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Thread: Recommended Lighting for ~ $1000

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    Recommended Lighting for ~ $1000

    Certainly looking to shop used... was wondering how you guys would recommend spending ~ $1000 on lighting. I'm looking to get started into portraiture in perhaps wedding photography. Portability is a plus.

    All I have right now is an SB 800

    So far I have these ideas (I'm certainly open to used--pricing below is indicative of used prices) I can also get student pricing, but usually the savings are only $100-200.

    2 Profoto Compact 300R + Pocket Wizard + Case (advantage is I would only need one pocketwizard unit)

    1 Uni 400 JR + Pocketwizard + Case + SB900 (need to purchase 2 pocket wizard units)

    1 Elinchrom BXri 500 + skyport + SB800

    Shop around for a Dynalite pack and head system...
    There's also a Lumedyne in the classifieds on this forum that's been for sale a while...

    Note: I've thought about alienbees but am concerned about all the color consistency issues I read about online. I am looking to build a system and see the other options to be a little more permanent.

    I'm open to any other suggestions you great guys at DPI may have.
    Thanks in advance,
    Eric

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended Lighting for ~ $1000

    You might consider starting with a decent used AC pack. You can usually find used Norman, Bowens or Dyna packs in the 1000 WS range with one or two heads for $500-ish. So for $1000 you could probably get two packs and three heads and a few simple modifiers.

    Other good option would be 3 older monos, like the older slide-adjust 500 WS Elinchroms. Advantage of them is the reflectors are the same as the new ones.

    And then there are new Alien Bees. Not sure of the prices nowadays, but they used to be pretty inexpensive and I suspect you could assemble a 3 head kit for around $1000.

    IMHO, any of these options would be a good way to assemble a good 3 head kit to start with.
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Recommended Lighting for ~ $1000

    Thank you Jack... always appreciate your expertise.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended Lighting for ~ $1000

    No problem, that's what we're here for!

    FWIW, I should have added that once you get a "real" strobe, any shoe-mount flash is pretty anemic by comparison and really doesn't get used in conjunction with them very often -- so I did not figure your SB units into this equation. A high-powered shoe is maybe 120 to 150 WS total power depending on zoom (?), and a typical small mono is 400 WS. I would say for effective use, you'd want at least two units that put out 400WS and a 3rd that is at least 200 -- at least this would be *my* minimum reco.
    Jack
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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended Lighting for ~ $1000

    Dynalites are a good bargain used and I used them for years. Just need to keep a eye on color temp and WB if you change settings.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Senior Member David Schneider's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended Lighting for ~ $1000

    I'd suggest looking at Paul C Buff gear. Probably can do a new Einstein strobe (should answer your objections to Alien Bees), a Vagabond portable power source (since you said portability), plus some kind of modifer like their foldable large softbox (the portability thing again) and stand for $1000. I think they even have a remote trigger or see about a decent Chinese unit on eBay to keep you in budget. Use your sb800 for fill on-camera and you have a little two light set-up. I'd add a cheap 72" reflector (another $100) with stand ASAP, but you can get buy with some foam core, $10 full length mirror & some white cloth to tone it down if needed, etc.

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    Re: Recommended Lighting for ~ $1000

    Eric, one other thing to consider is what iso you normally shooting. With 200 on nikon you will have to dial high powered packs quite a lot, and use nd filters if you shooting wide open or close to wide open lenses (while mf crowd does iso 25 on f4 and need every watt).

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    Re: Recommended Lighting for ~ $1000

    Thank you for all the responses. You guys are great!

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    Senior Member David Schneider's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended Lighting for ~ $1000

    Post what you purchase when it happens......even if you go over budget.

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    Re: Recommended Lighting for ~ $1000

    The Compacts are NICE units, Heavy, but built like tanks and FAST recycle (0.8 sec at 600WS).

    If you decide Profoto and can stretch for it, I'd recommend the Compact 600s over the 300s. While roughly $550-600 per lamp, the 600s dial-down to 37.5WS whereas the 300s only dial-down to 75WS. I also think the 600s re-sell better (if/when you upgrade) as the 500-600WS range is one many people find as a nice power capability for a strobe.

    As mentioned earlier, with a base iso of 200 on Nikon, you need to think of lowest power before using ND filters as much as highest WS limit.

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    Re: Recommended Lighting for ~ $1000

    As a wedding and portrait shooter (studio and location) my reco would be to start with the best possible, stick with it, and build your system from there. Buying and selling lighting gear as you upgrade is a bad financial idea.

    Nothing wrong with starting with a pair of Profoto 300s for weddings and portraits ... I say nothing wrong, because it'll be a base to build from over time. Later you can add w/s to the kit and use the 300(s) for accent lighting, fill, background or hair lighting. You just have to shop patiently. A 300 and 600 would be better, but might stretch your budget.

    The other option I'd also highly recommend (based on actually using it), would be a pair of German made Hensel Integra Pro Plus (radio) 500 w/s monos. An entire 2 head kit with stands, modifiers, various reflectors including a 30 grid, and all the incidental trimmings AND radio controller, all in a Hensel rolling bag is $1,700 new at B&H ...

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._Plus_500.html

    So, it's conceivable that it could be found used at close to your budget. These heads dial down to 16 w/s all the way up to 500 w/s in 0.1 stop steps with amazing color consistency. These heads are auto dump, where the Profotos are not. The modeling lights are 300 w/s and are actually useful in evaluating lighting patterns. Hensel makes one of the best beauty dishes I've ever used BTW.

    The advantage of the Hensel Strobe Wizard radio control over the Pocket Wizard control of the Profoto monos is that the light levels of the Hensel heads can be controlled right from the camera using the channeled up-down controls on the Wizard itself. To dial down the Profoto Rs (which I also have), you have to do it manually at each head ... a huge PITA when the head is 10' up on a stand or buried inside an octa-box. Here is some info on Hensel:

    http://www.hensel.eu/en/about-us/history.html

    To go totally portable, AC outlet free, with either (or any) mono block kit there is this:

    http://www.innovatronix.com/shopping_cart.asp

    My 2 worth ...

    -Marc

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    Re: Recommended Lighting for ~ $1000

    Marc raises some good points. The Compacts are not auto-dump, requiring you to pop the lamp whenever you drop power. It becomes 2nd nature, but requires some adjustment.

    The other thing with Compacts is they are heavy and the higher the WS, the heavier they get. Makes for a tough lamp, but it can be a PITA when booming vs say a lighter Acute or Hensel head. I only have the Compacts in 600 ws, and they would be about as heavy as i'd want to go for a monolight to save on the swearing...

    That said, the Compacts are great lights and nice starter lights/gateway drug into Profoto and ideal background lights once you move up in the line.

    His recommendation on deciding on a brand and building is a good one. Swapping around brands is a pain and ends up costing you more in long term than deciding on a brand, even if spendy and slowly building as you can afford.

    I use AcuteB, 1200 and Compact 600s, but no Hensel and my ONLY concern with Hensel is their distribution in NA seems limited, in that a lot of gear is always x weeks out to be ordered vs in stock. Point in case, the only reason i've not tried them given their strong rep is that their distribution in Canada is literally non-existent.

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