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Old Jun 7, 2005, 9:49 PM   #1
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I am thinking of obtaining a studio lighting kit [strobes, stands, umbrellas, softbox, etc.] and i would like to know if anyone has any comments/advice on the following:

[a] decent brands - I have come across so many brands that my head is spinning > Hensel, Multi-blitz, Novatron, Dyna-Lite, Norman, Speedotron, ProFoto, etc.

[b] component availability - how long do various bulbs last?

[c] TCO - Total Cost of Ownership - is it wise to spend $1500-2000 up front on a 1000W/S system, or should I concentrate my resources on more, but fewer lights?

[d] Meter - which is the best meter that you have used? The most popular brands I see are Sekonic and Minolta...what are the strenghts and weaknesses?


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Old Jun 8, 2005, 12:29 PM   #2
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Depends on what you plan to do with the lights.
That 1500-2000$ will buy you one good profoto or BronColor head. :-) Profoto/Broncolor are at the highish end of what the pros look for.

I'm assuming you are looking for monoblocks.
If you are setting up a home studio, I'd look into the
Paul C.Buff AlienBee line, or the White Lightning line

I'm fond of the elinchrome line, a 1000w/s head is about 1200$cdn. And the Speedotron Force 10's are not bad.

If you are looking for pack systems a speedotron blackline 2400 and a couple of heads will do nicely, may be more than you want to spend. Also will pop your circuit breakers if you don't have the wireing to handel it.

What you need depends on the size of your shooting space, and what you plan to shoot.
In a small room a 50w/s light and a reflector can be enough to do portraits:!:

For meters yes Minolta, Seconic and Goslen all make good flash-meters.


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Old Jun 11, 2005, 11:28 PM   #3
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PeterP is on the right track. But, if I were starting out, & insisted on having strobes for my first lighting setup, it would definatly be Alien Bees http://www.alienbees.com/ I don't think you could beat them for price or perfomance.

Now, if you wanted something other than strobes...I would recommend using the SEARCH function at the top of the forums & looking for "cheap" or "cheap lighting". There's a lot to be said for using hot-lights to teach yourself & refine your technique...
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Old Jun 17, 2005, 12:34 PM   #4
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It seems like you need to do a little more research on what lights will fit in with your type of photography. You may want to concider using continuous lighting to start. There is a lot of information on the following sight, including links to some strobes that you have not mentioned (Photogenic). There are a lot of varieties of flash as well as continuous kits at discounted prices.


There are a lot of options for the money you wish to invest.

I use a Sekonic 358.
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Old Jun 19, 2005, 4:35 PM   #5
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As for a flash meter, I'd recommend a cheap one. All you need it to do is tell you what aperture to set. The more expensive ones will storea value for highlight, shadow, midtone, average them all out, tell you the total exposure latitude, etc. etc. I'm sure someone will jump in here and say otherwise, but I really don't think that's worth the extra money.

Some would argue that you don't even need a flashmeter with a dslr, just guess, check the histogram and adjust as necessary to keep the highlights in. But I won't say any moreabout that!

If you get one,chooseone that doesambient light as well as flash. An ambientlightmeter (reads the light falling on the subject, not the light entering the camera lens) is invaluable to a photographer, and the answer to all kinds of "do we trust the camera's clever metering?" situations.
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Old Jun 22, 2005, 6:35 AM   #6
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Assuming you are an amature wanting to set up a small home studio, then the units you are looking at are way overkill. As mentioned, look at the Paul C. Buff units. Very good for the home studio, very reliable and powerful.

Paul C. Buff have been around for a long time. They can supply spare parts, if needed, or can also do repairs themselves. I have 4 White Lightnings, all of which are discontinued, and I can still get parts for them. In the many years I have had mine, I have burned out the flash tubes on only one unit, and it is user replaceable.

Flash meters: look at the Polaris line. They have a starter flash meter at around $200. This is an excellent little meter.

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Old Jun 22, 2005, 6:58 AM   #7
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That's the one I've got (the polaris).
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Old Jul 24, 2005, 7:50 PM   #8
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I'm new on this board but reading your post I just had to put my .02 cents in. I have been using Novatrons for the last 10 years. This goes back to when I was using my master bedroom in my apartment as my studio. The master bath was my darkroom. I am now looking at the new novatron strobes for digital.

Hope this helps.
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