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Photography Question 
Robert F. Walker
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/24/2004

Portrait Lighting Equipment

I want to do On location Portrait Photography and I want to buy some constant "Cool Lights" to use for my Lighting on site. Looking for suggestions on a quality brand and also a quailty manufacturer and retailer or whole seller for lighting equipment.

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10/29/2006 2:07:46 AM

Jessica  A. Eiss
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/6/2006
  Hello Robert, I don't meant to be rude when I say "see the thread below yours", on "starting studio lighting". Mark gave alot of good info in it!

Basically, all I can tell you is that you'll need lights that have the ability to be used as AC/DC, which will require a battery pack.

Again, give that thread a look, and many more, if you do a search on them here at BP.

Sorry I wasn't much help.

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10/29/2006 4:42:16 AM

Raymond H. Kemp
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/2/2004
  Check out the Alzo lights. Their higher end models use HMI/HID bulbs which are 5200k balanced. I've used these lights several times and much to my surprise they worked very well! I used them on a model assignment a number of weeks ago for an upcoming catalog. I was used a three light setup on a seamless background. Used two models with over 30 outfit changes that lasted 9 hours. Kept the lights on the whole time with no heating effects on the models. Being constant, it was easy for us to make quick adjustments for lighting, shadows, etc.

Be sure to stick with the units that use HMI bulbs. Motion picture companies use HMI lighting units (although much, much higher cost ARRI's). I found the HMI lights quite pleasing to work with.

You can find them at:


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10/29/2006 7:20:16 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  good day Robert,
I have to say it really depends on hte type of location work and your budget.
TheAC/DC lights are very expensive, but for these I would really do the comparisens. I my self recommend the studio max III's.
Though I did location work for years very succesfully with Briteks.
I did like the fact that if they went over, the cost to replace was minimal.
I used out door cords OR generators, you can see my gallery fo exaples (BMX, WDDINGS WESTERN SHOTs FROM STAGECOACH DAYS)
I recommend Photogenic, when you compare the optional equiptment, it all matches, what fits the Studio Max lights fits the bigger stuio lights as well as in the 2500DRs.
This cuts down on alot of costs.
and then compare bulb prices as well, for when a light head goes over if nothing else, the bulbs usually do break.
The best advice I can give you is to take your time and resurch them all and compare.
Wishing the very best, Debby
PS: if you need any help, just email.

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10/29/2006 7:59:56 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  When someone is getting ready to score some lighting gear, I always suggest that first, they set some personal specs. like what they want to photograph with it, where, what kind of set-ups basically, for how long, like daily, weekly, once every six months, etc. You can get cheap lighting, stands and modifiers in kits that fall apart quickly or drop a dime on something well-made, durable, portable that'll not only last but allow you to expand on a basic system as your skills and photographic needs grow.

Hot lights are ok for some work, including videos and motion pictures, but I don't recommend them for portraits. Aside from temperature problems with some lights, there's color temperature shifting as the bulbs burn in, and if you're shooting with film, that could cause headaches.
Strobes also use less power than continuous hot lights.

Strobes with modeling lights, IMHO are the way to go, with heads that put out at least 650-750 W.S. each because of how much output you loose essentially with modifiers like umbrellas and softboxes. For that, I always recommend standard lighting manufacturers like Speedotron, Norman, Elinchrom and Bowens for monolights. Photoflex is putting out a nice line of monolights now that will accept rechargable battery packs as does Calumet, although Calumet lights are made by Bowens.

I use Bowens, 1000, 1500 and 750 monolights all the time and find them to be top shelf in terms of quality of light output, durability and reliability. I like Norman and Speedotron and Elinchrom for pack systems. Be careful too when comparing light output. Some strobes, like from the larger manufactuers are rated in true watt seconds, whereas the smaller firms tend to find other ways to either name their lampheads or explain output ratings that likewise tend to make them sound more powerful than they really are.

You also need sturdy stands and well-made modifiers like softboxes or umbrellas. Stands don't have to be fancy but solid that can handle the weight of a sandbag because especially when you're working on a location, you want to prevent lights from falling over rather than replacing the heads (and stands) when they do.

If you got a chance to compare for example a Chimera softbox with one sold by Britek, you'd see a substantial difference in the Chimera quality which is why they don't usually rip, tear, pole through, shred, chip, warp, flake or rust. :>)))

Debby is right of course, you have to do your homework. Ask around and see how easy it is to get service from the people you buy them from. Britek, for example, guarantees that the bulb or tube will arrive intact. Beyond that, you're on your own. People have complained here and elsewhere that parts are missing when their Britek kits show up or that they go kaputsky shortly after receiving them.

Bowens, on the other hand, wants to know why a lamp keeps blowing and although I don't know anyone who's needed to use their Bowens warranty, they replace entire units in the first year, and even afterwards rather than fixing them.

So, try and narrow it down a bit, then hollar if we can offer more suggestions. BTW, consider getting good used lighting too.

Take it light.;>)

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10/29/2006 1:59:40 PM

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