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Photography Question 
Tammy Aurand

What Is the Best Lighting Equipment?

I am a former BetterPhoto student and would like any advice on what is the best lighting equipment to buy on a tight budget? I am using a Sony A-700 Digital Camera. What setup would be compatible with this camera? I am looking at starting up my own studio and need any advice on how to start out. I have mostly taken outdoor shots of landscape, nature, and people, so the indoor shoot would be different for me. Any help is greatly appreciated - thanks!

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2/19/2009 7:45:12 PM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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Carlton's Gallery
  Hi Tammy,
I suppose you are asking about strobes. I have Alien Bees and what is good about these is that you can buy one light and build on as you have the $$. If you are asking about a flash to mount on your camera - check the Sony HVL-F56AM Digital Camera Flash.
I also have 2 speedlights w/STE2 remote and small stands for a very portable setup, but the Alien Bees are great for studio work.
I strongly recommend John Siskin's An Introduction to Photographic Lighting course. It is so worth the time & money as John gives you a great understanding of where to start and how to build as you go. He provides a ton of information and takes away the mystery of how to get the type of lighting that will fit how you shoot.

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2/19/2009 9:10:12 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  Good day,
There can be many suggestions on brands it can all get very confusing.
You can take a look at my referance page for some more help,but here are a couple different price ranges on one of the most popular brands:
a 3 light system is always the best to start with.
But if finances are an issue then building slowly towards your goal can work as well.
If you have me Cd on studio equiptment there are set ups available to help.
Also try reading the old "Studio Photography" threads. You'll see many discuss brands and make desissions and start their studios right there on the 28 threads that make up the "Studio Threads"

Ok here are the less expenssive of my suggestions:
Studio Thread 1:

This would be really good:

and of couse they go up from there.
Please feel free to contact me if you need help or have any questions.

I wish you the very best in your new venture,

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2/20/2009 10:13:00 AM

John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
  Hi Tammy,
Thanks Carlton. You need not only strobes to control lighting, in a professional way, you also need light modifiers. White all these things, stands, umbrellas, light panels ... do add up, you can still spend less than you might for a camera and a couple of lenses. Keep in mind that a digital camera has a short life because the technology is changing so fast, but the strobes can last more than twenty years. Mine have. I also think the Alien Bees are a good value. There are also good values in used equipment. I have often evaluated auctions on eBay for my students. You will probably be better off if you stick to one brand. Also, I would suggest that you start with a powerful light, more than 500 watt-seconds. This will give you more options on how you manipulate the light. Additional lights may not be as powerful. I will attach some information about what to buy from my class.
Thanks, John Siskin

Here is a one light kit that I would put together. I would suggest that you start with one light. You will understand lights better if you do that.
Alien Bee B1600
Or Calumet Travelite 750
60º reflector with umbrella holder if they are built that way.
1-45 inch white satin with a removable black back. An umbrella with covered ribs would be better.
2- light panels with 2-white cotton or nylon covers and a black cover and a sliver cover.
Light stand. At least 8 feet tall, 10 is better
Perhaps a background stand and a neutral muslin background.

With a second light, which would probably be lower in power based on your usage. I would also get:
60º reflector with umbrella holder if they are built that way.
Barn doors and/or snoot
Light stand
2- umbrellas, one matching the one you got and the other a 60 inch umbrella.
Very short light stand

If you add a third light I would get
60º reflector with umbrella holder if they are built that way.
1 more light panel with a gold cover.
Light stand
Barn doors or snoot if you didn’t get it before.
45 inch umbrella.
I hope this helps.

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2/21/2009 4:03:30 PM

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