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Author Topic: Help with Lighting Equipment Purchase  (Read 7232 times)

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« on: April 25, 2010, 11:35 »
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I want to by some lighting equipment. I have decided on going with Alien Bees. This will be for my home basement. To start, I will mostly be learning to do still life, isolation, food, etc. shots. But I want to be able to also use whatever I purchase for eventually learning to shoot people.

I currently have two light stands and two umbrellas at home. Below is what I am thinking of getting. Is there anything missing that I should also get right from the start.

1) Either Three B1600's or Three of the new Einstein's
2) One 13 foot Air Cushioned Stand
3) One Giant Softbox
4) One Cyber Commander
5) Three Cybersync Receivers

Is there anything I am missing that I should get now? Should I get a second softbox (and stand)?

I would appreciate any suggestions or comments so I get the right equipment from the start.

Thanks.


Dook

« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2010, 11:45 »
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For basemant studio made for still life, I think you don't need that much power. You can go with AB 800's. Also, I don't think you need Cyber system. You can go with built in optical receivers, or some third part cheap version, for start, because it is small distance.. For still lfe you need small soft box, too, and grids.

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2010, 12:23 »
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That's a pretty good start.

I have 2 AB800s with a jumbo octobox and am fairly happy with them.  Not sure about the Einsteins but they look nice.

I'd say stay with what you have listed. After you get started you'll have a better idea of what else you need such as more softboxes.

And stick with the 1600s. I'd rather have too much power and be able to turn them down than have not enough. 

« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2010, 13:25 »
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Thanks for the comments Dook and Paulie.

I do not want to have to repurchase lights in the future when I want to photograph larger subjects (people) so I do want the 1600's. Or the Einstein's. But I have no idea how long it will be before the Einstein's are not on backorder any longer.

lisafx

« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2010, 14:59 »
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Sounds like a great setup to me :)

FWIW, the ABs and most other studio strobes have optical slave triggers, so you really only need one commander and one receiver for one light.  The others will be triggered when the light with the receiver goes off.

Also, I photograph almost exclusively people and the 800s are more than powerful enough.  It is the size of the modifier (umbrella or softbox) that determines the size of the area they cover. 

« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2010, 15:37 »
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my lights are all 400w. Studio is roughly 8x4m size room they sit on just below half power most of the time.

« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2010, 18:01 »
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Thanks Lisa and Phil.

Lisa, I already have here at home one pair of PocketWizards. So I could just use those and skip the AB Cybercommander and receivers I guess. Does that sound like the right thing to do?

Controlling all the lights independently from the Cybercommander sounded nice, but maybe not worth the extra expense since I do already have 2 pocket wizards.

Steve

lisafx

« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2010, 20:11 »
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Thanks Lisa and Phil.

Lisa, I already have here at home one pair of PocketWizards. So I could just use those and skip the AB Cybercommander and receivers I guess. Does that sound like the right thing to do?

Controlling all the lights independently from the Cybercommander sounded nice, but maybe not worth the extra expense since I do already have 2 pocket wizards.

Steve

Oh, yes, the Pocket Wizards will be fine with the ABs.  That's what I use.  You will need to get the adapter cord from Alien Bees, but as I remember it was under $10.

Best of luck with your new kit :D

« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2010, 21:00 »
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most common business mistake is to go for big toys that you don't need. 2 100w lights will be more than sufficient .. even if you later move into larger subjects like people. Air cushioned stands are a very wise choice .. doesn't provide functional benefits but it's a great insurance policy to prevent damages. For 99% still life a couple 2'x3' boxes will work in most cases .. full body people will require a larger box at least 4' .. 6' is better .. especially for outfits were skin tone in both legs & upper body needs to equalize. Trigger systems need to be either expensive battery or cheap in-line powered. Cheap battery units tend to miss-fire and create additional expense for batteries. In-Line powered receivers tend to never missfire, never be an inconvenience and never create additional expense.
Look at the price of replacement tubes before buying if you are going to be giving them heavy use. Trendy name brands can often cost you $150 just to replace the tube once it burns out .. Cheaper lights that don't spend their money marketing themselves to have a cool name will cost you maybe $15-25 to replace the tube.

« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2010, 21:35 »
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most common business mistake is to go for big toys that you don't need. 2 100w lights will be more than sufficient .. even if you later move into larger subjects like people. Air cushioned stands are a very wise choice .. doesn't provide functional benefits but it's a great insurance policy to prevent damages. For 99% still life a couple 2'x3' boxes will work in most cases .. full body people will require a larger box at least 4' .. 6' is better .. especially for outfits were skin tone in both legs & upper body needs to equalize. Trigger systems need to be either expensive battery or cheap in-line powered. Cheap battery units tend to miss-fire and create additional expense for batteries. In-Line powered receivers tend to never missfire, never be an inconvenience and never create additional expense.
Look at the price of replacement tubes before buying if you are going to be giving them heavy use. Trendy name brands can often cost you $150 just to replace the tube once it burns out .. Cheaper lights that don't spend their money marketing themselves to have a cool name will cost you maybe $15-25 to replace the tube.

Hello, Randy McCown, you have a great portfolio.

I partly agree with your post, but in my opinion, going with two 100W lights is a mistake. My nikon SB 800 is rated as around 60 Ws. Sooner or later, you will think you need more power, especially if you go out and try to over-power the sun (for full figure) or try to use anything above F8. I have a couple of AB1600s and couple of Elinchroms BX 500 Ri, and I don't regret buying them. I have had AB1600 for years, and I haven't replaced the tube yet, even though I haven't treated them the best...

Going with the Alien Bees is a good choice.

Best of luck with your new kit sbonk.

Kone

« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2010, 13:29 »
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Thanks everyone. I will wait for a few days and see if the Einstein lights get off of backorder. I also hear that the AB lights will be coming down in price and the Einsteins going up. As soon as that happens I will place my order (have to see what happens to the prices but I will get either the 1600's or the Einsteins).

Since I dropped the Cybercommander and receivers off my list (and I will use my Pocket Wizards), it also is enabling me to get the Canon 400mm f5.6 L lens that I have also been wanting to get. I actually just placed that order.

« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2010, 13:33 »
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most common business mistake is to go for big toys that you don't need. 2 100w lights will be more than sufficient .. even if you later move into larger subjects like people. Air cushioned stands are a very wise choice .. doesn't provide functional benefits but it's a great insurance policy to prevent damages. For 99% still life a couple 2'x3' boxes will work in most cases .. full body people will require a larger box at least 4' .. 6' is better .. especially for outfits were skin tone in both legs & upper body needs to equalize. Trigger systems need to be either expensive battery or cheap in-line powered. Cheap battery units tend to miss-fire and create additional expense for batteries. In-Line powered receivers tend to never missfire, never be an inconvenience and never create additional expense.
Look at the price of replacement tubes before buying if you are going to be giving them heavy use. Trendy name brands can often cost you $150 just to replace the tube once it burns out .. Cheaper lights that don't spend their money marketing themselves to have a cool name will cost you maybe $15-25 to replace the tube.

Hello, Randy McCown, you have a great portfolio.

I partly agree with your post, but in my opinion, going with two 100W lights is a mistake. My nikon SB 800 is rated as around 60 Ws. Sooner or later, you will think you need more power, especially if you go out and try to over-power the sun (for full figure) or try to use anything above F8. I have a couple of AB1600s and couple of Elinchroms BX 500 Ri, and I don't regret buying them. I have had AB1600 for years, and I haven't replaced the tube yet, even though I haven't treated them the best...

Going with the Alien Bees is a good choice.

Best of luck with your new kit sbonk.

Kone

no you'll never have much luck with 100w trying to shoot in full sun at least not with professional grade results .. that's more like 400w full power at f/16 w/ 4'+ softbox. However, I wouldn't recommend using any indoor studio units for this task because they're not designed for that type of flexible portability. For this type of shooting a person would be looking into something along the lines of a single unit Elinchrom Ranger Quadra ... that's an extremely popular setup.

« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2010, 11:15 »
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Sorry to disagree with Randy on this one, but I have used white lighting strobes on the beach on several occasions. Just bring a couple of Vagabond II battery packs, some high output beauty dishes and a reflector/diffusion screen & you are good to go. Oh, and it helps to bring an assistant along as well ;)

lisafx

« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2010, 17:49 »
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Since I dropped the Cybercommander and receivers off my list (and I will use my Pocket Wizards), it also is enabling me to get the Canon 400mm f5.6 L lens that I have also been wanting to get. I actually just placed that order.
Congrats on a smart (and money saving) decision.  :)

Just curious - what do you plan to shoot with the 400mm?  Definitely it's too large for the studio setup you are describing...

« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2010, 18:38 »
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Sorry to disagree with Randy on this one, but I have used white lighting strobes on the beach on several occasions. Just bring a couple of Vagabond II battery packs, some high output beauty dishes and a reflector/diffusion screen & you are good to go. Oh, and it helps to bring an assistant along as well ;)

I was talking about portability and efficiency not just if it could be done or not. A power source and any studio lighting would be fine for something like a beach session because the portability demands are pretty close to just being in the studio anyway. When you start shooting complex locations that offer the diversity of 30-60 unique backgrounds for a single client .. then the standard studio setups do nothing but slow you down which means less final images, less sales, less money, a lot of hassle and an assistant who is just ready to pack it up and go back home. LOL

« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2010, 20:25 »
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Lisa,

The 400mm is for birds and other wildlife as well a sports related subjects such as my son surfing. These are things I really enjoy shooting. The home studio lighting is more specifically for stock. They are two unrelated items but I have been wanting to get both. I am not planning on using the 400mm lens in the studio. For that I primarily will be using my 24-105 and 100mm macro.

Steve


 

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