Studio Lights for Under $200?
When my first son was due about 10 years ago, I talked my wife into letting me buy my first DSLR, a Canon Digital Rebel XT. Thus begun my love affair with photography. I got hooked. It was great. With a DSLR, I no longer had that horrible lag between button push and image capture. My pictures were amazing. Then I realized, there were a whole lot of buttons on my camera that I had no idea what they did.
I needed to learn more about how to use my camera. So I did what every nerd would do and I got on google. Eventually I found a blog, Strobist, run by a photographer for the Baltimore Sun. I learned a ton on that site, working my way first through his 101 post series. I finally realized something that a lot of amateur photographers/camera owners don’t realize. Photography is all about light.
This works as much for ambient light as it does for light you bring into the photograph. Strobist is all about small and light and does some amazing things with speedlights (small, typically on-camera flashes). There’s always a hunger for more light, sometimes you’re places where there is AC power available. If you’re a photographer at all, you’ll know how expensive the gear can be. If you’re like me, you’re always looking for the best price/performance tradeoff.
Last Christmas I was hankering for more power than the battery powered flashes I already have. I knew that Chinese manufacturers had flooded the market with more affordable (if less reliable) gear. So I went where everyone does, Amazon. I stumbled upon this set. I told my wife I wanted it. She thought it was horribly expensive ($159 for two studio lights, really?). I already had light stands so that saved some money on this particular investment. Finally she consented.
As indicated above, I was a huge fan of Strobist. I even went to his Flash Bus tour with Joe McNally (that was an amazing experience). I had a year or two back read about an amazing lighting setup for Christmas in one of his posts. If you’re an amateur photographer, you’ve undoubtedly experienced an event where you took a ton of pictures but don’t remember experiencing the event at all. Well, this setup kills it. It lets you forget any worry about pictures, just point and shoot and your lighting is awesome. Really, this lighting setup works so good it’s like cheating mode. It won’t save a crappy composition though, so think about the shots you’re taking. Here’s one I got of my son at his 7th birthday. I was using the lights from Christmas and I lit up his birthday party at his parkour gym using the same basic setup from Christmas.
The kit comes with a wireless trigger and the strobes both can act as optical slaves. Set the power, get your exposure set and enjoy a huge amount of light.
Where are you in your photography career/hobby? What’s your favorite piece of gear? What’s your budget gear hack that you’re most proud of? Let me know in the comments below.
Don’t Overlook How You’re Going to Lug Them Around
I got these lights and need something to carry and them in. I picked up a pair of these gear bags and they hold the light stands and lights as well. Pack carefully and your soft boxes will fit too.