Buyer's Guide: 10 Home Studio Lighting Kits
|The D-Lite-it series strobe kits are available in multiple configurations, all of
which include built-in wireless control.
Shelling out just over $800 US buys you this all-inclusive set from Swiss company Elinchrom’s excellent D-Lite-it (Intelligent Triggering) collection. Although the kits in this range are labeled as entry-level, there’s nothing basic about them. In the kit you get two D-Lite-it 4 flash heads, two air-dampened metal stands and two Portalite 25" softboxes – all of which fits neatly into the two included carry-cases.
Where the kit really trumps its rivals is Elinchrom’s decision to also include a Skyport ECO Transmitter - a 40 bit encoded digital radio trigger with 4 selectable frequencies - which communicates with the built-in receivers in each of the heads. This means that you have complete wireless control over triggering of the flash heads, at sync speeds of up to 1/250 sec.
Digital controls afford precision and consistency when it comes to adjusting the power output, while the ability to ignore pre-flashes means that you can combine the heads with an existing Speedlight-based creative lighting system, if you use one. Elinchrom provides a D-Lite user manual to help you get acquainted with your new kit, in addition to a useful DVD-Guide that introduces the D-Lite and covers the basics of working with studio flash.
This kit is a solid choice for an enthusiast with the space to justify the investment in a more powerful set-up. For those with a more modestly-sized home studio, there is a less expensive 200Ws version that will serve you just as well when shooting at closer-quarters.
|This comprehensive lighting kit includes everything you need to start shooting
right away, with built-in wireless flash control being a particularly attractive
Yes, we’ve just looked at one Elinchrom kit, but we just couldn’t leave out the formidable BXRi range from this round-up. The BXRi 250 heads take the fundamental aspects of simple operation, accurate power control and versatility that the less expensive D-Lite-it heads offer, and add in a range of upgraded features and sophisticated technologies that take their functionality to a professional level.
At this price-point you can expect more robust build quality, faster recycling times and more high-end features than lower priced kits. To that end, Elinchrom has incorporated an impressive range of functions into their BXRi heads, including a built-in slave cell, automatic pre-flash detection with a selection of programmable modes, a visual flash confirmation option, control over the output in variable f-stop steps, an automatic temperature controlled ventilation system, a programmable ready-beep function and safety features like power auto-dumping and multivoltage auto-detection (90-270V, excluding the modeling lamp).
The BXRi units incorporate built-in EL-Skyport receivers, allowing for radio remote control over flash triggering and power settings. This kit pairs them with the newly upgraded EL-Skyport Speed transmitters.
This transmitter earns its name by offering two distinct synchronization modes: Standard and Speed. In Standard mode you can sync at shutter speeds up to 1/150 sec. over an indoor range of 60m (197ft) and an outdoor range of double that distance. When set to Speed mode, however, the sync speed increases to a maximum of 1/250 sec. with indoor and outdoor ranges of 40m (131ft) and 70m (230ft) respectively.
Other benefits of the EL-Skyport Speed include an LED status light indicating the sync mode and battery status and the ability to trigger your camera using a direct connection via a sync cable. Additionally, if you tend to work in environments where other photographers are also using radio-controlled flash, the EL-Skyport Speed features four groups and eight different frequencies to choose from, minimizing the risk of interference.
All told, the kit includes two BXRi 250 heads and their associated sync/power cables, two 25" (66cm) Portalite softboxes and a pair of metal, air-dampened light stands. The whole lots packs down into two separate bags: one for the heads and accessories and one for the stands. This kit is obviously not cheap, but for the features it is hard to beat.