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12-05-2012, 09:31 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Is this a good first lighting setup?

I'm looking to expand a bit and learn how to use an off camera flash. I want to be able to take nice looking portraits in a somewhat controlled environment. Here is what I have so far;

YN560 Speedlite $50:
Amazon.com: Speedlite YN560 Flash for Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus Cameras: Camera & Photo

CowboyStudio Trigger $30:
Amazon.com: CowboyStudio NPT-04 4 Channel Wireless Trigger for External Speelights with 1 Trigger and 2 Receivers (NPT-04+extra receiver): Camera & Photo

Mount/Umbrella $35:
Amazon.com: CowboyStudio Single Flash Shoe Swivel Bracket Kit with 1 Mounting Bracket, 1 Umbrella, and 1 Stand Stand: Electronics

White/Black Backdrop $80:
Amazon.com: CowboyStudio Photo Muslin Background Support System with One Background Support Set with 1 carry case and Black & White Muslin Backdrops: Electronics

I'm a college student so budget is everything for me but at the same time I want something that will last. Coming in at just under $200, am I skimping on quality too much for the price?

I'm also in the market for a good old manual portrait lens. I have my eyes on the takumar 50mm 1.4, but would anyone be able to suggest something else? Unfortunately old manual lenses are really the only thing in my price range at the moment. Thanks guys

12-05-2012, 10:13 AM   #2
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You should consider a Softbox too. On your list, everything seems fine to me.
12-05-2012, 10:27 AM   #3
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Yep, that should be a great beginning + what Dave said - soft-box(es) for your flash(s).
12-05-2012, 10:32 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by mrNewt Quote
Yep, that should be a great beginning + what Dave said - soft-box(es) for your flash(s).
Yeap, if I had to choose only one because of my budget, umbrella or softbox. It would surely be softboxes, depending on how you set-up your softbox, the final product looks so much better than umbrellas imo.

12-05-2012, 10:37 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by LeDave Quote
Yeap, if I had to choose only one because of my budget, umbrella or softbox. It would surely be softboxes, depending on how you set-up your softbox, the final product looks so much better than umbrellas imo.
I like soft-boxes because they make you more "mobile". You can carry them with you and pop them on flash on remote locations.
With umbrellas you need stand ... you need to mount stuff on the stand ... etc.

Umbrellas for inside/studio, soft-boxes for anywhere, any-time .

OH, csmoore, you might want to add a reflector - 5 in 1!! you can use it in studio and on the go very easily (might even save you from buying to many speed-lights)!
12-05-2012, 10:49 AM   #6
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After googling soft boxes I see a plethora of options, lol. Could anyone recommend me a reliable one? Should I ditch the umbrella/stand mount and go for just a soft box? I have also planned to make some DIY reflectors
12-05-2012, 11:02 AM   #7
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The umbrella and the stand will work very well inside. If you could afford it, I would get it!
As for the soft-boxes, the wider the better (as long they don't need a stand by them-self ). Personally, I use something like this:

Amazon.com: Fotodiox 6"x8" Softbox for Nikon, Canon, Vivita, Sunpack, Nissin,Sigma, Sony, Pentax, Olympus, Panasonica Lumix Flash: Camera & Photo

One of these will be great as well:
Amazon.com: Opteka OSG14 1/4-Inch Universal Honeycomb Speed Grid for External Camera Flashes: Camera & Photo
(or you could make your own from straws )
12-05-2012, 11:10 AM   #8
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very nice! The ones I saw were all around $80 and I was a little hesitant..I can definitely pick up both of those though. Thanks a lot for the links

12-05-2012, 11:16 AM   #9
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Anytime!

One last suggestion!? Gels ... get a few gels that you can put on your speed-lights for different effects. Very useful when you try and bring color in situations where the light is very plain.
You will probably use the orange ones the most to mimic the sun light color.

Something like this:
Amazon.com: Rosco The Strobist Collection, Strobist 55 Piece Cinegel Filter Kit, 1.5x3.25" to fit most Shoe Mount Strobes.: Camera & Photo
12-05-2012, 12:17 PM   #10
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Don't get those small softboxes, they do very little, a larger shoot through umbrella would be better.

If you want a softbox, look at westcott, they have softboxes specially made for strobist and they fit inside an umbrella bracket, they arent cheap though but they work great.
I have one.
12-05-2012, 02:12 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
Don't get those small softboxes, they do very little, a larger shoot through umbrella would be better.
+1. I have two larger shoot through umbrellas. I can reflect for more contrasty light, or shoot through for softer light. And if I shoot through with my studio florescent lights rather than strobe, the light is really soft (which is good because I have to move the lights to within a couple meters of my subject or have really slow shutter speeds)
12-05-2012, 07:32 PM   #12
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Umbrellas are good for studio/indoors. For on-the-road soft-boxes are more usefull and easy to use.
12-06-2012, 06:26 AM   #13
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Pretty much, bigger is softer, smaller has more contrast. This is the reason so many flash users bounce their flash is because you can turn your ceiling or wall into a BIG light source. Itty-bitty 6 inch / 15cm by 8 inch / 20cm softboxes do indeed help over bare straight-on flash. But make no mistake, it is no match for the big studio size softboxes. Umbrellas are a compromise, but a very versitile compromise, especially for new photographers on a tight budge. They quickly open or collapse and are lightweight. They are inexpensive. The white shoot-through umbrellas can be used either as reflectors or shoot-through for full softness. They can also double as ambient light reflectors with no added lights. There are a LOT of holders available from a few dollars on up to mount umbrellas.

So to CSMOORE, my opinion is that small softboxes are indeed very portable. They are fine for improving family snapshots when you can't bounce the flash, or if you intend to do very mobile paparazzi style photography. But if you are looking for posed portrait or still life photography, you will be much better served with something that provides a much larger light source.
12-06-2012, 06:59 AM   #14
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I really don't see myself using the lights outside much. I'm also getting only one stand/speedlite for now, so I should be looking at getting a larger softbox? Also, as you guys have mentioned, I'll be able to use the umbrella that comes with the stand as a reflector, correct?
12-06-2012, 07:12 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by csmoore Quote
I really don't see myself using the lights outside much. I'm also getting only one stand/speedlite for now, so I should be looking at getting a larger softbox? Also, as you guys have mentioned, I'll be able to use the umbrella that comes with the stand as a reflector, correct?
If you don't want to spend a lot of money, and you will not use light outside much, stick with your umbrellas.
If you have money to spend, a soft-box is better than an umbrella ... if is larger in size (more expensive as well).

What umbrella are you getting?
White umbrella!? That will work like a soft-box. This will never work as a reflective umbrella.
Silver/Gold umbrellas!? Those will be reflective umbrellas. They will not work as soft-boxes/white umbrellas.
Or a dual-purpose umbrella!? Layers are removable to transform it from a reflective to white umbrella.

Lots of options .

I think the kit you are mentioning in your OP, is coming with a white umbrella, not a reflective umbrella.
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