Lighting kit

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by elpmas, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. elpmas macrumors 68000


    Sep 9, 2009
    Where the fresh snow don't go.
    Hi guys/gals, I'm looking to buy a cheap lighting kit (tent preferably if not stands) to do some product photo shoot for school. I was wondering if there are any suggestions as to where I can buy one for cheap (under $100). Thanks!
  2. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2010
    Strobist has lots of information on kits and even offers some bundles through a retailer.
  3. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    Once you know what you want, look at B&H and Adorama as two of the most well known photo supplies on the net. Both have been around for years and are well respected.
  4. The Mad Kiwi macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2006
    In Hell
    Tents are a bit crap the light ends up really flat, better to use black and white foam boards.
  5. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    I like to combine both tents and black & white foam core. Depends on the subject matter.


    What I don't get are why so many people think they need strobes now. Once upon a time matching the colour of light to the film was vital, and there were only a few options. Strobes were a nice easy way to control the colour of the light, plus you had the option of freezing action should you move to a subject that was not static.

    But now, with digital control over white balance, I routinely suggest to people that for not critical colour work - and lets face it, most people don't need absolute colour control - just use cheap tungsten work lights and use the the money saved on better glass. All of the theories about lighting control (hard/soft, diffused, angles, etc) apply equally to lights that cost hundreds of dollars/euros/pounds or to cheap lights.
  6. BillMidwest macrumors newbie

    May 25, 2011
    If you are near a Ritz or Wolf Camera store they've carried a nice kit and they're going out of business with everything on sale.
  7. elpmas thread starter macrumors 68000


    Sep 9, 2009
    Where the fresh snow don't go.
    I will keep that in mind, thanks. :)

    I've looked at B&H and they have tons of stuff lol. And I've just heard of Adorama, haven't looked through it as of yet, but thanks.

    Thanks for the advice.

    I'm not :(. Would've love to shop around
  8. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    If you are keen to get a strobe kit, go find the pro photo shops in your community. They will likely have a bulletin board where photographers looking to sell their kits are posting. Also talk to the person who handles pro sales, they may a line on used kit coming up for sale.

    There are three main parts to a strobe. The power storage (iirc capacitors), the power management (the dials and switches) and the bulbs.

    If properly used, the capacitors will last a long long time. So avoid something that looks like it comes from the 1970s. But even 20 years is not too old, if kit doesn't look too worn from use. A banged up kit should be avoided. A dusty but not banged up one should be OK.

    The switches and what not so have a tendency to wear out, sometimes. Cheaper kits will adjust their power in whole fractions. For example 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 power. The more fractions the better (1/8, 1/4, etc). The better kits have sliders that allow you set the power any where in the range. Often (at least in my experience) the slave eyes may lose sensitivity, but that is easily worked around if you get a used kit for a good price.

    Bulbs wear out from use, and can be expensive (and difficult) to replace. Do some research on replacement bulbs for any kit you buy - used or new. In some cases the bulbs can be more expensive than the kit itself, if you are buying used. Obviously, getting replacement bulbs as part of the deal would be a big benefit.

    Often, there are two bulbs in a strobe head. The modelling light is designed to be turned on and to stay on while you are composing the shot and focussing. In some cases, these bulbs are very expensive because they are speciality Halogen bulbs there were used to mimic the shape of the light put out by the strobe. In other cases you can use ordinary household bulbs. However, ordinary bulbs may be too dim to effectively work.

    The other bulb is the strobe, and it nearly always proprietary to that manufacturer. Hence, often monopolistically priced. You will need a new one the day of the most important shoot you have booked.

    Strobe kits come in two basic flavours. Each has its benefits and disadvantages.
    1) The power storage is centralized in a single power pack, and the controls are on the power pack. There is a single power cord from the power pack to a wall plug, and then there are cables that lead from the power pack to the individual light heads. Often this is better for travelling or for shooting in the field. It will pack smaller, and be lighter overall. And single long extension cord or generator is needed to power it in the field. However, all the light heads need to be connected to the central power pack, so there are limits on the distances. Also limits on how many heads you can power from the power pack, though the really good units allow you to add power storage modules to the main power pack. You can control the lighting levels for each light on the power pack, which saves you the walk back and forth to the lighting heads.

    2) Each light is self-contained. It has power storage integrated into it, and all the controls. Each light plugs into a wall plug for power. It's cheaper to buy one or two lights this way, than a power pack system - but once you are up to 4 or more lights the power pack system - for lighting systems of equal quality - tend to be cheaper since there isn't so much redundancy. Once you are into a full kit (4 or more lights) there is more to pack overall in this system if you need it to be portable, though - while there may be more of it, each piece individually is lighter than the power pack (above). In a large studio, you can control the cables easier with this system since there is only a power cord that lead to the wall, and not cables all snaking back to the central power pack. Generally this system has slave eyes built to synchronize the flashes. Unless you get the remote control upgrade, you need to walk to each light to adjust light output.

    Of course, you can combine the two systems... the slave eyed lights can be triggered by the power pack lights.

    Hope this helps.... Good Luck.
  9. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    1. Using modifiers with hot lights is a fire hazard. Most diffusion panels, softboxes and umbrellas aren't made to be used with high-temperature work lights.
    2. Using hot lights is a health hazard, people can be burned.
    3. Hot lights aren't normally power controllable, so distance is your only power modification- meaning you need sufficient space and also, you turn your lights into point sources if you move too far back- making harsher light.

    The first two issues raise liability concerns that are especially problematic when working somewhere you don't own or with other people. The last is a quality of lighting issue.

    The congruence is the big problem though- you want lights close for softer light, but you move hot lights close and the temperature becomes an issue.

    Unfortunately, LEDs aren't generally powerful enough before you spend more money than you would have on flashes or strobes.

  10. neutrino23 macrumors 68000

    Feb 14, 2003
    SF Bay area
    Here is one for $40. It is quite simple. We got it and it works OK. My wife uses it for jewelry photography. I use it for documenting small samples I analyze. It includes a small tripod which might be OK for a small camera. For a DSLR you'll want to use your own tripod. It comes with a reversible cloth background (white and blue). It would be easy to hang a backdrop of another material. Probably OK for something up to about the size of a football. Even with that the lighting would be uneven.

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