How did you "get trapped" with that lighting equipment or "choosing" a lighting ...

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by igmolinav, Apr 10, 2011.

  1. igmolinav macrumors 65816

    Aug 15, 2005

    A group member previously asked about which brand names for lighting equipment are good. He got his answer here:

    I wanted to ask this question a bit differently. As the title to my post says: How did you "get trapped" with the lighting equipment or "choosing" your lighting equipment !!!

    Many of us, don't live near a large city that offers a lot of brand names to check them out. One kind of goes by gut feeling, and/or the "research" one does prior to the purchase. And then, one just mail orders. At least, that
    is what I will do.

    As I am doing my research now. I wanted to say that if I were to buy any lighting equipment today, I would feel very attracted to know which brand or brand names may have been used by the following photographers. (I have heard that "to the discriminating and experienced eye - not my eye! - is quite easy to determine the brand name used just by looking at the picture" :eek: !!!)

    Thank you in advance, very kind regards,

    igmolinav : ) !!!
  2. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Nope, light is light- direction and intensity are the key issues, nothing to do with brand.

    Brand may get you reliability and safety, but that's about it.

    You can spend a lot more time on which modifiers to use than which brand of equipment to get. The basic "pack & head" or "mono" setup is the real major decision point, though newer cool continuous lighting is starting to rear its head (but really the price/power ratio isn't quite there yet.)

    The best advice I can give you is to buy a system that has enough adjustability to work for you. My first lights were very powerful, but had basically three settings, which for a small studio space wasn't enough to be able to get the shots I wanted without either moving the lights back too far (they then become point sources and the light is harsh, not soft) or scrimming the heck out of them to diffuse the light.

    With pack & head systems, there's one central power pack, and each light head cables back to that. With monoblocs, each light has its own power supply- so you choose cables all back to one source plugged into one outlet, or power cords all to a power strip, battery pack or individual outlets (good for places where you're worried about tripping a single circuit breaker.)

    Obviously, with pack and head systems, the signal to each head is cable-based, where mono lights generally use optical triggers. You have to purchase radio triggers for monos if you need to shoot where other flash may interfere or in bright daylight. At least in the past, most pack systems had a place for an optical trigger at the pack.

    Not having stores isn't an issue- Paul C. Buff (White Lightening and Alien Bees) don't even do retail sales, and he's got a full 50% of the strobe market- as much as every other company out there combined.

  3. The Mad Kiwi macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2006
    In Hell

    Lighting isn't like buying into a camera system, you can mix and match lights. It's starting to change in that some manufactures now have control systems, but to be honest unless you've got a strobe on a boom, it's easier to just walk over to the strobe and adjust it manually.

    I've got a couple of old alienbees, a couple of Profotos and I've just got a couple of Einsteins, not to mention a few Canon and Vivitar speedlites too. The only thing is that is a bit annoying is that that not all modifiers can be used on all the strobes, but you tend to use them in different ways anyway so it's not much of a problem.

    Start out with cheap lights like a couple of Alienbees and when you feel you need some of the function of more expensive lights just add them and use the cheaper strobes for non key lights. You don't need a couple of $2000 strobes with a computer control unit to light a background when a couple of $200 alienbees on optical trigger will do the same job and probably better since there's less to go wrong. When location shooting it's easier to take a couple of monolights for the main lights but then use speedlites for the extra lights, they don't need to be as powerful as you won't be using them in a softboxes, they're heaps smaller, smaller lights = smaller stands, and no cables or external powerpacks.

    Actually now that I think about it I don't think there is a single lighting system I could live with, none of them are really flexible enough.
  4. mkubel macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2010
  5. legreve macrumors regular


    Nov 22, 2010
    I think my choice of light has a lot to do with conditioning through my time being educated as a photographer.

    The school had 8 studios with a complete Bron Color set for each, along with three lamps.
    My place of internship had me then introduced to Bron's cheap brand "Hensel" and when I went on to the 2nd department of that studio I was back on Bron Color.
    During the last year of my studies I was working with Pro Foto and almost immediatly after I was done I worked with Bowens.

    Yes, light is light. But the price you pay affects quality of build and durability and how much you can trust the lamps color temperature.

    In my current line of work, I'm depending on lamps of 1600watts or more, below that would render my tasks impossible due to the need of high apertures and low iso. (and that's even working with Sinar where I can control the focus plane...)

    At home I've settled for a Bowens flash kit with 2 500w lamps which are fine for people photography. I mostly shoot no higher than F8.
    But if I had to do large pack shots I would have a problem.
    What I like about the Bowens remote kit is that I could just put in two remote cards and then my pocket wizard will trigger them from far away and around corners etc.
    I paid around 1500 dollars for that kit (including stands and what not)

    I have no doubt in my mind that I will in time exchange my kit to Bron or Pro Foto, or just buy it as an extra set. I trust those two brands and I know for a fact that their longevity is amazing.
    At my fulltime job we work on 15-20 year old Bron generators and they are as steady as they've always been... I'd like to see the same durability in a product half as expensive as Bron. I doubt you'd find it.
    While Bron offers a lot of customization in their generators, I find the system of Pro Foto very intuitive and user friendly and the way they build their basic reflectors you don't even have to buy into spots etc., just tape two reflectors together :D

    My tip would to save up to Bron or Pro... or even invest in a used genny. We sometimes get insane offers like 1000 dollars for a 2400w generator (yeah, my boss got connections :( )
    Photographers crash and burn often and it's those guys you need to find... they often sell out their gear for pennies.

    Best of luck to ya.
  6. igmolinav thread starter macrumors 65816

    Aug 15, 2005

    Thank you very much for your answers. I appreciate what you tell me : ) !!! I'll be looking at the different options and I think that in July at the latest, I'll be getting a lighting equpment. About three weeks ago I got a 13" MBP. I have had an ibook G4 for six and half years, but it got a kernel panic. The MBP is very fast. I think it'll be fun to work on the pics with it : ) !!!

    Very kind regards,

    igmolinav : ) !!!
  7. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Lots of good advice. I will just emphasize two points, and make another.

    Compuwar talked about power settings, and mentioned that lights can be too powerful for a space. He's totally right. Figure out where you are going to shooting (in big open spaces vs a small studio. More powerful lights are more appropriate for the big spaces, but can be real handicap in a small space. Also, if you doing small object photography (i.e. jewellery, etc) you may find less powerful lights work better. I started out in big space, and now that I'm in a smaller space I sometimes have to put a ND filter on the more powerful lights (I forget the technical name, but a ND piece of plastic made for the movie industry). I have two models of lights (Photogenics), one being less powerful than the other - which allows some flexibility.

    All other things being equal, check around your community. Is there another shooter? Can you see yourself helping each other out on occasion? For instance, you are each shooting in an entirely different field. It may pay to get the same brand of lights as they have. This way you two can borrow lights - and more importantly, light modifiers - back and forth.

    One thing that may not be obvious is that while lights can be mixed and matched (especially monoblocs) modifiers can not be (generally). Each brand of light generally has a proprietary mounting system, and the modifiers are matched for that mounting system. You can get different mounting plates, but it's pain. So stick with a one mounting system if you can (though as has been mentioned you can mix mounting systems for some lights if they don't need to be used in different ways.

    If you do start borrowing lights with another shooter, have a written agreement in place first. Talk about what is "wear and tear". Who pays for flash-tube that needs replacing in the middle of a shoot etc. It can be done, but figure out all the problems that might happen first.

    Good Luck.
  8. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA

    A MacBeth color chart or similar device[1] is the right way to address temperature issues in most situations. It also normalizes for lens and body changes, which gives more flexibility and doesn't rely on the maker of replacement bulbs to continue to have a high degree of repeatability in their process (which is a good thing, but something no manufacturer is going to be able to guarantee.)

    [1] I prefer the X-Rite Color Checker Passport because it's portable and I can use it in the field under daylight as well as in the studio, though it's not quite as accurate as one of the full-sized digital charts it's plenty good enough for my usage.
  9. MattSepeta macrumors 65816


    Jul 9, 2009
    375th St. Y
    Lighting has nothing to do with brand, otherwise, I would be struggling to match "Daylight", "Canon" and "Nikon" light to this very day.

    Seriously though, that's the great thing about lighting, it really does not matter if it is coming from a Vivitar 285 or a AB 1600, light is light.

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