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07/06/2015 01:03:42 PM · #1
So I still don't have a flash, all my shots so far are with natural or modified lights. I want to invest in a light flash and umbrella gear for occasionally dabbling in portraits more and other shots.

This is what Strobists recommends for a starter kit

//mpex.com/compact-off-camera-flash-jump-starter-kit-with-flash.html

what do you think?
07/06/2015 01:07:59 PM · #2
Umbrellas are nice and inexpensive, but the lighting from an umbrella isn't very interesting. I'd look into the soft boxes that fit a speed light. The lighting is much more interesting/fun.
07/06/2015 01:27:25 PM · #3
Originally posted by vawendy:

Umbrellas are nice and inexpensive, but the lighting from an umbrella isn't very interesting. I'd look into the soft boxes that fit a speed light. The lighting is much more interesting/fun.


so curious then, what's the difference in light that an umbrella vs a soft box gives?
07/06/2015 01:33:48 PM · #4
Originally posted by vawendy:

Umbrellas are nice and inexpensive, but the lighting from an umbrella isn't very interesting. I'd look into the soft boxes that fit a speed light. The lighting is much more interesting/fun.


i remember it being very difficult to find a softbox attachment for a speed light at a reasonable price. also speedlights really need to be grouped in bunches of two or three to get any real power out of them when you start using modifiers. strobes are the way to go. for an about extra $100 you can get an alien bee with a stand and umbrella.

however if you are on a budget and wants a multi light setup, stick with speedlights, they do work just fine as you learn. i'd skip out on the lumopro flash and get some yong nuos instead. a manual flash from them will be much cheaper and just as good. heck you can go full eTTL on yong nuo for less than that flash. if you want, you could find a great used canon 430EXii for about $150 and really get all the features like high speed sync as well.

07/06/2015 01:37:36 PM · #5
Originally posted by Frakster:

Originally posted by vawendy:

Umbrellas are nice and inexpensive, but the lighting from an umbrella isn't very interesting. I'd look into the soft boxes that fit a speed light. The lighting is much more interesting/fun.


so curious then, what's the difference in light that an umbrella vs a soft box gives?


depend on what kind of umbrella but umbrellas will give you a ton of light spill so a softbox is much easier to control.

Message edited by author 2015-07-06 13:37:50.
07/06/2015 01:37:51 PM · #6
Originally posted by Frakster:

Originally posted by vawendy:

Umbrellas are nice and inexpensive, but the lighting from an umbrella isn't very interesting. I'd look into the soft boxes that fit a speed light. The lighting is much more interesting/fun.


so curious then, what's the difference in light that an umbrella vs a soft box gives?


I'm just a self taught hack myself but in my opinion the difference is basically:

Umbrella= Light everywhere like this:
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/2000-2999/2087/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1147192.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/2000-2999/2087/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1147192.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Softbox= light where you want it like this:
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1381/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_948162.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1381/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_948162.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
07/06/2015 01:40:10 PM · #7
Here is an option I posted in a thread by ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', '/') + 1) . ' vawendy back in 2013. Listed on Ebay and Amazon as softbox umbrella or brolly softbox. A set up like this will require a radio trigger, light stand, and umbrella holder.

Softbox Umbrella

Used two softbox umbrellas for this shot with a couple of old Sunpak 333 flashes.

' . substr('//i9.photobucket.com/albums/a86/atupdate/2013%20Rebecca/WebIMGP5925-1_zps9921f2a4.jpg', strrpos('//i9.photobucket.com/albums/a86/atupdate/2013%20Rebecca/WebIMGP5925-1_zps9921f2a4.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Tim
07/06/2015 01:43:35 PM · #8
IMO the big problem with speedlights and portraits is power. a strobe will allow you to shot at f11 and ISO100. you wont be able to do that with a speed light and the images will be much softer as a result for a variety of reasons.

Message edited by author 2015-07-06 13:44:02.
07/06/2015 01:53:48 PM · #9
Originally posted by Mike:

IMO the big problem with speedlights and portraits is power. a strobe will allow you to shot at f11 and ISO100. you wont be able to do that with a speed light and the images will be much softer as a result for a variety of reasons.


So what would be a decent strobe 1 light setup with a softbox? Looking to be on a budget and get the best buy I can get.
07/06/2015 02:12:47 PM · #10
strobe

softbox

the thing you will need to be careful of with softboxes is how they mount, as some will be proprietary. alien bees are no different.

07/06/2015 07:53:13 PM · #11
The alien bees are wonderful. I started out with an Alienbee 400 because I thought it was 400 watts. It's only 160 watts. It still is enough in my small space. If I knew then what I know now, I would have skipped all the smaller stuff and jumped into an Einstein. It's 640 watts, so I can use it inside and outside without a problem. It actually turns down even farther than the AB400, and is setup nicely for expanding and getting their control system.

That being said, if you're like me and really don't want to sink that much into it because you don't know where you're going with it, get the AB400 and play. Multiple lights are nice, but one light can do a lot, and you can always use a reflector (even a large piece of tag board) for a fill.

07/06/2015 07:54:50 PM · #12
And the company for the alien bees really does mean a 60 day absolute guarantee. I bought an alienbee800, and changed my mind and wanted an einstein instead. Absolutely no problem exchanging it. And I bought an accessory that I decided I didn't want and returned that without a problem.
07/06/2015 10:51:54 PM · #13
Just to give you a more strobist view, this was taken with two speedlights in gridded softboxes for the rimlight, plus an octobox (with a speedlight) for fill in the front. The softboxes have a bowens S-Type mount, which seems to be one of the most popular on the market. I use these adapters to use them with speedlights.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/2000-2999/2025/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1138240.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/2000-2999/2025/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1138240.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

While as ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Mike said, you aren't going to have the power you will get with studio strobes, they do have a few other advantages.

- Much more portable, which is convenient for shooting outdoors.
- Cheaper. The Yongnou 568 EXII is only a little over $100 US. (Full manual is cheaper than this)
- TTL - The aforementioned flash comes with TTL. It is also important to note, that even if you are not going to use TTL itself, that also means that with compatible triggers, you can control the flash remotely, as it has 2 way communications. So you get a benefit from this even if you use it in manual mode.
- High Speed Sync
- 2nd curtain flash

Example using the same 2 gridded lights with a worklight and using 2nd curtain.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/2000-2999/2040/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1140957.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/2000-2999/2040/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1140957.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Example sunset shoot with bare speedlights.
' . substr('https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7517/16284696436_3b382b7b2b_n.jpg', strrpos('https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7517/16284696436_3b382b7b2b_n.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

So depending on what you want to shoot, you may get much more bang for your buck out of speedlights. If you are on a tight budget, I don't think there is any question that you can get more versatility out of the speedlights than the studio lights. You can easily have a multi light setup for the same or less cost.

That being said, there are a couple of large drawbacks.

- Much less power(as mentioned). The Canon 580 EXII is about 80 watts, so compare that to the bottom of the line AB's and you can see that it is only half the power.
- Batteries - advantage when shooting outside, needless cost when shooting inside.
- Light distribution. You have to realize that a speedlight has another major difference. The bulb is exposed in a studio light, so it throws light in almost every direction, and light modifiers are used to shape and manipulate that light as the photographer sees fit. A speedlight throws light forward, and uses a focusing lens to narrow or widen that beam. Thus a speedlight in a softbox, for example, is NOT going to give an even light over the whole of the front panel, due to the fact the the speedlight is only capable of a certain width of beam. You can use some sort of reflector in front of the flash to disburse the light, some modifiers use this technique. My example from above does NOT use any such reflector.

Message edited by author 2015-07-06 22:55:36.
07/07/2015 12:04:41 AM · #14
Thank you all! So many choices.

Let's say I want to work on specifically portraiture. Like shoulders and above and or even just whole body portraits. Should I then look into the strobes rather than the speedlights?
07/07/2015 08:13:18 AM · #15
Originally posted by Frakster:

Thank you all! So many choices.

Let's say I want to work on specifically portraiture. Like shoulders and above and or even just whole body portraits. Should I then look into the strobes rather than the speedlights?


well, that's hard to answer. strobes can be a pain this rear when it comes to setup and portability especially if you need to power them. if you are setting up an a studio and dont plan to travel with them i'd go strobes. once you get familiar with your space, you can dial in the power setting pretty accurately without much chimping. strobes also usually have a modeling lamp that will track with the power setting so you can visualize how the light will fall on the subject, this makes things very easy, especially when experimenting with a new setup. you will also be limited with strobes outdoors if you like to shoot wide open especially in sunlight. you wont be able to shoot faster than the sync speed of your camera unless the strobe is capable of high speed sync which they usually arent.

with manual speedlights you will be chimping, alot.

if you plan to shoot location, strobes will work, but you need to get power to them and then set them up to power setting that you want, and then when you want a new setup you need to move them and reset them up and keep everyone from tripping over the cords. speedlights you can throw on a stand and move around easily. they also set up easier if you have eTTL, just dial in the exposure setting you want from each light and the camera will figure the rest out for you.

tl;dr

IMO, if you plan to use them in a studio setting, strobes are better. if its predominantly location shooting you may consider speedlights the better alternative. ideally, you will have both.

finally, they do work decently together, you can get a strobe and supplement some speedlights for extra lights later or you can get some speedlights now and if you realize you need or want more power, add a strobe or two later.

07/07/2015 10:34:04 AM · #16
I found a deal at a local camera place.

We have a Excalibur 6400 2 Strobe Kit available. Good shape, works great. Includes 2 strobes, reflectors, stoftboxes and case.
$275, or bring your gear in for trade.

Is this a good deal?
07/07/2015 10:39:19 AM · #17
that does seem like a good deal. I cant speak to how well it performs but it rates well on B&H. Look into how easily it is to get replacement bulbs and modifiers. if you are just starting out and dont require reliability and consistency of a high end strobe, that package should serve you well.
07/07/2015 05:21:57 PM · #18
FWIW...re the umbrella vs. softbox thing...just keep in mind that you can reverse an umbrella, take off the black/silver outer membrane (or whatever it's called) and shoot through that. That's what I did for this: ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/2000-2999/2065/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1142790.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/2000-2999/2065/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1142790.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' for although there is a great big window there, I was shooting at a time of day when light was changing too quickly to use as ambient light. So I put my strobe/reversed umbrella up on the kitchen table and used it. Worked great, I have soft even light on my face and bg.

ETA: I bought my strobes/brollies/softboxes from a photog quitting the business. He did take his gear along to shoot stuff like weddings but hardly ever used the softboxes as they're such a PITA to put together - which I have to agree with, and which is good to keep in mind if you have any location stuff in mind.

Message edited by author 2015-07-07 17:26:11.
07/07/2015 07:01:31 PM · #19
I use Yn560iii flashes with a TX560 controller on the camera. I can control all the lights from my camera and it allows groups so each one of my flashes is in a different group. I find I have enough power for what I shoot but I have m43 cameras so I effectively pick up 2 more stops of light vs Fullframe or one more vs crop for the same DOF.

I have both umbrellas and soft boxes and a new 120cm octabox just arrived the other day which I have had a play with and can see will be very useful. I expected I would need to use two flashes in it but I found 1 flash was working well. Have a triple bracket on the way so I can add another flash to it if required when I need a bit more distance.

Have never used strobes and I do like the portability of flashes and have found them to work for me.

I love that I can control my lights from the camera. The TX560 makes this possible so was a great purchase.

Two or three yn560iii flashes with a TX560 controller can be purchased for a very reasonable price but you then need to factor in the price of umbrellas, soft boxes, stands and flash mount swivel which can all be purchased from ebay as well. This price all up would still be cheaper than the price of a single new dedicated flash. Also need to add batteries. I use eneloops as recommended by strobist site and find them excellent.

Lots of choices. None are wrong just different.
07/07/2015 08:28:05 PM · #20
Originally posted by Mike:

that does seem like a good deal. I cant speak to how well it performs but it rates well on B&H. Look into how easily it is to get replacement bulbs and modifiers. if you are just starting out and dont require reliability and consistency of a high end strobe, that package should serve you well.


It appears to have a Bowens mount, if that is the case it should be easy to get modifiers.
07/07/2015 10:55:02 PM · #21
Originally posted by RamblinR:

I use Yn560iii flashes with a TX560 controller on the camera. I can control all the lights from my camera and it allows groups so each one of my flashes is in a different group. I find I have enough power for what I shoot but I have m43 cameras so I effectively pick up 2 more stops of light vs Fullframe or one more vs crop for the same DOF.

I have both umbrellas and soft boxes and a new 120cm octabox just arrived the other day which I have had a play with and can see will be very useful. I expected I would need to use two flashes in it but I found 1 flash was working well. Have a triple bracket on the way so I can add another flash to it if required when I need a bit more distance.

Have never used strobes and I do like the portability of flashes and have found them to work for me.

I love that I can control my lights from the camera. The TX560 makes this possible so was a great purchase.

Two or three yn560iii flashes with a TX560 controller can be purchased for a very reasonable price but you then need to factor in the price of umbrellas, soft boxes, stands and flash mount swivel which can all be purchased from ebay as well. This price all up would still be cheaper than the price of a single new dedicated flash. Also need to add batteries. I use eneloops as recommended by strobist site and find them excellent.

Lots of choices. None are wrong just different.


I have the 622's and the TX myself. I started out with a couple of Canon flashes, so the 622's made sense since they give full TTL control. It just grew from there and I added a Yongnou 568 EXII.
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