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  1. #11
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Here's a bit of reference on strobes, http://www.paulcbuff.com/sfe.php

    There are very nice continuous light setups now that use flouresants and don't have the heat or color temperature issues.

    The big difference between the two is that strobes will generally freeze the action and that the continuous light sets allow you to see what you get before you shoot.

    With regard to a Polaroid or other testing tool, these can be beneficial for learning or designing a setup and in checking for errors. This is not required though if you have a flash meter, something like a Sekonik L-358.

    Using a flash meter you can can ask the question what should the light be doing here in relation to my subject? Darker, lighter... Takes a bit more thought but it's not to tough.

    Many modern strobes are set up with a sensor that "sees" the flash from other lights and that can trigger the pop. It is reliable as long as it can "see" the other lights pop but that fully depends on the orientation of the lights and isn't always workable. A trigger on or wire to each light is the most reliable.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  2. #12
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoffy View Post
    With risking getting shot down in flames, I suggest that working with digital AND film in the studio will be the best start. Use the digital (if you have one) as your polaroid. As for your question, Strobes is what I would choose (and did choose).

    Just a couple things from my experience, cables are the cheap option and with most monoblocks, you should only need one (optical slaves will fire the other strobes), BUT are a PITA. I was always getting the cable caught, which would dislodge and then deform the plug on the cable. A bit of duct tape to ensure that they are in the socket does wonders OR get cables with a threaded nut.
    Obviously, the best option is to use a remote trigger. You can get triggers far cheaper then the Pocket Wizards, but they will not be as reliable (I.E., the ones I have seem to mis-fire every so often). With digital, that's not really a problem, but with film can become a pain.

    I also back up Danielle's post. Make sure you get the strobes that are right for the environment you are shooting in. If all you are doing is a garage, don't buy 1500Ws units, rather look at something around the 500 or even 300Ws size. I have a set of el-cheapo ebay units, rated at around 300Ws. They hardly ever see a setting above 1/16th of full power when used in my garage. But, if you intend to light up bigger area's, consider going with more powerful strobes.

    If you go for cheapies, consider what features they have. How adjustable is the power? What light modifiers can they take? The cheaper units I bought take the Bowens 'S' mount light modifiers. They are also infinitely adjustable down to 1/32 of full power. Some of the even cheaper units can only take their own light modifiers or you must use the clunky four screw 'fits all' type accessories. Some of them are also only adjustable buy a couple of levels, which makes it a pain.

    And yes, get a decent light meter! Even with using the pixel burner as a Polaroid, a light meter will help getting that base setting closer to start of with and will also help when it comes to measuring ratio's, ect.
    Digital is NOT a good polaroid substitute! I have yet to see a digital camera whose ISO 100 is the same as a handheld flash meter's ISO 100. If you are ultimately making film exposures, then just learn your light meter and learn lighting ratios, which are easy enough. You can use the digital to proof the lighting ratios, but do not use it as a substitute meter!

  3. #13
    ParkerSmithPhoto's Avatar
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    White Lightning

    I highly recommend the White Lightning/Paul C. Buff setups that Mark mentioned. There is not a better price to value available anywhere in strobe lighting.

    We run a portrait studio, and I have five of the older Ultra 800 units which provide plenty of light for my work. Most of the time I use them dialed down to minus 3f. The larger units are quite powerful, but for portraits, you probably won't need it. I can dial the 800s all the way up and pull f16 from a silver bounce umbrella at about 8 feet, which is plenty for white knockout backgrounds.

    These units were purchased used, and I have been wearing them out for years. They perform without fail. The only time a tube has blown has been when I broke it, and only once have I had to send in a unit for work. They covered the work under the original warranty even though I was not the original owner, and I had it back inside a week.

    One of my clients just set up a studio in their warehouse for product photography, so we bought four new X800s for them. Plenty of power for all applications.

    One head, a big white foam core reflector and a decent soft box is all you need to start. If you like a kicker light look you can add a silver reflector at 45 degrees behind the subject to bounce the main. (I do some pretty complex lighting but I still love pure simplicity in portraits.)

    If you grab a Cyber Sync receiver and transmitter, you'll be all set: the transmitter has a miniphone plug that you can use to connect to the PC on your RB. Any other units can sync through the slaves.

    Paul C. Buff: love them long time.
    Parker Smith Photography, Inc.
    Atlanta, GA

    Commercial & Fine Art Photography
    Portrait Photography

  4. #14
    ParkerSmithPhoto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    Digital is NOT a good polaroid substitute! I have yet to see a digital camera whose ISO 100 is the same as a handheld flash meter's ISO 100.
    It's easy enough to figure out that ASA125 on your meter is ASA100 on your camera, and the digital makes a great Polaroid. In fact, digital hits its peak in the studio under controlled lighting and contrast, just as film does.

    I routinely make flawless 20-30" prints from a Canon 5D. I couldn't make a living shooting studio portraits on film.
    Parker Smith Photography, Inc.
    Atlanta, GA

    Commercial & Fine Art Photography
    Portrait Photography

  5. #15
    CGW
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    Digital is NOT a good polaroid substitute! I have yet to see a digital camera whose ISO 100 is the same as a handheld flash meter's ISO 100. If you are ultimately making film exposures, then just learn your light meter and learn lighting ratios, which are easy enough. You can use the digital to proof the lighting ratios, but do not use it as a substitute meter!
    Couldn't disagree more. Concur with Parker Smith. Usually use a DSLR and a Sekonic 558 for studio shoots. Maybe your film and processing are free. Mine aren't.

  6. #16
    Rick A's Avatar
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    Continuous lighting doesn't necessarily have to be hot, the newer CFL systems are loads cooler and are color corrected for color films. Check out this source:

    http://www.cowboystudio.com/index.php

    I have a small set of continuous w/umbrellas for portrait and still life work.
    Rick A
    Argentum aevum
    BTW: the big kid in my avatar is my hero, my son, who proudly serves us in the Navy. "SALUTE"

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by WriterOfLight View Post
    I guess I should mention what I'm using them for! It'll be mostly shoots involving 1, occasionally 2 people until I have a better grasp of lighting and some still life stuff. I was thinking about starting with one head in the range 400-600W/s to start with from a well-regarded manufacture so that any accessories I buy will fit other heads I eventually get. I'll probably spring for a power pack at some point but I have a pretty tight budget so all of my shooting will be in my home or at someone else's. It's pretty bewildering looking through all the choices at the multi-manufacturer online catalog of B&H! I definitely have a lot of research to do.

    tomalphicon, is that the Fuji Instax stuff and the RB Polaroid backs that take the 100 and 600 series film? That would great, it's a LOT cheaper than the impossibleproject film!
    I haven't read all the responses, so others may have said this, (I must off to work) but as a commercial/industrial photographer for most of my life, and I taught Color Studio at the Germain School of Photography for many years, hands down you want studio strobe when photographing people. I had comet strobes and found them to be great. Wireless remote is a good idea, and if you buy an older used system, you must have wireless remote for many cameras, as the camera's circuitry can be harmed by the voltage of the older system. I guess there's a feedback of some kind. I have an old used Speedatron now, and when shooting digital, or when students want to plug in cameras with electronics, like some of the later Cannon film cameras, I rent a remote. Also, for some cheaper cameras without a flash connection post, (PC, etc.) the remotes are hot shoe compatible. And speaking of renting, you may want to rent once or twice to see how it all works for you.

    Best, Doug Schwab

  8. #18
    MattKing's Avatar
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    First, welcome to APUG, from across the Georgia Strait.

    I'm going to make a slightly radical suggestion. Keep your eyes open for some studio strobes (monolights) that are cheap (really cheap) and used. They won't satisfy any long term needs, but if you have plans to experiment and familiarize yourself first, $200 spent on Craigslist might teach you a whole bunch about what you really need.

    If you then decide to buy a new setup, make sure you get something mainstream. The cheaper knockoffs are generally poor value.

    I'm happy with a single cord to one light, with the others triggered by optical slaves. Optical slaves don't work well, however, on location if there are others present taking photos (think weddings).

    Ebay has thousands of cheap radio triggers. Most people I've talked to have been reasonably happy with the results they have obtained from them. They are, however, a bit less dependable than something like a Pocket Wizard, and don't offer the wiz-bang extra features for interface with and control from the latest model digital cameras that the top of the line Pocket Wizards have.

    If you buy older, used flashes, they may have a high trigger voltage. That can damage newer electronic cameras (both digital and film) and radio triggers not designed for high voltages. I have a set of very old Bowens monolights that have very high trigger voltages - I won't connect them to anything other than mechanical cameras, or older optical slaves. A Wein "Safe-Synch" would be another option.

    A 6x4.5 back for your Mamiya RB67 would give you a 50% increase in the number of test shots per roll when you are learning to use your lights.

    A good flash meter is a must, and the ability to trigger the flash from the meter (by cord or otherwise) is a valuable feature.

    The modeling lights in strobes definitely vary in quality. Placement relative to the position of the flash tubes is critical when using direct flash.

    A separate digital camera can be an okay substitute for a Polaroid. A digital back would be better (same camera position and lens) but the cost is, of course, unrealistic.

    A separate digital camera is less accurate as a replacement for a flash meter.

    If you can swing it, a visit to either Beau Photo in Vancouver (good knowledge and some rental selection) or Glazer's in Seattle (great knowledge and rental and sales display selection) could really help you in your choices. There are also a couple of places in Vancouver that rent equipped studios.

    Hope this helps.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  9. #19
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ParkerSmithPhoto View Post
    It's easy enough to figure out that ASA125 on your meter is ASA100 on your camera, and the digital makes a great Polaroid. In fact, digital hits its peak in the studio under controlled lighting and contrast, just as film does.

    I routinely make flawless 20-30" prints from a Canon 5D. I couldn't make a living shooting studio portraits on film.
    The point of ASA is that it's a STANDARD. If on my Canon 5D it is actually ASA 125, but on my friend's Nikon D3x it's ASA 80, it's not a standard anymore. It's not that you can't figure out what it is and compensate, but you shouldn't have to. I like to set my power settings so that I'm using the same f-stop with my test exposure as I am my final exposure, so that I know what I see in my proof is the same as what I will see in my final print. If you're shooting a 35mm or APS-C sensor, AND your digital camera's ASA 100 is not the same as your film's ASA 100, then what you see on the LCD on the back of the digital camera will NOT be indicative of what you will get on a 6x7cm negative in your RB-67. You have to make enough changes between the two systems that it defeats the purpose.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    The point of ASA is that it's a STANDARD. If on my Canon 5D it is actually ASA 125, but on my friend's Nikon D3x it's ASA 80, it's not a standard anymore. It's not that you can't figure out what it is and compensate, but you shouldn't have to. I like to set my power settings so that I'm using the same f-stop with my test exposure as I am my final exposure, so that I know what I see in my proof is the same as what I will see in my final print. If you're shooting a 35mm or APS-C sensor, AND your digital camera's ASA 100 is not the same as your film's ASA 100, then what you see on the LCD on the back of the digital camera will NOT be indicative of what you will get on a 6x7cm negative in your RB-67. You have to make enough changes between the two systems that it defeats the purpose.
    We are talking a Beginner here. The difference between ISO 100 and ISO 80 is going to be negligible at best.

    Anyhow, isn't what you are describing similar to saying that HP5+ is box rated to ISO 400, but it's true speed is more like 320?

    I know I am at risk of being booted off of APUG with such outrageous comments, but by far, the easiest way to learn how to shoot in a studio is with a pixel burner. Yes, there are going to be differences (not to mention differences in DOF when going from say a 150mm lens on a MF to a 80mm lens on a 135 to a 50mm lens on a APSC ), but having the ability to check on the fly is going to speed up the learning process.
    Last edited by hoffy; 12-19-2011 at 09:10 PM. Click to view previous post history.

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