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TP: advice on a Studio Lighting setup

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H20boy View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote H20boy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: TP: advice on a Studio Lighting setup
    Posted: 24 April 2007 at 01:49

NOTE: Admin hijack into Talking Point area as this was one of the suggested topics -- brettania

I've progressed from a 'light tent' to the need for a good, studio lamp setup. What I have seen, and what I understand and need, are two different things. I have almost always shot available light and flashes, and with a new photo business option, I want to look at a midrange, midpriced, studio setup. I have seen many sets on ebay, but I don't trust the names, the wattages, the accessories, as I don't know anything about them. That's where my friends here at dyxum come in.

I would love to have two reflective umbrellas, maybe one shoot-thru type, but is that necessary for portraiture? I would like a projetion lamp, one that I could accent at different intensities on particular items of interest, whether it be the subject or in the background, and it must be able to accept those gel filters for color changes. :)

Then for the lights themselves. I have a couple tall stands already, but if a good setup always includes them, so be it. :) Are the best lights for portaiture going to be continues type, strobe, or a combination? Is a strobe dimly lit, then fires on shutter release? Do I need a remote trigger from my 7D as well, and will it do both strobes at once?

I know, sorry for all of the questions, but perhaps you can start with your recommendations and I can follow up with more insight, then you can return with that perfect solution for me. (cross fingers) Links to ebay auctions or other internet sites where I can purchase gear would be great! Remember that I am trying to start out at about $500 all together. My backdrops will have to be rigged for the time being. :)



Edited by brettania - 24 April 2007 at 22:37
Matt - TX l Maxxum-m42 adapter - that's it   :(     l My Galleries
 



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omerbey View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote omerbey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 April 2007 at 02:14
If you have the time, I would strongly recommend you:
strobist

no really..
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H20boy View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote H20boy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 April 2007 at 02:31
gee...the whole thing? :)
Matt - TX l Maxxum-m42 adapter - that's it   :(     l My Galleries
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H20boy View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote H20boy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 April 2007 at 03:18
Lighting 101, good source! eyes hurt now, must rest them. Will continue tomorrow for more education.
Matt - TX l Maxxum-m42 adapter - that's it   :(     l My Galleries
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Post Options Post Options   Quote LTTay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 April 2007 at 22:29
Matt,
I've found that with typical portraits (kids, family, Senior, etc, etc) the use of Strobes are good also easy, a basic 2 light kit is good enough, but from what you've described, probably want 3 lights. This is quick and easy in that you set up your strobes, and the ratio you want on the model, and fire away, you can move to any camera angle and distance from the subject and still get the same exposure, but if you would like to do fine art/model portfolio type pictures for magazines advertisement, or posters and such, the Hotlights(Lowell(tungsten) or Smith Victor Constant cool-lights or Westcott Spyderlites) are better only because it is WYSIWYG, and it's easier to adjust(most times as easy as - move it in closer or move it out further). Some of these constant lights do come with rheostats I think for power adjustment, but I can't confirm yet.
Now if you have the money and time, strobes are easier on your models, but will be time consuming to adjust (take a flash reading with the meter - Adjust output, go to a different surface, check again, etc, etc, until you get the right exposure)for the perfect lighting. I've read that on a Playboy shoot for instance, they have up to 21 different light set-up for one particular layout and meter each one of the lights for accuracy and perfect exposure.
Just what I've seen and concluded from my experiences with these lights that I've seen used. Do check out and read that strobist link, because it is very helpful.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote brettania Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 April 2007 at 22:47
Originally posted by omerbey omerbey wrote:

If you have the time, I would strongly recommend you:
strobist

no really..


Best viewed in Firefox (doesn't work with IE and not grfeat in Opera but perhaps should have reloaded as a blog).

Edited by brettania - 24 April 2007 at 22:47
 



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DLNY View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote DLNY Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 April 2007 at 22:51
I'm going to follow this thread with interest since I'm at the same point as Matt
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Post Options Post Options   Quote LTTay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 April 2007 at 20:45
Matt,
Shoot through vs Reflective would also make a difference in what's being photograph. If you are taking a large group type shot, the Reflective umbrella is more efficient because there is less light loss, and you get a wider spread of light. I've normally seen shoot-throughs used for one or two people/small group Portraits. They function like a softbox, not as efficient as softboxes, but cheaper too.
If looking for good portable strobes, "Alien Bees" makes some really good, and cute(colorful) ones. They are the same company that make "White Lightning" strobes. Alien Bees have now come up with a 'Ringlight' strobe that is like a macro flash only for portraits, and you can have different attachments/covers on it for different shaped catch-lights in the eyes of your model. Check them out...
Alien Bees
as with most studio strobes, preeettty pricey.
One more thing before I forget, and that is that I know that a lot of people say that with digital now you can adjust your strobes by taking test shots with your camera like they used to with Polariods, but I find a flashmeter really cuts down on the set-up time.
You can also find systems that have a main controller that you plug your strobes into and is controlled from that one box. Most of these are heavier and more cumbersome to carry around and set-up, but I would assume faster to set-up because you can control your flash ratios from the control box. Just flip the swith to 1:1 or 1:3, etc, etc. Just some other things that came to mind.

Lionel

Edited by LTTay - 25 April 2007 at 22:55
A700 & VG. A700, 7D & VG,50/1.4, 50/1.7, 50/3.5 macro, Tam 17-50/2.8, 85/1.4, Tam 90/2.8 Macro, 70-210/4 Beercan, 80-200/2.8 APO "Black", the 300/2.8 HS APO G; and 5600 HS
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Post Options Post Options   Quote sooten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 April 2007 at 18:30
I have been looking at the Alien Bees for a while. They look like a good product. My first question is how do watt seconds translate to guide numbers? In other words, how does the 400ws Alien Bee compare in light output to the Sony 36/56? I have a Sony 56 that I use wirelessly into an umbrella. It seems to work OK, but sometimes I think I might need a little more power...then again, I might not be managing things properly either.

To ask another question, what do you think would be sufficient for shooting individuals up to small groups of 10-12 people? 2 400s, 2 800s?

Thanks in advance!
Scott
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Post Options Post Options   Quote LTTay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 April 2007 at 19:35
Scott,
Yes, from my personal experience with and around the Alien Bees units(donít own them but have friends that own and use them), and used two in a class I took, they are pretty well made, solid and compact. I donít get paid for them by the way, just letting you know what Iíve experienced.
I asked that/your question to my Instructor and was told that itís a common question thatís hard to answer. This is because itís like comparing Apples to Oranges. Watt-seconds/Joules is the measurement of potential energy stored in a flash units capacitors, while ďguide numbersĒ are derived from the actual output of the flash unit (guide number is a numerical representation of that flashes light output for use in calculating your f/stop ie. guide # over distance' = f/stop).
On top of that, there are differences in how efficiently a flash head & pack or monolight converts their potential energy stored in the capacitors to actual light output. Then of course you get the fact that different reflectors influence the intensity of light.
The Silver or White "umbrella" reflector spreads the light over a wide area while a narrow angle reflector/Softbox concentrates the energy into a much narrower area of illumination.
As far as I know there is no industry wide standard for this, so different manufacturers have different standards of measurements for both these figures. I think just from seeing it used practically, the 400WS does have a higher Guide Number than a 5600 HSD. Iíve seen the 400WS used for groups of 10-12, and it seemed OK, but then you might consider your surroundings too whether it would absorb the light or help reflect it. Iíd say to be comfortable, if you can afford it, get the 800WS, but like I said, Iíve seen 400WS used to get groups 10-12 people pretty comfortably.    Again, 400WS with a large(32Ē to 40Ē) Silver umbrella will give you quite a bit more light output compared to 400WS with a 36Ēx36Ē softbox. Hope that helps a little if there are any experts on this please do chime in. Iím no expert, just sharing my experiences.

edited for some spelling and grammatical errors. LOL!


Edited by LTTay - 26 April 2007 at 19:38
A700 & VG. A700, 7D & VG,50/1.4, 50/1.7, 50/3.5 macro, Tam 17-50/2.8, 85/1.4, Tam 90/2.8 Macro, 70-210/4 Beercan, 80-200/2.8 APO "Black", the 300/2.8 HS APO G; and 5600 HS
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Post Options Post Options   Quote sooten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 April 2007 at 21:09
Thanks for the info Lionel!

I think you are right about jumping to the 800s. The price difference is not that bad, especially if you get 400s and realize you needed 800s!

I have been tasked with doing a wedding for a family friend and was thinking of using that as an excuse for getting some lights (especially since it is really my wife's friend!). I keep coming back to the Bees as a possible solution. Seems to be an economical solution and a quality product.

Thanks!!
Scott
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Post Options Post Options   Quote LTTay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 April 2007 at 23:39
You're welcome, Good luck on getting the Bees, I think they are cool, and good luck in that wedding. I always think Weddings are fun, but I've never been the contracted/"Pro" Photographer but once, and it still turned out OK. LOL!
A700 & VG. A700, 7D & VG,50/1.4, 50/1.7, 50/3.5 macro, Tam 17-50/2.8, 85/1.4, Tam 90/2.8 Macro, 70-210/4 Beercan, 80-200/2.8 APO "Black", the 300/2.8 HS APO G; and 5600 HS
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Post Options Post Options   Quote H20boy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 April 2007 at 02:01
After alot of reading, I didn't exactly go with the bees, getting separate stands, clips, etc. I went cheap, and bought this setup. It just seemed to have everything that I needed. I bought a couple extra 42" umbrellas (black/silver) from bergerbrothers.com to swap with the soft boxes for those bigger groups, and it seemed like a good 'starter' kit without spending >$1000 for a 3-light setup.

I have read nothing but good comments from previuos buyers, and I'll find out myself in a few days if the quality is there or not.

I purchased a backdrop stand; now I am browsing the many muslins that are on ebay and I'll pick a few there to get my 'home business' off the ground.

thanks for all the sound advice so far guys!

Edited because I really MEANT $1000, not $100. oops

Edited by H20boy - 27 April 2007 at 02:02
Matt - TX l Maxxum-m42 adapter - that's it   :(     l My Galleries
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Post Options Post Options   Quote brettania Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 April 2007 at 02:38

Await your report -- the price looks right.
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