Why so many lighting cheapskates?

Started Mar 10, 2012 | Discussions
sospira
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Why so many lighting cheapskates?
Mar 10, 2012

What is it with so many wannabes who will plunk down cash for the latest camera body, and possibly even good multi-thousand dollar glass, but when it comes time to purchase lighting tools that could take their photography to the next level, they are complete cheapskates?

LincolnB
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Re: Why so many lighting cheapskates?
In reply to sospira, Mar 10, 2012

I'm a cheapskate with my camera bodies, glass, and lighting!

sospira wrote:

What is it with so many wannabes who will plunk down cash for the latest camera body, and possibly even good multi-thousand dollar glass, but when it comes time to purchase lighting tools that could take their photography to the next level, they are complete cheapskates?

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dmbsurfer
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Re: Why so many lighting cheapskates?
In reply to LincolnB, Mar 10, 2012

An old friend (a photographer as well) once told me that photographers are a bunch of show off, especially to noobs. Any gear that can be easily noticed should be top of the line (his word, premium). But since lighting gears are "behind the scenes", you don't need to spend much on these....

I somehow believed him. Haha.

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itsDing
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Re: Why so many lighting cheapskates?
In reply to dmbsurfer, Mar 10, 2012

Many of us old film guys are like that. It comes from the time when we made all our own stuff for the studio, ready made off the shelf was not really available or suitable as it is today. We all had a good set of tools and paint available.

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CharlieDIY
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Re: Why so many lighting cheapskates?
In reply to sospira, Mar 10, 2012

sospira wrote:

What is it with so many wannabes who will plunk down cash for the latest camera body, and possibly even good multi-thousand dollar glass, but when it comes time to purchase lighting tools that could take their photography to the next level, they are complete cheapskates?

Why is it that so many people criticize how others spend their money? I can think of at least one paramount reason for not continuing to buy the most expensive: the camera and lenses were so expensive there is little cash left.

For a further reason, I think indoor flash (AKA studio flash) is a sidebar for most of us. I probably do more than most, as I illustrate magazine articles using my workshop as a background. I went with Alien Bee lights instead of jumping to lights that cost two and three and four times as much. My softboxes aren't the most costly either, nor are my umbrellas, and I've only got one boom and a single wheeled lightstand (the latter largely because cords of one type or another are all over the place making it easier to lift and move nightstands).

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gmosc
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Easy...
In reply to sospira, Mar 10, 2012

You can't make a lens or a body, but you CAN experiment with making flash modifiers which are also light modifiers (for constant light or sun)

I DO appreciate your point though, and I think that people who start to see the importance of light, start to ramp up their expectations for their light gear.

And, of course, after hearing a few too many times "oh you made that yourself" in a derogatory way) you start to see your own job through other's (the customer's) eyes.

Appearing to be eccentric and creative with home made stuff and solutions treads a fine line to looking like you don't care.

And the cool thing about making your own stuff is it makes you understand what is happening better and can help you see how important a specially made piece of gear, a clamp, a boom or an internal baffle is.

I think it is a fair question and there is no black and white answer so I expect others also to have some good ideas, too.

Guy Moscoso

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mkphotography
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Re: Why so many lighting cheapskates?
In reply to sospira, Mar 10, 2012

Thats where you separate the amateurs from the pros. I saw pros with a Canon 500D and can achieve photos higher quality in sharpness and details than a 5dMk2. People who understand photography will invest where it matters. Sometimes its not possible to be cheap, if you need a 3 light set up, then you have to go out there and buy three strobes/reflector. Lighting is so so important

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BAK
BAK
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They read Advanced Photographer magazine
In reply to sospira, Mar 10, 2012

The issue with the red cover, just on newsstands in Canada, reviews half a dozen battery-powered monolights.

The review makes the point that the Lencarta model is tghe best of the bunch, taking all factors, including lowest price, into account.

And it makes the point that a Swiss model is silly-expensive.

BAK

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Darrell Spreen
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I share your point of view
In reply to gmosc, Mar 10, 2012

gmosc wrote:

You can't make a lens or a body, but you CAN experiment with making flash modifiers which are also light modifiers (for constant light or sun)

And the cool thing about making your own stuff is it makes you understand what is happening better and can help you see how important a specially made piece of gear, a clamp, a boom or an internal baffle is.

Lighting is about technique (note the forum title) and not just equipment. I do a lot of product photography and have found that flashguns used with some conventional modifiers work the best for me. In addition, I will also add small mirrors, home-made grids and snoots to get the results I want. Some of that same equipment has turned out to be useful for portraiture.

I actually have a higher regard for those who ask about DIY techniques for product lighting than those who want to know what light tent to buy for their table-top photography.

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Darrell

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DecibelPhoto
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Re: Why so many lighting cheapskates?
In reply to sospira, Mar 11, 2012

You've got two things at play here:

Professional lighting set-ups are crazy expensive. Like maybe 10k for basic stuff, closer to 50k for a serious fashion or still life set-up.

Most people on this site aren't serious high-end professionals. More importantly, most serious high-end professional photographers aren't on this site. Every pro I work with doesn't have the interest or time to be posting here. We simply aren't getting their perspectives. The people here simply can't (and shouldn't) be able to justify spending that type of money. The vast majority are coming from the perspective of wanting to get into and learn studio lighting, without mortgaging their house.

I do understand your point, however.

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Jay Kilgore
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Re: Why so many lighting cheapskates?
In reply to DecibelPhoto, Mar 11, 2012

I think it's silly to question what, where, or how people spend their money.

It's not the equipment but the person using it.
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z0624
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Re: Why so many lighting cheapskates?
In reply to sospira, Mar 11, 2012

I know that for some people (me included when I first started) that the body/glass tapped out the piggy bank. Secondly, the majority of my photography didn't involve studio lighting so for the few times I did need lighting, I could get by with anything that flashed a bright light and fix any color inconsistencies in post. Now, I'm trying to shoot more studio and spend less time on the computer so I can really appreciate consistent an accurate lighting of good lighting.

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unknown member
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Re: Why so many lighting cheapskates?
In reply to sospira, Mar 12, 2012

sospira wrote:

What is it with so many wannabes ...

How did you determine how many "wannabes" there are, and further, how many are cheapskates? I'm considering two possible answers:

A. You have an amazing source of empirical data that the rest of us can't access.

B. You're just spouting off about a gut feeling that you couldn't back up with empirical data if your life depended on it.

I'm leaning toward B.
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wisebug
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Re: Why so many lighting cheapskates?
In reply to sospira, Mar 12, 2012

because I can?

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DecibelPhoto
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Re: Why so many lighting cheapskates?
In reply to Jay Kilgore, Mar 12, 2012

That's true.

But I think the interesting point here is the apparent dichotomy between what people are willing to invest in cameras vs. lighting. People often spend more than they are comfortable with on a camera, and then turn around and ask what the best 3-head lighting set up they can buy for $500 is. You can easily say that good lighting is more important in photography than a good camera.

Of course expensive lighting doesn't equal good lighting technique, nor good photographs. And yes, it's nobody's business how you chose to spend your money. But it is interesting to note that the fever surrounding having the best camera possible just doesn't extend into lighting equipment, where it is equally if not more important (or unimportant).

Again, most people here don't work with lighting all the time. When you do (as I'm sure you know) the advantages of good equipment become much more tempting.

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herbymel
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Re: Why so many lighting cheapskates?
In reply to wisebug, Mar 12, 2012

Partially I think with camera technology you have to spend money to get good equipment, it's not the type of thing where you can come up with DIY type of solutions, but with lighting you can be creative, and try to find answers on your own. It's always fun to be able to experiment and see what you can invent, or find your own solutions.
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itsDing
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Re: Why so many lighting cheapskates?
In reply to herbymel, Mar 12, 2012

Studio lighting need patience and practice, nobody needs to buy a 3 head set of monolights. One good one is all thats needed with a few modifiers plus a meter. All the other lighting, fill, hair, rim, background etc can be done with battery units and optical slaves, with or without modifiers, no leads running on the floor to trip over. Vivitar 285/283's or similar with manual control with do the job. And a very good job too. Practice is the key. Never sneer at people who use them, perhaps they are smarter than you think.

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CharlieDIY
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Re: Why so many lighting cheapskates?
In reply to itsDing, Mar 12, 2012

itsDing wrote:

Studio lighting need patience and practice, nobody needs to buy a 3 head set of monolights. One good one is all thats needed with a few modifiers plus a meter. All the other lighting, fill, hair, rim, background etc can be done with battery units and optical slaves, with or without modifiers, no leads running on the floor to trip over. Vivitar 285/283's or similar with manual control with do the job. And a very good job too. Practice is the key. Never sneer at people who use them, perhaps they are smarter than you think.

Agreed.

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CharlieDIY
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Re: Why so many lighting cheapskates?
In reply to DecibelPhoto, Mar 12, 2012

DecibelPhoto wrote:

That's true.

But I think the interesting point here is the apparent dichotomy between what people are willing to invest in cameras vs. lighting. People often spend more than they are comfortable with on a camera, and then turn around and ask what the best 3-head lighting set up they can buy for $500 is. You can easily say that good lighting is more important in photography than a good camera.

Of course expensive lighting doesn't equal good lighting technique, nor good photographs. And yes, it's nobody's business how you chose to spend your money. But it is interesting to note that the fever surrounding having the best camera possible just doesn't extend into lighting equipment, where it is equally if not more important (or unimportant).

Again, most people here don't work with lighting all the time. When you do (as I'm sure you know) the advantages of good equipment become much more tempting.

If you're doing nothing but studio work, a heavy lighting investment is almost a certainty. For the average person, popping off a few hundred shots a year in a makeshift studio, a heavy investment in top notch lighting is foolish. It's simply a difference in emphasis, IMO. Years ago, I invested in Alien Bee gear to cover my fairly small studio needs...with the AB units added to one of the old coffee can White Lightning 10,000s. I have seen nothing from the full bore pro units that make my investment a case of poor judgment, yet, overall (including peripherals like stands, booms, snoots and soft boxes, umbrellas and various triggers), I probably have something under $3000 in lighting gear. Most of my shooting is still done outdoors, using little more than a couple of reflectors, though on occasion, one or more of the ABs gets to travel a few miles.

Oh, yeah. I've got some old Smith-Victor hot lights, too, that almost never get used.

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Michael Firstlight
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Re: Why so many lighting cheapskates?
In reply to sospira, Mar 12, 2012

They are simply not fully informed. If people understood that 1) they'd recoup more of what they invest on resale of better lighting gear should they lose interest they'd not waste their money THINKING they are saving money when in fact, they are only making a lower initial outlay (in some instances I've actually MADE money selling use lighting gear when it was good quality) and 2) for those that are/get serious, the better gear equates to more functional capability, more precision and reliability and fewer limitations. This point is mostly lost on newbies. For example, newbies don't worry that a fanless light overheats or can't achieve a very short flash duration for stop motion, or has less power adjustment variability, or doesn't have constant color, or doesn't have modeling lights that many find very useful....the list goes on and on.

Regards,
Mike

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