Buyer's Guide: 10 Home Studio Lighting Kits

CowboyStudio 220 Watt Photo Studio Monolight Strobe Kit

This low-cost strobe kit is a good fit for those on a tight
budget. It provides sufficient power and control over output
for users to create high-quality shots straight out of the box.

If you want an affordable option that will give you everything you need to start assembling your first home studio, then take a look at this inexpensive kit. It includes a comprehensive array of equipment, including two 110 Ws Strobe Flash MonoLights, two 7ft metal stands, a 16 x 24 in. softbox with Spring Ring and a 33" black/silver umbrella.

The lights themselves will fit onto any standard 5/8" light stand, so if you do already have a few accessories with this fitting (or smaller) then chances are they’ll be compatible. The flash heads are daylight-balanced (5600 K), so you can be sure of getting accurate colors in your studio shots – provided you set your white balance correctly! With a relatively low guide number of 30m (98.5ft) at ISO 100 you will need to work with larger apertures and/or boost your ISO a little if your subject is a fair distance away, but if you tend to work at close quarters to the object(s) you’re photographing (e.g. for product or macro work) then this kit should be adequate for your needs.

Each 110Ws head has an average recycling time of 5-7 seconds; certainly at the slower end of the spectrum. If power and speed are crucial to your photographic work then you’d be better off with a more expensive option. Overall, however, this kit is a smart choice for beginners looking for a low-cost easy to operate home studio setup with versatile accessories, quality metal stands and flash heads offering full output control.

Calumet Genesis 200 2-Light Kit

The two large umbrellas included in the kit can be used to bounce light (as configured above). Remove the black covers, however, and you can shoot through the umbrellas. The flash head's digital controls, configured in a simple layout, make it easy to ensure consistency in light output across multiple exposures.

Moving up the price scale buys you extra power (each Genesis 200 head has a 200Ws output) as well as a greater level of control. In addition to the flash heads, the kit includes a pair of reflectors, 10ft metal light stands and two versatile white umbrellas with removable black covers. Flash tubes, modeling lamps, sync and power cables as well as spare fuses are also included.

Additional features worth mentioning include the compatibility of the bayonet fitting on the Genesis 200 with Elinchrom gear, which means that you have a huge range of high quality light modifiers available to choose from if you want to get creative. The heads also incorporate an optical slave unit that can be triggered using your own flashgun. You can even set the Genesis 200s to ignore up to three pre-flashes before being triggered.

The controls on the fan-cooled heads are digital; providing consistency and the ability to fine-tune the output with precision. Each head incorporates a modeling lamp that can be set either to full power or to match the output of the flash proportionally. The recycling time for the heads is rated at 1-3 seconds, which isn’t bad for a kit at this price-point, but again, won’t be up-to-scratch for fast-paced photographic shoots. Overall, this kit offers an impressive range of features for its relatively small price tag. It's a worthy contender for newcomers interested in table-top, still life or portraiture in a small studio environment.

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: 91
Manafix
By Manafix (Oct 23, 2012)

Good Evening Mates, I've just joined the site, and was reading this article on lighting kits. Can anyone tell me the advantage of the Alien Bee ringflash over the other Alien Bee units?

0 upvotes
Fisher Images
By Fisher Images (Oct 19, 2012)

Pricing on the Calumet is WAY OFF... . its $449

0 upvotes
jameswatt
By jameswatt (May 31, 2012)

Hi, if you are looking for home studio lightening kit, you can get best deal in USA from Photostudiosupplies.com

http://www.photostudiosupplies.com/studio-lighting-equipment.php

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Steve oliphant
By Steve oliphant (Feb 14, 2012)

In Canada you can get the 400 watt sec set for $900 at Vistech the the best bang for the buck............

0 upvotes
mbloof
By mbloof (Jan 18, 2012)

The Bowens Gemini 400 kit now is $100-200 cheaper than last year AND has air stands? (lack of decent stands was my #1 complaint)

0 upvotes
HapZungLam
By HapZungLam (Dec 29, 2011)

Is that mean if you want it to be portable you need to buy a battery unit that cost 1k-2k? ( I know I know, this guide is for home studio). Just wondering

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Uaru
By Uaru (Dec 21, 2011)

the prices are a joke:
$349.99 (US) / £349.99 (UK) / €359 (EU)

0 upvotes
trevor cook
By trevor cook (Dec 21, 2011)

I guess you have to be in on it. Do you mean they're comically expensive or hilariously cheap?

2 upvotes
Uaru
By Uaru (Dec 22, 2011)

Neither...
I just find the equation 349USD = 349GBP somehow disturbing...

3 upvotes
dennsity
By dennsity (Dec 26, 2011)

Indeed. Even if the USD and GBP were at parity--which they most definitely are not--where'd the EUR exchange rate come in.

Either the Americans are paying a lot more than they oughtta, or the Europeans are getting an outstanding deal.

0 upvotes
glanglois
By glanglois (Dec 28, 2011)

If you're looking at $349.99 (US) / £349.99 (UK) / €359 (EU), it's the Americans who are getting the great deal. I have looked at prices in the UK when visiting - I can usually get VAT returned if I take the gear home. But I haven't yet found anything that was cheaper in the UK.

In this case, the UK price is equal to more than USD $550 and the euro price is about $480 (although the don't indicate which country's VAT is being used.

Is my math missing something ???

0 upvotes
victorian squid
By victorian squid (Jan 8, 2012)

I believe this is called in the industry "a typo". If you bother to click the link you'll find that Calumet is charging $449.99 USD.

0 upvotes
AppleSNYC
By AppleSNYC (8 months ago)

Europe does have that 17% VAT

0 upvotes
Andreas Frank
By Andreas Frank (Dec 19, 2011)

What about using Speedlites together with umbrellas and softboxes? Is it any good?

0 upvotes
Uaru
By Uaru (Dec 21, 2011)

Why not? Look at the guys at strobist.blogspot.com.

It is just that speedlights were designed as portable devices, and their characteristics is of the portable device, in contrast to studio lights...

E.g., with studio flashes you have no worries about batteries running out, fewer problems with overheating, modelling light.

On the other hand, with speedlights with umbrellas you have ultraportable set, no worry with power cables on location, etc..

I was thinking about it, and decided for portable flashes for myself, because I prefer the portability over studio convenience. And in some special usage, like aquarium photography, I can place speedlight the way I want - studio light are too big and heavy for that.

I think that even if you own just one speedlight, buying an umbrella and basic stand will provide much better results then just a speedlight, and being really cheap it is a good investment, especially if you are going to use it only occasionally.

1 upvote
kff
By kff (Dec 19, 2011)

Joe McNally: The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes

... time is now :)

Someone would make small wireless TTL system e.g. with features of high level Elinchrom's flashes, with similar software for Android/Apple devices to include and with controll of parametres via radio system

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 8 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Jim
By Jim (Dec 19, 2011)

Excellent. I was just starting to explore some of these options. I'm glad you're including supplementary camera equipment discussion in addition to your camera commentary.

Jim

2 upvotes
Ray Chen
By Ray Chen (Dec 18, 2011)

What? No Alienbees, not even in an honorable mention?

0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Dec 18, 2011)

The "author" is from the UK. Slight euro bias?

Pity, because feature by feature, Bees exceed D-Lite It in every way, at a lower price.

Einsteins are the most capable lights I've used outside of a Broncolor Scoro, and they're less expensive than D1 Air, BXRi, or Bowens Gemini Pro.

I'm surprised the Westcott gear made it in.

Comment edited 42 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Guidenet
By Guidenet (Dec 18, 2011)

AlienBees were mentioned on the first page and good things were said. They were excluded from this "Round Up" because they thought that ABs weren't offered in kits. I'd have rather they said they couldn't get any instead of a false statement. Maybe it was an accident.

It just seems strange because Paul Buff lights comprise around half the lights sold in the US and Canada. Like I said, maybe an accident or oversight by the author.

2 upvotes
Ray Chen
By Ray Chen (Dec 18, 2011)

Yes, that was definitely an honorable mention on page one. I remember they used to offer several "Bees" kits but maybe not any more.

1 upvote
Josie Reavely
By Josie Reavely (Dec 19, 2011)

Check page 1 guys - I did mention Alien Bees there AND there's a link to Paul Buff's site...

4 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Dec 19, 2011)

Just to clarify, Paul C. Buff does indeed offer kits, but they are only available through the US site. They do not make these packages available through their international distributors. As a large part of our readership is located outside the US, we chose to feature products with the widest possible availability.

Comment edited 47 seconds after posting
1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (Feb 15, 2012)

@Joseph S Wisniewski How is it that Bees "exceed D-Lites in every way" when the D-Lite 4 have higher Guide Number 296 vs 236 for the AB1600 and the D-Lite's have built in radio triggers? The D-Lite 4 is also $324 vs $359 for the AB1600. Sounds like someone hasn't done their research or is perhaps has a Bee bias that ignores the facts.

0 upvotes
Irakly Shanidze
By Irakly Shanidze (Dec 18, 2011)

I totally enjoy the first photo: placing two identical small softboxes almost symmetrically and then lighting the scene with a large octabox -- this is what I call "professional contraception" :)

0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Dec 18, 2011)

It's the "do as I say, not as I do" school of photography.

0 upvotes
Irakly Shanidze
By Irakly Shanidze (Dec 20, 2011)

These kind of things undermine credibility of everything else said. The logic is "Either the chap does not know what he is talking about, or he tells nonsense on purpose. Either way, he is not to be trusted" :)

0 upvotes
Rootbeer
By Rootbeer (Dec 18, 2011)

Nice.. thank you!

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
ms18
By ms18 (Dec 18, 2011)

Really thanks Dpreivew..

0 upvotes
Bobbygray
By Bobbygray (Dec 18, 2011)

As an old studio photographer I've used old Ascor, then,balcar, and norman strobes. None of these companies now exist, I think. Another problem not mentioned in this article, is that some strobes have been known to explode. Literally. And not from just heavy use. I've been retired for years and don't recognize any brand names mentioned here. Talk about being totally out of it. In a trunk in the garage I have a set of Normans that haven't been turned on for over 20 years, I'll need to hide behind something safe when I do.

0 upvotes
Hugowolf
By Hugowolf (Dec 17, 2011)

Not watts (W) it is watt-seconds (Ws) or joules (J) for flash. And watts, with a lower case w, unless it is abbreviated to W. Using watts (joules per second), only makes any sense for continuous lighting. There are just so many basic flaws with this article.

0 upvotes
Guidenet
By Guidenet (Dec 18, 2011)

Brian, I'd have to agree. Some of these articles are pretty good while others, like this one, seem to have a lot of flaws. It made following a bit hard.

To have left out Paul Buff lights which might be half the lights sold in the US because they want to focus on lighting kits seems very strange when Buff kits up all their lights, Alien Bees, White Lightning and Einstein, with what are probably the most complete kits available. It's not hidden. It's on their home page. Makes you wonder. I mean, leave them out if you want, but don't give such a lame reason. I know you can't list them all, but the best selling of the batch, you'd think would be included especially considering one brand was listed twice with monolights.

I have six monolights and they are working out very well. They include the Balcor mounting system which is fairly nice and are not proprietary like the EX mounts.

0 upvotes
Hugowolf
By Hugowolf (Dec 18, 2011)

I must admit, I am no great fan of either the Balcar or Elinchrom mounting systems. Both were designed before the use of large softboxes now prevalent. The Elinchrom system is nicer, but perhaps even flimsier than the Balcar. They are both good for mounting lighter weight modifiers like standard reflectors, barndoors, snoots, gel holders, etc

The article is fine in many ways, but shows a lack of editorial oversight and proof reading. I would put myself as a good proof reader, except for my own stuff, but that is why there is a need for a copy editor.

The Profoto section shows an image with the Air Remote as being included. And most of that write up assumes and discusses that, but in the last paragraph we have:

“You can take this wireless functionality even further by investing in an optional Profoto Air remote”

At least the Buff site is mentioned and linked. And remember the DPReview site’s origins are in the UK, where Buff stuff isn’t easily available.

0 upvotes
Daniel Payne
By Daniel Payne (Dec 17, 2011)

News flash - most Professional photography equipment is purchased by amateurs just for the pure fun of photography. As a professional photographer I am often working at a wedding where Uncle Harry and Aunt Martha have more expensive gear than I do. The equipment is not what makes you a professional, it's the training, experience, business acumen, artistic eye, and the ability to stay in business. The best investment I ever made was to join an affiliate of the PPA and learn from others with more experience, attend workshops and seminars, etc.

6 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Dec 17, 2011)

Absolutely true. It's doctors, lawyers and anybody with money to burn on cameras and vacations. And it's a good thing too, because there wouldn't be much high-end equipment if the manufacturers had to rely on actual, full-time professionals. Interestingly, surprisingly few dentists have the photo bug. I'm not speculating; I've dealt with consumers, looked at warranty registrations that specify occupation, repair stats, etc.

0 upvotes
glanglois
By glanglois (Dec 17, 2011)

@ AbrasiveReducer

Now I've seen everything. A forum post on the Internet that displays an understanding of grammar and syntax as well as (gasp!) proper use of a semicolon.

You have restored my faith, sir or madam.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
Ray Chen
By Ray Chen (Dec 18, 2011)

Daniel, have you ever tried to over come a D3S with a 600mm prime at a night football game with you training alone? Equipment does matter, but it also take a good operator to make it shine.

0 upvotes
FlashInThePan
By FlashInThePan (Dec 17, 2011)

I bought the Bowens 400 kit just one week ago in Germany (calumet) for only 499 Euros! A fantastic price - cheaper than what it sells for in the US (e.g. bhphotovideo). It is probably good enough to last me for a long, long while. I may need to add a stronger flash (to serve as a key light), and a softbox would also be a nice addition but these would come on top of the Bowens kit, not instead.

I have invested another 60 Euro for a Cactus V5 wireless duo (two identical units capable working as either transmitter, receiver or remote shutter release). Still expecting delivery, so can not comment on the Cactus, but expect them to work just fine with the Bowens flashes.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 10 minutes after posting
1 upvote
XIMELIS
By XIMELIS (Jun 19, 2012)

Hi,
Where did you buy in Germany? great price, i think.
website?
Thanks

0 upvotes
Footski
By Footski (Dec 17, 2011)

Well, I have the perfect room for a studio and the cameras to go with it. I could buy one or two of the lighting kits shown........but nothing or no one to photograph..

great article though. I have as always learned something from it. Thanks..

0 upvotes
Paul Farace
By Paul Farace (Dec 17, 2011)

Sometimes it helps to be poor... running out and bying high-level kits can rob you of the education gained by buying used gear or making the most of low-end gear. So that when you do move up scale, you've got a clear idea of what is important and what if fluff. I would say it's never been a better time to move up to studio gear... the amazing profusion of lights, from strobes to CFLs) to shoot-thru umbrellas, softboxes, etc., has never been greater! Now if only we had the time and models to work with!

Thanks for the great article DP Review!

3 upvotes
AJs Dad
By AJs Dad (Dec 17, 2011)

It's a good primer for what to look for, some of the pros and cons of different systems. Studio lighting can really be intimidating for newbies - maybe a primer on studio lighting, basic descriptions of the tools and modifiers and where and when you can use what type of lighting would be helpful as well.

2 upvotes
LVPhoto1
By LVPhoto1 (Dec 17, 2011)

Great break down on very worthy lighting equipment…I started photography a long time ago and I used Norman 2000 watts packs and now I use Hensel lighting for the last 10 years. Work great in the studio and location.

0 upvotes
OSAM
By OSAM (Dec 17, 2011)

Where are my SBs?

0 upvotes
tkpenalty
By tkpenalty (Dec 17, 2011)

SBs come nowhere close to these studio flashes...

0 upvotes
OSAM
By OSAM (Dec 18, 2011)

They compared studio strobes to continuous lights. SB units (or other hotshoe flashes) would be a completely fair comparison.

0 upvotes
Carl Sanders
By Carl Sanders (Dec 17, 2011)

We bought a couple of cases of Elinchrom EL500 kits, still as new and an excellent light to use.

1 upvote
larrytusaz
By larrytusaz (Dec 17, 2011)

Now THIS is an article I can appreciate--certainly much more than how to use a smartphone for photography, a contradiction in terms (smartphone photography) if I ever heard one.

Whenever I've photographed people, the big roadblock has been the lack of quality indoor lighting with which to do this. Outdoors on cloudy days, I can get some winner shots, but otherwise they look like my 4½ year-old took them with our smartphone. I've never sprung for a studio setup, a local was about to sell their flash umbrella & stand on the cheap but decided to keep it before I got it. This article is very timely, and very much appreciated--an article for ENTHUSIASTS, not soccer moms & dads. Thank you VERY much DPreview.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (Dec 16, 2011)

BTW, what about the LED lights? Some (the more expensive ones - that is, the non-Chinese knock-offs) of them have sufficiently high CRI (for example, the 209AS is over 90) and they have much-much better lumen/Watt performance than both CF and halogen lamps, let alone tungsten ones, particularly warming up-wise. (Read: you won't have problems by the subjects' getting too much infrared radiation - that is, hot. Of course, the lamps themselves get a bit hot, which MAY mean they require, at times, some active cooling to keep the lifespan of the LED's as long as possible, but in no way as badly as "traditional" or even CFL bulbs.)

I've been using the "classic" Z96 (mostly for video lighting, but it also doubles as a great reading light ;-) ), but there are even better lamps. For example, many swear the 209AS to be much better than the Z96. See e.g. http://cheesycam.com/latest-209as-bi-color-led-video-light/

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (Dec 16, 2011)

BTW, at home, I've switched to LED lighting entirely. If you use high-quality (in most cases, dimmable) bulbs, your eyes/brain won't be bombed with 100 (2*50) / 120 (2*60) Hz flickering, unlike with many CFL bulbs, all fluorescent tubes and even a lot of filament-based tungsten/halogen bulbs. Their CRI (apart from the absolutely best and most expensive LED bulbs, which are advertised to be over 90) isn't very good though.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (Dec 17, 2011)

Also, the portraits at http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1023&thread=40076265 are worth checking out. They've been shot with the bigcitylights.ca 1500 Watt(!) filament equiv. panels (consuming 75W of current only). Of course, they aren't very cheap: the "Big City LED 1200 Light Panel" itself costs 1000 CD$ + taxes.

0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Dec 17, 2011)

LED lights aren't really mature enough for any serious photographic use, yet. The luminous efficiencies (as you say, lumen/Watt performance) of the best photographic panels are only about 85 L/W. A good CF is 75 L/W, so the LED isn't "much-much better") it's barely noticeably better.

The 209AS is a 14W unit, so that's a whopping 1,200 L. The Westcott Spiderlight in this article has 6 50W CF, that's 300W * 75 L/W = 22,500, or almost 20 times the power.

But "power" doesn't make pictures, energy makes pictures. This article is about "home studio" lighting. Pictures of people are taken at 1/60 sec or faster, for civilians. That's 20 lumen-seconds for your 209A-S, 90 L-S fr the 72W "big city" we got spammed with, 2,800 L-S for a single speedlight, and 16,000 L-S for most of the strobe kits in the article.

LED just doesn't do it. Great for macro, though. Useful for video reportage, but not artistic video.

1 upvote
OneGuy
By OneGuy (Dec 17, 2011)

LEDs are the way to go but I've never seen a claim of the absence of the 50/100 Hz flicker associated with LEDs

0 upvotes
Surefoot
By Surefoot (Dec 17, 2011)

LED lights use a DC power supply, so no flickering. The flickering comes from gas discharge lamps that use AC power.

0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Dec 17, 2011)

OneGuy, LEDs are most certainly not "the way to go", for the reason I already mentioned (incredibly low energy, on the order of 1/1000 that of studio strobes) and for the high cost and the sheer "annoyance factor" of any hot lights.

The "Big City" lights that Menneisyys linked to have the output of a 250W quartz bulb, and were used at close range with no diffusers. That may be OK for a short period with a professional model (although that one did have an expression somewhere between annoyance and constipation) but it's totally intolerable to a casual portrait subject.

0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Dec 17, 2011)

Surefoot, most LED video lights are wired in series-parallel, and run off a low voltage, high current power supply, or a battery pack. But some of the cheapest (not the "Big City" lights that Menneisyys mentioned) are wired in full series, like LED Christmas lights, and do flicker.

Again, that's a rare thing. Flickering, in general, is rare. Few modern gas discharge lamps flicker. Both linear and compact fluorescent lamps are driven by electronic, high frequency ballasts these days.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (Dec 18, 2011)

"LED lights use a DC power supply, so no flickering. The flickering comes from gas discharge lamps that use AC power."

1. As Joseph S Wisniewski mentioned, most CFL's don't flicker as they are driven with a high-frequency electronic ballast operating at way higher frequency than the mains frequency.

However, there are CFL's that do flicker at twice the mains supply's frequency - mostly lower-quality / cheaper ones.

2. LED's that use DC (via either an accumulator / battery (see the example of the above-mentioned Z96 or other portable, mobile video lights) or a decently "smoothed" AC adapter) don't flicker at all. However, AC LED bulbs directly connected to the mains (without any AC -> DC adapter), in most cases, do flicker, unless they're a high-end (and, consequently, expensive) dimmable bulb. (Most (better-quality) dimmable bulbs have in-built AC-DC conversion with smoothing and, therefore, don't flicker at all.)

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (Dec 18, 2011)

"The "Big City" lights that Menneisyys linked to have the output of a 250W quartz bulb, and were used at close range with no diffusers. That may be OK for a short period with a professional model (although that one did have an expression somewhere between annoyance and constipation) but it's totally intolerable to a casual portrait subject."

Whle I agree LED video / photo lamps without diffusers are very annoying (mostly because of the LED's miniature size and, therefore, "burning in" their shape in one's eye - I can't stare / look straight in my Z96 either), with diffusers, I don't think, light quality-wise (I'm deliberately not speaking of the lack of brightness / power) they are any worse than traditional lights, apart from the possible CRI problem, of course. Without their problems: UV, IR radiation, possible flickering (see my prev. answer) etc; that is, the model won't find the lights "hot" at all. (If you meant IR radiation by "hot".)

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Jack A. Zucker
By Jack A. Zucker (Dec 16, 2011)

"Strobe lights offer the ability to freeze fact action by syncing with the camera at high shutter speeds."

Huh???

No, that's not why they freez action. Oy...

5 upvotes
spqr_ca
By spqr_ca (Dec 17, 2011)

I never got past page one because of that statement. That, and missing the fact that the Alien Bees (and others) line are available in a pretty impressive kit format. Two strikes on page one, so not bothering with the rest of the article.

3 upvotes
Adam2
By Adam2 (Dec 17, 2011)

Right on my friend. This article was written from 20,000 ft up.

0 upvotes
OneGuy
By OneGuy (Dec 17, 2011)

You misspelled freeze, sugar.

0 upvotes
Michael J Davis
By Michael J Davis (Dec 16, 2011)

Strobes on the first three pages have cycle times noted. It would be nice if that continued through the more upmarket units.

[I wanted to know if they would be consistent with say, 3 shots per second bursts.]

0 upvotes
DCM1024
By DCM1024 (Dec 16, 2011)

I love my Elinchrom D-Lie-it 4 Kit and will be using it for a shoot tomorrow :-)

0 upvotes
korayus
By korayus (Dec 16, 2011)

I also prefer Paul C Buff's Einstein setup too.

1 upvote
SF Photo Gal
By SF Photo Gal (Dec 16, 2011)

The problem with any continuous lighting source is that it's hard on the model having to look at those blinding lights for a long period of time. I like a combination of continuous lighting in soft boxes and strobes.

LED is the future, but again, having those things in your face for an extended period of time can give you a headache.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (Dec 18, 2011)

With LEDs,

1. you absolutely must use diffusers and never use direct lighting

2. you need to find out whether the set flickers at the double of the mains supply frequency. LEDs have no latency and, therefore, are the worst, flickering-wise; this is why high-power LED lighting can be unbearable for a lot of people under other (e.g., even home/office) circumstances too. DC-operated LED banks (e.g., ones based on the Z96) don't exhibit this problem.

0 upvotes
Mike Sandman
By Mike Sandman (Dec 16, 2011)

Apart from the question of whether to choose strobe or continuous, I think we need to careful about buying setups that use tungsten or CFL lights when both types of are likely to be replaced by LED lamps in the near future. Tungsten bulbs in particular will be harder to find.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (Dec 18, 2011)

Yeah, it's the best to stock up with high-power tungsten bulbs now that more and more countries are banning them. (Which - banning - is a very bad idea as CFL's are in many ways worse and quality (non-flickering, tolerable CRI etc.) LED's are still very expensive.)

BTW, halogen lamps aren't bad either: they too have a CRI of 100 and significantly (about 30%) lower power consumption. They, however, have significantly larger UV-A radiation too (as the filament's temperature is much higher than with tungsten), which, if you don't use diffusers, may be a problem.

0 upvotes
Lea5
By Lea5 (Dec 16, 2011)

I miss the Multiblitz Kits in this selection.

1 upvote
multiblitzusa
By multiblitzusa (Nov 9, 2012)

Well, we'd love to see it there too.....;-)

0 upvotes
Suntan
By Suntan (Dec 16, 2011)

Personally, I think an article showing the merits/tradeoffs between constant lighting and strobe, umbrellas and softboxes, etc. would be more in line with normal reviews on DP.

In the past I've always come to appreciate the reviews on DP because of the no-nonsense, in depth technical breakdown of the device (usually cameras) now we just get a list of kits, basic marketing rundowns and links to Amazon for buying them...

-Suntan

0 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Dec 16, 2011)

Suntan, that topic is a perfect example of something we could address in a photo techniques article. We'll add that to the list for 2012.

4 upvotes
glanglois
By glanglois (Dec 17, 2011)

Thanks, Amadou. I would appreciate just that sort of help prior to shopping for these sets.

I'm not being critical as we get progress when one good idea begets another, but this would have worked better if the suggested article preceded this one. So ... does it make sense to refresh this article as an addendum to the suggested article?

0 upvotes
Earthlight
By Earthlight (Dec 16, 2011)

Can't go wrong with Elinchrom, I find them reliable and nice to use.

3 upvotes
Paul_S57
By Paul_S57 (Dec 16, 2011)

I have the Elinchrome D-Lite 4-it set and like it very much. The 200 Ws version would have been more than sufficient. Two notes for the editor:
- the D-Lite 4 head has an internal fan for cooling
- the lighter (less power) version provides 200 Ws, not 200 W
Great article, by the way. Thanks.

1 upvote
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Dec 16, 2011)

Thanks for pointing that out. The article has been updated.

0 upvotes
DotCom Editor
By DotCom Editor (Dec 16, 2011)

I smell gross ad-edit conflict here.

A major vendor that sells direct, and not through the channel is omitted from this roundup. And that would be Paul Buff and his Alien Bees and Einsteins.

1 upvote
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Dec 16, 2011)

I smell someone who hasn't read the article ;-) We have a link to Paul Buff along with an explanation of why Alien Bees was not included in a 'kit' roundup. This can can found on the first page.
Sometimes the truth is much less exciting than the conspiracy theories.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
8 upvotes
Simon Joinson
By Simon Joinson (Dec 16, 2011)

yeah you would say that

Comment edited 37 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
kenyee
By kenyee (Dec 16, 2011)

FYI, PCB does have kits too:
http://www.paulcbuff.com/packages.php

The rest looks like a good comparison. Would love to see a similar list for video as well since more people are getting into HDSLR video...I'm a Lowel fan myself, but was wondering what other stuff people like...

0 upvotes
JCB123
By JCB123 (Dec 16, 2011)

Well you've rattled the bars on Joinsons cage. The explanation for Paul Buffs products exclusion was really lame. Just coincidence that Amazon.com pay the wages at dpreveiw and that Paul C Buff doesn't sell through Amazon.

If you want better advice on studio lighting visit the lighting forum here. It one of dpreviews better forums.

0 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Dec 16, 2011)

And I suppose Amazon has just bought Calumet, which is why we've included their kit with a buy link to the Calumet site?

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Dec 16, 2011)

kenyee,
Thanks for providing the info. Their kits appear to be only available on the US site and buried under the 'Help Center' menu, no less. We'll keep that in mind for future roundups though.

1 upvote
Royson58
By Royson58 (Dec 16, 2011)

There are probably hundreds of possible kits that could have been included in this roundup. It looks like the Alien Bee advocates are just like the "iPhone or nothing" crowd.

0 upvotes
DotCom Editor
By DotCom Editor (Dec 19, 2011)

I smell someone who hasn't done his homework. Now that you know Buff does offer a range of kits (albeit in certain geographies only), why don't you go back and fix your egregious oversight, lest you steer people into making bad decisions.

0 upvotes
Octane
By Octane (Dec 16, 2011)

From personal use I can highly recommend the Paul Buff Alien Bees or, if you plan on going more serious, the Einstein units. They offer the best 'bang for the bucks' and everything is compatible up to the large Zeus, so you can grow withing the same system.

0 upvotes
Ryan21
By Ryan21 (Dec 16, 2011)

I love the Genesis 200/400 kits. I have used them for a wide variety of things without fail... I highly recommend them!

0 upvotes
andyatkinson
By andyatkinson (Dec 16, 2011)

For the genesis 200 or 400 kit, do you adjust power on the flash head? Is there a (wired) way to adjust power from the camera?

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
framework
By framework (Dec 17, 2011)

Maybe a dumb question, but what is the background material is used in the picture. I'd like to try some "studio" work, but need to gather info. as to what works best etc.

0 upvotes
Mediterranean light
By Mediterranean light (Dec 17, 2011)

Geez, 43 comments and only one about the Profoto - or its price...
The fact is that they're the best lighting acquisition I've made. Far better made than others (great design & ergonomy, too) reliable, consistent results, everything a Pro needs to set up a studio anywhere, in or outdoors, together with the BatPac.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 91