Advice on lighting setup

sleipnirsleipnir Posts: 7Member
edited December 2014 in Nikon DSLR cameras
Okay I currently use a d3s, a 300 2.8 v2 and an 85 1.8 g lens though I do have access to a 35 art and a 85 1.4.

Im looking to start personal home studio. So after some research I was thinking sb or yongnuo flash units with some sort of setup, or maybe a strobe light setup.

Cost wise I can get a Bowens 200/200 two umbrella kit for around 400 (Have someone willing to sell me a very slightly used one at that price). I live in Canada, and yes in the US everything seems so much cheaper these days.

Or would I be wiser to invest in some cheap yongnuo flashes?

Anyone have experience with both?

Could use any advice really am completely noob when it comes to using flash of any sort.
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Comments

  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited December 2014
    For studio work I would get a studio flash
    They have a lot more power, will recycle faster and ( very important) have a modeling light
    Bowens have a good reputation and spares should be readily available
    Elinchrom and Profoto might be higher quality but are likely to be more expensive
    Needles to say, a studio flash is useless out of the studio

    You will find, fitting a big softbox, to an "on camera flash" such as an SB900, impossible
    Profession light modifiers are designed for studio flash
    Forget modifiers for designed for on camera flashes, they are simply not big or sophisticated enough.
    Even something like the lastolite octabox with two SB 900s (I have one) has limited power and is not really big enough
    Remember for a soft light, you need a large light source

    A couple of umbrellas will get you started, but they throw light all over the place. Sooner or later you want to move up to softboxes, beauty dishes, snoots, grids etc

    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    I am in agreement, studio flash. I prefer about 400 watt seconds for each head. The least expensive way may be to obtain two head units, and umbrella or two, some large white bounce pieces possibly homemade, good stands, and then begin the process of experimentation.

    Look at others images and attempt to reproduce the lighting. Move lights, bounce screens, work this out yourself, and you will learn what all of this does.

    A recent portrait of a couple friends took a total of 4 - 6 hours from initial set up to final shoot. I tried three lighting setups, two different sets, finally arriving at a final image which was well received.

    No one can tell you how to do this. It must be learned, using some ideas you may read about, but the only way to learn it is to do it.
    Msmoto, mod
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited December 2014
    , good stands,
    +1
    cheap ones can be very expensive if they fail

    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • sleipnirsleipnir Posts: 7Member
    Thx for the advice,

    I went for the used Bowens 200 kit comes with two heads two umbrellas and some other things. I know msmoto said 400 I think these are only 200w, studio will be at home in basement so not that big an area. Once I learn a thing or two I'll start adding stuff.
  • KillerbobKillerbob Posts: 732Member
    I have a few questions on this topic as well:

    - If I get a Bowens kit, the 500c for instance, that comes with a Pulsar Tx Trigger, which is placed on top of the camera. Will any of the flash systems in the camera be of any use? I am thinking Sync. Speed, TTL, etc.?
    - The kit comes with an umbrella and a softbox. Is that enough to start with?

    TIA
  • autofocusautofocus Posts: 625Member
    I have a few questions on this topic as well:

    - If I get a Bowens kit, the 500c for instance, that comes with a Pulsar Tx Trigger, which is placed on top of the camera. Will any of the flash systems in the camera be of any use? I am thinking Sync. Speed, TTL, etc.?
    - The kit comes with an umbrella and a softbox. Is that enough to start with?

    TIA
    Seems like a nice starter kit. You will be limited to shooting within the camera's sync speed (200,250..) unless you purchase a HSS system like the http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/605718-REG/PocketWizard_801_153_FlexTT5_Transceiver_Radio_Slave.html. The great thing about Bowens is their speed ring. Not that it's the best but it is very common. Lots of third party modifiers on ebay or Amazon. Most studio strobes have an optical eye and can be triggered by on camera flash so that's an option as well. Early on I would use triggers (TX/RV) on lights until I ran out then use the the optical trigger on additional strobes. Yep, you can mix and match. Heck, I've even connected my PW III to the Profoto trigger and it worked.

    Now, let me warn you. Once you start down this road (studio lighting) it can become a money pit. There are so many modifiers and lights out there and every one of them seems like the next magic tool. Light is light and all of the strobes and speed lights out there produce it. Color balance and things like that can be corrected in post. How to light is something you learn. I'm not there there yet but keep working on it.

    I have a Profoto D1 500 Air set. It is a nice setup in that it comes with built in receivers in the heads and has a transmitter to control power and so on that mounts on camera. It's convenient and with the addition of Paul C Bluff (PCB) Mini Vagabond Battery pack it's portable. Not to say this is the way to go, just another possibility. Be warned, Profoto is not cheap and modifiers are very, very, very expensive. Lesson learned the hard way here...
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    Let's see some shots.....we love to give feedback.... :))
    Msmoto, mod
  • henrik1963henrik1963 Posts: 561Member
    OK someone has to ask the dumb questions :-) How does a 400W flash head compare to a SB 900/910 in raw light output?
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,545Member
    edited December 2014
    This is certainly not a dumb question. And it is bloody difficult to figure out. The standards are not the same across these platforms.

    You will never hear the same answer for this question. However, I have 5 SB-910s and have had an opportunity to compare them to the Profoto D4 4800 Air system in the studio.

    My gut is that at full power, an SB-910 is equivalent to about 100 watts of Profoto power.
    Post edited by WestEndFoto on
  • haroldpharoldp Posts: 984Member
    SB900,800,910 etc. are about 65 watt second in electrical output, but have focusing optics built in so comparison is hard.

    In umbrella setups which are highly diffusive, 65 ws is a good estimate. Reflective umbrellas lose less light than softboxes, and sevencrossing is right, these on camera designed flashes are not enough in softboxes unless you are very close in portrait work. I do very little studio work anymore, and that little is on location, so I use a mix of white satin and aluminized umbrellas in various sizes from 60 - 32 inch and radio triggers. If I had a fixed studio, I would certainly use real studio lights as advised by several on this forum.

    ... H
    D810, D3x, 14-24/2.8, 50/1.4D, 24-70/2.8, 24-120/4 VR, 70-200/2.8 VR1, 80-400 G, 200-400/4 VR1, 400/2.8 ED VR G, 105/2 DC, 17-55/2.8.
    Nikon N90s, F100, F, lots of Leica M digital and film stuff.

  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    Some will rate the SB910 as high as 80 ws, but, the issue is one of power when diffused into an umbrella, or just a reflective panel. One needs studio lights for this if an even light distribution pattern is desired. I like to have an umbrella about eight feet from the subject, or a reflective white wall, the same. This means a huge light loss as I am lighting a large area. And then I will cut out 50-75% of the light by using modifiers, so what may start out as two 400 ws units bounced finally comes in as very nicely diffused light equivalent to maybe 100 ws direct.

    Thus, a unit like an SB910 or even a more powerful on camera flash just cannot produce the results of studio lights.
    Msmoto, mod
  • henrik1963henrik1963 Posts: 561Member
    @WestEndFoto: I did try to find out how a SB900 compares to a studio flash - but one is has a GN and the other Watts - very confusing :-)

    @WestEndFoto, haroldp and Msmoto: You have provided the answer I was after - an idea of the powerratio between the two - thank you :-)
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,387Member
    One person's ideas. Note the power ratings.

    :

  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited December 2014

    - The kit comes with an umbrella and a softbox. Is that enough to start with?

    You might find the 90 cm brolly on the small size

    In the true NRF tradition, of spending other people's money, I would recommend
    The Profoto 8 foot Giant Reflector
    This how you get a really soft light
    and the sort of reflector Mario Testino probably uses
    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • @WestEndFoto: I did try to find out how a SB900 compares to a studio flash - but one is has a GN and the other Watts - very confusing :-)
    One is simply the power consumed (the input), the other is the light emitted (the output). The GN is simply the f-stop measured at 1 m distance. If you have a light meter (which you will need when you do studio work anyway), you can measure this easily.

    The problem with the comparison is that the GN is just a spot measure, i.e. the light of an SB-910 or a Yongnuo set to 200mm will cover a spot of something like a meter in width, while a studio flash with a normal reflector would cover a bigger area.

    Additionally, comparing the "spot" values of the GNs of a studio and a SB-910 flash will not tell you anything about the results the flashes will give you with a light former such as a softbox etc, simply because of the different focus character. Results will be different for different shapes and sizes of softboxes, for example.

    An SB-910 has an actual GN of 32.0 at 200mm focus setting and fully charged batteries, I just checked.

    A Profoto d500 with a normal reflector at normal zoom setting and no dome or additional things has a GN of something like 64, two full stops more plus more coverage. Cheap 300 Ws studio strobes deliver something around GN 45 with a standard reflector. However, if you put tele reflectors on the studio flashes and recreate the 200mm setting of an SB-910, they will be again much more powerful.

    A comment on:
    , good stands,
    +1
    cheap ones can be very expensive if they fail
    I disagree. Maybe the situation is different in the US, but in Europe, you don't need to invest much for stands – if we're talking standard stands, that is. I've tried a lot of different brands, and the cheap ones (i.e. 30 bucks for a standard 256cm stand) are just as good as the expensive ones. The only thing you have to look for is that there are no plastic parts, but that they're all metal.

    Which flash:
    If you're in the US and want to get the best value for money concerning the strobes, get Einstein. The only downside is their somewhat fiddly adaptor for light modifiers, the rest is superb. If you don't want to spend that much, look for something cheaper in the 300-400 Ws class. Forget Bowens, because they're too expensive for their super-basic design, with no upsides. (Reliability is always quoted, but believe it or not, the cheaper brands are also very reliable in a home studio.)
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    edited December 2014

    In the true NRF tradition, of spending other people's money, I would recommend
    The Profoto 8 foot Giant Reflector
    This how you get a really soft light
    and the sort of reflector Mario Testino probably uses
    He uses all sorts of things, in that "type" he's most likely using Briese. However, while in the beginning, one always assumes that bigger is better, this is not the case. For nice soft light you don't need stuff like a those giant reflectors, just a fairly large softbox. In fact, when I started studying light and using studio lighting, I always struggled with the light being too soft – until I started using smaller light modifiers, or let's say, the right size for the right job.

    It's totally true what autofocus said:
    Now, let me warn you. Once you start down this road (studio lighting) it can become a money pit. There are so many modifiers and lights out there and every one of them seems like the next magic tool.
    And they're not. Industry trying to sell you s..., not more. The standard stuff can get you very far.
    Post edited by FlowtographyBerlin on
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited December 2014
    re stands: it depends on what you are going . if you add a boom or want to extend them to any height. I would avoid the lightweight ones. In the UK the Calumet, own brand, Double-Risers are often available with a sensible discount and are unlikely to fall over

    re a light being too soft. when mentioning the Profoto 8 foot Giant Reflector. I was referring to the fill light. For a modeling light, I agree with FlowtographyBerlin a fairly large softbox should do the job
    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • henrik1963henrik1963 Posts: 561Member
    How large is a "fairly large softbox"?

    Right now I am using a Lastolite softbox - about 37x37cm - I would call that fairly small :-) I am using it with one SB900. This setup is good for a head and shoulder shot the way I am using it. I have tried to use it on a small group shooting down - that was kind of OK.

    I was thinking of moving up to something larger and use two SB 900s - that is until I found this discussion :-)

    Now I am thinking of moving up to a cheaper studio flash and a larger softbox or an octabox. What is the best kit for someone like me?
  • @henrik1963: Depending on at what distance you're working at (model and light), fairly large is something like 90 cm, 120 cm, 150 cm octa boxes. Squares or rectangles will give you more light surface at the same nominal size.

    Octas have no real advantage as for light quality or softness, just the catchlight is more "natural". Actually, rectangular boxes are more versatile when it comes to using them as striplight substitutes or for product photography.

    If you're starting this stuff, it's a good idea to get a flash head with a Bowens S-type mount for the light modifiers, it's the most common. You can get pretty much any "brand" softbox for any brand flash nowadays. However, most brands' softboxes are manufactured by 3rd party manufacturers, i.e. the Profoto and Hensel stuff is Aurora.

    You don't need expensive stuff, the quality of light is pretty much the same even for the cheap stuff. As with flashes, and other hardware, the difference is in the handling and the haptic quality. If you have to set up and tear down the boxes a lot, you might want to get an "umbrella" type softbox (set up is like an umbrella mechanism), or a Rotalux by Elinchrom. The latter is rather expensive and very inefficient (sucks up a lot of light), however.

    Two lights are enough for a start, you can always use a reflector for fill if you're short on one light.
  • prototypeprototype Posts: 11Member
    I'll just throw my two cents in here...
    I don't have any experience with studio lights, but for anyone considering speedlights and looking at the yongnuos you should also check out the Godox v850 (also rebranded by Neweer). It's a full manual speedlight with a lithium ion battery instead of AAs. About a year ago I picked up two of them along with Godox's own radio trigger system for about half the price of a sb910. The Lithium battery saves you a ton of money and time from having to deal with AAs. It also recycles fast enough that you can reasonably use it at full power without waiting ages for it be ready for the next shot, which you would need the additional battery packs to do so with normal speedlights.

    They also make a TTL version for Nikon, which in the future I might be tempted to get...

    Anyway, useful if you want to be highly mobile and worry less about batteries, but if you're going to be in a studio all the time, studio lights would make the most sense.
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    edited December 2014
    re stands: it depends on what you are going . if you add a boom or want to extend them to any height. I would avoid the lightweight ones. In the UK the Calumet, own brand, Double-Risers are often available with a sensible discount and are unlikely to fall over
    Yes, booms are a different issue. Then again, if you use compact flashes (monolights), they are rather heavy, and booms are very fiddly to adjust. I tried a lot of different booms of different quality levels and ultimately arrived at the only solution that worked well for me, a Manfrotto Wind-up Stand with Manfrotto Mega Boom. It solves the adjustment problem because you can use winds to adjust, instead of releasing screws, adjusting and tightening again. However, it's really big, heavy and not exactly cheap.

    For booms, I really recommend checking different models out in a store or studio, with a compact flash and light former attached, before buying anything. After all, there are only few situations where you really need a boom.

    Post edited by FlowtographyBerlin on
  • henrik1963henrik1963 Posts: 561Member
    I have my eyes on a Mettle 600W dual power studio flash - It comes with a battery pack and a stand for the same price as a SB910 - And it uses a Bowens mount - anyone have any experience with this?
  • Not directly, but Mettle is one of those brands that label generic China-manufactured units, and they're generally good quality nowadays.

    If you're already in the 600 Ws league, I'd consider getting a unit that is remote controllable, so you don't have to climb up ladders all the time to adjust. I don't know if Mettle has anything like that, but the RC series usually cost a bit more and you pay something like 50 bucks for the remote.

    Don't forget the light meter, too. I'd get a good brand (e.g. Sekonic), but a simple model. The more expensive ones just have more features, which you'll never use anyway. The components that actually do the metering are the same for all models, though.
  • henrik1963henrik1963 Posts: 561Member
    @FlowtographyBerlin: I have a Sekonic light/flash meter - super simple to use and it works great. I have radio triggers. You may have a point about remote control of output - I hate climbing ladders :-).

    Thanks to all for great and informative posts - I may be back with more questions :-)
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    edited December 2014
    Just as a demo, a couple of images showing a lighting set up which requires power..
    Studio_Guilford-12.29.14-2

    Studio_Guilford-12.29.14

    To get soft lights... this entire set was actually trashed and another set chosen, but, when one has the power desired, it makes the set up much easier. The final image was done in a similar fashion but not on the stairs.

    Oh, Elinchrom 400s heads

    Final shot
    Hallimar_FINAL_12.09.14
    Post edited by Msmoto on
    Msmoto, mod
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