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-   -   Need help determining Strobe setup/ purchase (

inferno37 Jun 30, 2006 2:49 PM


A friend of mine wants me to shoot his family portraits in his home for him. There will be at least 5 people in the picture, maybe as many as 8. I have NO studio lights, but through my course with NYI, my books tell me that a strobe is best for people portraiture. I can't spend a lot of money - I SHOULDN'T spend any, but I might be able to recoup the costs over a short time if I do well. I want to spend less than $200, if possible. i have been on Ebay, B & H Photo, as well as a few other sites doing some 'browsing'. I have no idea what is appropriate, though. I would think at least 2 lights, but you can't get much in the way of power for 2 lights at less than $200. I found a kit that has (2) 45 W/S strobes, but have no idea if that would be enough lighting or not. I have looked at a few single 150W/S strobes for around $150, and thought if I used those and a reflector board, I might come out OK. Any help here would be welcome. Also, once I setup a 'studio' with my strobes, how do I appropriately meter with my built-in meter, without the strobes on? I am confused about this.

Thanks in advance!

Jun 30, 2006 7:41 PM

For 5 ppl you will need way more light than a $200.00 budget strobe system will provide. As a bare minimum you should contact the people at and look at getting at least 2-3 each AB-800 units as a minimum. For lighting setups, look at the first thread in this Forum.

You didn't say how soon you need to do this shoot, but the more lighting experimentation you try, the better off you'll be. For a family-style, 5 person shoot, I would use at least 4 lights (including a rear-hair/background light). You also have to think about modifiers (backdrops, stands, umbrellas, softboxes, etc)...the more you understand your lights, the better you'll do.

Ronnie948 Jul 1, 2006 8:51 AM

Hi Inferno,

What camera & lens are you going to use?

There may be a way that you may not need to purchase any lights and still get a perfect photograph.

Even when you buy lights you will still need to buy a decent Flash meter.


PeterP Jul 1, 2006 11:01 AM

Check the strobist's lighting bootcamp, lots of suggestions on inexpensive mobile lighting setups.
Then check their on-assigment for more information with real world examples

All can be done with either expensive deidcated flashes in manual mode, or old standby's like the Vivitar 283's (which can sometimes be found for 50$ each) and inexpensive radio triggers(~50$ from ebay).

Since the flash is not connected to the camera and no automation is used any brand flash can be used with any camera so long as it can be triggered with a radio-trigger.
Nikon flashes have a remote sync jack right on them, old Vivitars and Canons(carefull to tape over the data pins first) need a "hot shoe-pc sync" adapter

I've set up 1 old vivitar with a radio trigger on a small lite weight Manfroto 060L light stand with a umbrella adapter and a small umbrella. And have 2 sigma 500DG supers in manual mode on channel 0 (optical trigger) on other light stands wth photoflex bounce difusers
It is a very portable setup, I'm just now trying to get the hang of using it.

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