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Help me maximize my $$$$

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by shepx2, Jul 29, 2009.

  1. shepx2


    Oct 4, 2006
    Dallas, TX
    I want to put together a small home studio. I currently have a D80, SB600 and morris softbox, a 5/1 westcott reflector and reflector stand, and the impact 2 piece kit of lightstands/umbrellas.

    I'm leaning on staying small and portable, but not a requirement. I would like a background stand, background lights, and a hair light.

    This will be used for family pictures, focusing on smaller children.

    My budget is $600.

    What would you get if you were in my place?

    Thanks for any input!!1
  2. Ken,

    It appears you have one speedlight, an SB-600. If you are looking to stay light and portable, I would stick to getting one or two more speedlights (a SB-900 or SB-800 and SB-600) and another umbrella. That way you can have a two (prime/fill) with reflector or a three (prime/fill/BG or hair) light portable setup.

    I'm pretty certain the D80 has commander mode, you can control your flashes with that if you don't mind menu diving.

    This is light and most certainly portable.

    I hope this helps. Good luck to you. :smile:
  3. Yep, you'll need a couple more speedlights. I'd suggest looking for a used SB-800, as it will act as a commander. A second (used) 600 will be a hair light, but since you have a reflector I think you should be able to get by without it.

    For the stands, check out the Impact brand from B&H. They're relatively inexpensive and lightweight. A good value for the $$$.

    I'd also suggest some kind of diffuser. You can get an Alzo softbox on ebay for a reasonable price. I'd also suggest this speedlight kit - particularly for using the speedlight in the hotshoe.
  4. I would suggest getting a couple more speedlights too, a couple umbrellas, maybe a softbox, and a couple diffusers.
  5. Like others have already mentioned, you'll need more flashes if you want to have a 2 or 3 point lighting kit.

    Other than the SB-800 and SB-900, you can look at getting some older SB flashes or maybe look at Matz or Vivitar. They will only work in manual for you and you'll need to figure out ways to trigger them (optical will probably be the cheapest). You'll have to read up on the options as I'm not familiar with these myself.

    Another option, though far more expensive than your current budget is would be to save up for something like an Elinchrom Quadra. Ok, right of the bat, it's $1,495 for a single head or $2,200 for a two head kit (according to BHPhoto). But, you'll have a more powerful system and you'll be able to use all the awesome light source modifiers that Elinchrom sells (softboxes, beauty dishes, etc.). The Quadra is very portable as well.

    Basically, if you think you'll get more into studio work (even if it's portable), you might be better of saving and just getting right into it rather than collecting a ton of gear that will be useless once you do.
  6. chemisti


    May 24, 2007
    McKinney, TX
    My Kit (knowing now what I wish I knew then)...

    IMHO - manual is the only way to go on a tight budget.

    My early (and very, very cheap) strobist studio:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Shot with that exact setup:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Shot with mostly the same equipment (different flashes) on location:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    2 LumoPro flashes - designed specifically for the "Strobist" followers to give all the features you need and none you don't. $260

    An optical slave/shoe combination to turn your SB-600 into a "manual slave" flash

    A couple of good cold shoes that you will love to ensure your flashes stay on the stands and protect your investment: $14 ($7 each).

    This very highly regarded starter kit (stands, convertible umbrellas, etc. with case) $150

    Complete background system: $169

    Lets see:
    $260 + $16 + $14 + $150 + $169 = $610

    Everything here is stuff I have used, own, or would buy based upon a lot of research. All of the vendors have good reputations. This equipment combined with what you already have would be a very versatile and dependable kit. But I couldn't quite get you there for $600 (and no shipping)...

    All you lack is a triggering system, batteries, and a backdrop.

    Batteries: Ultimately, I really like rechargables - but you can go to Cosco or Sam's and get a lot of AAs (and a lot of flashes) for ~$15 until you can move to rechargables (good ones, not the cheapies from Walmart)!

    Backdrop - a lot of creative photographers have found cool backdrops in the remnant pile at the local fabric store for just a few $$$.

    Triggering system:
    Probably a lot of discussion here.
    I would probably consider this kit (which has a decent reputation with Strobist followers):
    Kit (receiver + transmitter): $40
    Additional receiver: $24

    Advantages to this kit:
    Very versatile 3 light kit.
    Good quality from reputable vendors.
    2 Convertible umbrellas (can be used as shoot-through or conventional)
    Case with stand kit can probably accomodate an additional stand and umbrella.
    A couple of Home Depot clamps ($5) can help you hold the reflector.
    Lots of GN (or watt seconds) for the price.
    Extremely light weight and mobile for the price.
    Shipping charges not included (might take total up to ~$700.
    With a few home-made modifiers (snoots, gobos, and bounce cards), you are in business.

    Whew - I'm tired.

    Seriously, if I was where you are, this is the kit I would assemble to meet the goals I think you want to meet.
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