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12-19-2014, 10:26 PM   #1
Neville's Avatar

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Starting out - kit suggestions?

I have a Pentax K-5II with various lenses, including the 18-135mm kit lens, the 55-300mm lens, the 50mm f/1.7 prime, and the 300mm f/4.5 prime.

Most of my shooting up until now has been outdoor, including wildlife, sports and landscape.

I now wish to venture into studio photography and I would like some suggestions as to what basic I should get, such as reflectors, remote flash units, etc. Initially I will probably do mostly product/food photography before venturing into portraiture.

I am not a professional so I don't want to get all the (expensive) bells and whistles, but I also don't want to get cheap and nasty kit that will frustrate me later and cost me in the long run.

I have recently got myself a small 5-in-1 reflector kit and I thought the next step would be an off board flash unit.

I await your pearls of wisdom!

12-19-2014, 10:46 PM - 1 Like   #2

Join Date: Apr 2010
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If you want a flash unit, I think the best value is Yongnuo 560 series I have 560iii but there is now a iv. Only manual operation but power can be adjusted from 1/1 to 1/128. The flash will act as an off camera slave without need of any extra transmitter.
12-19-2014, 10:56 PM   #3
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A couple of those Yongnuos supplemented with a couple of older $10-15 Sunpak 433 D units is a great start and won't break the bank. Check out the "Strobist Kits" from MPE for diffusers, reflectors, stands, backdrops. etc.
12-20-2014, 04:04 AM   #4
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Yongnuo flashes are certainly the cheapest but I'm not sure whether they are the "best value".

Even though their record got a lot better, Yongnuo still has more reliability issues than other manufacturers and I find the usability of their products often not fully convincing. One further big issue is that even within Yongnuo there are three incompatible trigger systems.

I wrote a comparison of various flash models from different manufacturers in my Cactus RF60 review.

I'm not saying everyone should be avoiding Yongnuo, but that there are other options and that it sometimes pays off to spend a bit more to reap better usability, reliability, functionality and have better prospects with respect to future compatibility.

12-20-2014, 04:05 AM   #5
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You'll probably want to get into strobes, so consider them soon - even if you're not quite ready for them yet. Don't invest too much in traditional camera-mount flash units if you're going to go this way. In the end, strobes can often be a better value - assuming you can use them.

I got the Einsteins from Paul C. Buff. They're a good value for the technology and quality they deliver - especially compared to most (perhaps all) of the competition. I even got their excellent Vagabond (mini Lithium version, in my case) and have ended up using it to power many other items besides the Einsteins.

Some of the great things about the Einsteins includes the color consistency, flash speed, recharge speed, ability to change settings via remote control (in case they're out of reach), and the fact that they have a socket for an inexpensive CyberSync (or a more expensive PocketWizard) transceiver. If you use the CyberSync (I do) it brings the cost to within $100 of the Alien Bees units with a CyberSync, yet it's more advanced and capable. Paul C. Buff - Einstein E640

Of course, considering your location, I'm not sure how worthwhile it is (or isn't) for you to use a freight forwarder. But at least you should look at their site to get some ideas, and to get an idea of how much more powerful a mono-light strobe is than a traditional flash.

Last edited by DSims; 12-20-2014 at 04:25 AM.
12-20-2014, 06:59 AM   #6
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For studio work i would consider strobes rather than hot shoe flashes. Look into used and they might not be much more money but much more powerful.

Also the light modifiers such as beauty dishes and softboxes are easier to find and mount.

I use two strobes by Adorama plus a handfull of cheap used hot shoe flashes like the Nikon sb-26. Triggered using Cactus v5 triggers though i would get th Cactus v6 model now.

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