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Thread: Equipment for home based studio

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    Markvetnz's Avatar
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    Equipment for home based studio

    I have read Colin's posts on portraiture and I would appreciate any advice on exactly what I would need to set up a studio at home. I don't want to go totally overboard, but money is not a major issue. I would rather spend a bit more in the beginning and get it mostly right from the start. I currently have all the lenses I need and a 580EX II.

    Thanks in advance
    Mark

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    Re: Equipment for home based studio

    Hi Mark,

    Just wondering if you've seen my recent reply to Brian here?

    It would be helpful if you could give me an idea (or post a photo) of the area you have to work with - how dark it is - what kinds of things you'd like to be shooting etc. It's my personal belief that studios need studio lighting, not speedlites - and if money isn't an overly great concern then something that you can adjust and control from the camera will make life easier (eg start with a pair of Elinchrom BXRi and a skyport transmitter).

    If you're still on the same phone number, I can get Peter from Apix to give you a call (and hopefully some sharp pricing).

    The other thing I do like to stress though is that the lighting is just one part ... light modifiers are another ... backdrops and stands are another ... and that's just the beginning. I started out with 2 lights - then discovered I needed 3 for some looks - then discovered I needed a couple more for get another look (you can tie up 2 lights quite easily just lighting while seamless paper so that it's white and not grey).

    Not something everyone needs right away, but something to keep in mind. Have you considered jumping on a plane and popping down to have a look at my setup? (pretty cheap if "grab-a-seat" is playing ball!)

  3. #3

    Re: Equipment for home based studio

    Mark

    You can use Speedlites (flash guns) but it's an expensive way to do it. I have two Speedlites as well as a 2-head studio kit, and you can use them together (they fire each other if you have the right set-up). Better to get a decent studio head kit. There are some good ones on offer these days as it's become more popular in the past few years. Elinchrom are excellent, but there are other, cheaper ones, which may suit your budget more. But bear in mind, these lights last for years, especially with light use (no pun), so it may not be the best thing to go for the cheapest. You may have them for a long time, and you want to be happy with the kit you buy. With a kit, you can also get a lot of the modifiers you will need.

    You can use the light's for macro and table-top still life as well as portrait.

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    Re: Equipment for home based studio

    I know nothing of home studios except what I read on the web, but Zack Arias's white seamless tutorial seems to be a good look at what a studio setup can entail.

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    Re: Equipment for home based studio

    Quote Originally Posted by inkista View Post
    I know nothing of home studios except what I read on the web, but Zack Arias's white seamless tutorial seems to be a good look at what a studio setup can entail.
    That was a fun read ... been there, cussed that too

    The only thing I picked up on was the popular misconception that one needs to over-expose the white seemless by around 1.5 stops; if one is using white cloth then we do need to nuke of by a could of stops to "iron out the crinkles", but with white seemless you only need about 1/3 of a stop because (a) it's a highlight anyway (and thus gets shifted to pure white in PP), and (b) you start to get bleeding around the fine detail, especially in the hair.

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    Re: Equipment for home based studio

    I definitely second Colin and Rob's advice to begin with studio strobes instead of trying to mull around attempting to jury-rig hotshoe flashes to use in a studio. For portable, run around shooting, nothing beats one or two hotshoe flashes used on a flash bracket. However for studio use, despite the Strobist propaganda, the "real" studio strobe beats the modified hotshoe flash hands down.

    1. The studio strobe is equipped with a modeling light which allows you WYSIWYG (a computer term standing for what you see is what you get) capability. With the hotshoe flash, you are shooting blind. Yes, I know that Canon hotshoe flashes have a multi-flash output that is touted to simulate WYSIWYG with a modeling light but, that is no way as capable as the modeling light of a true studio strobe.
    2. The studio strobe is built to fit on a light stand and to accept light modifiers such as umbrellas or soft-boxes without using extra accessories.
    3. The studio strobes are generally a LOT more powerful than the hotshoe flashes.
    4. The studio strobes are powered by A/C current (in most cases although there are battery powered models available) instead of comparatively weak AA batteries. This allows a constant recycle time instead of the unit taking longer and longer to recycle as the batteries become weaker with use.
    5. Studio strobes can use radio triggers but also generally have built-in optical slave sensors.
    6. You can often get a very decent set of studio strobes at or below the price of using a set of dedicated Canon hotshoe flashes.

    Studio strobes are available in a wide range of brands and models. I suggest that a person buy a well-known brand of strobe rather than get the less expensive Chinese no-name models usually available new on eBay. Although these might be fine for the very occasional shooter, the brand name strobes will very likely be better built and the manufacturer will probably support the units with spare parts. This was quite important for me because I have a portable set of three German made Multiblitz studio monolights in a suitcase size traveling case. I accidentally broke a flash tube in one of the strobes. Even though these lights have been out of production for years, I was able to obtain a replacement.

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    Markvetnz's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment for home based studio

    Thanks for the advice guys. I will definitely go the studio strobe way. Colin, I'll PM you about popping down to Nelson sometime.

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    Markvetnz's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment for home based studio

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Mark,

    Just wondering if you've seen my recent reply to Brian here?

    It would be helpful if you could give me an idea (or post a photo) of the area you have to work with - how dark it is - what kinds of things you'd like to be shooting etc. It's my personal belief that studios need studio lighting, not speedlites - and if money isn't an overly great concern then something that you can adjust and control from the camera will make life easier (eg start with a pair of Elinchrom BXRi and a skyport transmitter).

    If you're still on the same phone number, I can get Peter from Apix to give you a call (and hopefully some sharp pricing).

    The other thing I do like to stress though is that the lighting is just one part ... light modifiers are another ... backdrops and stands are another ... and that's just the beginning. I started out with 2 lights - then discovered I needed 3 for some looks - then discovered I needed a couple more for get another look (you can tie up 2 lights quite easily just lighting while seamless paper so that it's white and not grey).

    Not something everyone needs right away, but something to keep in mind. Have you considered jumping on a plane and popping down to have a look at my setup? (pretty cheap if "grab-a-seat" is playing ball!)
    Colin - I read the post on lighting and that's what got me thinking. The room I intend using is about 4.5 x 3.5 (not feet for those in the US). It has quite a large window but that can be blocked out. No direct sunlight falls on the window at all. I'll be using the room for portrait shots.

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    Re: Equipment for home based studio

    Quote Originally Posted by Markvetnz View Post
    Colin - I read the post on lighting and that's what got me thinking. The room I intend using is about 4.5 x 3.5 (not feet for those in the US). It has quite a large window but that can be blocked out. No direct sunlight falls on the window at all. I'll be using the room for portrait shots.
    Hi Mark,

    Got your PM - I'll text you my number shortly. That's actually quite small for a studio, although a lot of Pros have similar sizes to work with. It just makes life a bit more "interesting" with light spilling over between zones.

    Yep, I'll be around in Feb - so not a problem

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    Re: Equipment for home based studio

    Quote Originally Posted by Markvetnz View Post
    Colin - I read the post on lighting and that's what got me thinking. The room I intend using is about 4.5 x 3.5 (not feet for those in the US). It has quite a large window but that can be blocked out. No direct sunlight falls on the window at all. I'll be using the room for portrait shots.
    Ceiling Height ?
    How many? (people“Portrait shots” at once)

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 4th January 2011 at 06:12 AM.

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    Re: Equipment for home based studio

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    Ceiling Height ?
    How many? (people“Portrait shots” at once)

    WW
    Bill

    Ceiling height is 2.7m. The room isn't huge Colin but I risk my life if I take another room. I already have the main lounge for hifi. SWMBO might get a bit antsy. I could use our garage which is about 9 x 6.5 but it gets really hot in there and with extra lighting it could be a bit uncomfortable.

    Cheers
    mark

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment for home based studio

    . . . and the max. number of People, in any one Portrait?

    WW

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    Re: Equipment for home based studio

    Quote Originally Posted by Markvetnz View Post
    Ceiling height is 2.7m. The room isn't huge Colin but I risk my life if I take another room. I already have the main lounge for hifi. SWMBO might get a bit antsy. I could use our garage which is about 9 x 6.5 but it gets really hot in there and with extra lighting it could be a bit uncomfortable.
    I hate to say it Mark, but the garage sounds like a much better option space wise. The lights shouldn't add a lot of heat, and (a) it's only an issue for 3 or 4 months of the year, and (b) you could put in a 2nd hand heat pump for $1500 anyway.

    If you like, we can map out your size when you get here, but I normally have about 4.5m between model and backdrop ... and you still need several more meters between you and the model. I'm not saying it can't be done, but I do think it'll be very limiting as to what you can do. Sucks I know, but that's just the way it is.

    Have you seen the photo I put up of my studio?

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment for home based studio

    The Length of the Garage would serve greatly, no matter how many people.

    There is a particular advantage to be able to move further back.

    The main and distinct advantage is the distance between the Subject and the Background, whilst keeping the Perspective (Shooting Distance) and Field of View (Focal Length of Lens) required for the shot.

    The ability to increase (or decrease) the Subject to Background distance at will has two major benefits: the first being the actual distance to the backdrop background or props; the second being the availability of space for top, side and back lighting.

    WW

    BTW Merry New Year ALL

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    Re: Equipment for home based studio

    Bugger! Looks like it might be the garage then. It also has a much smaller window which can be blocked out easily. Also much easier to move a few cars than all the wife's exercise gear. It'll also force me to give it a coat of paint which is long overdue .

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    Re: Equipment for home based studio

    Quote Originally Posted by Markvetnz View Post
    Bugger! Looks like it might be the garage then. It also has a much smaller window which can be blocked out easily. Also much easier to move a few cars than all the wife's exercise gear. It'll also force me to give it a coat of paint which is long overdue .
    You can tell her from me that size IS important, when it comes to studios!

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    Re: Equipment for home based studio

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    You can tell her from me that size IS important, when it comes to studios!
    I've been trying to tell her that for years!

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