need advice on a light kit for amateur use

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by AFN, Nov 14, 2004.

  1. AFN

    AFN Guest

    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

    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?
    AFN, Nov 14, 2004
    1. Advertisements

  2. Question 1) Do I want a 1 or 2 light kit? I *think* I want a one light
    So that the shadows won't be too dark.
    They get hot!
    Michael A. Covington, Nov 14, 2004
    1. Advertisements

  3. AFN

    McLeod Guest

    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
    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
    McLeod, Nov 14, 2004
  4. 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.

    Strobes have been my choice...less heat. Less cost.
    Gene Palmiter, Nov 14, 2004
  5. 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
    Gary Eickmeier, Nov 14, 2004
  6. AFN

    AFN Guest

    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.
    AFN, Nov 14, 2004
  7. AFN

    Big Bill Guest

    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
    A visit to a library will give you an excellent start.

    Bill Funk
    Change "g" to "a"
    Big Bill, Nov 14, 2004
  8. AFN

    Alan Browne Guest

    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).


    -- r.p.e.35mm user resource:
    -- r.p.d.slr-systems:
    -- [SI gallery]:
    -- [SI rulz]:
    -- e-meil: there's no such thing as a FreeLunch.
    Alan Browne, Nov 14, 2004
  9. 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

    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

    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.
    Peter Shuffle, Nov 15, 2004
  10. AFN

    ZONED! Guest

    True (good book) but if one is impatient and wants to start learning
    now, I would recommend:
    written by a manufacturer of a good system, it is a basic guide with
    no self-promotion on his part.
    ZONED!, Nov 15, 2004
  11. AFN

    Bandicoot Guest

    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.

    Bandicoot, Nov 16, 2004
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.