2012 Holiday Gift Guide

Interfit SXT3200 Lighting Kit

www.interfitphotographic.com

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.

Key Features/Specifications

  • 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.

X-Rite ColorMunki Smile Monitor Profiler

http://xritephoto.com

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.

Key Features/Specifications

  • Calibrates LCD and LED laptop and desktop monitors
  • No need for a background in color science
  • Very plug-and-play
  • Compact
  • 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. 

Recommended Links


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.

Comments

Total comments: 59
Nikonworks
By Nikonworks (11 months ago)

It is now 2013, in case you did not notice.

0 upvotes
triplejck
By triplejck (Jan 30, 2013)

Avoid Seagate drives get WDs

0 upvotes
tazmac
By tazmac (Jan 24, 2013)

Totally avoid Western Digital hard drives! Get Lacie which is mostly using Seagate drives!

0 upvotes
sherwoodpete
By sherwoodpete (Dec 15, 2012)

No it ain't holiday season. Summer is a long way off.

2 upvotes
KiLa
By KiLa (Dec 14, 2012)

The Phottix Aion is a nice one :)

0 upvotes
OneGuy
By OneGuy (Dec 3, 2012)

What accessory do you need for Pana GF1 w/20mm lens?

But of course, a nice blazer jacket.

0 upvotes
Chris2210
By Chris2210 (Dec 3, 2012)

Having worked at a place that was cheap enough to think tungsten garden lights would do for studio work [thankfully objects, not people], I can vouch that the things get hot as hades - pretty uncomfortable over an extended period.

The colour is also absolutely awful and although you can of course custom white balance for them, the light is very, very cool. So while the Interfix does look like a lot of kit for the money, I'm fairly surprised you're recommending it. I'd say for beginners who want to set up a home studio, a couple of lower-powered [adjustable] daylight heads would represent a far more sensible investment for about the same money...

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Dec 3, 2012)

All your points are valid (and we also recommend an entry-level calumet strobe kit) but tungsten kits are traditionally good entry-points into studio photography because the metering is so much simpler for a beginner to grasp. The heads are their own modelling lights, after all. But yes - not as versatile, and hot.

0 upvotes
Chris2210
By Chris2210 (Dec 4, 2012)

Fair enough - you do have to trial and error the exposures and shoot manually with strobes, whereas you can let the camera [or light meter] work out exposure for you in continuous lighting - which is of course also better for motion film. But I'm not sure manual exposure setup is much more of a challenge than setting a correct custom white balance for cool lighting.

I can remember getting very hot BEHIND the tungsten lights after only a few minutes. I imagine you could melt a model in a couple of hours ;)

A good list and article overall, btw.

0 upvotes
dholl
By dholl (Dec 3, 2012)

Thanks for reminding us non-pros how huge (and costly) the world of photography accessories can be.

That said, two really good tips here for me (not as a gift, but to buy for myself at some point): Gorillapod Focus & the Colourmunki.

Cheers and happy hollidays!

0 upvotes
ozgoldman
By ozgoldman (Dec 2, 2012)

Actually, I thought it was Christmas time.

2 upvotes
frenchie1
By frenchie1 (Dec 2, 2012)

More clutter in the apartment, yay!
I'm still trying to save money to own the new MKIII (donations are welcome).

0 upvotes
plasnu
By plasnu (Dec 2, 2012)

Retrospective 7 is uncomfortable even there is nothing inside. The bag weighs a ton. One of their key features: "Business card slot under the front flap for identification" itself may weigh more than a pancake lens.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Dec 3, 2012)

Most things weigh more than a pancake lens.

1 upvote
gtvone
By gtvone (Dec 6, 2012)

I can confirm that the business card pocket doesn't weigh more than my pancake lens... mmm... pancakes...

Sime - thinkTank

0 upvotes
aardvark7
By aardvark7 (Dec 2, 2012)

I know that photography is expensive, whether a profession or a hobby, but DPReview live in a different world to me if these qualify as 'gifts'!

I think, though, this is probably a true reflection of the vile, consumerist spectacle that Christmas has become with adverts on television and signs appearing in shops, etc. by early October trying to get you to spend on these 'ideal presents'.

It's no wonder the world has got itself into an almighty money tangle and we need to take a cold, hard look at ourselves in terms of what is really important (and before you jump to conclusions, I'm an atheist).

7 upvotes
rpm40
By rpm40 (Dec 2, 2012)

Then why celebrate Christmas at all? It is a (theoretically) religious holiday, after all.

0 upvotes
aardvark7
By aardvark7 (Dec 2, 2012)

I think you'll find the tradition of a mid-winter feast is fairly universal and variations can be traced back far further than the origins of Christianity.

Indeed, I have no problems at all with having a special time to remind ourselves of our humanity, together with the spirits of kindness and decency, and expressing it with small thoughtful gifts.

Unfortunately, these days, there seems to be little consideration of the 'thoughtful' but rather an emphasis on the cost, the latest 'must-have' and bragging rights.

This is just one more expression of all that is wrong and it saddens me greatly.

7 upvotes
ratherbesnowboarding
By ratherbesnowboarding (Dec 3, 2012)

I actually think that is quite well said. Anyway....

2 upvotes
Mike Perlman
By Mike Perlman (Dec 2, 2012)

Well, isn't everyone in the holiday spirit this year!

1 upvote
taotoo
By taotoo (Dec 2, 2012)

Those peeling stickers get old very quickly. Too much peel. Also odd to put your logo next to street price which is clearly not owned by anyone.

0 upvotes
Lawrence Fleischer
By Lawrence Fleischer (Dec 2, 2012)

Oh, grow up. So, by your logic, I demand you call this time of year Hanukkah and you say Happy Hanukkah to everyone, even people who you know are not Jewish.

1 upvote
Barry Fitzgerald
By Barry Fitzgerald (Dec 1, 2012)

I think they mean "Christmas Gift Guide"

5 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Dec 1, 2012)

Christmas is one event in 'holiday season'. Others include thanksgiving, Hanukkah, New Year...

9 upvotes
digitallollygag
By digitallollygag (Dec 2, 2012)

+1!

0 upvotes
bed bug
By bed bug (Dec 3, 2012)

Barney, you also forgot the atheists, in which case it is 'Happy Christmyth'!

;-)

4 upvotes
balios
By balios (Dec 3, 2012)

Hope I get the Think Tank bag for Saturnalia.

0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Dec 1, 2012)

It's fun... The "Sound Silencers", that's a good one. :)

0 upvotes
gtvone
By gtvone (Dec 6, 2012)

To truly get the best from the sound silencers, you need to empty your bag on the footpath and shove it over your head : )

Sime - thinkTank

0 upvotes
GKrish
By GKrish (Dec 1, 2012)

In general variable ND filters are pretty useless, combination of two polarising filters creates undesirable patterns in the field of view and creates more problems than it solves....

6 upvotes
John Koch
By John Koch (Dec 1, 2012)

One could make the same complaint about marriage, business, gardening, or sports. As equine photogs used to say, "Never snark a gift filter with your mouth."

3 upvotes
Fabio Amodeo
By Fabio Amodeo (Dec 1, 2012)

Dear Gentlemen,
the Interfit SXT3200 3 Head Tungsten kit is not a “strobe kit”, as you state, but a continuous light kit. As such the heads do not “fire” as you state, but are always on: the modelling light you invented are therefore non existing.
The inability to separate flash light from continuous light makes me think the author does not know much about lighting, and makes me doubt also of the knowledge about photography in general.
The Interfit site clearly distinguishes flash light and continuous light of various kinds. I think it's the biggest flaw I ever read on a photographic site.

9 upvotes
lehill
By lehill (Dec 1, 2012)

Fabio is right. The SXT3200 is a continuous light kit and doesn't have strobes nor do they fire.

2 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Dec 1, 2012)

Quite right, sorry about that. The text has now been edited to make that clear.

1 upvote
Airless
By Airless (Dec 1, 2012)

A holiday gift guide with no cameras or lenses? Have you lost your minds?

5 upvotes
AlexAPN
By AlexAPN (Dec 1, 2012)

I agree to that! And by the way, what about some cool software like Oloneo Photoengine and the like? Isn't the holiday/Xmas season a good time to have a little fun using creative tools and explore new styles in photography?

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Dec 1, 2012)

As we said in the article, feel free to leave suggestions (and links to product information) in the comments :)

1 upvote
LensBeginner
By LensBeginner (Dec 1, 2012)

They would have had to suggest at least one camera per brand, or it would have been the start of a heated discussion among fanboys.
Also true had they chosen, say, a Nikon DSLR and a Canon P&S.
IMHO how they did it is just about right.

5 upvotes
John Koch
By John Koch (Dec 1, 2012)

P&S cameras were gifts in years past, but are buy now superflouous, like a third Barbie, or displaced by phone cameras. System cameras are unsuitable as gifts, since they are very expensive, can be demanding to use, and brand and model choice is highly controversial. Lenses are even more difficult to select. Arranged marriage is less complicated. Enthusiasts have trouble enough picking equipment (or partners) for themselves.

4 upvotes
Airless
By Airless (Dec 1, 2012)

Brand choice isn't highly controversial. Olympus is the best,followed by Panasonic and Sony. Everyone else is tied for last place.

2 upvotes
xandxor
By xandxor (Dec 1, 2012)

Just stay away from Lacie: unreliable where it matters: your data.

2 upvotes
Tape5
By Tape5 (Dec 1, 2012)

A great read and a great reminder of the holidays.

0 upvotes
ScarletVarlet
By ScarletVarlet (Dec 1, 2012)

Dear Santa,

I have been VVVEEERRRRRRYYYY good this year.

=)

0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Dec 1, 2012)

The Tiffen Variable ND looks good, but I've read reports of issues past 2 stops on FF (Something about an X), and magenta color shifts. For something like this, it often makes sense to just spend a bit more the Singh-Ray.

For video, variable NDs like the Lightcraft are popular. The cheap ones definitely degrade IQ so avoid them.

The Velbon tripod I would almost certainly pass on for the Benro Travel Angel, which solid, lightweight, also folds down to 15", but holds over 26 lbs (11.7 kg). Nice list. Merry holidays.

1 upvote
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Dec 2, 2012)

The X effect you describe happens on either FF or Crop when you get past about 28mm equivalent. It's pretty ugly.

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Dec 3, 2012)

It would be ineresting to know where the Tiffen comes from. Truly neutral polarizers (or ND filters) don't seem very common.

0 upvotes
skimble
By skimble (Dec 1, 2012)

the KATA and Gorilla pod a must for any DSLR user who like to travel safe and light.

0 upvotes
ScarletVarlet
By ScarletVarlet (Dec 1, 2012)

And know all the best places to find tafoni.

0 upvotes
J D Tranquil
By J D Tranquil (Dec 1, 2012)

Interesting article. I just wish there's a view-all-pages button.

8 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Dec 1, 2012)

It's something we're considering but honestly, in one long page, this thing is pretty hard to read!

0 upvotes
InTheMist
By InTheMist (Dec 1, 2012)

+1 for read all.

And something about text entry in the forums is really funky on an iPad.

4 upvotes
DavidRiesenberg
By DavidRiesenberg (Dec 1, 2012)

View all = Less ads displayed.

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Dec 1, 2012)

@David - well yes, but you'd be surprised how much difference that doesn't make to our revenue. At all.

The real reason is that a single page would be well over a meter long, which isn't great for readability. Links are provided to go directly to any of the products covered, it's really very minimal effort on the part of the reader.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
fireplace33
By fireplace33 (Dec 1, 2012)

Here's my 2 cents,...
A single page is just one click and everything loads all in one go. Easy to then scroll up and down and find what you want. even if it is 2 meters long!
With several pages you have to find the "next page" button several times and click and wait each time for the next page to load. Then after a a quick read you might want to go back to some part to read it in more detail, ...but wait, what page was it on??. Now you have to click each page again to find it :-(

With one page you can also jump immediately to anything you search for with say crtl-F

In a list like this it might also help if the quick "index" at the top remains , but has links to each new article further down on the same page.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
10 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Dec 1, 2012)

@ fireplace - permalinks to the other products in the roundup is a good suggestion, thanks. I'll try that for future content.,

0 upvotes
peterwr
By peterwr (Dec 1, 2012)

@Barney: What fireplace33 said. Plus if you're arriving here from Google (other search engines are available...) and the result Google is pointing to is several pages in*, you have to do the scroll-page-scroll-page thing to find what you're looking for. Just hitting the "Show All" button and using Control-F in the browser would make that a whole lot easier. I've used that technique on other websites like the Guardian, Salon and Creative Cow and believe me, it's like rollerskating compared to slogging through mud.

Not sure how necessary it would be on camera/lens reviews - the section headings here at DPR are pretty intuitive - but for forum threads and articles without page headings (*cough* Connect *cough*...), it's a boon.

* For some reason, Google seems able to index multi-page articles/forum threads as a single page even if they're displayed as multiples.

2 upvotes
peterwr
By peterwr (Dec 1, 2012)

Oh, and while I have(?) your attention, thanks for the article. Some very interesting ideas there. Even if I do voice a heartfelt "Bah, Humbug" to the whole Xmas/"Holidays" thing. :-)

0 upvotes
Gallopingphotog
By Gallopingphotog (Dec 2, 2012)

Barnie: You want readability you should lose the reverse type for text.

1 upvote
Don Fraser
By Don Fraser (Dec 1, 2012)

Chicken! ;-)

Comment edited 31 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Total comments: 59