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Thread: Homemade equipment

  1. #1

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    Joćo Navarrete

    Homemade equipment

    Hello,
    I am trying to do an experiment. I am going to make studio equipment with cheap materials and creative solutions and photograph with it. All the prices will be on my currency (Reais) because I live in Brasil but I will put the equivalent in dollars.

    First of all, I am doing an umbrella. It is almost ready, just need more paint that I am going to buy tomorrow.

    Materials:
    -Microphone pedestal (33 R$)
    -Umbrella (10 R$)
    -shoelaces (1 R$)
    -fluorescent lamp (10 R$)
    -Metalic spray paint (20 R$)

    Total: 74 R$ - US$ 39.2

    Homemade equipment
    Last edited by joaonavarrete; 27th April 2012 at 12:05 AM.

  2. #2
    Ludwig's Avatar
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    Ludwig Keck

    re: Homemade equipment

    Congratulations, that is a perfectly professional looking umbrella. The light from a fluorescent may not always provide correct color rendition, but if the results turn out ok that is all you need.

  3. #3

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    re: Homemade equipment

    Looks great - but if you're going to use that for portraiture, you'll probably end up with a shutterspeed of 1/4 second @ F8, and get subject motion and/or camera shake.

  4. #4
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    re: Homemade equipment

    I would suggest some sort of a reflector to beam the light into the umbrella.

    However, there are two problems with using continuous lights of any kind for portraiture.

    1. You don't get enough light with most continuous sources, such as you are using
    2. If you do get enough light for a decent shutter speed and aperture, the brightness is uncomfortable and will cause your subject to squint or otherwise have an unnatural expression.

  5. #5
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    re: Homemade equipment

    If you have an external flash for your camera, mount it in place of the lamp and you will have a decent light. As others have pointed out, the light source you are using is not going to work all that well.

  6. #6

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    re: Homemade equipment

    Hi, If you want to make a diffuser for portrait (and can be used for full length) Just get 4 X lengths of thin plastic (1" or 1 1/2")
    drainage pipe and cut to suit how tall and how wide you want the frame, to join just use the U bends of the same plastic, buy a sheet of white sail cloth, yep the same as used on small sailing boats fix it to the pipe frame and shoot through with a couple cheap flashes connected wireless. If you want to push it a little more source some black cotton cloth and make the frame with two sides,again have a look in the local DIY store for T pieces of plastic to enable the addition of the side frames. add the black cotton cloth so the light will go out to the left or right sides
    Russ

  7. #7
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    re: Homemade equipment

    Hi,
    By my reckoning you've spent about US$15 on an umbrella and paint. I have two issues with this; first if you collapse the umbrella the paint is liable to crack and peel off. Second, here in UK you can pick up a proper photographic umbrella (white or silver) for as little as GBP5 (about US$10) each. I'm sure if you look around you'll find similar bargains in Brazil.

  8. #8
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    re: Homemade equipment

    Just a final coment...

    I will usually fabricate a piece of equipment only if at least one or more of the following parameters is applicable...

    1. The equipment is unavailable as a commercial item
    2. The fabricated item is significantly less expensive than a like commercial item
    3. My fabricated item is better than those offered commercially

    Note, I will more frequently modify an existing commercial item to allow a better use...

  9. #9

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    Re: Homemade equipment

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Looks great - but if you're going to use that for portraiture, you'll probably end up with a shutterspeed of 1/4 second @ F8, and get subject motion and/or camera shake.
    I just purchased my first set of "studio" lights made by Cameron. The reflector is 10 inches and I got an umbrella as well. However, as a light source, I am using a Phillips Daylight temp compact florescent bulb 42W = 150W. The guys at the store was telling me that my bulb will not be enough, that I should purchase one of their bulbs. A tungsten bulb (don't know how many watts).

    Anyway, all this to say that I am always amazed at how our brain determines a "bright" light versus what a camera interprets as bright. It gives me a better appreciation for light meters.

  10. #10
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Homemade equipment

    Quote Originally Posted by cichlid View Post
    I just purchased my first set of "studio" lights made by Cameron. The reflector is 10 inches and I got an umbrella as well. However, as a light source, I am using a Phillips Daylight temp compact florescent bulb 42W = 150W. The guys at the store was telling me that my bulb will not be enough, that I should purchase one of their bulbs. A tungsten bulb (don't know how many watts).

    Anyway, all this to say that I am always amazed at how our brain determines a "bright" light versus what a camera interprets as bright. It gives me a better appreciation for light meters.
    It sounds to me like you have bought some continuous lights that are usually used video work (although they were used in the 1950's for studio work). I have some Lowel units that I use in video and I run at least a 500W halogen bulb in mine (and up to 1000 W) and use barn doors to shape the light a bit. They do get very, very hot and I have to wear heavy gloves to make adjustments, so that I don't burn my fingers.

    My guess is that you may be in for a rude surprise as the phosphors in CF lights tend to have a nasty green spike that our brain filters out, but our cameras pick up. I also suspect you will need to crank up the wattage of the bulbs a fair bit, unless you are just using the lights for supplemental work. CFs don't pump out a lot of lights, which is why the sales clerk in the store is recommending different bulbs. The old overrun photofloods bulbs might be of use as they are cheap, but you pay for the output through very short bulb life and variable colour temperature throughout their life cycle. You'll have to stay within the wattage rating of the lights.

    If you are looking at using hot lights for portraiture, be aware of a few problems with their use. If you are shooting with enough light to make a difference, your subject is likely to squint and their pupils are likely to be dilated. The upside is that you can see the impact of the lighting on your subject and how the shadows fall. If you are shooting objects, so long as you use a tripod and don't mind longer exposures, you might be okay.

  11. #11

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    Re: Homemade equipment

    Quote Originally Posted by cichlid View Post
    I just purchased my first set of "studio" lights made by Cameron. The reflector is 10 inches and I got an umbrella as well. However, as a light source, I am using a Phillips Daylight temp compact florescent bulb 42W = 150W. The guys at the store was telling me that my bulb will not be enough, that I should purchase one of their bulbs. A tungsten bulb (don't know how many watts).

    Anyway, all this to say that I am always amazed at how our brain determines a "bright" light versus what a camera interprets as bright. It gives me a better appreciation for light meters.
    I remember a shot I did of my daughter many years ago. I used two light stands - each with twin 500W halogen lights (so 2000 watts of power all together) (sure heated up the room nicely!). I used baking paper as a makeshift diffuser and I think that at F11 @ 100 ISO I had a shutterspeed of about 1/20th (I'll double-check if I get a chance)
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 30th April 2012 at 08:18 PM.

  12. #12

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    Raf

    Re: Homemade equipment

    ive used a couple of illuminated boxes used for signage.
    they only fit two 20 inch florescent tubes but that did the job nicely.
    i was going to use the translucent insert to make it a soft box but it blocked too much light so it had to go bare.

    i dont exactly remember the camera settings...ill post up when i see the photo/exif

  13. #13

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    Re: Homemade equipment

    Thanks for you input.
    At work we have 300W incandescence lights that burn things up nicely. Meaning, they get hot as you described. I was surprised to read that they are good for about 3hours.

    I am just not ready for fork out $900 CND (Elingchrom stuff) for some proper flash lighting.

    Erik

  14. #14

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    Re: Homemade equipment

    Quote Originally Posted by cichlid View Post
    Thanks for you input.
    At work we have 300W incandescence lights that burn things up nicely. Meaning, they get hot as you described. I was surprised to read that they are good for about 3hours.

    I am just not ready for fork out $900 CND (Elingchrom stuff) for some proper flash lighting.

    Erik
    Hi Erik,

    Elinchrome make "top shelf" stuff, but you can get "no name" stuff that will still work well for a fraction of that price (probably a couple of hundred dollars).

    The problem with continuous light (as Richard pointed out) is that it's usually a compromise; at one end it's cheap, but either too hot - spiky light - constricts pupils/blinds subjects or you get too low a shutterspeed (thus subject motion and/or camera shake) - problems with DoF - or noise (from high ISO compromises), whereas at the other end it's expensive.

    Just to give you a "contrast", you're talking about using 150 or 300W ... I have available an instantanious output in the region of 6,000,000 watts. Massive difference.

  15. #15
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    Re: Homemade equipment

    The JTL monolights are not the best studio flashes in the world but, they do the job. Here is one for $70 U.S. Dollars (I don't know what shipping or duty costs to your country would be).

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/JTL-Versalig...item4ab6a74d6e


    Used monolights can be a good buy also. Again, I don't know the intracacies of shipping internationally.

    I often see the JTL lights used on eBay for around $30 USD. They are small and can work for portraits. If you get better lights to use as your modeling or fill lights, you can always relegate these to hair and background lights. They are also nice for shooting with light tents....

    I have a pair of really old White Lightning WL-5000 monolights which I love for shooting my Maltese dogs. The quality of light they produce is superb for my dogs white coat when used with an inexpensive bounced or shoot through umbrella. I bought them used 20 years ago and paid $50 USD each.

    Homemade equipment

    Homemade equipment

    Amortized over the years, these lights have cost me right about twenty U.S. cents a month each to use. Paul C. Buff still carries parts such as flash tubes for these lights. They are like the Energizer Bunny, "They just keep going and going!"

  16. #16
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Homemade equipment

    These are the overrun bulbs I was referring to. Essentially what the manufacturer has done is to drastically increase the light output of these bulbs by sacrificing their life expectancy. The only problem to watch for with these bulbs (other than the very short life) is that their colour temperature changes fairly quickly over the life cycle so fairly frequent custom colour balance adjustments should be part of your workflow.

    As for cheap studio lights check out the Paul C Buff equipment; the Alien Bees line is quite popular and I've seen them offered on eBay on occassion. I've read some good reports on them. I have a pair of the Einstein E640s and find them better than some Profotos I've used in the past.

    http://www.paulcbuff.com/

  17. #17

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    Re: Homemade equipment

    Quote Originally Posted by joaonavarrete View Post
    Hello,
    I am trying to do an experiment. I am going to make studio equipment with cheap materials and creative solutions and photograph with it. All the prices will be on my currency (Reais) because I live in Brasil but I will put the equivalent in dollars.

    First of all, I am doing an umbrella. It is almost ready, just need more paint that I am going to buy tomorrow.

    Materials:
    -Microphone pedestal (33 R$)
    -Umbrella (10 R$)
    -shoelaces (1 R$)
    -fluorescent lamp (10 R$)
    -Metalic spray paint (20 R$)

    Total: 74 R$ - US$ 39.2

    Homemade equipment
    Here's a link you might find interesting. You will 'play' for hours perhaps

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