Lastolite RayD8 C3200 Two Head 500 Watt Tungsten Kit

The RayD8 continuous lighting system is ideal for still life applications such as product photography.
It's also a good choice for those who like to shoot video with their cameras as well.

Continuous lighting - as we explored in our introduction - comes with its own set of pros and cons, but is certainly worth exploring as an alternative to a flash kit. Lastolite’s budget-friendly RayD8 heads start at just $124 (MSRP) for a single unit and come in two ‘flavors’: tungsten or fluorescent. The heads can also power  halogen bulbs, but you’ll need an adapter (purchased separately).

This kit is aimed at beginners and is powered by two continuous 500W tungsten (3200K) heads with detachable reflectors. You get a pair of 31.5" white umbrellas for shoot-through lighting but removable black covers are also included giving you the option bounce light instead. The kit is rounded out with two light stands and all of the necessary power cables and bulbs. There are no dials or controls on the heads with which to familiarize yourself - simply an on/off switch - so setup couldn't be any easier.

Should you want to expand your lighting options, the RayD8 heads feature an S-type bayonet fitting which is compatible with a wide range of (optional) light-modifying accessories. Overall, this kit represents a good buy for those who value ease of use: just plug in the heads and start shooting!

Interfit EXD400 Softbox Umbrella Kit

This competitively-priced strobe kit combines high-end features with an easy-to-use interface. Both a softbox and a translucent umbrella are included in the box.

With Interfit’s EXD400 Softbox Umbrella kit, a marginal step-up in price gives you double the power of the previous strobe kit in our round-up. The high-quality, soft-touch polycarbonate EXD400 heads offer easy-to-use controls, with digital power level input for the utmost precision. Each daylight-balanced 400Ws head has a guide number of 60m (196ft) and incorporates a tungsten modeling light that can be set to reflect the flash output proportionally, giving you a useful preview of how your lighting will look.

High-end features such as fan-cooling (a huge benefit when you shoot for extended periods of time) are among the list of specs that attracted our attention, as are user-changeable flash tubes, a five-stop power range selectable in 1/10 stop EV adjustments and a fast 1.5 second recycle time. The kit includes both a 24 x 24 in. softbox and a translucent umbrella (bounce or shoot-through), two EXD400 heads, metal light stands, power and sync cables and a carry-case. You get everything you need to start creating your studio masterpieces straight out of the box.

Of particular note is the EXD400’s versatile triggering system. Each head incorporates Infrared and white light-sensitive sensors, plus a pre-flash function that allows them to ignore pre-focus and AF-assist discharge from both external and built-in flash units, while being capable of triggering on the first, second or third flash from your camera (meaning that you can even use the kit with a compact camera if you wish).

The heads employ Interfit’s proprietary EX-type reflector mount, so you sacrifice the benefit of being able to couple the kit with items from other manufacturers. Interfit, however, is a well-established producer of studio lighting equipment with a vast array of light modifiers and accessories under its own name. Investing in the brand doesn't meaningfully limit the the type of products available to enhance your system in the future.