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02-02-2011, 04:48 PM   #1
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Whats your take on these?

My pastor at church asked me if I could set something up for a small directory of the members. I go to a rather small church. (only 100 members tops) and have always taken the photos for various events. I quickly agreed and am in the process of working out the details.

Since it is a rather small church, we have no intentions of hiring a "professional", but I dont want to just have people stand in front of a white wall either. So I figured I would price out a backdrop or something, and if nothing else, drape it over something to have a decent backdrop.

After surfing ebay for a few minutes, I came across this...

White Studio Umbrella Photo Backdrop Screen 1040w Kit - eBay (item 200571855408 end time Mar-03-11 11:01:32 PST)

It is an "all in one" kit... or so they say. It comes with 2 umbrellas, 3 lights, backdrop, and the backdrop support, all for under $150, they even have another kit that is $109 and only has 2 lights instead of 3. Now i do have a few questions obviously. Since I have never done anything like this, Do these lights function as a flash? or are they on constantly? Will my K20 support this? or will i need some sort of wireless transmitter... and finally, is this complete junk, even for something that would only get used 2 or 3 times a year? (if i buy it, im sure i could come up with other uses for it, maybe do senior graduation pictures for friends?)

All in all, would you consider it worth it to pick something up like this? would it be good enough just to mess around with a few times a year? or just junk that will break very quickly?

(Yes i know this is a white backdrop, which defeats the purpose, but they offer other colors, or i could just pick one up for $30 or so...

02-02-2011, 04:57 PM   #2
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I think you are going to be pretty disappointed with the light output of that system. Other than that, I don't have much of an opinion.
02-02-2011, 06:30 PM   #3
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Uh, that photo looks like maybe 200w of fluorescent (read: constant on, low power) household bulbs obscured by translucent umbrellas. It would look cool, but might not be very controllable for getting great lighting (plus, I always credit fluorescent lighting with making me look tired...)

Your K20D will do great things with high-wattage lights (think halogen work-lights from Home Depot) or off-camera flashes with wireless triggers.
02-02-2011, 07:10 PM   #4
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Yeah, those are compact flourescents: as Ajoe said, you probably won't find the output's actually very much, but it's there. (And, yes, constant light, no trigger worries, at least.)

For the money, those kits are pretty OK. you can learn with them, and if you want better you can get better. (Even then, when you're improvising, it's always seemed to me one more stand might be handy, so having some extras around is OK.) Mostly the basic stands and stuff is maybe a bit rickety to set up, but can handle those kinds of lights or shoe-mount flash just fine.

Anyway, it should be sufficient for head-and-shoulders shots, really. I would prefer to use natural light and no backdrop as well, of course, but if you go that route, (read up a bit) just be sure to keep it basic and don't flatten the light out *too* much.

02-02-2011, 09:06 PM   #5
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If the hardware (light stands, backdrop support, and the umbrellas) are well built to last, it's a good basic foundation for a lighting setup. I would replace the CF light bulbs with AC flash heads like this: Smith Victor AC Master Slave Flash 45i,G.No 90 ISO 100' - eBay (item 390260659834 end time Feb-06-11 16:46:12 PST). There are AC flashes with lower or higher output than the one in the link and you can vary the output by placing diffusers in front of the flash as well. One or two white plastic bags wrapped around the flash might vary the light enough to avoid that washed out look.

02-07-2011, 04:36 PM   #6
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100% correct about the light volume being very low, but for the money, it MAY be worth it.

You can also put in higher power bulbs and push the rated capacity, as long as you're careful and don't leave them on for long periods of time.

But the big problem may be that the stands themselves are garbage.

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