2012 Holiday Gift Guide
|The Interfit SXT3200 3 Head Tungsten kit is a great start to enter the world of studio photography.|
Studio photography is a lot of fun, and can also be reasonably lucrative. But it can also be very expensive to get into. A basic studio lighting kit makes a great gifts for a student or an enthusiast that want to dip a toe into studio portraiture or still life.
For under $400, the Interfit INT115 SXT3200 3 Head Tungsten kit gives you three 500W heads, three metal light stands (two are air-dampened), a silver umbrella, translucent umbrella, a 1 x 2.4 x 6 meter (9 x 30 foot) blue / grey background cloth, hook system for cloth, all-in-one carrying case, and an instructional DVD on how to get the most from your new lighting kit.
The 500W Interfit lights are configured to emit 3200 Kelvin temperature tungsten light and run on EUR 230V/50Hz (USA 110V/ 60Hz) voltage. You can't vary the output of the heads, but for the price, this is an excellent entry into studio lighting, and a good starting point for someone wanting to move up to a full strobe kit.
If you're looking for an affordable strobe lighting kit, we recommend the Calumet Genesis 200 2-Light Kit, which at around $450 offers excellent value for money, including 2x 200W heads, a pair of reflectors, 10ft metal light stands and two versatile white umbrellas with removable black covers.
For more options, take a look at our 2011 roundup of studio lighting kits.
- 500W heads are powerful enough for most studio shoots
- Comes with instructional DVD
- Fairly large blue/gray background cloth
- Silver and translucent umbrellas for different lighting effects
- Two of the lighting stands are air-dampened
What we like - Lots of power for the money, generous included accessories make a well-rounded kit
What we don't like - This is a tungsten kit, so its gets hot, and the output of the heads cannot be varied.
|The ColorMunki Smile makes monitor calibration extremely easy, and very affordable.|
A properly calibrated monitor is essential in the world of photography, whether you're a hobbyist or a pro. Colors can vary significantly from monitor to monitor, and even on the same display over time. You may have experienced the problem of looking at a shot on your home computer and opening it on a different screen at work, only to find that the colors have magically shifted. This happens when one or other (or both) your monitors aren't calibrated properly. Just imagine what the prints will look like.
Traditionally, color calibration was complex and confusing, requiring advanced software and time-consuming steps, but not the ColorMunki Smile from X-Rite. The ColorMunki Smile plugs into the USB port of a laptop or desktop and guides the user via onscreen instructions. Once completed, before and after color samples will be shown to demonstrate how inaccurate the colors on your computer monitor were prior to calibration. X-Rite says there's no need for a background in color science in order to use the ColorMunki Smile, and after having the product demonstrated to us at a recent tradeshow, we agree. The easy-to-use device incporporates the same color engine technology found in X-Rite's professional products, so results should be dead on.
The ColorMunki Smile supports both Mac and Windows machines and is capable of calibrating LCD and LED displays on laptops or desktops (anything with a 1024 x 768 pixel display or higher). Online help videos are available for the ColorMunki Smile, but it's so straightforward to set up and use that you might not need them. A reminder will flash on the screen when it's time to recalibrate in order to maintain proper color display.
- Calibrates LCD and LED laptop and desktop monitors
- No need for a background in color science
- Very plug-and-play
- Easy to maintain color calibration
What we like - Easy-to-use, provides basic callibration at a fraction of the cost of X-Rite's professional options
What we don't like - For the price, there's not much to complain about, but the ColorMunki Smile lacks some of the features of its high-end cousins, like printer / projector calibration.
- DPReview recommends: Top 5 Zoom Compact Cameras
- 10 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Photographers (Published Dec 2011)
- Buyers' Guide: Studio Lighting Kits (published Dec 2011)
- Mirrorless Camera Roundup (Published Dec 2011)
- Buyer's Guide: Enthusiast raw-shooting compact cameras (Published Dec 2011)
- Buyer's Guide: 10 Essential Color Management Devices (published Nov 2011)
- 10 Photography Accessories for Under $250 (Published Nov 2011)
- Roundup: Third-party Lenses for Enthusiasts (published Nov 2011)
Mike Perlman is a freelance photographer and writer, based in Bar Harbor, Maine. After a spell reviewing camcorders at Camcorderinfo.com, Mike moved to infoSync World as the Senior Photography Editor, before taking up a role at TechnoBuffalo.com as the head of the Photography department. These days, Mike runs his own photography business and contributes to dpreview between shoots.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.