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Gear Talk => Lighting => Topic started by: canon23 on December 06, 2012, 10:48:52 AM

Title: Help with lighting setups for portraits...
Post by: canon23 on December 06, 2012, 10:48:52 AM
Hi All,

I have never purchased any lightings and wouldn't know where to begin.
I just received B&H's weekly newsletter that has deal on this kit:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/665617-REG/Impact_EX100_Ultimate_Creative_Portrait.html (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/665617-REG/Impact_EX100_Ultimate_Creative_Portrait.html)

I would like to know what light kit you would recommend for indoor/outdoor photo shoots.  Simple portraitures and things like that.  Your help is much appreciated!

I currently shoot w/the 5D Mark II with 50mm 1.8 II; 24-105 f/4; & 70-200 f/2.8 IS II. 
Have a tripod and speedlite 430 EX II.
Title: Re: Help with lighting for portraits...
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 06, 2012, 10:59:11 AM
indoor/outdoor photo shoots

One key question - would you have access to AC power in your outdoor location, or need battery packs?
Title: Re: Help with lighting for portraits...
Post by: canon23 on December 06, 2012, 11:08:14 AM
I would say 80-90% of times, battery pack is needed. 
Title: Re: Help with lighting for portraits...
Post by: jhanken on December 06, 2012, 11:52:25 AM
I think that if you want to be mobile, you can choose one of two paths.  The first is the Strobist approach, with relatively inexpensive E-TTL or manual capable speedlights.  David Hobby has a fantastic video series on how to get great results. I bought this after seeing him and Joe McNally on the Flashbus tour (which was cool, but this video is a better learning experience). I have a 580 EX, a 430 EX and a 430 EX II, an Orbis ring light, a couple of inexpensive stands, clamps, umbrellas and softboxes.  Will try to post some results fairly soon, still getting the hang of it. My challenge is finding the time and good subjects.

http://strobist.blogspot.com/2011/01/introducing-strobist-lighting-in-layers.html (http://strobist.blogspot.com/2011/01/introducing-strobist-lighting-in-layers.html)

The other monolight path is more complicated  to use in a mobile setting (i.e. no AC power) because the monolights need some serious batteries. I don't think you can really wade in this pool, you kind of have to dive in. A good balance for quality and cost are the Alien Bees setups, which are sold direct from Paul C Buff website.

http://www.paulcbuff.com/pkg-busybee.php (http://www.paulcbuff.com/pkg-busybee.php)
http://www.paulcbuff.com/vagabond.php (http://www.paulcbuff.com/vagabond.php)
Title: Re: Help with lighting for portraits...
Post by: jhanken on December 06, 2012, 12:05:30 PM
I have another suggestion.  Get this kit from B&H from the same circular:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/425220-REG/Impact_DFUMK_Digital_Flash_Umbrella_Mount.html (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/425220-REG/Impact_DFUMK_Digital_Flash_Umbrella_Mount.html)

Then get another 430EX II, I would purchase new right now given the $45 rebate on through December

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/571297-USA/Canon_2805B002_430EX_II_Speedlite_TTL.html (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/571297-USA/Canon_2805B002_430EX_II_Speedlite_TTL.html)

Then get two pairs of the Cactus V5 radio transceivers, the Hobby videos, and you will have your hands full with fun projects for a good long while.

http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/cactus-wireless-flash-transceiver-v5-duo.html (http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/cactus-wireless-flash-transceiver-v5-duo.html)
Title: Re: Help with lighting for portraits...
Post by: Area256 on December 06, 2012, 12:25:13 PM
I have another suggestion.  Get this kit from B&H from the same circular:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/425220-REG/Impact_DFUMK_Digital_Flash_Umbrella_Mount.html (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/425220-REG/Impact_DFUMK_Digital_Flash_Umbrella_Mount.html)

Then get another 430EX II, I would purchase new right now given the $45 rebate on through December

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/571297-USA/Canon_2805B002_430EX_II_Speedlite_TTL.html (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/571297-USA/Canon_2805B002_430EX_II_Speedlite_TTL.html)

Then get two pairs of the Cactus V5 radio transceivers, the Hobby videos, and you will have your hands full with fun projects for a good long while.

http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/cactus-wireless-flash-transceiver-v5-duo.html (http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/cactus-wireless-flash-transceiver-v5-duo.html)

+1 That would make an awesome kit.  And you could even make it cheaper by getting an off-brand manual flash. 

I think that if you want to be mobile, you can choose one of two paths.  The first is the Strobist approach, with relatively inexpensive E-TTL or manual capable speedlights.  David Hobby has a fantastic video series on how to get great results. I bought this after seeing him and Joe McNally on the Flashbus tour (which was cool, but this video is a better learning experience). I have a 580 EX, a 430 EX and a 430 EX II, an Orbis ring light, a couple of inexpensive stands, clamps, umbrellas and softboxes.  Will try to post some results fairly soon, still getting the hang of it. My challenge is finding the time and good subjects.

http://strobist.blogspot.com/2011/01/introducing-strobist-lighting-in-layers.html (http://strobist.blogspot.com/2011/01/introducing-strobist-lighting-in-layers.html)


Also +1. 

The thing I love about the strobist set-up is how portable it can be.  I often work with small light stand, umbrella, 580EX II, and v5 triggers - which makes a great fill light kit for outdoor portraits, and the best part is, I can fit it all in a back-pack, and take it anywhere. 

For work inside I just add a few cheap manual flashes, stands, and modifiers, and I'm all set for studio work.   The only real drawback to the strobist way is that you need to keep charging batteries, and the recycle times are longer.  So if you want to shoot fast, for a long time, studio strobes are better.  Also you don't get a modeling light with flashes like you do with studio strobes - and having a modeling light can be very useful to see where your shadows will be. 
Title: Re: Help with lighting for portraits...
Post by: triggermike on December 06, 2012, 01:14:31 PM
My 2-cents worth:

Not sure how serious you want to get with this? I concur with most here that for now consider additional flash(s), stands and speedring/umbrell or softbox kits for use with flashes for outdoor work until you master it. Even if you moved on to lights/battery packs, you would always have times where you would want to use the ultra-portability of the flash setup. This can also be used with success indoors. The speedring/flashstand kits are inexpensive (and even dirtcheap on ebay, etc.)

As for indoors, monolights are your most economical/professional solution. If purchasing a "2-light" kit of any sort, consider getting minimum 300ws monolights if you can afford it (used equipment is an option as well.) The Alien Bees or Photoflex kits are good in this arena. Also, I highly recommend kits which include the travel bag that holds it all. Some of the shortcomings of cheaper kits are: lack of variable power, no cooling fan, plastic handles (which break/strip - especially when tightening to hold up a big cantilevered softbox!) More power is king - you can always dial it back! Be careful - this sort of thing leads to reflectors, grips, boom arms, hair lights, backgrounds for every occassion . . . . . .
Title: Re: Help with lighting setups for portraits...
Post by: AudioGlenn on December 06, 2012, 01:57:19 PM
before purchasing gear, might I recommend a little bit of reading material first to better understand what you might want to do

http://www.amazon.com/Speedliters-Handbook-Learning-Craft-Speedlites/dp/032171105X (http://www.amazon.com/Speedliters-Handbook-Learning-Craft-Speedlites/dp/032171105X)
Title: Re: Help with lighting setups for portraits...
Post by: unfocused on December 06, 2012, 03:08:52 PM
The B&H kit is a constant lighting kit. Basically, 100 watt lightbulbs that stay on all the time. Good for helping you see the light, but hot for your subjects and may not be bright enough to overcome ambient light. It includes items like the green screen that you don't need.

The price doesn't seem all that great.

I agree with others, I would build on your existing kit.

First, you need a way to trigger your 430EXII off-camera. Cheapest ways are with third-party radio transmitter/receivers (as previously mentioned) or third-party infrared triggers. The Yongnuo ST-E2 is less than half the price of the Canon and actually has more features if you go the infrared route. The advantage is that it will work with ETTL, unlike the cheapest radio systems. Infrared can be spotty outdoors, although I've never had a problem with it. Indoors it is very reliable. It's a personal and financial choice (radio systems require a receiver for every strobe, infrared only requires one transmitter with the 430 or 580s.) Even if you eventually go the radio route, having an infrared transmitter can be handy as a backup in case a transmitter or receiver dies on you.

You can do a lot with just the 430EX and an umbrella off-camera. Adding another strobe will give you some more options. Umbrellas are easy to use, almost foolproof for nice, soft flattering light. They build confidence quickly.

Start small and add to your kit. If you think collecting lenses is addictive, wait until you get into lighting. You only need one 70-200mm 2.8 zoom, but you can never have enough strobes and light modifiers.
Title: Re: Help with lighting setups for portraits...
Post by: triggermike on December 06, 2012, 03:26:05 PM
Quote
before purchasing gear, might I recommend a little bit of reading material first to better understand what you might want to do

+1 on reading-up on the subject. Mandatory to know the basics. Also, there is so much to learn, experience and share with this venture!
Title: Re: Help with lighting setups for portraits...
Post by: ocabj on December 07, 2012, 02:45:59 AM
I bought a 580 EX II Speedlite early on, then got a second one along with PocketWizards when I decided to start messing around with off-camera flash and portraits. But I quickly realized small flash is expensive. So I ended up going with large flash / studio strobes because the cost to flash power ratio was far better with studio strobes.

I'd really love to go small flash for location shooting, but getting 4 to 8 Speedlites is way too expensive when I can get the same flash power out of a couple of studio strobes and battery packs.

For outdoor shoots, I operated on one light for quite a while (see: http://www.ocabj.net/abducted-by-alien-bees/ (http://www.ocabj.net/abducted-by-alien-bees/)). Use the sun for your rim and you have 'two' lights.
Title: Re: Help with lighting for portraits...
Post by: nicku on December 07, 2012, 04:54:48 AM
indoor/outdoor photo shoots

One key question - would you have access to AC power in your outdoor location, or need battery packs?

OK... first of all for outdoor shooting 100W strobes are very week... i shoot outdoor portraits using a 300W unit and sometime even at full power is not enough.

Regarding the power packs i use a 1000VA (600W) 2x 12V, 7.4 Ah batteries UPS ... yes the one that is used to keep the PC alive when the electric power is down.
 I use the UPS for about half a year and dozens of photo shoots. the strobes are ok,UPS is fine... even after 300 pictures ( almost all at full power) i never ( not even once) manage to empty the batteries.

1x dedicated power pack = 7-800$
1x 1000VA UPS = 100$

The only downside of the UPS is that is more fragile and not weather sealed.

good luck in your choice.
Title: Re: Help with lighting setups for portraits...
Post by: Zv on December 07, 2012, 06:55:21 AM
before purchasing gear, might I recommend a little bit of reading material first to better understand what you might want to do

http://www.amazon.com/Speedliters-Handbook-Learning-Craft-Speedlites/dp/032171105X (http://www.amazon.com/Speedliters-Handbook-Learning-Craft-Speedlites/dp/032171105X)

+1 This book helped sooooo much with the basics!
Title: Re: Help with lighting setups for portraits...
Post by: RC on December 07, 2012, 08:19:11 AM
before purchasing gear, might I recommend a little bit of reading material first to better understand what you might want to do

http://www.amazon.com/Speedliters-Handbook-Learning-Craft-Speedlites/dp/032171105X (http://www.amazon.com/Speedliters-Handbook-Learning-Craft-Speedlites/dp/032171105X)
+ 2 on Syl's book.  Even if you are using Canon's RF flashes instead of optical triggering it's still applicable.  Buy this book first because it covers extensively what gear you need whether it's strobes or continuous lighting.
Title: Re: Help with lighting setups for portraits...
Post by: cayenne on December 07, 2012, 03:28:46 PM
before purchasing gear, might I recommend a little bit of reading material first to better understand what you might want to do

http://www.amazon.com/Speedliters-Handbook-Learning-Craft-Speedlites/dp/032171105X (http://www.amazon.com/Speedliters-Handbook-Learning-Craft-Speedlites/dp/032171105X)
+ 2 on Syl's book.  Even if you are using Canon's RF flashes instead of optical triggering it's still applicable.  Buy this book first because it covers extensively what gear you need whether it's strobes or continuous lighting.

I was looking at this book..and wondering if I should wait a bit to see if he will come out with a revised version for the radio controlled cannon flashes....?

I don't have one yet..so.....hmmm...

C
Title: Re: Help with lighting setups for portraits...
Post by: Viggo on December 07, 2012, 05:33:54 PM
I just bought myself the Elinchrom Quadra Ranger RX with A-head (short flash duration to freeze action) As a modifier  went with the Deep Octa 70cm, which has two diffusers and a deflector, can be used with lots of options.

It has a built in Skyport radio receiver and with the optional (must have) Transmitter, you can control power from the camera, which to me is ESSENTIAL, turn it off, set the exposure for background, flick it on and adjust power of the flash with two hardware buttons, up/down. Absolutely awesome.

I've done the strobist-way for years, and it is very fiddely, lacking in power and quality of light and I HATE umbrella-boxes that break for nothing. I still use Photiix Odin triggered speedlites for some things, and also as an additonal light to the Quadra, as I currently have only the one head.

You can save yourself some money by getting the Quadra right away, instead of triggers, two 580's (which you need outside) battery packs, clamps and other mounts, a few soft boxes (as they usually break).

The Quadras are 2 2/3 stops more powerful in a softbox than the 580 ex. I have shot with the Octa at 1m from me at F22 and had enough power, the backrgound, which was a white winter sun , mid day, looked like the late evening!

Add fantastic built, incredibly consistent colortemp and light-output, ready-beep, model-light and you have a seriously great set up where the lamp is actually smaller and lighter than a normal speedlite and at 400Ws!

Title: Re: Help with lighting setups for portraits...
Post by: JonB8305 on December 09, 2012, 08:14:48 PM
I just bought myself the Elinchrom Quadra Ranger RX with A-head (short flash duration to freeze action) As a modifier  went with the Deep Octa 70cm, which has two diffusers and a deflector, can be used with lots of options.

It has a built in Skyport radio receiver and with the optional (must have) Transmitter, you can control power from the camera, which to me is ESSENTIAL, turn it off, set the exposure for background, flick it on and adjust power of the flash with two hardware buttons, up/down. Absolutely awesome.

I've done the strobist-way for years, and it is very fiddely, lacking in power and quality of light and I HATE umbrella-boxes that break for nothing. I still use Photiix Odin triggered speedlites for some things, and also as an additonal light to the Quadra, as I currently have only the one head.

You can save yourself some money by getting the Quadra right away, instead of triggers, two 580's (which you need outside) battery packs, clamps and other mounts, a few soft boxes (as they usually break).

The Quadras are 2 2/3 stops more powerful in a softbox than the 580 ex. I have shot with the Octa at 1m from me at F22 and had enough power, the backrgound, which was a white winter sun , mid day, looked like the late evening!

Add fantastic built, incredibly consistent colortemp and light-output, ready-beep, model-light and you have a seriously great set up where the lamp is actually smaller and lighter than a normal speedlite and at 400Ws!

+1 you get portability and power with this set up.

You could also do PCB Einsteins with vagabond mini lithium's at a decent price.