What about studio lighting, strobes, etc.

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I am new to LF and need some lighting equipment. I am needing input on what to buy and approximate cost. I am interested in a setup for still life and portrait work. This would be accomplished with a 4x5 view camera. I have checked the archives and didn't really find anythng. Also I have looked in my latest issue of shutterbug which always has plenty of adds but no real attention to application.

All input is welcome, thank you!

Clark King

-- Clark King (ckphotographyusa@netscape.net), October 21, 2001


Hi Clark,

First off I would stay with the well known brands that offer complete systems and quality build made in teh US or Germany usually. Personally I ues Hensel but there are otehrs tahat are equally as good. I have used hensel for several years because I felt it giave me the best value for money.

The big decisions you need to make are what sort of light outpyut you need and whether you want hot lights, monolights or strobe heads and a power pack.

When i was operating a large studio with 30 foot ceilings adn all teh ventilation in the world I used theathre hot lights mounted on an overhead grid and controled by a theatre patch panel but that is neither what you need nor what you likely can house. Today I use two monolights most of the time and sometimes a small fresnel hotlight as a highlight or 'kicker.' Actually, with some practice you acan achieve very satisfactury results with only one light. I do recomment that you go with at least 500 w. My preference for monolights is that I like the self contained units and am not worrying about a powerpack... if you are always going to use the lights indoors this is a fine solution. If you think you rae going to be away from power then think about power packs. Things to look for:

Variable power levels .... at least five levels down from full.

A builtin modeling light thta will oerate proportionally to the flash tube or at full power

A built in slave (if you are going to use more than one light)

Decent metal construction but not too heavy

All of the major manufacturers offer kits where you cna save a few hundred by buying a set of a couple of lights and accessories ... would probably work well if you need everything.

This should help for starters ... come back with some more specifics now.

-- Ted Harris (slberfuchs@aol.com), October 21, 2001.

I am using the Speedotron 2405cx and find it excellent, although I use it for location lighting with the 202vf heads. Speedo gear is rugged and reliable (made in the USA) -- see you local rental house and see what they use! (Speedo) The other brand worth considering is Profoto i.e. Acute. If you are shooting color trans, consistent color temperature is important, and Acute varies very little over its power range. If money is no object and quality is king -- Broncolor! I have also used Elinchrom Micro packs, with 1/10 f-stop controls, are nice but pricey IMHO. Lots of pros use Dynalight, and they are a light, compact and good value esp if you shoot black & white -- check out the color temp variance if you shoot color. For hot lights, I chose ARRI and think highly of their quality and design. I hope this helps. Best, Paul

-- Paul Chaplo (paul@chaplo.com), October 22, 2001.

You will find that ALOT of people use alot of different strobe setups. I use Dynalites because I do alot of studio and location work. They are light and powerful. Two 1000w/s packs and 4 heads will run you about $3000.+- including healthy light stands and cases to transport. I bought them back in the early '80's so prices have changed a bit. My advice is to find a good proshop and rent some. Usually the rental price is put back into the sale of the final purchase price but ask first! Novatrons are decent low priced units with kits ranging from 400w/s on up...

-- Scott Walton (f64sw@hotmail.com), October 22, 2001.

Hot lights are a good option for still life. You can buy a really versatile set of Arri's and Mole's for the cost of cost of one ProFoto pack and a couple of heads.

-- Steve Wiley (wiley@accesshub.net), October 22, 2001.

As compared to stuff like Bron strobes, Speedotrons are one heck of a deal. We use nothing but Speedo's in the studio here at OU and I'm pretty impressed with their durability if nothing else. Any strobe that can handle numerous different college students using them on any given day throughout the year are pretty tough. If you're still considering hot lights, it's hard to beat the Photoflex Starlite system.

-- David Munson (orthoptera@juno.com), October 22, 2001.

since you are in Houston, TX I just sent an e-mail with listings of local dealers.

Otherwise go to www.calumetphoto.com or http://www.flashclinic.com.

You should be able to get fully set up a budget of $5-6,000 (this includes packs, heads, stands, a Manfrotto boom, misc. grip equipment, remote triggering devices (LPA Pocket Wizards), light modifiers (grid spots, softboxes, umbrellas, portable bounce panels, black flags) sandbags, etc. Look at Speedotron or Dynalite.

Broncolor, Balcar, Comet, Profoto and Elinchrom are terrific as well and very sexy to look at but very expensive and not well supported in our neck ofthe woods.

Norman is similar to Speedotron but only half as efficient at turning watt seconds into light (inefficient head design).

I used to use Norman, I know use mostly Balcar and a smattering of Elinchrom, all bought used.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), October 22, 2001.

Hot lights are a good option for still life.

How hot do these things actually get? Are they usable in a small room (10x8x8 ft.)?

I'm not planning on photographing ice cream, but I'm concerned that hot lights will excessively heat up both the room and the subjects.

-- Jerry Gardner (w6uv@hotmail.com), October 22, 2001.

Jerry...if you are in a 10x8x8 room, maybe you should stop buying lights and invest in a larger room???

-- Dave Richhart (pritprat@erinet.com), October 22, 2001.

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