Recommendations for compact lighting kit? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hello group,

I am thinking about a portable lighting purchase. I am shooting mostly architectural photographs, and I have done it up to this point with available light, because I am intrested in the accurate rendering of the building's lighting system (I'm a commercial lighting designer.)

I am thinking about starting to find some clients for my architectural photography, and I recognize that I need to be able to add light to the architecture in situations where the client is not as concerned about 'lighting accuracy' as I tend to be.

I am looking for a few suggestions on lighting that will be suitable for field use. My inital thought is to get a basic two-head strobe setup and some accessories to make a decent starter system.

Once I have a decent idea of some suitable systems, I will go to NYC (about a 1/2 day's travel) and try out some of them, to see which one will suite my needs.

Any suggestions? McGrath's book recommends the Balcar Starlite and Dynalite as two possibilities.



-- Michael Mutmansky (, April 26, 2002


Michael, I use Dynalites 1000x packs and love them. They are very small and light but very powerful. I have 2 1000x packs, 1 2000 pack and six blower heads. I recommend the blower heads especially if you plan on using softboxes! I usually end up just bringing out the 1000's and 4 heads for most of my work. Hope this helps. Go to http:// and take a look. Cheers, Scott

-- Scott Walton (, April 26, 2002.

I myslef prefer using monolights. I have 6 old Photogenic PL600 (600ws each), 4 PL750 (300ws each), and 3 PL375 (150ws each). Even with this many heads, though, its not unusual to have to do multiple pops. But I find that the monolights, though they are heavier than the heads used with powerpacks are (at least to me) much more versatile.

-- Ken Burns (, April 26, 2002.

I use Balcars, and I think that the Balcar system is the most versatile available. Do not overlook Comet, super rugged and reliable. I have never over a couple of decades had a problem with any Balcar but my buddies at SI say the the Comet is even more resistant to rough handeling.

-- Fred De Van (, April 26, 2002.


I agree with Ken. I worked for a number of years as a theatrical lighting designer and find that monolights give me much more control and flexability. Some of it may be subjetive but I do likje them better. I work with a number of Hensel Integra units. I carry two or three into the field. In the studio I use themand also use good old theatrical lekos. I supplement the monolights with a few small hot lights for highlights at times as well. When the situation and/or midel can stand it I will use nothing but hot lights in the studio. Going back to location work, I find that I can get much of the same control of color and shaping of the light that Ilearned on the stage when I am using the monolights.

-- Ted Harris (, April 26, 2002.

although storbes like dynalites are great for general boosting your overall exposure for architectural photography, Most serious architectural photographers use many many little hotlights because they are much more percise and a better match for the existing lighting set-up in the building. So as an interior desginer I can see using strobes for a general large fills, while retaining your lighting design, if you are going to get serious architectural photography, get ready for lots of little hot lights.

-- doug (, April 27, 2002.

Dedo lights! Lots of them!

-- Per Volquartz (, April 27, 2002.

I have 4 Elinchrome 1500s + (old Bowens kit)1 400, and three 200s.

If you are starting from scratch 6 or 8 Elinchrome 1500s would be a good start.

What size of building are you expecting to work in?

Using the movements on a monorail camera can allow you to control depth of field and use wide apetures.

-- Dick Roadnight (, April 27, 2002.

I use a Broncolor Mobil system with two Mobilite heads for 4X5 location work. It is a high quality compact 1200 ws battery powered system. The heads are the size of pop cans, and everything is beatifully made in Switzerland.

-- Mark Nowaczynski (, April 28, 2002.

Lots of different answers here... I don't know if McGrath's book is "Lightning on Location" but if it isn't, you should read the book as he specifies his equipment which includes everything from Nikon SB's to strobes. The main point is you'll need many small as well as big lights, and a number of ways to use the smallers ones that include such things as putty knifes with flash adapters and other novelty light holders. The main point is to hide the lights and add an illumination boost without it being apparent. Don't forget filters, filters, filters! Get a Rosco book now and know what a 1/4 straw is. Your going to be blending alot of different light, so depending on what you are shooting, know your lighting filters as well as the combination with lens filters. One other point, get good cases and simplify your kit where possible.

-- Wayne Crider (, April 28, 2002.

Thanks for the responses everyone.

As I expected, this is a personal decision with each person generally finding a solution that fits their needs and budget, and there will be no 'one answer'.

I will look into the suggestions that have been posted for starters.


-- Michael Mutmansky (, April 29, 2002.

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