Thoughts on "budget" lighting set ups?

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by mark, Aug 3, 2012.

  1. mark

    mark Member

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    I am well aware of the "buy the best tool you can afford" but when you can't afford much you start looking for options. So what are your thoughts on the budget lighting kits out there? My main camera will be a 4x5 with RF holder and regular holders.

    There will be people involved as well as still life stuff.
     
  2. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    Are you referring to lighting kits as in studio strobes?

    I always recommend Alien Bees for two reasons. They keep their resale value - a used AB800 goes for about $225 no matter how old it is. The second is that they are durable, and easy to replace if broken. A brand new AB800 is about $275. The output isn't as steady as something like a Broncolor or Elinchrome head, but for my purposes they are fine.
     
  3. LumbisK

    LumbisK Member

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    If you are DIY person, the book "Low Budget Shooting, Do It Yourself Solutions to Professional Photo Gear" by Cyrill Harnischmacher has lots of ideas on building your own light tents, reflectors, diffusors, etc.
     
  4. mark

    mark Member

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    Yep thinking of strobes.

    I have looked at the alien bees and while nice are a bit out of the price range for 2 more strobes. I have one, Cheap ol thing but it has served me well when I have used it. It is in storage though and can't remember the name. I was looking at the cheap kits at Adorama and wondering.

    Thanks for the book title. DIY and I get along fine.
     
  5. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    How about this redneck lighting setup: Go to Home Depot and get a couple clamp-on lamps and a piece of white styrofoam for $9 each, a couple of 80w CFLs at $20. Tie a diaper over each lamp for a diffuser and you're in business.
     
  6. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    A diaper?
     
  7. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Ya, a cloth diaper, 1 or 2 layers.
     
  8. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    That's not a fire hazard?
     
  9. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Sure, if you keep it on for a long time. But one layer of diaper (essentially gauze) shouldn't restrict air flow so much as to cause a rapid build up of heat. They put out about 4 times the lumens per watt as incandescent.

    But hey, when did a redneck ever worry about starting a little fire? That's usually when the fun begins.
     
  10. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    LOL!!!
     
  11. mark

    mark Member

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    If I were shooting BW that would be doable. I am shooting color though and I am pretty picky about my color reproduction. Just don't think a cfl bulb will cut it.
     
  12. Stephen Prunier

    Stephen Prunier Subscriber

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    I have the HD lighting kit light like the one mentioned. I bought a 4 pack of 100 W 5500k bulbs to go with the clamp-on's. Depending on what the subject matter is, you may be surprised the the results. I haven't tried them yet with color so I can't say how that would look. I use two of them and then I incorporate my Nikon sb-28 off camera with modifiers for still life. I'm going to experiment with the set up for some self-portraits before using "real models" :wink:
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi mark

    look into novatron monoblocks.
    i have had my 300ws blocks since about 1996
    and they have never given me problems.
    they have 800ws as well asa other things.
    much easier to deal light by light instead of
    battery pack +strobes, where you might need to bleed off
    light to lower the output. if you contact novatron ( they are in tx )
    they will let you know when a used/refurb comes in and sell it to you for
    around half-price ( i think? ... its been a while ) ...

    if you are a continuous lightkind of guy, you might look into lowel hot lights
    i have some totas and omnis ( with cc filter on the omnis ) i have had for years
    and besides being a heat source, they are great all around lights. lowel L-Light kits sometimes
    come up on e-blink for not too much $$ i have a few location kits of Llights, they run off of
    regular old flood lights .. have a reflector and barn doors, and a lowel clamp.
    they are great too.

    if you are interested in the totas and omnis, i have been wanting to sell them for a few years.
    they include more than a handful of replacement bulbs. and other goodies.
     
  14. SafetyBob

    SafetyBob Member

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    Mark, sorry I am a little late to the discussion, but my vote goes to the Alien Bees too. I screwed around playing with camera flashes and even the potato masher flashes taped to stands, but once I finally decided enough was enough, it took me right at two months searching the Bay, here and a couple other photo sites to find good Bees at the right price. It is true they pretty much keep their value so if you decide to upgrade to the really good stuff, you won't lose hardly any money doing so.

    I borrowed one of the girl's dolls and a stuffed animal or two to practice with. A good flash meter would help too. I got tons of lighting technique stuff off of the strobist and also following links on Buff's forum. If you have the time, there are some tremendous links that people have listed on that Alien Bee forum.

    I went with used Bees and then bought the accessories for them directly from Buff, have not been disappointed yet with any of that purchase. I would suggest that eventually you WILL get some sort of studio flash......don't waste a penny of your hard earned money on getting a bunch of small flashes, buy it right the first time. You will never regret buying an Alien Bee or two, they will add much to your photography options and getting to know how to use them properly or knowing how to get the effect your after will make you grow as a photographer. Still learning after a good year with mine, but I am getting better, I am getting closer to understanding why something doesn't look the way I want it to, and most importantly, my wife can be thrilled at times at the results I have gotten of the kids, despite the looks of total disgust I get when dragging out all "that" stuff.

    Oh, I mainly got AB800's. I also got some of the White Lightenings too......that is over kill......just look for the Bees as cheap as you can. Wait for your price point if needed. Sometimes it seems thought that for the small difference, it may be better to just buy new one's and be done with it....fully warrantted. I came very close many times to doing that, but just wait it out, they will show up at the price you want.

    Bob E.
     
  15. mark

    mark Member

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    Thanks Bob. Seems like my whole photographic life has been one big waiting game. I had my first LF lens almost a year before I got my first LF camera.
     
  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I'm going to differ a bit on this, but with an important qualification.

    If you experiment with something cheap and less robust/versatile than something like an Alien Bee (or better), and if you like the results, you will almost certainly end up buying something better eventually, so it probably is wise to get something good at the beginning.

    That being said, I do see some really cheap prices on used, cheaper equipment here on Craigslist. If you go that route, you might be able to learn what you need without investing too much up front. And there probably be at least parts of your original purchase that you can incorporate into a better kit later.
     
  17. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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  18. mark

    mark Member

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    Thanks rick, I looked at them but I wonder about color.

    Matt, A few bad experiences with Craigslist has me hesitant and I had written them off. Been a while maybe my luck has changed. I will give them a look