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Photography Question 
Angie M. Nemanic

Studio Lighting - Getting Started

I'm thinking of purchasing new lighting gear, because I want to delve into more portrait photography. I already deal with lighting in my current job, which is video production. The lights we use are tungsten. When purchasing a lighting kit for photography, are the lights for studio work automatically 5600k or are they 3200K? Or do you specify when you buy the lights? I'm asking because the lights are tungsten, I'll always have to use a filter for color, and I can't see having to do that all the time.
Also, any suggestions about what lights to get for a first light kit? Thanks...

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1/7/2005 7:53:40 PM

  Hi Angie,
Most strobe lights are around 5500K when you buy them and that is what you want to get as well so you don't have to filter. I do not know of any strobes that come at 3200K, but I do have to occasionally convert my strobes to 3200K to match the ambient light at a location. There are tons of good lighting out there, and ask 10 people for opinions and you will get 10 different answers. I use Norman powerpacks with heads in the studio and White Lightning Mono Lights on the road. I love these lights and was able to get discounted packages for students in my lighting course. Good Luck!

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1/8/2005 2:59:57 PM

Tiffany L. Cochran
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/27/2004
  Hi Angie,
Charlie is right about opinions. Everyone seems to use something different. In my area, most photographers I know use Novatron, possibly because they are based out of my area. I personally have a Novatron 600 Kit with 3 heads and it works great for me.

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1/11/2005 2:16:17 PM

Norbert Maile   I bought a cheap light kit with 3 stands and shades along with DAYLIGHT bulbs. No filters required! $180.00 Canadian. Hard to beat, and it works great too. Ask your store for daylight balanced bulbs. Norbert

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1/15/2005 10:55:58 PM

Angie M. Nemanic   Thanks for the info. What is the difference between the monolights and regular strobes ... or is there? And what is the minimum wattage I should be looking for? Again, thanks for the info!!

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1/19/2005 6:06:42 PM

Michael H. Cothran   Angie - here's another dime's worth ...
All strobes are daylight balanced, but individual companies may use anywhere from 5000-6000K. Look for strobes that are UV coated to give you more consistency. I also use Novatron, and can highly recommend them. I've got pieces that are 25 years old, and still running daily.
The difference between monolights and "regular" strobes is this:
1. "Regular" strobes will have a separate AC power pack, with inputs for plugging in individual light heads. Most power packs will allow you to plug in up to four heads.
2. Monolights have the power source and head built into one unit or entity, so the entire "package" sits on your light stand. (This can be very heavy, so you need sturdy stands.)
Companies like Novatron make both. It would behoove you to visit their site. There are lots of other brands available too - Paul C. Buff's White Lightning turned the world on to monolights. Check out their site also.
Personally, I prefer power packs and separate heads, but many young photographers lean towards the monolights. Each have their own pros and cons.
How much wattage you need depends on your circumstances. If you will be using a softbox or white umbrella, these rob your light output of about 2 stops. I'd suggest buying something in the 400-500WS range. Most units will allow you to cut back to 200WS or 100WS if you don't need that much light. In fact, I own three power packs, and all of them are between 400-500WS. As long as you can keep your lights within several feet of your subjects, 400 WS is more than enough.
Let me know if I can be of more assistance.

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1/19/2005 7:08:38 PM

Angie M. Nemanic   Wow!! Awesome information ... thank you very, very much. I'm actually planning on heading to Chicago to check out a few places that sell Novatron and Speedotron. I read one photographer's opinions on the amount of watts/second ,and they suggested at least 1200. When using the lights, I will typically be working in studio; otherwise, I'm outdoors. After reading your information and others, it seems that 1200 seems way more than I need.

Again, thanks for your information, it's very helpful.

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1/19/2005 8:01:38 PM

Lots of good info coming in here. Like Michael, I have power packs and monolights as I mentioned in a previous post. The power packs are great in the studio, and when we used to shoot 4x5 product, we often needed 4000ws out of one head to get f/stops like f/45. Obviously, with 35mm, we needed much less power for the same depth of field, but I have found that with digital I need even less power - so much so that my Normans at 400ws are often too much power, and I have to switch to the White Lightnings. My clientele has evolved from studio work to almost all location, and this makes monolights almost imperative. If you need a light way down the hallway, a monolight makes the job so easy. I have 10 of them, so I am not tethered to a power pack. So I agree with Michael that 400-500ws tops!

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1/19/2005 8:25:04 PM

Maynard  McKillen   Dear Angie:
I suggested to another questioner that it might even be wise to start with a single monolight and a few large reflectors. The latter can redirect light from the monolight to other sides of your subject, plus you'd get good practice in using light efficiently.

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1/19/2005 8:44:57 PM

Norbert Maile   I prefer to use "hot lights", so that I can see the effect before I take the pistures. I use a three-light setup with a 250w for overhead, a 500 w side light and a 250w or sometimes 500w front fill light. It can get a bit hot, but a fan fixes that. No guess work. What you see is what you get.

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1/19/2005 10:48:46 PM

Angie M. Nemanic   Thanks for more excellent information. Actually, one more question. When I read that the powerpacks are digital ready, what does this mean? Do you have to light differently for digital photographs?

Again, thanks for your help!!

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1/20/2005 5:25:56 PM

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