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Photography Question 
Thomas D. Wilson

Best indoor lighting with Mamiya RB67

For the past few years I have been doing portrait work on the side using film and my Mamiya RB67. But without a studio I have been limited to doing outdoor portraits only.
Within the next year I am planning on opening a studio but am really unexperience with indoor lighting, and I am not sure what lighting I should use to get the best results with my RB67. As I stated before I will be doing portraits so I am obviously wanting a soft light which will give me the best skin tone results.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

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1/17/2006 8:40:23 AM

Bob Fately   Thomas, in general studio lights come in two flavors - continuous and flash (strobe).

Continuous lighting is less costly, their downside is they can really heat up the place (a great gas-saver in winter, but a real A/C demand in summer). Seriously, sometimes subjects get testy sitting under hot lights, so the alternative of strobes may be worth considering. Additionally, most continuous lighting is tungsten, so you need to use tungsten balanced film or the appropriate filter for your daylight film (unless you shoot B&W, in which case the difference is negligable)

Strobes are daylight balances, so you can use regualr outdoor film with them. There ar a myriad of brands and styles at all kinds of costs - you can google around for info on these.

The other aspect of studio lighting is how you manage it. That is, while when you are outdoors you pretty much are subject to the whims of the gods - if a cloud covers the sun light becomes softer, if not it's harsh, etc. - indoors you can control the lighting. Typcial studio setups include 3 lights - a main (or key), a fill and a background light. But you typically don't want to aim the lights directly at the subject - rather, you want to soften them with diffusion systems like umbrellas, light boxes, etc.

I believe Photoflex, who manufactures a bunch of diffusion system gear (well respected stuff, too) has info on their website or a free CD where you can see some lighting basics. Probably worth a visit.

Hope that helps.

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1/17/2006 9:47:33 AM

Michael H. Cothran   Thomas,
First off, your implied inquiry is that there is some 'special' lighting that would be better with a specific camera, such as your RB67, as you asked what kind of lighting will give the best results with an RB67.
Lighting is lighting, and for the most part, the camera brand or type doesn't really come into play. Good lighting equipment that gives 'good results' with one camera will do the same with another. As Bob stated above, your choices are continuous and strobe. By all means, opt for strobe lighting. Then, just decide amoung the gazillion brands of studio strobes currently on the market.
I CAN offer these recommendations, as I also shoot studio work with an RB, RZ, and Hasselblad -
400 Watt Seconds is a minimum of lighting power you will need, and rarely would you need much more. This would allow you to shoot around f8-f11 with umbrellas or softboxes. I would suggest a 3-strobe minimum, while 4 or 5 strobes would cover most shooting scenarios. To start with, one fill light with a white or silver umbrella, one main light with a quality medium size softbox w/louvers, and one light w/snoot for either hair or background separation. Add a couple more strobes when you can afford them.
Personally, I use Novatron power pack equipment, and have done so since 1982. I continue to buy Novatron, as they are very reasonably priced, and last forever. I still have all the original Noavtron equipment I bought in 1982, and it is all still in use (except the original PC cord which had to be replaced a few years ago!!).
Good Luck,
Michael H. Cothran

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1/17/2006 11:05:47 AM

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