Entry level lighting for home studio, newbie question

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by Ilmarin, Jan 31, 2006.

  1. Ilmarin

    Ilmarin Member

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  2. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    If you want to light up relatively small areas, the kit on eBay looks good enough. But if you go beyond that, you need bigger lights. It depends on how much space you have in your home studio.

    First of all, check the maximum wattage on each lamp (I'm assuming it's a tungsten type) as well as your house outlet capacity. And make sure when you use all the lights at home, you don't overload anything.

    Check the wires and the outlets, etc if your building is old and has not really renovated. And watch out the bill for electricity if you are planning to run your photo sessions very frequently.

    The alternative is using flourescent lights (Kino) which is softer but takes far less power and doesn't heat up the room as much as the tungsten. You can even use the ones from DIY stores, and they are cheap.

    The only disadvantage of using a flourescent lamp is that you can't use a dimmer. But the tungstern lamps, you can. So there are a few things you might want to think about before jumping on to the conclusion.

    Good Luck. :wink:
     
  3. jason314159

    jason314159 Member

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    Hi Vladmir,

    When I started getting serious about photography I was in the same situation I think you are in (good and cheap) and looked at everything, using Vivtar 285s (didn't work very well), as well as hot lights. I rented some hot lights and found that non-professionals (the people you will take portraits of) tend to get stunned by the bright light. I think the ebay setup is best for catalog photography of objects not people. Also, you have to use a fairly wide slow shutter (like 1/60)! to get enough light at 5.6 with ISO 100 film, and that is with 500Watt bulbs! I always worried about fire hazard. There are some 800 Watt brown line speedotron setups that would be not that much more expensive than the hot lights in the auction. Another thing is because you guys like to use gels and shoot color it is a lot easier with strobes because the gels won't get as hot.

    I ended up with Dynalite 500 and some 2040 heads I bought used.

    -Jason
     
  4. jason314159

    jason314159 Member

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    Firecracker,

    You can dim fluorescent lights but you need an electronic ballast.

    regards,
    Jason
     
  5. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    Right. I have not tried that though. Does it work well for the lamps in all sizes?
     
  6. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    These lights aren't great for portrait work mainly because you will probably want to modify them (soften them etc) and in doing so you will cut their output considerably.

    Personally I would purchase a monolight (strobe 600ws minimum) of some kind ( I use Photogenics) and there are relatively cheap ones out there. Buy a softbox and get a reflector of some sort for fill (fomecore works) and then build from there.


    Michael
     
  7. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    For "our purpose" picture, just use a 250W bulb and bounce it off a piece of foamcore. Or maybe flourescent lights with diffusion (opal) set near the person does the similar job.

    One more thought: Chinese paper lantern with a small bulb could also work.
     
  8. Ilmarin

    Ilmarin Member

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    Thank you everybody!

    Yes, actually I was using a pair of cheap clamp-on-lamps from wallmart for this shot.
     
  9. vet173

    vet173 Member

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    Follow Michael's advice about 600 WS minimum. I was shooting a rose this morning. The key light was a 300WS strobe into a large silvered umbrella, 1 1/2 stop for bellows extention and I was at F-6.3 for 100 ISO film. If your going to do portraits you WILL be using soft light and it will suck up a couple of stops. I recommend an 1800 WS strobe so that you will be able to use less than full power for durability. Just ain't no way to do it right on the cheap.
     
  10. haris

    haris Guest

    I never knew what is difference between European (220V) and North America (110V) volt/output. With 160Ws monoblocks, bounced off silver 85 cm umbrella, I get aperture f8 on 1 meter distance.

    I use cheap Chinese origin monoblocks, selled by Czech seller. I have two monoblocks of 160 Ws, and I plane for two more of 320 Ws and one of 640 Ws with accessories (softboxes, stands, etc... and whole packadge for 5 monoblocks would cost me less that 2000 USD all new).

    Just for information, I payed for (all new not secondhand) 2x160Ws monoblocks, 2x85cm silver umbrella, 2xumbrella reflector, 2xpilot lamp, 2xstand, including shipment, about 500USD all together...

    I am saying this only to show you can get for (relatively) small money let say decent starting lightning. And let that starting lightning to earn you money for "serious" lights...
     
  11. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    If he sticks with 35mm he wont need that powerful of a strobe.

     
  12. Changeling1

    Changeling1 Member

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    Before buying that set-up, you might check Freestyle first. About 20 years ago I bought all the components for a similar set-up from them which worked out pretty well and was VERY inexpensive. I actually shot quite a bit of 4x5 (non-commercial) with the little set-up also. Mostly table top (slow shutter speed) and some portraits (larger aperture).

    I purchased a Speedotron 2403B powerpack (and heads) about 18 years ago which has been been extremely reliable and I've noticed quite a few of those systems up for auction.

    As has been said by others- be careful with all studio lighting set-ups as all sorts of mishaps can occur if they are not used properly.
     
  13. Ilmarin

    Ilmarin Member

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    Well, I prefer 6x6 B&W, but this could change.
     
  14. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Maybe not but some times the bigger more expensive strobes have more control. That lets you dial them down to lower power levels. It may seem wierd to buy a bigger light to get less light.
     
  15. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    FWIW, I agree with Michael and Nick - if you can, bite the bullet and buy a decent monolight to begin with. While these hot light sets are attratively priced, they are extremely limiting. Even if using 250W bulbs, most people will be uncomfortable with that level of light close to them, and they'll become beady-eyed grumps. Even then, you may have to compromise by using faster film than you'd like.

    One not-so-subtle difference with using strobes with softboxes and the like is in the subject's eyes. The lower light level during setup allows the subject's pupils to open up, making the resulting portrait seem more "inviting" and friendly. Small pupils resulting from hot lights give the opposite impression of the final images.

    Look at the different brands of monolights, and pick one that offers future expansion, and that has adapters for the softboxes you like. Then, build your sighting system over time. Most of the better monolight systems will allow some control over the unit's output. For example, the WhiteLightning strobes I use provide continuous adjustment, which is quite handy. Others offer stepped output adjustments.
     
  16. Ilmarin

    Ilmarin Member

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    Thank you,

    that's interesting. Another question then, is there any preferable brands/models for entry level systems (assuming that I will be getting second hand, most probably) ?
     
  17. mikeb_z5

    mikeb_z5 Member

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    I recently went throught the same process and decided to spend a couple bucks more for something that I will be happy with for a long time. I'm not a pro but i read many good reviews on the alien bees and white lightning products( same company). I decided to go with the white lightnings for the higher wattage modeling light and warranty. I can't say I've ever read any negative comments on these products and I'm happy with mine.( I shoot 35mm through 4x5)

    http://www.white-lightning.com/packages.html
    or
    http://www.alienbees.com/packages.html

    Mike
     
  18. vet173

    vet173 Member

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    If my lights were at 1 meter I would have had about the same My strobes were at 2 meters for the amount of wrap around that I wanted. I use the white lightnings. The ones with the slider for adjusting output are well worth it. Beats moving the light back and forth to get the ratios you want.
     
  19. Ziggy

    Ziggy Member

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    A note on dimming flouresents: be careful dimming electronic ballast with small compact dimmers, they are also electronic and generally this is a bad combination. One or the other usually stops functioning, or they will pulse.

    Using a VARIAC (autotransformer) to dim electronic ballasts like KINO FLO is ideal but they are not cheap.

    Best of luck.
     
  20. haris

    haris Guest

    Yes. Mine lights are with stepped 1/4, 1/2 and full power. But, reasons for buying them were next: price of 160 USD for 160 WS, 200 USD for 320 WS and 300 USD for 640 WS powered, and I bought first two cheapest ones to try them out, they are some Chineze made lights of which I never heard before... Since I discovered that they give consistent results, and are worth of money, I will buy few more powered lights which have slider for adjusting power/pilot lightning...
     
  21. Will Whelan

    Will Whelan Member

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    I second the Alienbees monolight mentioned above. I've heard great things about them, and seen great results.

    Photoblogger Justin Oulette uses one with a Hasselblad, and the results are beautiful.

    The prices on the AB monolights are affordable, you'll prolly spend about 500 on a system (with umbrella, stand, and softbox...). Well worth the cost from what I've seen.

    Hope that helps!