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need advice on a light kit for amateur use

 
 
AFN
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      11-14-2004, 01:36 AM
I have a Nikon N70 and D70 body, doing 35mm and digital pics of the
family/kids. I want to buy a light kit and backdrop setup so I can take
pics indoors. But I've never bought any of this stuff before and I don't
know the basics, so I would appreciate advice and suggestions. There are so
many products and all the companies seem the same to me, even though I'm
sure some are clearly better than others. It seems like I can buy a kit
for $300-$500, but I'll spend a bit more if warranted.

Question 1) Do I want a 1 or 2 light kit? I *think* I want a one light
kit because I don't like seeing multiple lights in the reflections of
people's eyes. I also want a bit of shadow to add realism rather than just
a fully bright face. But maybe I don't understand some reason why I should
get 2 lights.

Question 2) Do I want continuous lighting or strobe? Continuous seems to
be nice so I can see the lighting results before taking a picture. Why not
continuous?

Question 3) If strobe lighting, do these kits just plug right into my Nikon
camera bodies, or do I need to buy some adapter, etc.?

Question 4) Sometimes in studio/indoor pics, I see the reflection in
someone's eye look like a nice slightly-warped rectangle. Other times I
see a star-like light, as the reflection. I don't understand what makes the
difference, but I want the nice rectangle.

Question 5) Based on the above, can you suggestion what makes or models to
buy (or even what to avoid)? If not a specific make/model, can you suggest
what is important when I'm comparing specs?


 
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McLeod
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      11-14-2004, 03:42 AM
On Sun, 14 Nov 2004 01:36:33 GMT, "AFN"
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>I have a Nikon N70 and D70 body, doing 35mm and digital pics of the
>family/kids. I want to buy a light kit and backdrop setup so I can take
>pics indoors. But I've never bought any of this stuff before and I don't
>know the basics, so I would appreciate advice and suggestions. There are so
>many products and all the companies seem the same to me, even though I'm
>sure some are clearly better than others. It seems like I can buy a kit
>for $300-$500, but I'll spend a bit more if warranted.
>
>Question 1) Do I want a 1 or 2 light kit? I *think* I want a one light
>kit because I don't like seeing multiple lights in the reflections of
>people's eyes. I also want a bit of shadow to add realism rather than just
>a fully bright face. But maybe I don't understand some reason why I should
>get 2 lights.
>
>Question 2) Do I want continuous lighting or strobe? Continuous seems to
>be nice so I can see the lighting results before taking a picture. Why not
>continuous?
>
>Question 3) If strobe lighting, do these kits just plug right into my Nikon
>camera bodies, or do I need to buy some adapter, etc.?
>
>Question 4) Sometimes in studio/indoor pics, I see the reflection in
>someone's eye look like a nice slightly-warped rectangle. Other times I
>see a star-like light, as the reflection. I don't understand what makes the
>difference, but I want the nice rectangle.
>
>Question 5) Based on the above, can you suggestion what makes or models to
>buy (or even what to avoid)? If not a specific make/model, can you suggest
>what is important when I'm comparing specs?
>


1) You need more than one light unless you have a broad enough light
source to also spread light into the shadowed side of the face or are
relying on natural or ambient light for fill. The lighting ratio
would otherwise be too high to record any detail in the shadows. Even
if you have a broad enough light source to put light into the shadows
the second unit could be used to separate your subject from the
background, either used as an accent light, a hair light, or a
background light.
2) Continuous light is coming back for portraiture, especially with
digital because digital can correct for the 3200 degree Kelvin light
source. If you plan on using your N70 you will have to either filter
the light source which will cost you at least a full stop of light, or
use a tungsten film...which are becoming harder and harder to find.
The problem with tungsten lighting is the low power. Using tungsten
lighting with any kind of light modifier like a soft box or umbrella
or even just a diffuser will require you to shoot at shutter speeds
that will require your subject to sit perfectly still and your camera
to be on a tripod. Tungsten lights get very hot and your studio will
be uncomfortable. Flash puts out a massive amount of light but can
only do it for a fraction of a second. Studio flash has a built in
tungsten light for seeing what the flash will look like when it's
fired.
3) The D70 has a sync terminal, I believe, but I know the N70 does
not. An adaptor that slides into the hot shoe was about $10 the last
time I bought one.
4) The light source is reflected in the subject's eyes. The rectangle
is probably a soft box, the star shape is an umbrella.
5) Power is important. The more watt seconds or joules the better,
especially when you start adding modifiers. It is as important that
you can control it, so look for a large range of variable control on
the units. The more stops you can change the better. As you get into
lighting you will require more and different types of modifiers so you
will want a system that is supported by other companies like
Photoflex, Westcott, Chimera, etc. I would tend to stay away from
bargain basement units. I can't count the number of times someone has
knocked over a light in the studio and on location by tripping over a
cord or stepping into a light stand, so a good durable head is
important.


 
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Gene Palmiter
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      11-14-2004, 04:38 AM
Here is how I am handling the same situation. I started with a cheap strobe
kit found on EBay for a bit over $300. It's done well for a year and has
earned enough to now order a Alien Bee 800ws. As soon as its delivered I
will have three monos. A big one for main...a fill...and a background. All
your lights don't have to be of the best. You can grow your kit as the money
comes in. Backdrops don't seem to be as important as they used to be. Any
solid color can be removed and any photograph can be substituted. I like to
pick colors from the subject and make backgrounds from them.
http://palmiter.dotphoto.com/CPViewA...0176348&Page=1

Strobes have been my choice...less heat. Less cost.



"AFN" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:BEyld.83798$(E-Mail Removed)...
> I have a Nikon N70 and D70 body, doing 35mm and digital pics of the
> family/kids. I want to buy a light kit and backdrop setup so I can take
> pics indoors. But I've never bought any of this stuff before and I don't
> know the basics, so I would appreciate advice and suggestions. There are

so
> many products and all the companies seem the same to me, even though I'm
> sure some are clearly better than others. It seems like I can buy a kit
> for $300-$500, but I'll spend a bit more if warranted.
>
> Question 1) Do I want a 1 or 2 light kit? I *think* I want a one light
> kit because I don't like seeing multiple lights in the reflections of
> people's eyes. I also want a bit of shadow to add realism rather than

just
> a fully bright face. But maybe I don't understand some reason why I

should
> get 2 lights.
>
> Question 2) Do I want continuous lighting or strobe? Continuous seems to
> be nice so I can see the lighting results before taking a picture. Why

not
> continuous?
>
> Question 3) If strobe lighting, do these kits just plug right into my

Nikon
> camera bodies, or do I need to buy some adapter, etc.?
>
> Question 4) Sometimes in studio/indoor pics, I see the reflection in
> someone's eye look like a nice slightly-warped rectangle. Other times I
> see a star-like light, as the reflection. I don't understand what makes

the
> difference, but I want the nice rectangle.
>
> Question 5) Based on the above, can you suggestion what makes or models to
> buy (or even what to avoid)? If not a specific make/model, can you

suggest
> what is important when I'm comparing specs?
>
>



 
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AFN
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      11-14-2004, 03:59 PM
Thanks. Also, it sems that with continuous I can avoid the stupid 1/500
second flash sync issue with my D70 (my N70 is even worse). Right? That
way I can take pics at F2.8 or even down to F1.8 and blur whatever
background I'm using. I assume the 1/500 is still relevant on an external
strobe setup connected back to the hot shoe of the camera.


"Gary Eickmeier" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:dZJld.21301$(E-Mail Removed) ...
> I think your question should be 2 or 3 lights, rather than 1 or 2. The
> most basic lighting setup is key and fill. It can be done with a single
> broad, but you want the flexibility to make that choice, otherwise no
> ability to model the features of the subject. After you have a key and a
> fill light, you might then wish for a hair, or back light, to make the
> subject really "pop" from the background. Finally, you may want a
> background light to brighten the background right behind the subject in
> a sort of "glow" pattern, to add interest and to extinguish shadows from
> the main lights. Most books on basic lighting techniques show you the
> buildup of the lights, from the key only, to all four.
>
> Hot or strobe, that is the question. I have been leaning toward the hot
> (continuous) lighting lately, even on a camera that is carried around.
> My reason is that it is hard to tell exactly what the result will look
> like with strobes. With hot lights, you can see exactly with your eyes
> and set up what you want, then determine white balance and exposure.
>
> The downside is that the subject might be more uncomfortable with hot
> lights, but we do it in video all the time, and we make it thru the day
> just fine. The upside, in addition to the above, is that there is no
> question about flash sync, slave flash, flash exposure, and all of the
> crap that goes along with it. You just set up your lighting and expose
> for it, and that's that.
>
> Gary Eickmeier



 
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Big Bill
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      11-14-2004, 04:07 PM
On Sun, 14 Nov 2004 01:36:33 GMT, "AFN"
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>I have a Nikon N70 and D70 body, doing 35mm and digital pics of the
>family/kids. I want to buy a light kit and backdrop setup so I can take
>pics indoors. But I've never bought any of this stuff before and I don't
>know the basics, so I would appreciate advice and suggestions. There are so
>many products and all the companies seem the same to me, even though I'm
>sure some are clearly better than others. It seems like I can buy a kit
>for $300-$500, but I'll spend a bit more if warranted.
>


What you need is a good book on lighting for photography.
What you will get here is (of necessity) very short messages that
simply can't do justice to a subject that really needs a book to
explain.
A visit to a library will give you an excellent start.

Bill Funk
Change "g" to "a"
 
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Alan Browne
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      11-14-2004, 07:29 PM
AFN wrote:

> Thanks. Also, it sems that with continuous I can avoid the stupid 1/500
> second flash sync issue with my D70 (my N70 is even worse). Right? That
> way I can take pics at F2.8 or even down to F1.8 and blur whatever
> background I'm using. I assume the 1/500 is still relevant on an external
> strobe setup connected back to the hot shoe of the camera.


In what way? You don't have to shoot at max sync. It is the fastest you can
use, but you can always sync slower by simply setting the speed to where you
want. (Use manual mode, of course to set aperture and speed w/o the meter
getting into the job).

Good strobes do have modeling lights so have a good idea of what the lighting
will do on film. Hot lights require fairly low shutter speeds so subject motion
may be an issue. To capture motion with some movement streak, a combination of
hot lights and strobe in rear curtain sycn (and a dark background) are required).

Cheers,
Alan

--
-- r.p.e.35mm user resource: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpe35mmur.htm
-- r.p.d.slr-systems: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpdslrsysur.htm
-- [SI gallery]: http://www.pbase.com/shootin
-- [SI rulz]: http://www.aliasimages.com/si/rulz.html
-- e-meil: there's no such thing as a FreeLunch.
 
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Peter Shuffle
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      11-15-2004, 12:10 AM
AFN wrote:

> Question 1) Do I want a 1 or 2 light kit?


You mention portraiture, so I'll describe what
I use for people sittings:

1) Key light high and off to one side. This is
primarily for face definition and background.
4-way barn doors on this. On a tripod.

2) Fill light low on other side -- softens facial
shadows. 4-way barn doors here, too. Low
tripod.

3) Catch light for eyes -- one tripod tiny spot
specifically for the eye light.

4) Back light -- this is a spot set behind the
subject aimed up for hair or background
haloing.

5) Strobe on camera -- for fill if needed.

6) Reflectors if needed -- gold for warmth.

Now, that said, I could make do with only
1) and 2). In a pinch, only 1) and 5).

I shoot with a long lens -- 200mm or so.

I use 3200d tungsten, switched through a
power strip. This shortens their life, but I'll
pay the cost to avoid the heat and the stress.
This setup gets hot, and it's annoying to work
when they're on.

A word on tripods. You can usually buy
broken ones at camera stores for almost
nothing. You don't need the pan-tilt head,
and can secure light holders to them with
gaffer's tape (electrical tape). If you don't
want to buy the barn-doors, you can just
use aluminum dome reflectors from the
hardware store -- shop lights, basically --
and tape them to your broken tripod
bases. It's a great way to put together
a 3 or 4 light setup for almost no money.


 
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ZONED!
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      11-15-2004, 01:24 AM
On Sun, 14 Nov 2004 09:07:29 -0700, Big Bill <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>
>What you need is a good book on lighting for photography.
>What you will get here is (of necessity) very short messages that
>simply can't do justice to a subject that really needs a book to
>explain.
>A visit to a library will give you an excellent start.
>
>Bill Funk
>Change "g" to "a"


True (good book) but if one is impatient and wants to start learning
now, I would recommend:
http://www.white-lightning.com/manuals/bluebook.htm
written by a manufacturer of a good system, it is a basic guide with
no self-promotion on his part.
 
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Bandicoot
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      11-16-2004, 02:26 AM
"AFN" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:_hLld.84791$(E-Mail Removed)...
> Thanks. Also, it sems that with continuous I can avoid the stupid 1/500
> second flash sync issue with my D70 (my N70 is even worse). Right? That
> way I can take pics at F2.8 or even down to F1.8 and blur whatever
> background I'm using. I assume the 1/500 is still relevant on an

external
> strobe setup connected back to the hot shoe of the camera.
>


You're going to need a lot of hot lights - ie., a lot of _heat_ - f1.8 at
other than a problematically long shutter speed. Getting that with flash
isn't going to be anything like so hard.


Peter


 
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