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09-04-2015, 11:32 AM   #1
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Wanted: Constant lighting experiences

I'm considering to buy a constant lighting kit. In particular Rotolight Neo's 3 light kit.

I'm looking to do a mix of hand-held lighting for tight confines and quick portraits at events. Further, these lights would become key and fill for staged group and portraits. Lastly, I'm hoping I can light up action and shoot 1/500 or faster.

While I'm pretty sure this lighting will cover what I'm intending it for, I still wonder other photographer's experiences are with them under these conditions.

Please give your feedback.

Thank you!

09-04-2015, 11:52 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by comprock Quote
I'm considering to buy a constant lighting kit. In particular Rotolight Neo's 3 light kit.

I'm looking to do a mix of hand-held lighting for tight confines and quick portraits at events. Further, these lights would become key and fill for staged group and portraits. Lastly, I'm hoping I can light up action and shoot 1/500 or faster.

While I'm pretty sure this lighting will cover what I'm intending it for, I still wonder other photographer's experiences are with them under these conditions.

Please give your feedback.

Thank you!
Looks good for tight confines. Probably going to be very harsh light for portraiture with any modifiers. And any modifiers are going to knock the output of those down another 2 stops at least. You are looking at very little light output after all is said and done. Key and fill for group portraits? Maybe in a very dark room. These are not going to be much above ambient if at all. Certainly not outside. You can probably do 1/500 if you crank your ISO very high, but you can do that in any lighting.
09-04-2015, 12:28 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by comprock Quote
I'm considering to buy a constant lighting kit. In particular Rotolight Neo's 3 light kit.

I'm looking to do a mix of hand-held lighting for tight confines and quick portraits at events. Further, these lights would become key and fill for staged group and portraits. Lastly, I'm hoping I can light up action and shoot 1/500 or faster.

While I'm pretty sure this lighting will cover what I'm intending it for, I still wonder other photographer's experiences are with them under these conditions.

Please give your feedback.

Thank you!
don't waste your money. you're paying $1700 for 27 total watts. that's $63 per watt! and don't even get me started on rotolight's business practices. they've admitted to illegally taking down negative reviews of their products with false dmca claims and their head of marketing even tried to convince me that their leds somehow put out 10 times more light than other leds.
09-04-2015, 01:03 PM   #4
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FYI, years ago I got talked into getting a 1000watt continuous (hot) light set.
It was no where near enough light to allow me to stop action for pet portraits (not fast moving either).
I immediately took them back and spend similar money on a set of strobes.

1/500? Gonna need a LOT more light without raising your ISO an undesirable amount.
Save some money on a set of inexpensive manual off-camera flashes and wireless triggers.
i.e. Cactus RF60 and V6 remotes just as a starting point for what's out there.

For that sort of money though, have some room to grow and go with some AlienBees/Einstein lights.
Their modeling lights alone are going to give you more light than the ones you listed.
You also get some real motion stopping power with no problem achieving 1/500 shutter speeds.

Actual strobes/monboblocks will not be battery powered and they are not as portable and light, but you will not likely regret the purchase.
I think you may regret it if you get the Rotolights.


Last edited by amoringello; 09-04-2015 at 01:09 PM.
09-04-2015, 10:02 PM   #5
Brooke Meyer
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QuoteOriginally posted by comprock Quote
I'm considering to buy a constant lighting kit. In particular Rotolight Neo's 3 light kit.

I'm looking to do a mix of hand-held lighting for tight confines and quick portraits at events. Further, these lights would become key and fill for staged group and portraits. Lastly, I'm hoping I can light up action and shoot 1/500 or faster.

While I'm pretty sure this lighting will cover what I'm intending it for, I still wonder other photographer's experiences are with them under these conditions.

Please give your feedback.

Thank you!
It's tempting to think this kit will cover your lighting requirements. As other have pointed out, it won't. Invest some time in learning before you buy.
  1. Tight confines and quick portraits at events? Bounced hot shoe flash with "black foamy thing" or hot shoe flash on light stand with umbrellas.
  2. Staged group and portraits? Hot shoe flashes or monolights on light stands with umbrella/softboxes/grids or whatever modifier suits the purpose.
  3. Action and shoot 1/500 or faster? Action is stopped by the 1/1000 sec or less of hot shoe flashes/monolights. Shutter speed is irrelevant except to balance ambient. 1/500 requires HSS which is unnecessary and for Pentax, a 3rd party option at 2K per light.
One size does not fit all.

Last edited by Brooke Meyer; 09-05-2015 at 12:55 AM.
09-05-2015, 08:09 AM   #6
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Wow, you guys have come through for me. I deeply appreciate all you've said. Okay, the consensus seems that the LEDs would be alright if it was already dark, and it's mood lighting for a portrait or something.

I already run with a Cactus RF60 with a V6 and love it, but I want better light modifiers than the Rogue Flashbender and umbrella I use now. That said, for the HSS needs to hit 1/250 to 1/1500, I'm thinking then to grab a Metz Mecablitz 58 AF-2 or Pentax 540FGZ II and use it on the camera to fire off the Cactus for fill.

My problem is that I travel a lot. I'm around the world easily once or twice a year. Often in 10 or more countries, not to mention various cities for work of some form. As such, space, weight, and portability become huge impacts on what I choose always to carry.

What lighting modifiers or other kit do you recommend I acquire then before my next trip to Europe and onto a mixture of an event, group, and portrait shots in a few weeks?

Visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/comprock/sets/72157654056628060 for an idea of what I'm shooting.
09-05-2015, 08:25 AM   #7
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There definitely some good modifiers for off-camera flash. But they are too pricy in my mind for what they are. (i.e. too small for big price)
See, Lastolite Joe McNally Ezybox Hotshoe - 24 x 24" LL LR2462JM
Of course, if you travel you can't really beat'em.


Sadly, I think if you are going to go with more professional LED lighting gear that is actually useable, you're going to be looking at 5 digit price ranges for a lighting setup. (look up Peter Hurley's stuff and others)... but then you're back to not being at all portable.

I honestly think your best bet is to look up the work of David Hobby and Joe McNally. Both of them do a lot with simple off-camera strobes.
Big guns are used when necessary of course, but a lot of their stuff is/was on the road with small portable gear.
09-05-2015, 09:52 AM   #8
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To have a large soft llight source, you need a large face on the modier. 24x24 won't do fo group shots or full length portraits. The ony alternative is to bounce off walls or ceilng. Some compact light stands and "black foamie things". Still don't know why you need HSS.

09-05-2015, 06:00 PM   #9
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On the lighting modifiers, I was looking at Fstoppers Flash Disc Portable Speedlight Softbox because part of the time, I need to handhold the flash while walking events. That 24x24 softbox, while a nice light spread seems like it'd be unwieldy controlling in hand. Any suggestions for a flash mount softbox?

For David Hobby and Joe McNally, I'm hoping at least one will be at Gulf Photo Plus this coming February and see about catching a workshop with them.

Regarding HSS, I'm sometimes shoot martial art groups. Despite going 1600 or 3200 ISO so that I can stop motion around 1/500 or 1/750, there's not enough lighting overall. Since 1/180 with on camera flash is my max, I thought I needed the Pentax or Metz I mentioned earlier to go into HSS mode and then I can hit the shot with improved lighting.
09-05-2015, 10:07 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by comprock Quote
On the lighting modifiers, I was looking at Fstoppers Flash Disc Portable Speedlight Softbox because part of the time, I need to handhold the flash while walking events. That 24x24 softbox, while a nice light spread seems like it'd be unwieldy controlling in hand. Any suggestions for a flash mount softbox?

For David Hobby and Joe McNally, I'm hoping at least one will be at Gulf Photo Plus this coming February and see about catching a workshop with them.

Regarding HSS, I'm sometimes shoot martial art groups. Despite going 1600 or 3200 ISO so that I can stop motion around 1/500 or 1/750, there's not enough lighting overall. Since 1/180 with on camera flash is my max, I thought I needed the Pentax or Metz I mentioned earlier to go into HSS mode and then I can hit the shot with improved lighting.
I often demonstrate to my customers that the overhead and window lights don't matter, my exposure is probably 3 stops below ambient so the photo is black if I don't trigger my lights. The only things that get illuminated are by the flash, ambient light doesn't matter. And only for as long at that light lasts. Shutter speed doesn't matter, unless I make it really slow, drag it, to add ambient.

If the martial arts folks are okay with flash, you're better off with your Cactus at 1/2 or 1/4 power with a shutter of 1/125 or 1/160. You'll stop action better than a 1/750 shutter speed and more of it with faster recycle than HSS. The lower the power, the shorter the light duration. Its short pulses of light that stop those bullets in flight, not shutter speed. HSS dramatically reduces flash power. If you've a lot of money, you can gang HSS flashes together and shoot with high shutter speeds.

I keep life simple. I hang a couple of YN560III's on a home made bracket to my tripod as a light stand and remotely control power & zoom with a $45 YN560 TX, after adding a 3 stop ND filter on my lens. f2.8, shallow D0F, blue sky & well lit subject.

HSS is useful if you need a high shutter speed on a bright sunny day to keep the sky blue and push fill into shadows. Or use wide apertures on bright sunny days, like 2.8, keep the sky blue and light a near subject.
09-06-2015, 05:12 AM   #11
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It's starting to sound like I've got all I need, but a more rigid light modifier to work with.

Have you guys worked with the modeling lights much to speed up the 5-minute portrait sessions? Is it worth while? Seems I should just get more practice at holding flash in one hand and camera in the other.
09-06-2015, 10:48 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by comprock Quote
It's starting to sound like I've got all I need, but a more rigid light modifier to work with.

Have you guys worked with the modeling lights much to speed up the 5-minute portrait sessions? Is it worth while? Seems I should just get more practice at holding flash in one hand and camera in the other.
Go down to the local craft store or Amazon or eBay and buy a styrofoam model head for a few dollars . Stick on the spigot of a light stand and practice and play. A book about lighting for portraiture would be a good idea.
09-07-2015, 06:35 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Brooke Meyer Quote
Go down to the local craft store or Amazon or eBay and buy a styrofoam model head for a few dollars . Stick on the spigot of a light stand and practice and play. A book about lighting for portraiture would be a good idea.
Nice idea Brooke. Thank you for it.
02-12-2017, 04:22 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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I don't know exactly how much things have changed in the past few years (this is an old thread), but in deciding to toy with portraiture in a smallish 13x16 spare bedroom with an additional 4x7.5' naturally lighted dormer/sitting area I opted for LED continuous lighting. Very little heat, compact setups, 5200K "daylight" balanced, and far easier for me to judge what I'm going to capture with the lights on all the time since I haven't found a pro to intern with. So far so good.

I have blackout shades for the two room windows (one east and one south), and open/close them as needed. Four RPS Coolled variable power lights, a 150W key, 100W fill and two 20W for background and hair. No weird colorcasts either like mentioned with some of the older lights.

A mix of Godox large 31x47' rectangular, 38"octagon, strip w/grid softboxes, beauty dish, and reflectors depending on the session. Two Kupoles and one wall-mounted boom to save floor space, a few used superclamps and extension rods/pins from the local camera store, and a couple of cheap light-stands that came free with the small LED's but work well for homemade reflectors and flags. The total for all the lighting and stands was under $1250. But with this setup I can go all natural lighting, a mix of sunlight and artificial fill, or all studio lighting. And I still have quite a bit of free walk space tho the one big softbox can cramp one side of the room.

TBF I did add a couple of unnecessary but useful perks, one of them a wall-mount tethered 4:3 monitor for the model to follow shots as I take them. Even that was less than $60 including a cheap swivel-mount bracket and micro-HDMI cable. Between the lights, a couple of arms/extensions and modifiers, a 53" paper backdrop 3 roll holder (using two), a couple of 8' backdrops with a ceiling mounted rod for full body/couple portraits I've invested about $1600, and I've got a very adaptable space. I won't be shooting any group shots, but for singles and couples it works pretty well. With a little planning full-body poses are very doable even in this small space.

Anyway, using only the studio lights with the windows blackened I can shoot a *55 or Bower 85 up to F5.6@100 and still keep the ISO at 400 with the careful light placement. Typically I use F3.5 (but sometimes 3.2 or 4.0) which allows for 200 ISO and still a little wiggle-room on DoF. Augment with some natural lighting and I'm golden at faster speeds/higher F-stops. I'm certainly not professional and the home studio is for fun, but friends, family and the occasional model working on her portfolio have been pretty happy with the results. I'll guess continuous lighting has apparently gotten much better in the past few years. I've personally found it very workable even in the absence of any window light.

One thing else. So as not to bother my wife and daughter quite so much as de-facto model fill-ins I bought a full-length mannequin from eBay for $60. Pretty realistic, actual eyelashes, basic makeup and lipstick, glassy eyes that reflect catch-lights, two wigs and even somewhat pose-able. "Penny" lets me work on some planned sessions in advance, playing with lighting on a patient piece of plastic which has made things a lot easier and smoother for the less-understanding skin-wrapped ones.

So my wife has taken a real liking to "Penny". If she'd only smile once in awhile...
at least I don't have to clean up behind her.

Last edited by gatorguy; 02-12-2017 at 06:46 PM.
02-13-2017, 05:58 AM   #15
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@gatorguy Your lighting setup information is really helpful. Thank you for taking the time to share it. I'm still chasing down my preferred lights and setup.

I'm getting to the point that a couple of 400+ watt strobes upfront with 250+ watt model lights and a pair 200+ watt rear for highlights or background blowout is what'll give me the flexibility I'd like.

The problem being that the front strobes to get high a wattage modeling light is a pain. A 10 watt LED doesn't cut it for 100 watt output equivalence.

Ah… fun. The Elinchrom D-Lite looks good though right now because of it's worldwide power acceptance and useful remote triggering Elinchrom D-Lite RX 4/4 Softbox To Go Kit EL20839.2 B&H Photo. Then the Bowens leads with a battery and softboxes with grids Bowens Gemini 500R 2-Light Kit with Travelpak Battery GEMINIBAT.

Ugh…
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