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October 26, 2012
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First home studio kit

:icondalerichards:
Hi all,

I am looking for someone with experience in studio lighting.

I am looking to buy my first in house studio. I have set my budget at 1000 (GBP).

I do not directly know what I am looking for and would like advice. I have seen a Bowens gemini 400/400 kit for 550 which leaves me space to buy softboxes and an extra head. However I am not sure if 400w is powerful enough when I can see heads boasting 1000w. Do I really need more power? My probably ignorant assumption is the more powerful heads are for location use for fighting with ambient light.

I shoot fashion/editorial work and occasionally conceptual photography.

It would be helpful if someone could also share links that would be useful reading to aid my research.

I am aware of strobist but can't find direct knowledge on which kit is a good starter.

Much appreciated.
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Devious Comments

:iconxmiaww-im-a-muffinx:
Xmiaww-im-a-muffinX Oct 28, 2012  Student Photographer
Well i'm also looking in to buying my first studio kit and have a budget of 1000 along with buying a new lens, external flash and a few other bits and bobs and so on my very limited budget I've been thinking about getting this [link] I've thought about getting slightly higher powered ones but to be honest I don't think 3x 300w is a bad setup at all for my purposes :)
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:iconshurakai-stock:
Shurakai-Stock Oct 28, 2012  Professional Photographer
Also, if you haven’t already done so, I would second ~Rcooper’s suggestion and check out what Paul Buff has to offer.
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:iconrcooper102:
400 is more than enough. When I was buying my first lights I had the same fear as you and ended up going with a pair of 500w/s lights. I have never once had them over about 40% power. Usually I shoot them at about 20% and there are many times that I find myself annoyed because I can't shoot wide open because even at their lowest setting my subject ends up over-exposed.
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:icondalerichards:
Interesting comment, I suppose the energy bill saving will be a nice bonus.

When would you say you need MORE power?
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:iconrcooper102:
It depends.

If you need to shoot at really high shutter speeds high speed sync requires a lot more power, but then again more cheaper lights won't be able to do high speed sync either.

If you are trying to light something up that is pretty big. (For example the inside of a warehouse or gymnasium)

If you are using extremely large modifiers at a fairly large distance.

If you need a very deep depth of field on location so are shooting at very small apertures.

However, for pretty much all studio shooting you won't ever need that much juice. :)
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:iconshurakai-stock:
Shurakai-Stock Oct 27, 2012  Professional Photographer
Have you tried gridding the lights or gelling them with an ND film? Taping foam core to the front of your soft boxes to turn them into strip lights? Adding an extra scrim? Flipping them around and bouncing them off sheets of grey foamcore? I'm guessing that you don’t necessarily want to move them farther away from your subject because you prefer a more dramatic falloff, but there are lots of ways to kill the power in your lights.
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:iconrcooper102:
Oh absolutely, and this is exactly what I do now, I was merely pointing out that 500 w/s is overkill most of the time and that 400 w/s would be more than enough. I probably would be fine with 200 tbh.

oh also OP, i suggest looking into Alien Bees, I don't shoot with them myself but had I known about them when I dropped too much cash on my studio rig I would have gotten them instead. [link]

cheers
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:iconshurakai-stock:
Shurakai-Stock Oct 26, 2012  Professional Photographer
You could get away with two 400-w/s heads, sure. Three would be even better. That’d give you 1200 total watt-seconds to play around with – way more than enough for most applications, especially if you’re mixing in ambient. Beyond the raw power, though, having three heads gives you some flexibility in arranging your lighting setups.
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:icondalerichards:
I was considering a 3 light set up anyway as most heads only come with 2.

I was thinking of 2x400w (package) and then an extra head but I was not sure if I should get a 3rd 400w or a higher power for the third.

I was thinking for modifiers of starting with 2x100cm2 Softboxes + Grids, 1 Snoot, 3 bowl reflectors + grids and the 2 umbrellas I get with the kit. Would I need more than that?
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:iconshurakai-stock:
Shurakai-Stock Oct 28, 2012  Professional Photographer
Are you talking about monolights? Not that it makes a difference, but you kinda threw me for a second when you mentioned an extra head.

As ~Rcooper suggested, 400 w/s for each of your lights is going to be way more than you need if your studio is moderately small, unless you prefer shooting people at f/11 or f/16, but someday you may need that much. Your modifier list sounds like a good place to start. My gut feeling about the third light would be to get one that’s the same power or even less, rather than more. Save a few bucks and keep it on hand as an emergency fund. The one thing I’ve found about gear is that there’s almost always something that you just can’t do without, but unless you’re using it a lot, it’s better to rent. I do that with lenses, secondary lighting packs and (until recently) backdrop kits.
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