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11-02-2015, 12:32 PM   #1
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A good starter kit for on-location shooting

Update: Make sure to read post #14 as well

I need some simple yet flexible gear for on-locations shooting.

The gear must be portale but also cheap ans I'm just getting into this.

I have experience using strobes, but not so much when it comes to buying some.

For now, I have a shoot coming up wich will take place ain an office environment. All walls and caeilings are white and the rooms med to small sizes. I'd like the ability to shape my light rather than having it bounding all over.

I'd also like to balance the light with ambience, so the strobe must be able to output low enough power (or I could get ND filters, but I'm ignoring that option for now - unless someone tells me that's a bad thing to do.

I suspect I'll do some shots at larger apertures, such as f2 but I'll also need to do few shots using smaller apertures - perhaps something like f4-5.6

I'm thinking a single strobe should be fine for now. What kind of gear should I be looking for?

It would be best if you could give me numbers/specs I should keep in mind rather than pointing towards specific strobe models, as there is no guarantee I'll find it here.

A soft/octa-box would be best? I'm thinking around 50cm as it will mostly be placed close by because of narrow spaces.

The kind of lighting I'm going for - not 100% settled yet but probably a mix between these two:






Last edited by Zafar Iqbal; 10-17-2016 at 06:55 PM.
11-02-2015, 01:39 PM   #2
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If you want cheap and lightweight then the standard manual-only speedlights should do the job. Get ones with high guide number (50-60) but which go down to 1/125th power - this should give you the ability to work with fast apertures but also overpower strongish daylight if you need to.

For triggering, you can go with basic sync-only manual radio triggers, or the dedicated systems which allow you to control power and/or zoom from the camera position. Some flash guns have a radio receiver built-in, which is really convenient and reduces the amount of gear you have to take and batteries you have to manage. Personally I would either go for the Yongnuo YN560 III/IV plus YN560 TX controller, or the Cactus RF60 plus V6 controller. The former are so cheap that I'd recommend getting two flashes to have one as a backup/auxiliary.

If you're using speedlights you will need to get a bracket to connect the flashes to a light stand. These usually allow for using an umbrella, but if you want to avoid too much light spill then a softbox is probably better. The collapsible ones which clamp onto the flash head will be the most convenient. 50cm sounds about right.

Another option which is quite a bit more expensive but better and more versatile in the long run is the cheaper bare-bulb hotshoe units. (Godox, Neewer, Calumet-branded). These run off Lithium-Ion battery packs and are more powerful than standard speedlights. They also have a proper fitting for modifiers such as beauty dishes. These are a bit heavier than speedlights but not by much, and you are less likely to run out of power or battery. The recycle time is also a lot faster at higher power settings. If I was doing a lot of location lighting, I'd get a set of these.

If you're only using one strobe then get a reflector such as the collapsible disc type - helpful for filling in shadows.
11-02-2015, 02:07 PM   #3
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Strobist.com can give you some good ideas about basic kit parameters.

I haven't tried to do this with Pentax, but if it's feasible for you to shoot tethered (to a laptop), it can be great for situations like this because you can see (and your subject can see) in real time how the RAW images look. That gives you an opportunity to fix glaring problems in your lighting, subject's clothing, background (oh, goodness, there's something growing out of the back of her head) and body position. Yes, you can look at the images on your camera, but being able to blow them up to laptop screen size can be really helpful.

I would definitely recommend that you start by mastering one strobe (plus modifiers) before getting into multi-light set-ups.
11-02-2015, 02:30 PM   #4
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Thanks a lot for your input on this one. I appreciate it.

I currently have the following gear:

1 x Metz AF-2 58
2 x Yungnao YN 560
2 x Godox TT660II

30x30cm softbox with flash mount (but no light stands)

2 x Cactus v5 transeivers

1 x 70cm 5-in-1 round reflector
1 x full body 5-in-1 reflector (I bet the 70cm is sufficient).

Beside using flashes on cameras, the only other experiences I have with these, are when shooting outdoor (can require lots of power) and doing indoor model shoots with smaller apertures (also require lots of power). So I didn't think flashes would be good enough for this task.

We will be doing some of the shots outdoors though. Perhaps a mount that can hold multiple flashes would be enough? Not all shot will be with larger aperture as on soeme of the photos I'll have multiple people in them and need the DoF to coer them all. Then there is the triggering, which can sometime be an issue with only a single receiver.

I don't need fancy triggers for now. Sync-only triggers will do just fine.

---------- Post added 02-11-15 at 22:40 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by frogoutofwater Quote
Strobist.com can give you some good ideas about basic kit parameters.

I haven't tried to do this with Pentax, but if it's feasible for you to shoot tethered (to a laptop), it can be great for situations like this because you can see (and your subject can see) in real time how the RAW images look. That gives you an opportunity to fix glaring problems in your lighting, subject's clothing, background (oh, goodness, there's something growing out of the back of her head) and body position. Yes, you can look at the images on your camera, but being able to blow them up to laptop screen size can be really helpful.

I would definitely recommend that you start by mastering one strobe (plus modifiers) before getting into multi-light set-ups.
thanks!

and I actually completely forgot to ask about that part: to either shoot tethered, or to have perhaps an iPad with me, so I can check the photos as we go along. I do agree, that seeing the photos on screens larger than the camera display, is very very useful.

The question I had in mind was: Pentax does not have best reputation for tethered shooting. There is a tool for it, but I don't want to be with the client when something goes wrong.

how about an iPad with a card reader? Maybe even Eye-fi? I have no experience with Eye-fi.

11-02-2015, 06:46 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Zafar Iqbal Quote
We will be doing some of the shots outdoors though. Perhaps a mount that can hold multiple flashes would be enough?
Depends on many things - modifiers used, brightness of ambient light, distance from subject. Yes this is the cheap option since you have a number of speedlights already, but personally I would find managing the settings and sync on this number of flashes, plus managing all the batteries, a real pain. That's why I was wondering if the bare bulb units might be the best for you, such as the Godox Witstro AD360 or equivalent. I think it has the power of at least four speedlights and will be so much more convenient. Failing that, it's a studio head and battery pack, which is likely to be more money.
11-02-2015, 06:51 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Zafar Iqbal Quote
All walls and ceilings are white and the rooms med to small sizes.
In this case it may be best to use the walls as big reflectors (with your speedlights).

Ideally, you'd be able to get into the rooms before and do a test shoot.

QuoteOriginally posted by Zafar Iqbal Quote
I'd like the ability to shape my light rather than having it bounding all over.
Even when you use walls as reflectors, your light will still be directional. As they will be very large virtual light sources, they probably give you better quality light than any regular sized local source (e.g., softbox) can.

A smaller local source will also spill light and if you need really tight control, you may have to think about using grids, gobos, etc. N.B., I think your softbox is too small for portraits. I'd rather use the reflectors.

QuoteOriginally posted by Zafar Iqbal Quote
The kind of lighting I'm going for - not 100% settled yet but probably a mix between these two:
Note that in the first one there are at least two light sources. You won't get this look with one source unless you are able to use the ambient light to your advantage.

QuoteOriginally posted by jonby Quote
Personally I would either go for the Yongnuo YN560 III/IV plus YN560 TX controller, or the Cactus RF60 plus V6 controller.
I agree these are good suggestions. While the price of the Yongnuo is very tempting, I'd consider the extra functionality the Cactus have to grow into, their reliability, and compatibility with other equipment.

For instance, with V6s you'd be able to remote control your Metz 58AF-2 and they would also play with your existing V5 triggers (with no grouping for the V5, though, as the V5 don't support groups).

BTW, while the RF60 looks similar to your Godox TT660II, the electronics and other innards are different. I believe the TT660II is a manual flash, so its power levels cannot be remote controlled using V6s.

QuoteOriginally posted by frogoutofwater Quote
Strobist.com can give you some good ideas about basic kit parameters.
I agree regarding the principles of equipment choice, but the concrete equipment recommendation section has not been updated in years and hence is outdated.

QuoteOriginally posted by jonby Quote
If you're using speedlights you will need to get a bracket to connect the flashes to a light stand.
The RF60 has an integrated tripod thread, however, yes for using modifiers one would need respective mounting gear.

QuoteOriginally posted by Zafar Iqbal Quote
We will be doing some of the shots outdoors though. Perhaps a mount that can hold multiple flashes would be enough?
Yes, there are mounts that can take 3-4 speedlights. Outdoors, your main problem will be sync speed unless you want to stop down a lot, so either you find an HSS/HyperSync solution or you need to use ND filters.

QuoteOriginally posted by Zafar Iqbal Quote
Maybe even Eye-fi? I have no experience with Eye-fi.
Unfortunately I don't have experience with Eye-Fi cards either. You may want to look at the FluCard as well. In any event, I would probably not attempt to transfer RAW images over WiFi (too slow), so probably you want to shoot RAW+JPEG with the JPEGs being sent to your WiFi-capable card.

Not sure how reliable any cabled solution is. Haven't played with any software except the very outdated camera assist for the K100D, etc.

Last edited by Class A; 11-02-2015 at 07:01 PM.
11-02-2015, 07:07 PM   #7
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An alternative to tethering is to use an hdmi cable which essentially mirrors your camera lcd. This way you aren't waiting for download times. Oh and remember if your screen is large and close by, it can act as a (unwanted likely) light source.
11-03-2015, 08:46 AM   #8
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Thanks for the helpful replies.

I've for some time had my eyes on Godox Witstro AD180 and AD360

*Godox Witstro AD180 og tilbehør - PORTA BAT. PB960, HSS op til 1/8000, Flash Duration 1/10.000, Guide Number 60 - GODOX Witstro AD - Mobile Flashlamper - Location Gear

*Godox Witstro AD360 og tilbehør - PORTA BAT. PB960, HSS op til 1/8000, Flash Duration 1/10.000, Guide Number 85 - GODOX Witstro AD - Mobile Flashlamper - Location Gear

Not only because of the sizes, but especially also because of the power they can output. Beside the shoot i mentioned in my first post, I need lots of light when shooting ethnical weddings, which typically take place at big venues where there is too far to the walls and several meters to the ceilings as well. When doing group photos, I recently began using all of my flashes, and even then I'm on the limit of how much I can output.

Anyways, reviews seems fine for the Witstro producs but are there any gotchas? the modifiers such as the 48cm softbox will only fit these and nothing else.

I'm actually thinking - will a 50cm soft/octabox be enough? Looked rather small when I saw the Witstro octa in videos, and I will be doing some shots with 2-3 people in them. not group photos, more like casual setups.

11-03-2015, 12:05 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Zafar Iqbal Quote
I'm actually thinking - will a 50cm soft/octabox be enough? Looked rather small when I saw the Witstro octa in videos, and I will be doing some shots with 2-3 people in them. not group photos, more like casual setups.
Yes this probably will be a bit small for small groups, but it depends on what kind of light you're after. You have the option of a large umbrella to get more diffusion (not good if it's windy), or getting a speedring adapter to take larger softboxes. Godox make one which takes Bowens S-type modifiers and supports the AD360, as well as standard speedlights.
11-04-2015, 06:01 AM   #10
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I'm pretty much ready to purchase Godox Witstro AD360 + Adapter + Softbox, but I'm uncertain about what trigger to get.

- I suspect my Cactus v5 will work, but I'm unsure.
- Even if Cactus v5 will trigger, it feels very flimsy when attached (and that's on my normal and less heavy flashes - In other words, I'd like a different trigger set for the long run, that doesn't make me feel it could break at any moment).
- HSS, any hopes for this when it comes to triggers and Pentax?
11-07-2015, 09:07 PM   #11
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The Elinchrom monobloc studio heads I work with have a 7-8 stop power range the Godox witsro units have a similar power range, so it is possible to combine them

The wider the range of power settings you have the greater flexibility you will have in your lighting. The Witstro units will allow you to shoot comfortably from f/1.2 to f/11.


QuoteOriginally posted by Zafar Iqbal Quote
reviews seems fine for the Witstro producs but are there any gotchas?
Apart from the battery issue, which has been more or less solved, there aren't any significant issues with either the AD 180 or AD360. However there are some things that bug me personally that I will mention: If you use extreme lighting ratios there will be a difference in colour cast from each light, the difference is about +75 kelvin per power level. So if you have one unit at 1/8th power and another at 1/64th there will be a 225 kelvin colour differential between the two lightsources. This may seem trivial to some, but to me it is really annoying*. The godox AD180 and AD360 flash units also have an inherently high colour temperature, about 6,400 Kelvin, I'm visually accustomed to 5,000k.

Recently Godox made an AD360 with a built in 2.4Ghz receiver, at present there isn't a transmitter that works at that frequency that will work on Pentax cameras. The FT-16 as old as it is can at least function as a wireless remote control for these flash units. I use my pocketwizard (which incidentally, also use 433mhz frequency like the FT-16) or my elinchrom 2.4Ghz triggers.

One thing I'll mention is that the Godox light modifiers are significantly cheaper and smaller compared to full studio modifiers due to the fact that the AD180 and AD360 do not have a modelling light to create heat. considering the cost I was surprised they were made of sturdy metal, even the grids are metal. I was honestly expecting more plastic in their construction.




I also recently got a small (30.5cm, translating for Americans = a little over a foot in diameter) beauty dish, which admirably comes with a grid (I consider grids an essential thing to have to control the light) and also a shower-cap diffuser. Beauty dishes are better than umbrellas or softboxes for on location work as they do not catch the wind as badly. The Beauty dish cost me $50.


If you need to use large Light modifiers, the Elinchrom S (they also have a bowens mount bracket) will allow you to use anything from Elinchrom. These brackest are rather cheap, but at least the Elinchrom version is made of very sturdy plastics, and has a ratcheted tilt mechanism and a solid locking pin.



An undocumented feature of the Elinchrom S bracket, is that you can use it as a mounting ring for fold out softboxes:


*I will admit to having OCD over colour temperatures of light sources, I cannot stand being in a room with lamps with different colour temperature bulbs in them.

Last edited by Digitalis; 11-07-2015 at 10:07 PM.
12-01-2015, 01:28 PM   #12
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Profoto B1






I'm kidding. kinda. but it's an incredibly liberating light for on location shooting. Just incredible. But if you can't afford that (and lets face it.... it is a pretty penny) Adorma and Strobepro sell the X600 Lithium light, so depending on where you are (states vs Canada) you can get a pretty cool light for not much more than a Godox but with a lot more versatility.

Strobepro X600 Lithium Strobe Kit | Strobepro Studio Lighting

Flashpoint RoveLight 600 Ws Monolight with On Board Power (Bowens Mount) RL-600B


They take the ever popular and affordable Bowens mount for softbox and lighting modifiers. You can pretty much get any light modifier for them or adapt them to work. They will also take umbrellas. If you got the pocket change I'd get one of those with a small/medium Octa or strip box from either of those two stores. This one is nice:

Westcott 32" Rapid Box Duo 2050

You can do so much with that kit it's not even funny. And while not as small as the Godox, its still insanely portable as it's all internally powered.

You can overheat them quick though.

---------- Post added 12-01-2015 at 01:35 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
The Elinchrom monobloc studio heads I work with have a 7-8 stop power range the Godox witsro units have a similar power range, so it is possible to combine them

The wider the range of power settings you have the greater flexibility you will have in your lighting. The Witstro units will allow you to shoot comfortably from f/1.2 to f/11.

Then there are the Elinchrom's. The basic "dlite rx400" kit is a bloody amazing value. I'm still using mine as additional lights next to my Profoto's. they don't shoot as fast ,and have a very long flash duration. but if you don't know why you need them to do that, you probably don't need them to do that.
12-04-2015, 06:09 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wired Quote
hen there are the Elinchrom's. The basic "dlite rx400" kit is a bloody amazing value.
Amazing value, but as you mentioned the flash durations are slow as hell ( I clocked a D lite 4 at 1/266th T.1 @1:1, barely faster than the 1/250 the sync speed of most cameras) If you really want to spring for mains powered flash heads, I'd go for the Elinchrom 500/250 BXRI units, they are faster (1/520 t.1 @ 1:1) a bit more expensive but are designed for professional use, and can handle the larger and heavier Elinchrom light modifiers than the D lites can, and with the appropriate Skyport WiFi module you can control power levels and other flash features wirelessly from your Ipad or Iphone.

Last edited by Digitalis; 12-04-2015 at 06:18 AM.
10-17-2016, 06:54 PM   #14
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I never heard from the client again and my plan to purchase got on stand by - until recently, when I bought a bracket so I could attache 3 flashes onto it, and hookup an umbrella type 120cm octabox.

Have to say, I loved the light from such a large octabox.

The purchase thought me few lessons:

120cm octabox is frekin large and the one I got was rather cumbersome to handle.

The octabox fell off every 5-10 minutes and it very quickly became very annoying to use.

The flash bracket thing I bought wasn't too impressive either. I didn't have too high expectations, but once a flash fell of because it's crap to tighten properly and it doesn't hold on to the octabox too well - it has a slide-in thingy for the stick on the octabox (just like on regular umbrellas).

The octabox is now done for. The stick got bent when it tipped over because of wind. The stick couldn't handle the weight from the flashes.

With that in mind I have few new criteria for the setup:

- easy and quick to prep
- very robust once set-up. I really don't want to worry about something not being tight enough or if it can't take some beating.

What should I look for?

These are the items I bought:
Flash bracket: Neewer® Aluminum Alloy 3-Way Hot Shoe Mount Adapter: Amazon.co.uk: Camera & Photo

Octabox: Fomito Photo Studio 120cm/47in Portable Octagon Flash: Amazon.co.uk: Camera & Photo

I had these on a monopod and a tripod that I used as a light stand - I think I'll continue using the monopod.
10-17-2016, 11:27 PM   #15
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I would suggest looking into light modifiers from either the Westcott Rapid box line or SMDV speedboxes - both are designed for strobist work with durability and quick set up in mind.
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