my lighting kits. You can control ratios with them if you need to dim the lights and the power if your strobe head is turned all the way down. I use clothes pins to hold them in place. These filters work for me because I do tabletop work and the lights are fairly close to my subject. I remember my first light kit, I was obsessed with light and the language of light. My favorite source of inspiration was Dutch masters and Impressionist paintings. Great old BW movies are a good source of ideas too.
     
  22. BuddhaBelly

    BuddhaBelly Member

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    Thanks so much all of you. You have given me a lot to think about. :smile:
     
  23. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    yes, bite the bullet and get a flash meter, you won' regret it.