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Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by rillrems, Sep 5, 2008.
Any one know anywhere to buy good backdrops at a low price and a good portable lighting kit
Depends where you are.
If you live near me then I'd recommend Calumet and The Flash Centre.
If you want cheap backdrops maybe visit your local fabric market and buy material. It's easy to sew (well, get the wife to sew).
eBay for backgrounds and stands. Lighting depends a lot on what you want to light and what your budget is, and what you consider portable and where you'll end up setting up. Alien Bees are the best value/money proposition in strobes, and they're reasonably portable, but going with on-camera type flashguns and stands are ultimately more portable, but less flexible lighting-wise.
I bought a big power pack based system from a studio that was closing down. Any of the big name brands are rock solid. Speedotron, Broncolor, Norman are all servicable "forever" and will last a lifetime. But this kind of stuff is only afordable if you find it used. New it goes for mid four figure prices. I paid about $600 for a three head Norman setup. I like the power pack setup because all the controls can be right at your tripod.
Make sure whatever you get was modling lights. I'd really recomend a hand held flash meter. Setting up lights is so easy when you can measure from the subject's location.
But for a while before I bought the system I have now I use Vivitar 235 units. These sell for $40 each, run on AA bats or yu can buy little AC power cubes. Very inexpensive and portable and they fit inside photoflex soft boxes. These have enough power for 35mm derived dSLR cameras but not enough for Medium format. For MF I needed about 1000 watt seconds.
Don't overlook "hot lights". Buy the expensive video kind or just go to Home Depot and buy "work lights". If you do a costom white balance they will look as good as high end flash in terms of color.
Yes, do buy an asortment of "light modifiers" like softboxes, reflectors, grids,defusers an so on.
I've got a three-head Novatron kit, even though the case has wheels, I'd hardly call it portable. It's significantly less portable than my AB kit, and on location having to wire the heads back to the pack can be a liability disaster.
Also, if it's not a recent fully adjustable pack, you'll find that you generally have too much light for small locations (at least that's been my experience.)
Pack and head systems are good for studio work, they're sub-optimal for location work IMO. I'd only drag my pack and head system out if the alternative was hot lights.