FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 1
Many of us are what I call affectionately gear nerds ok say that in the most loving way possible cause I'm definitely one of those at times on what I wanted to get to with some of the questions I saw over and over and over again yesterday with all about and our own and I don't have any of this stuff I don't own any of this gear what do I buy what's the differences which is better what's, cheaper like that whole realm of I don't own this so what direction do I go? So what I'm going to do as I'm going to start off this morning with the ten questions I get asked the most related to purchasing studio lighting gear and this is going to cover your questions like continuous light versus strobes what can I do with speed lights? How many life so I really need what modifier if I could only afford one and so that all of those questions are going to be in this morning? So if there's any questions related to the topics that I'm on a pause after everyone just know that there's endless different bran...
ds and everything for every different brand is slightly different, so I am going to generalize but all this information is out there on the way wonderful world of the internet okay, all right, so let's get started with those questions question number one okay, question I get all the time which is better strobes or constantly and constantly is also known as continuously you will see that I am using strobes and let me talk about the differences here constantly a t a k a continuous means they don't flash it could be constant fluorescent lights it could be led lights there also something called h of my lights. So basically you are just shooting as if it were natural, like the same way you would if you shoot with africa priority you could do so with constant lights. All of those rules that we talked about yesterday as far as the shutters speed not really mattering as much how the aperture controls your exposure and all of those things that strobe output it's a little bit different with continuous lights. Typically you can turn them up and down in their output, but you don't have as much range as you do with a studio strobe and then we'll talk about the upsides and downsides, and I will answer the question right away for me it's studio strobes but they have seen tons of amazing photographer shoot with constant light so let's kind of dive into this. All right, so these are the benefits of the two side by side, one of the benefits of constantly is what you see is what you get especially if you're may be just beginning and photography and it's hard for you to kind of see lighting patterns and you don't quite understand what modifiers to you when you're shooting with constant light you're seeing exactly what that and photo looks like. Where is with a strobe? It does look different once a stroke misfires, the different qualities like sometimes is different intensity, so it is a little bit easier sometimes to start there also, it tends to be easier. This is kind of a generalization but tends to be easier to shoot narrow down the field they can turn those lights down really low and she really, really wide apertures. Depending on which drugs you have, it could be a little bit more challenging to achieve the same thing with a stroke also constantly, if you shoot any type of video at all, it has to be constant like so maybe in your business part of the business model is you do engagement videos or maybe you do head shots with a little bit of an interview that goes up on the website for that subject. If you have strobes, it doesn't give you as much flexibility so constantly would let you film video and then also it's a little easier to get a subtle kick of constant light when mixing with ambient so let's say that you are shooting with window light and you want to shoot really wide open, and all you want is just a little bit of filled in the shadows. You can do it with strokes, but it starts to be a little bit more complicated because you know, you're thinking ok, so I gotta change my shutter speed so that it's opening up too much. And can I turn this and there's all these different variables that you start juggling with? By the way, if you want tio, learn about those variables, I did a class called location lighting one on one, and that was one of the days that we did of but with the wisconsin late, you can just take a little bit of kick. All right? Perfect. We're going to take a little bit of kick of light and add it in alright with strobes, here's some of the benefits you can overpower the ambient light and what I mean by that is I'm not even talking on location, but in a room like this, if I'm shooting with constant lights, ones that aren't flashing ones that aren't strobing, I'm probably going to have a lot of influence from those lights I'm treating is what I see is what I get. Even if this is a constantly, I'm going to see the lights from the studio on my subjects face so there's a lot more things you have to start controlling. So you're shooting in a space with a lot of window light or a lot of fluorescent light it's hard overpower that with the constant life, but it's pretty easy to do so with strokes, so it kind of depends on what you're shooting. You can also get a lot more output if I am trying to light a church because I'm a wedding photographer and I have the whole wedding party. Therefore a photograph constantly is not going to be the way to go. You can't get enough oomph to fill up that whole room. That's a benefit of stroke there tend to be better modifiers by better I mean, more more variety, more flexibility of modifiers for strobes. Then there are constantly, constantly as you start, and they did. You have soft boxes for constantly, and I'll show you an example of a brand that has that but constantly since or use more on movies there have a lot more like scrims, and a lot more bigger sets that you build using constant lights just isn't the same variability of modifiers, and then I also find strobes it's easier to control ratios. And what I mean is if I have a subject sitting and I have a main light here and I have a back like hitting the subs it's hair sometimes depending on what constantly you have, they don't have that much range about put and if I want this one to be extremely chris, but I want it to be really, really bright and I want to turn out sometimes like in a small space, I can't back it up enough, I just have more range of where I can put the output in a strobe and therefore it's easier, I don't have to think as much about distances and how am I going to get these to balance out? So I usually go towards the realm of strobe, so these are some of the downsides of constantly so we've we've gone through some of these already, but just to summarize what some of the things you watch out for, you can get high output and I don't want any of the of my gear savvy friends out there and say we'll know how they light and movies with constant lights clearly you can get high output you can you just really pay for it like, really pay for thousands and thousands of dollars to get a similar output of what you would get from a strobe at times and that would be something called a gym eyes there's a gym eyes that they use for movie lighting there's ten k's in twenty k's this's a one of ones were staying far away from those it's also often more difficult to photograph groups here's the reason why you can't get quite as much output from a constant like so if I have my lovely audience here let's say there's one more stack of audience behind you guys I will based on that death I should probably be shooting at minimum five six probably f eight but I want you all evenly lit and one of the things we talked about yesterday is to get even lighting I have to have the light about equal distant away from everybody so it's nice and even and I can't have that far off to one side I can't have it really close could well be in my shot, which means I've got to back it up and make it centered which means the light falls off it loses some of its strength by the time it reaches you. So if it's a constant like I'm not going to be able to get teo fate or f eleven is easily or I might have to have multiple lights to get that much light and so is getting complicated as expensive the strobes that would be a downside to be aware of and I talked about the fewer modifiers harder to control ratios and the last part is you start to worry about camera blur that you didn't have to work worry about four of shaking from long shutter speeds because let's say that you don't quite have enough output in orderto like this group, but I need to shoot ethics. I need that that death, the field, so one of the things I can do is I can say to bump up my eyes so and go with a longer shutter speed let more light in with a constant like something that's, not flashing, but all of a sudden if I wiggle and I was shooting at a sixty for the second, no, my picture might be blurry. I don't have to worry about that with studio strobes, because studio strobes and they slash it, freezes you all in place perfectly have a lot more output to freeze you and get you at a fate, and so that would be a consideration if you shoot groups. That thing said constantly aren't bad. A lot of people we'll use constantly it's for photographing children and babies newborns. One of the things is what you see is what you get, but I remember when I was photographing, I did at one point shoot newborns and children, I don't see that anymore, but when I did do that I understand what have this where the baby's didn't like the flashing lights and actually hurt their eyes and so it was better if I just ended up using the modeling lights on my strobe instead of actually is and the strobes because it hurt their eyes and so if you're shooting primarily newborns and children, then you just have to know the limitations of the gear but you can absolutely still get beautiful quality of like so hopefully you're taking a look at the type of things you shoot if you're doing groups or bigger spaces, you're definitely going to want to have strobes if you're just photographing really close head shots or maybe newborns and maybe a constant light would be a good fit for you. Look, you're a couple constantly solutions that you might want to look at probably one that I see used muse most commonly would be the westcott spider lights with a td six is and this is what they look like they're fluorescent bulbs and they make soft boxes and strip lights and all these different modifiers that go on them and their constant fluorescent they our daylight balance so you can actually balance them with window light if you want to just a little bit of phil on this is also good maybe if you're doing ah boudoir video and it's all that by window light and you just want a little bit of kick you could do that with spider lights, so those are very popular in the movie industry. They were constant fluorescent lights, they use kino flows, and those are banks of light was trying to see if we actually haven't in here, we don't have any in the second row. V o that won one of these, maybe there, they often will use them for situations like these, and they're just tubes. They're just bulbs that are fluorescent, but they're not like the ones that are in the ceilings that air flicker and have the weird color. They are more constant. They don't actually have the flicker to them or very minimal. And then the last one that you guys might have seen his ring lights, right? This constant fluorescent ring lines these don't usually have that much power output. I mean, you know, created the spider lake on the t. V six is you can get a bunch of light, but like I said, not enough to light a room not enough to light the whole group. Ok, the next type of constant lights would be ladies and led technology is getting so much better for so much more output for with, like, much more power efficiency, so this is something that's starting to be more useful, westcott has something called the sky lux that is it looks like a strobe but it's not it doesn't fire it's just led very abilities they also have light panels that you can use for something like this they tend to not have the modifiers for it yet right now a lot of them are just panels so it does restrict you but you can get a lot more light especially if you're in a tight space one of these larger led panel's if you defuse it like I feel like these air led panel's right up there those air levy panels and that's a whole lot out put on me when you get the ones that are really good you pay for it so you're getting back to that whole balance and then the ones that you really pay for but that are awesome r h demise and they have a great deal of output, so I'm obsessed with these ones the's particular ones they're made by pro photo and they're called pro photo pro daylight's but they're several thousand for one of the little packs in the heads for one light, so it depends on if that fits into what you shoot and basically they look just like the strobes that we're using but they're constantly and they put out a lot of output that you could get different wattage and it's daylight balance and it's beautiful and my favorite part is this is an exception where I can put any of my pro photo modifiers on this constant light I can add a beauty dish works exactly the same I cannot a strip what I can add barn doors so when I'm hired to do video production I rent these because I have a bigger budgets, a bigger production and the reason why is I'm not trained in video I'm not trained in and how cinematography works for lighting so this is just like photography I throw on the same lot of fires and comfortable with the rules are the same that would be something to look at as well. So let's talk about the other side I told you about the reasons that I like strobes and then why I've been pushing those there are some downsides if you're a new photographer if you're one or one photographer you do have to learn some new concepts he has to kind of understand some of the output and although the concepts of inverse square law are the same with constant you can see it with stroke you got to think about it more and it becomes a little bit more complicated. Another downside is there are some really inexpensive constant lights for entry level sometimes strobes could be a little bit more expensive but I will give you some tips on how to save money or not have the most expensive here and then it I can definitely be more difficult to shoot it really wide at critters when I shoot constant like a lot of times I could doubt the light down two two point eight two point out one point four even depending on what studio strobe you purchased, it could be very difficult if not almost impossible in your space to shoot with a studio strobe at one point four or two pointing and so I'm going to talk about how to choose a studio strobe if you do want to shoot really wide open some of the things that you're looking forward making those decisions so the downsides of strobe but really the benefits is just more just in general if you've got more output, more control, more modifiers, more flexibility it's just maurine general I got more like to kick out there more lot modifiers to choose from more control in the ratios ever everything so if your control freak for sure go for strokes or if you just want to have more flexibility, which is both reasons for may so questions on that real quick and I could go to the folks at home, lindsay and one person says, when I first started out I bought some really cheap continuous lights and basically in a tin can that holds three light bulbs could you? What bulbs could you use even if if that you were in that scenario so what's a good point and john cornyn cello and I were talking about this yesterday is lay is light a lot of times it depends on how you modify it so something like that, you know, whatever bold you have would work fine it's just there in a silver tin, so it's going to be contrast on the skin so you could find a way to defuse it, take a diffusion panel or a white bed sheet and hold it in front, and all of a sudden it hits that and it spreads out the downsides ours they probably don't have as much output, so when it hits that sheet, everything gets really dark, so you get to kind of work around it, but joking, but serious. When I first started out, I start off with hot lights, they were tungsten, but they weren't really because they were old and I I don't remember who even got them from, and so I shot a lot of black really that's what we're talking about is like it's, not ideally what you want to do, but if you were in a pinch latest light, if you pay attention to the direction of like find a way to defuse it, bring it closer, it's just you might not be able to control the color the way you'd want absolutely, yeah, go ahead uh question the pro photos that you're talking about if you put a modifier what kind of what's the extreme without pushing your eyes so really high on your shutter speed and your f stop sure these particular ones if you look them up they come in different watt output so there's four hundred eight hundred there's even one above that I don't know if it goes to a thousand or sixteen hundred I was shooting on ad last week that was a video piece or maybe two weeks ago and I had the eight hundred and I was shooting them turned down almost the entire time and I had a huge parabolic umbrella on them so it really depends on the wattage that you choose you can get a ton of output from them you just pay for your investing in it okay cool all right so this is a question that I get endlessly and what you need to do is you need to take a look at what new photograph what are your needs because there's different answers on what wattage strobe do I need so what does what mean and wattage I what I was trying to explain this originally I looked up all the definitions and really you know it means how much light can your stroke kick out that's all you really need to know there's more fancy examples and definitions just how strong is that light and you might hear something like what seconds? But what? It just means output, how big is that bucket? How much water? How much light can throw? And if you didn't see yesterday I talked a lot about light like water it's the easy analogy to start giving an idea of how light functions, what you do need to know, and this is so was it of what I originally thought when I was purchasing light? I thought more is better. Higher wattage is better because you know, that tends to be more is better that's kind of what we generally think it can actually cause you huge problems if you buy really, really high wattage output for your strobes or your packs. So when explain what that means, you can have too little light and you can to have too much like this is what you have to figure out, kind of what you're photographing, all right, when you would need higher wattage, mohr output more light to toss at the scene would be these things if you photograph big groups and I'm not talking about four, five people or six, I'm talking about if you're photographing twenty or thirty, so you've got a back that light up really far to more evenly led a group or your lighting really big spaces. Churches, gymnasiums whatever it may be because you've got to have a lot more light to light those scenes also outdoors or on location when you're trying to overpower a lot of ambient light. Okay, so gosh yourself, all right, so do I shoot those things? Might I need higher output or can I stick with lower output and so here's when you would want on a far lower end of the scale if you are in a tiny space, a small, small space and my very first studio space after my parents living room wass it was like twelve feet wide, seventeen feet deep with eight to eight and a half foot feelings, so I was in and this was a tight space, which I made a mistake and I bought giant giant modifiers, which I then couldn't move they had to stay in one place I had no way to move them, so we'll talk about that tomorrow, which I wish I had known this back when I was purchasing light, but if you're in a small space, you do not want to have a lot of power and you're like because what ends up happening is you can't turn that light down far if it doesn't work and studio strobes where it's zero to one hundred it's not like you could turn them down to barely on, usually they have a stop range and so if you were in a small space and you have a ton of what is a ton of light even when it's turned down all the way because you don't have your light real close because he wanted to be soft we talked about the bigger it is relative the subject this after the light you might be shooting f sixteen as eleven and then if you would love to be able to shoot wider open it won't happen especially in those smaller spaces and then the other reason is related to that that depth of field if you have a tine of light you can't turn it down far enough a lot of wattage you can't turn down far enough field to shoot really wide open but I've said a ton of wattage and not a lot what does that mean? What it like one of those numbers so I do have some things and not one other thing you want to put on your list if you're going to purchase light is you want to check out their range of output not just the highest number for example if a light this one is five hundred watt seconds ok, I do need to know how much I can kick I want to have a lot of late but how far down can I turn it and that helps me figure out if I'm going to be of the shoot wide open or in small spaces so take a look and you'll usually see it where it says like five stop range nine stock range nine means you can turn it way up and way down a huge range of light and will often actually say if you look into the tech specs turned all the way down how little of a wanted you can get and then what's the maximum they don't actually tell you that range this is what you want to keep in mind. All right, what are you lighting if you are lighting a small space which would be maybe relating newborns or head shots in a tiny space somewhere between one sixty and four hundred but that's not going to do you good? If you're trying to go outside and or go to the purge in like the whole church, I won't be enough, but you don't want to go over this four hundred realm because you're not going to be able to shoot wide open and in a small space so someplace there which is lucky for you if you do shoot that because it will be less expensive les waas wattage costs less money next one is mid side studio like you've got a little bit of space to work with, like pretend that there was a wall right over here okay like this, this is a nice mid size studio ceilings are nice and high but it's not huge but it's good size I would recommend somewhere in the medium range three hundred I for sure wouldn't go over six hundred you did I can't think of any time when you would need to go that high so really even lower than that but if you're trying to multi purpose if you know you know what sometimes I do go out on location then you could push to that range larger spaces you're going to want five hundred watts and they can go up to a thousand I've had a thousand watts strobes that I found very frustrating to work within a studio space because I could never turn them down far enough to even shoot a f eight when I was using silver dish is the contrast the modifiers that focus the light has the time shooting at like sixteen or twenty two and that's not where I wanted to be, so having something like a thousand watt is if you know it's huge groups on location and then the same thing is when you're outdoors when you gotta kick light really far away or when you're trying to overpower the ambient light and it's really, really bright that's when a thousand what would be useful because if you have not much light not much water to throw, you barely notice it outside you've got have a lot of light to kick in if you're trying to overpower the sunlight, for example, so these are all some considerations. You want to have somewhere in this range of the closest all purpose. And I say that like loosely, but the closest all purpose is somewhere in the four hundred to five hundred watt. Because I can work in a relatively small space, I might not be able to shoot totally wide open, like with a five hundred. Like we got this five hundred watt. Second one right here. Yesterday we were able to shoot at two point eight. I was able to turn it all the way down, and so I could actually shoot wide open in a small space. But this strobe has good variable power. That's like that thing I said you want to look for in your stroke, how far down can you turn it? And this one I was able to turn down many stops have just that little kick of like, and then if it's at five hundred, I can still take it on location. Turn it up full power. I can still get quite a nice kick the pro photo be ones I'll mention in a minute, but they're basically these lights but their run on a battery so you can take them out on location. The ones that I have a five hundred watt and I can do pretty well the shoot in the middle of the day and get enough light but I'm shooting with it turned all the way up or much higher, which in my lighting one of my location lighting one on one class we talked about like how that affects battery life and all that stuff different conversation so two things that you might want to take a look at one would be a brand that I'll mention repeatedly as one o one a good starting place for light would be pulse e buff and they have a bunch of different brands underneath them they have something called the alien beings which is there least expensive line then they have something called einstein's and so in this four hundred five hundred watt second you can get the einstein six forty I've got that one or what I shoot is the pro photo d ones there's so many different brands it's kind of on you to figure out what you like with these are the two that I have shot and then I'm pretty happy with uh this a tip that's a little bit confusing to watch out for alien bees referred tio there have one it's called the b eight hundred it's not eight hundred watts even if they put a number in the name, it doesn't mean it's the watch second the eight hundred is actually three hundred twenty one seconds, so just like actually go ahead and go into the dumb tech specs and take a look and, like, really read it and you'll get information like this, you can dial this down to almost nothing ten seconds up to three twenty, so that has a lot of good variability power and I can get up to three twenty, which is what I said I could definitely get away with in the small to midsize studio space might not be enough to let a group, but it's definitely going to take care of all of this or a big group, I mean, let's. See if you guys have any questions on that one so far. Looking at my lovely I don't feel like smiling and like, ok, let's, go to the folks at home. Lindsay joe killing bob brink says, is their stroke that goes from one, sixty two, five hundred for small to medium size studio space. Or would you need to purchase two if you want that range? Ok, so good question, and I want to clarify something then. All right, when you purchase tropes when you and and by the way we're going to get to this next there's pack and then there's um, individual strobes, you'll see numbers like it'll say this is four hundred watts this is five hundred watts this is eight hundred watts this's six forty like it says on it and that's its maximum amount of output and then that variability of output that's what you'd get in the tech specs you can see how much range it will say how far up you can dial it down hard how low you can put the power so when for that question this is not a type of stroke book it won't say one sixty two, four hundred I'm just saying when you're looking at the head it should have a no more number somewhere between one sixty on it or two hundred or four hundred so just want to make sure I clarified that and then and then if you look at it expects you can get something that would have that range you just got to pick a light that can dial down far enough so this is this is like this is why I'm happy with this particular stroke I can maybe get it down to the power of one sixty but I can get it down pretty low it's great and so that kind of also clarifies the when you say this is from act mark cui's coming okay when you say that one sixty two, four hundred watts would that be the power per head or for the whole set? Okay, so that's going to be answered a little bit more when I talk about the difference between packs and head but that would be the head but it could be the path we're going we're going to get to your racks and head yeah, we'll get a little bit more okay that's great yeah if you were trying to balance the outdoor light and strobe outside and there was a lot of backlight and you wanted to get the portrait in the right exposure what would you recommend as faras? Wattage is concerned. So if it's let's assume it's not exactly direct like direct sunlight for direct sunlight like if you're trying to overpower direct sunlight you need something and a higher range but still it like this three to six hundred you can balance with like a window behind them you could definitely balance with that will put um I mean, what do you think would be the minimum you could do that with john? You could probably still get away with it. It depends on what modifier how far away from the light you want and how great today yeah, you're going to use a big modifier can you get the lighting closes at a full length? It is a close support head and shoulders portrait if you wanted to get the sky in the background or if you had a lot of lighting in the back with that kind of I think if you're going for a bus, you could get the look of soft box in pretty close, so even the low range of someone in the four hundred range probably, and I think that's an awesome point, so okay, how it works and that's fantastic is when when you thank you, john, when you have any of these numbers, these air just amount of water in that bucket, but as soon as you put a modifier in front film of that water can't reach your subject, and then you still got to consider your distance more water is going to hit new clothes. So these numbers well, something like that it's going to make a huge difference, how close you can be or what modifiers you're using. So for that really small wattage, if that's all you have and trying to balance it with ambient light, as long as you can get really close and don't use a modifier with a ton of diffusion to it that cuts out a lot of light that helps you so it's not like that's straight forward, you've got to kind of the nagel how you're using the like.