What is a good continuous light kit for a beginner photographer?
June 5, 2009 8:17 PM   Subscribe

What is a good continuous light kit for a beginner photographer?

Here is one that I am looking at. The price is about what I want to spend but does anyone know if there are better options available?

I'd prefer continuous lights because I sometimes do video work as well.



posted by austinlee to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't looked into them in a while, but Adorama used to have continuous light kits marketed just under a house brand that weren't bad. I don't know who really manufactured them, but I know people who've bought them over the years and they seemed to work as advertised.

Here is an example of one set. If you want to see others, go to their Flash/Lighting category page and then limit by manufacturer to "Adorama". (Or you can list by ascending price and they'll appear fairly quickly.) Depending on what you're doing you can get either the bare lights and reflectors, or kits that include umbrellas and soft cases.

My recollection of them was that the stands weren't great but generally worked okay as long as you weren't moving them around every day. They're not what I'd call "professional" equipment in any sense of the word, but perfectly adequate for students or hobbyists, or use in a studio where they're going to be set up and then left alone.

These are all tungsten setups; they don't seem to have a direct equivalent for fluorescents.

I've never seen a fluorescent setup like the one you linked to; granted, I haven't used continuous lights in a few years, and at the time I moved to strobes the only fluorescent setups used the long tube bulbs. However, it seems like the way the bulbs are arranged in those fixtures that it'd be difficult to avoid fairly hard shadows. With a tungsten bulb in a metal reflector, you can direct all the light in one direction (towards an umbrella) and not get any direct light from the bulb to the subject. With those fluorescents it doesn't seem like that's possible. They show them with umbrellas but it doesn't mention any reflectors to cut down on the harshness. That seems like a big limitation to me.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:28 PM on June 5, 2009

I'm strongly agreeing with Kadin2048's last paragraph. The product description says that the umbrellas are translucent, so you can use them as shoot through umbrellas. However, unless you use them in only that way, and not as reflective umbrellas, you'll end up with more direct light on your subjects than you will reflected light.

Because of that this isn't the most versatile outfit I've ever seen.

Also, if portability is a factor, the bulk of all of those bulbs, etc. is a real concern.

Kadin2048's alternative, (again) here, isn't horrible, but those 10 inch reflectors will block a fair amount of reflective light coming from the umbrellas when used as reflective umbrellas.
posted by imjustsaying at 2:13 AM on June 6, 2009

If I were you I might think seriously about getting some strobes and then getting or renting lights for video when you start doing that.

You need a lot of power to do good photography, and continuous lights sources just don't generally have the power, unless you are using huge expensive lights that are a) really heavy b) get really hot and can burn your house down or c) destroy your electrical system in your house or possibly burn your house down.

Strobes are small, cheap, and very versatile. You are going to be able to do things with them easily that you couldn't do with continuous stuff.

The other thing about continuous light sources is that you can do a lot of DIY stuff with stuff you get from home depot.
This looks similar to what you were ordering?

Google "DIY Movie Lighting". There's a lot of stuff out there.

Photography wise I'd check out Strobist as a good source of basic information. Photography wise a lot of the stuff is cliched and canned but you can learn a lot about lighting with strobes (and other things) there.
posted by sully75 at 5:12 AM on June 6, 2009

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