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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Lighting set up requirements?
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03/02/2009 12:42:30 PM · #1
I've pretty much decided that the lighting package I want to get is along the "strobist" lines. This is due to the portability and the type of shooting I usually like to do. I do not have any room for a studio and would probably rent the one available locally for studio shots.

To those of you who have this type of set up, what have you seen as drawbacks?

Here is what I figure I need to get started:

I currently have the Canon 550ex

Need to purchase:

Two light stands with flash / umbrella bracket adaptors
Two 43" reflective umbrellas or possibly one umbrella, one soft box?
One more flash unit of some type - probably used
3 Pocket Wizards - one for the camera and one for each flash?
At least one pc adaptor cord for the 550ex to use with the PW

Ideally...I would like to add one additional unit / stand etc. to this set up for a 3 light possibility, but I don't have to start with that.

It appears that the common, somewhat cheaper 6ft stands would not really be tall enough. Am I correct? The stands I'm looking at are a pair of 10ft lightstands.

Am I forgetting anything that you can see? One thing I haven't read into yet is powering these flashes and the PW's. That's a lot of AA's! Are there some sort of power packs available to extend usage?
03/02/2009 12:58:47 PM · #2
What you have would work but just throwing out some random thoughts....

- Thought about Cybers over PW's - cheaper and just as reliable if you don't need the distance. The commander will have full remote control over AB's lights even old ones, so if you have or plan to go that way this setup would be better.
- The new PW's can do some wireless TTL and they are marginally more expensive, so if you use TTL those might be a better choice then the PlusII's or possibly multi's if you are going there.
- There is also the radiopoppers if you plan to be TTL based (you don't say what flashes you plan to get).
- Thought about a 60" brolly? I LOVE mine but you need some space.
- Seen those apollo softboxes that can work with portable flashes... If you like the SB look, these are cool.
- Flashzebra is gret source for gadget like hotshoes & cables.
- Thought about convertible/shoot-thrus instead of straight reflectives... some prefer one over the other but I find having the option with a convertible is cool.
- I have one of the small light stands and they are great for portbility but I got some decent 9" stands and MUCH prefer them... although you lose some amount of portability.
- Thought about using optical slaves insted of all radio? If you are the only shooter and insid, they can be just as effective and allow a cheaper setup as you just need a single trigger/receiver with the rest on optical (flashzebra has those as well - keep in mind you need the green one to work with Canon EX flashes).

No doubt more I left out but this is a start.....
03/02/2009 01:21:48 PM · #3
The Cybers I have just found out about. I'm trying to figure out the usage on them, as I find their web page / description to be somewhat confusing. The price definitely is better than PW, but are they reliable? I assume I would need a transmitter for on camera and one receiver per flash unit, but I was a little confused about what connection I needed for the flash and also if they are all battery powered?

Thanks for the input!
03/02/2009 02:02:33 PM · #4
The PW's won't kill you on battery usage. I use mine heavily and can't remember the last time I had to replace the batteries. Obviously the flash heads are a different story.

Buy the cheap flashes, Canon's are a waste of money for this usage. 10 foot stands are good. Softbox(es) are also good to have, though I don't know how you would rig one onto a flash rather than a strobe head. A two light setup is pretty versatile. If you are routinely using more than 2 it's probably a good indicator that it's time to make more of an investment in 'real' studio lighting.
03/02/2009 04:56:39 PM · #5
On the cybers....

* You have either powered or battery - pick one [I assume battery in your case].
* Then you have either a Basic or Plus model RECEIVER ($20 difference)
* Today only a basic TRIGGER is available, but soon the commander will be the plus trigger.

The basic fires either in any combo - but all channels for the chosen frequency.
The soon to exist "Commander" lets you fire basic receivers OR allows advanced options when using Plus receivers. It also acts as a light meter and can remotely control all the functions on AB's studio lights when used with the plus receivers. For non AB's it still has groups within the channels and acts as a light meter, so it's useful anyway.

Yeah - They are completely reliable and the new triggers can run @10-12 frames per second IF your lights can keep up (the older triggers are stuck on @3fps but if you buy new this is not an issue - or if you shoot slowly it's a wash either way).
03/02/2009 05:19:25 PM · #6
Costwise and for versatility you are probably better off to get //www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/386712-REG/Interfit_INT126_Stellar_300_2_Monolight.html for $507 - two lights, stands, carry bag, etc.
PW has a new thing coming (Flex tt5) out that allows you to put the sending unit on the camera between teh camera and flash and still ahve eTTL flash capability - no extra cord needed, no velcro, etc.
So you need that stuff and 2 PWs and 2 cords from teh PWs to the flash units.

Now you'll have to plug into the wall unless you also get a Vagabond from AlienBee.

Now if you go strobist you'll need 2 stands, 2 adapters (ballpark $150 for these 4 items) and of course 2 flash units. If you got new (to compare to above kit) 580s it's gonna be $850...used 550s can be had for 175 each, so that's still $350 plus the stands, $500. Plus enough AAs to make things work.

You need the PWs and cables either way.

Now the strobist plan is all battery powered and smaller and lighter than the Interfit deal. But the interfit kit is 4 to 6 times more powerful (speedlights run 50 to 80 ws whereas the strobes are 300ws). You can add ANY accessory to the real strobes, something you'll need more adapters for to do with speedlights (like a softbox). And my testing with speedlights and umblrelles is you get very little power so you best be in a pretty dark room. Monolights can kick out some real power - meaning you can use any modifier without concern and know you can be 3 stops over any ambient light short of outside at noon on a sunny day. And you NEED to be able to get 3 stops over ambient so that you can have 100% control over your color (no mixed lighting this way).

You're welcome to make a trip on over here and we'll play wiht me gear - I've got the lights and PWs and strobist gear to play with (got it off Stu at Midwest Photo in fact). I'll even buy you lunch/dinner and fill you with beer (i have lots of beer. have a fellow photog that pays me referral fees in cases of beer).

Now if you go with standard PWs and monolights or non-canon flashes you'll be shooting full manual either way and should get a flash meter (a sekonic 358 w/PW module is the way to go). If you go all canon flash you have the option with the new PWs of doing eTTL (they are new -just released march 1 so not much in the way of real world reviews yet).
03/02/2009 05:44:49 PM · #7
It looks like if I switch to the Cybersyncs, and can find a couple of deals on flashes, I can come up with a three flash system for about $500. That should be doable by the end of the month. Just doing my part to help the economy :)
03/02/2009 05:58:40 PM · #8
you really wont regret the cybers decision- I was hesitant on these, but really needed something so I gave em a chance. Sure, at one point Ill upgrade to the PWs, but I do love these a ton right now.
03/02/2009 06:19:51 PM · #9
why not skip out on the pocketwizard and get two more 430ex's that are wirelessly controlled by your 550?
03/02/2009 10:39:18 PM · #10
Originally posted by molinski4611:

why not skip out on the pocketwizard and get two more 430ex's that are wirelessly controlled by your 550?


Those are by infrared, aren't they? The line of sight issue comes into play with that too much for my liking I think.
03/02/2009 10:42:35 PM · #11
Originally posted by amathiasphoto:

you really wont regret the cybers decision- I was hesitant on these, but really needed something so I gave em a chance. Sure, at one point Ill upgrade to the PWs, but I do love these a ton right now.


Do these come with everything needed for a Canon flash hook up or do I need to get an adaptor / hot shoe cord to work with them?
03/03/2009 03:03:34 PM · #12
Originally posted by jpochard:

Do these come with everything needed for a Canon flash hook up or do I need to get an adaptor / hot shoe cord to work with them?


Depends... If you have the 580MK2 then your set. If you have the 580mk1 or 550 or 430 then it has no pc port, so you need a hotshoe, a modded foot (flashzebra has them for the 580mk1) or do the mod yourself to add one :-) You will need that regardless of cybers or PW's (unless you go with the new ones that have a shoe already anyway).

Message edited by author 2009-03-03 15:04:42.
03/03/2009 06:35:51 PM · #13
Originally posted by jpochard:

Originally posted by molinski4611:

why not skip out on the pocketwizard and get two more 430ex's that are wirelessly controlled by your 550?


Those are by infrared, aren't they? The line of sight issue comes into play with that too much for my liking I think.


I have two 430's with the ST-E2 and rarely have a problem with line of sight issues.
The waves bounce off walls and I get a signal 95% of the time. I've had min

I guess it depends on how much you want to spend.

Don't take this the wrong way, I looked through your portfolio and couldn't really find a photo that looked like "line of sight" would be an issue. I'm just trying to save you a few bucks.

I just tested it for you.
ST-E2 test
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/20000-24999/20748/120/769975.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/20000-24999/20748/120/769975.jpg', '/') + 1) . '


I stood behind a wall in a door jamb and had my fiance take a pic @ .5sec while I held an ST-E2 and pointed it at her.
The two 430ex's in the room in front of me both fired when I hit the pilot.
One sitting on a table, the other sitting behind a pillar.
(umbrella is still sitting there from the light on white challenge...)

Hope this helps.
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