building a budget home studio

Started May 14, 2014 | Discussions thread
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mmhendrie Regular Member • Posts: 425
building a budget home studio

Hi guys,

I’m looking for some fairly specific info on getting started with a small home studio for very occasional use, on a tight budget. My goal is to be able to setup relatively quickly – 30mins or so, and shoot family portraits – mostly 1-3 people, occasionally up to 6 people (if possible). I should add, not for cash – just as a hobby, my family – maybe a neighbor if I’m feeling bold!

Here’s what I have: a very capable dSLR (Sony a77), a 16-50mm 2.8 lens, a Sony f42 flash. In terms of studio – I plan to use my living room, which is about 15’ wide, and 20’ deep. The room also has a white ceiling, and dimable recessed spotlight lighting, which I hope might be useful in terms of lighting hair and perhaps even restricting shadows from the backdrop.

Here’s the kicker....I really need to try and stay under $250….

I’ve taken a couple of runs at this and had some advice on the Sony alpha forum, and am now coming here for some more specific advice.

Originally my plan was to get this:

Two essentially ‘no-brand’ 100w strobe monolights, with 1x shoot thru and 1x reflective 33” umbrellas. To set that up, get the hang of umbrella placement and lighting, and add a backdrop at a later date. After posting on the Sony alpha forum, most people steered me away from this option. That it was under-powered for anything more then 1-2 person portrait, and would likely break quickly.

After reading a lengthy and incredibly helpful write-up from “Sailor Blue” someone provided me a link to, I’m now thinking I should look for better quality and more powerful strobe equipment – I can’t afford new, so to get something ‘used’ in the 300-400watt range, with adjustable power to 1/16 or better. I’ve started looking around, but feel a bit stuck as to what to do. Do I try and get two 300watt monolights with 42” umbrella’s, one shoot thru, one reflective, on either side of the subject(s)– or get a single 400watt monolight with a very large (not sure what size) light box and position it fairly central? I see there are hundreds of combinations of lighting options, and my problem is I’m a ‘learn by doing’ kinda guy – I need to get out there and just try shooting, but I’m really not sure as to what to buy, and on a limited budget I can’t afford a mis-step.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!



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Sony SLT-A77
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