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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Browncoat's Avatar

    Dirt Cheap Lighting - A Buyer's Guide

    I think a lot of photographers stay away from lighting gear for a variety of reasons:
    • Expensive
    • Confusing
    • Takes up a lot of room
    It's much easier to simply step outside and take photos in natural light. But what happens when the sun goes down? How about when the weather is bad and you're stuck inside? Sometimes space limitations can't be improved, however, having lighting equipment doesn't mean that you have to have a spare bedroom or basement either. As for the confusing part...it can be. It's difficult to make an informed decision on what to buy because most of us fear spending a lot of hard earned cash on something, only to figure out later on that it isn't what we needed.

    I've compiled a few different lighting kits here that will get the job done on the cheap. The key word here is cheap. If you're looking for middle of the road equipment, you won't find it here. Most of this stuff is imported and made available through Amazon. If you want to experiment with lighting and want to fund it by digging through your couch cushions, read on:


    Clark Howard Kit - $150
    In case you don't know, Clark Howard is a syndicated radio talk show host, and is the cheapest person alive. This kit features the bare essentials, and even a 16 year old kid working at a grocery store can afford this stuff.

    $65 - Yongnuo YN-560 speedlight. It is what it is, gang. No bells and whistles here, just dirt cheap and reliable.
    $40 - CowboyStudio stand/umbrella/bracket kit. Don't sneeze on this thing, or it will blow over.
    $22 - CowboyStudio NPT-04 wireless trigger. Bam! Welcome to the 21st century.
    $14 - 43" 5-in-1 reflector. I own this thing. It's fragile, but it gets the job done. Take care of it, and it will last!



    Weekend Warrior Kit - $ 300

    If you have a bit more $$$ burning a hole in your pocket and want a better setup, take a look here.

    $130 - Yongnuo YN-560 speedlight (x2). Having two flashes opens up a lot more options to you.
    $48 - Opteka LS1000 10' stands (x2). These are much more sturdy than the budget stands. You might have to sneeze twice.
    $22 - ePhoto brackets (x2). Our fancy new stands will need these to hold the umbrellas.
    $20 - ePhoto 40" shoot-thru umbrella (x2). El Cheapo umbrellas for you Mary Poppins wanna-bes.
    $45 - CowboyStudio 24" softbox. This will give you something new to play with.
    $29 - CowboyStudio NPT-04 wireless trigger. Same as in the budget kit, only with another receiver for your 2nd flash unit.
    $14 - 43" 5-in-1 reflector. Seriously...buy this thing. It's a helluva deal.



    The Closet Studio - $700

    This is a more comprehensive kit that is very portable and can be easily stowed away next to the vacuum cleaner.

    $260 - Yongnuo YN-560 speedlight (x4). Yup, four of these bad boys. You're in the big leagues now.
    $96 - Opteka LS1000 10' stands (x4). A no-brainer, right? We need four stands for our lights.
    $22 - ePhoto brackets (x2). Same as above.
    $20 - ePhoto 40" shoot-thru umbrella (x2). Ditto.
    $90 - CowboyStudio 24" softbox (x2). This gives us a two softbox/two umbrella setup.
    $60 - CowboyStudio NPT-04 wireless trigger (x2). Same as the above kit, only buy two kits for your four lights. Confusing, eh?
    $14 - 43" 5-in-1 reflector.
    $136 - Ravelli backdrop kit. Adjustable width for smaller rooms and comes with a handy storage bag.
    $8 - Strobist gel kit. These will add some color to those backdrops.



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  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Really useful lists!

    I've been putting together my own set of kit and have the Yongnuo YN-560, it's a great manual flash for the price (which is cheap, so don't expect anything clever). One thing to note though is that you should look out for the all-metal foot as the earlier version, with plastic foot and metal contacts, were far from reliable (zoom head issues and faulty capacitors - simply fixed if you are willing to risk prising open your flash).

  3. #3
    Member
    Some great info, I assume those speedlights can only be used in manual?

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Browncoat's Avatar

    Re: Dirt Cheap Lighting - A Buyer's Guide

    You are correct, the YN-560 is a manual flash.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Jon's Avatar

    Re: Dirt Cheap Lighting - A Buyer's Guide

    I know this is newbie question but what is a manual flash?

  6. #6
    Member
    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Hereld View Post
    You are correct, the YN-560 is a manual flash.
    Thanks Anthony for the clarification.

  7. #7
    Member
    Quote Originally Posted by Jon View Post
    I know this is newbie question but what is a manual flash?
    Some flash units have what's called a TTL (through the lens) metering and the higher end ones have i-TTL. That takes most of the guess work on how to set up your flash for lighting conditions to properly expose your shot. Manual flash on the other hand has to be set up by the photographer to properly expose the shot, usually more guess work but you do end up with some really creative lighting though.
    Thanks/Like Browncoat Thanks/liked this post
     

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    PhotoAV8R's Avatar

    Re: Dirt Cheap Lighting - A Buyer's Guide

    Thanks, Anthony - great lists!
    -> Don
    If we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane. - Jimmy Buffett

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Thanks for the list!, nice find!
    Nikon D40 | 18-55 Kit Lens | Sigma 18-200 OS

    Photo Blog

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Jon's Avatar

    Re: Dirt Cheap Lighting - A Buyer's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by Peekcha View Post
    Some flash units have what's called a TTL (through the lens) metering and the higher end ones have i-TTL. That takes most of the guess work on how to set up your flash for lighting conditions to properly expose your shot. Manual flash on the other hand has to be set up by the photographer to properly expose the shot, usually more guess work but you do end up with some really creative lighting though.
    Thanks.





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