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Subject: "Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on what..." Previous topic | Next topic
MJCreations Registered since 28th Feb 2012Mon 09-Apr-12 09:10 PM
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"Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on what to buy"


US
          

Hello. I shoot with a D90. The only equipment I own is my camera, tripods, lenses, filters, and recently I added a Sunpak hot shoe mount flash to my list. (go ahead and smack my fingers on the Sunpak flash from Wal-Mart...maybe that was a no-no?)

Two days after buying the Sunpak flash, my husband got out the old Mamiya camera he bought many years ago, and OF COURSE the flash works on our cameras. He has a D80. At least we both now have flashes. Anyway, there is another flash in the equipment, and I'm not sure what it is. It looks very similiar to the hot shoe mount flashes, except in the bottom where you would attach it to your camera, there is only a hole like for mounting this flash onto a tripod or stand. It takes batteries. I have no idea how you would trigger a flash with this. It's very old, and I would assume it is not wireless. He purchased this stuff before 1998, and I think it was fairly old then. The camera is 35mm. I have used it to take pictures years ago, but now some of the lenses are growing fungus inside.


Anyway, I want to invest in backdrops and lighting, but I'm pretty much clueless on what to buy for the lighting.

I want some continuous lighting, a gold and a silver umbrella, and an off-camera flash. Do I need two umbrella reflectors of the same color, or is one enough? Do I need a white one (or two??)?
What do I need to get set up?

Thanks for any input on this. I have never used any lighting other than my pop-up flash or natural lighting.

  

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Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on ...
blw Moderator
10th Apr 2012
1
Reply message RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on ...
MJCreations
08th May 2012
3
Reply message RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on ...
CharlieS
10th Apr 2012
2
Reply message RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on ...
MJCreations
08th May 2012
4
     Reply message RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on ...
MEMcD Moderator
10th May 2012
5
          Reply message RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on ...
drdave1200 Silver Member
10th May 2012
6
          Reply message RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on ...
MJCreations
10th May 2012
8
          Reply message RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on ...
MJCreations
10th May 2012
7
               Reply message RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on ...
MJCreations
10th May 2012
9
                    Reply message RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on ...
MEMcD Moderator
10th May 2012
10
                         Reply message RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on ...
MJCreations
11th May 2012
11
                              Reply message RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on ...
CharlieS
11th May 2012
12
                              Reply message RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on ...
MJCreations
11th May 2012
14
                              Reply message RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on ...
MJCreations
11th May 2012
13
                                   Reply message RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on ...
drdave1200 Silver Member
11th May 2012
15
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MJCreations
11th May 2012
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blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004Tue 10-Apr-12 10:49 AM
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#1. "RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on what to buy"
In response to Reply # 0


Richmond, US
          

As far as the old flash goes, it's better to be safe than sorry. I can't identify it from the description - what brand and model is it? Old flash units (mostly really old ones, like from the 1970s) sometimes use very high trigger voltages that can destroy a DSLR, so you need to be careful. Anything made in the 90s or later is probably fine, but it's worth checking.

As for what lighting equipment, you'll need to say more about what kind of situation you're going to light. Portraits? Still lifes? Group shots at a (say) church?

_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!

  

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MJCreations Registered since 28th Feb 2012Tue 08-May-12 03:47 PM
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#3. "RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on what to buy"
In response to Reply # 1


US
          

I'm sorry it's taken me forever to reply. I've had a lot going on lately.
Thank you, Brian. I wasn't aware that that flash could harm the camera. Thankfully my husband used it on his first. (oops, that was mean). His camera seems to function fine after trying it. We didn't try it again after reading your response. Thank you very much! The flash is a Vivitar Zoom Thyristor 2500.

With the lighting equipment, I don't know what I plan to use it for. I plan to use it for anything and everything. It will mostly be used in my home to take pictures of my kids and friends' kids with.

I did purchase some continuous lighting and gold and white umbrellas and a backdrop stand.

  

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CharlieS Registered since 29th Aug 2007Tue 10-Apr-12 02:34 PM
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#2. "RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on what to buy"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

As Brian said, some of the older flash's can have trigger voltages high enough to cause damage to today's cameras when mounted to the flash shoe. The trigger voltage can be measured with a multi meter to check. Nikon manuals say not to exceed 250 volts (trigger voltage) though I'd hesitate to use a flash with that high of a trigger voltage myself. Nikon flashes trigger with a nominal 6 volts so that in itself tells me higher voltages may cause problems.
As to the flash in question, it would help if you could identify make and model number, however Sunpak and I’m sure other manufacturers also, had flash models that used interchangeable modules that were proprietary, thus the same flash could use a Nikon, a Canon or other camera brand module to make the flash fully compatible with the early flash ttl technology. It sounds like you may have a flash without the module attached.
Assuming I’m correct about the module, and you locate one making the flash usable, you can use that flash off camera safely, and trigger it by means of an optical slave or radio remote. Optical slaves are inexpensive though any flash will set them off, so if another flash were being used in proximity it would fire the flash also.

As for lighting are you locked into continuous lighting? The reason I mention this, is they are called "hot lights" for a reason. To get sufficient light to maintain relatively high shutter speeds and have enough light to offer apertures above wide open, takes alot of watts.
Having several 1000 watt lights would not be uncommon. Watts = heat as well as high current usage, so depending on the number of lights used more than one electrical circuit may be needed to power multiple lights.
For example circuits must be derated to 80% for long term usage to prevent tripping circuit breakers, thus a 15 amp circuit can only carry 12 amps, and a 20 amp circuit is only good for 16 amps, for an extended period of time lights might be used. (This applies to all pouer usage also)

Thus a 15 amp circuit will carry 1440 watts, which is only good for one 1000 watt lamp, a 20 amp circuit-1920 watts which would power one 1000 watt light easily, possibly two but that would be iffy, and the circuits in question ideally would have no other drain on them.

If you want continuous lighting for the ability to see how the light/shadows interact there are several studio flashes available with built in modeling lamps that do the same job as hot lights without the high wattage requirements.
Another consideration concerning hot lights vs. flash is the umbrellas or other light modifiers you choose. For continuous lighting said modifiers need to be temperature rated, because of fire danger, for the heat continuous lights put out.

As for umbrella colors, gold tones will enhance skin color a bit giving more of a suntanned look, silver will be a little harsher light giving brighter, more specular highlights, while white umbrellas give a softer light with less shadow definition. The choice of color all depends on the effect you seek, though for general portraits white is a good starting color.
You can mix light modifiers with direct lighting or modifiers of other types; again it all depends on the effect desired. There is no set method that is right or wrong and the best thing to do is pick up one or two good books dealing with lighting, search online, etc.
One good book that explains lighting well is "Light, Science and Magic" and there are others available as well.

____________________________________________________________________
When no one is looking, Pigs can walk on they're hind legs

  

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MJCreations Registered since 28th Feb 2012Tue 08-May-12 03:52 PM
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#4. "RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on what to buy"
In response to Reply # 2


US
          

Thank you, CharlieS. That is a lot of really good information. I stated above the old flash is a Vivitar Zoom Thyristor 2500, and we have not used it since I read your responses. Thanks!

I did purchase some continuous lighting and umbrellas, but I am still looking into getting some flash equipment. Both will come in useful, I'm sure.

I will look into the book you mentioned.

I will post more details about the lighting I purchased later.

Thanks again!!

  

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MEMcD Moderator In depth knowledge in various areas Nikonian since 24th Dec 2007Thu 10-May-12 03:22 AM
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#5. "RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on what to buy"
In response to Reply # 4


US
          

Hi Miranda,

According to Photo Strobe Trigger Voltages the sync voltage for the Vivitar 2500 is between 10.95V and 14.75V which is safe. I would recommend verifying the sync voltage yourself. You will find a link to the instructions under the "The Strobist List" heading at the top of the page.
Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!

Best Regards,
Marty

  

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drdave1200 Silver Member Nikonian since 12th Aug 2009Thu 10-May-12 04:16 PM
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#6. "RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on what to buy"
In response to Reply # 5


Englewood, US
          

I recently switched to continuous lighting using daylight compact fluorescent bulbs using a variety of umbrellas, softboxes, etc. and have been very happy with it. Local stores have the smaller sizes (27 watt that look like 100), and larger ones are available online. I recently found some daylight CF floods at Home Depot, which look like regular incandescent floods, but you can see the CF tubes inside the conical glass housings, which I think I might use for a catchlight, but haven't tried it. I prefer continuous because it's easier for me to evaluate shadows prior to shooting, and with the CF it doesn't heat up the room much. I had the equivalent of 1000 watts across several stands, which made it quite bright, and didn't feel it at all.

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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MJCreations Registered since 28th Feb 2012Thu 10-May-12 04:58 PM
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#8. "RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on what to buy"
In response to Reply # 6


US
          

Thanks, drdave!

Here's what I purchased for two stands:

Each stand holds one or four bulbs

•Total 8x 45 watts fluorescent daylight bulbs equal to 1,600 watts light output .

  

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MJCreations Registered since 28th Feb 2012Thu 10-May-12 04:51 PM
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#7. "RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on what to buy"
In response to Reply # 5


US
          

thank you, Marty! I will look into the voltage.

  

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MJCreations Registered since 28th Feb 2012Thu 10-May-12 05:18 PM
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#9. "RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on what to buy"
In response to Reply # 7


US
          

This is what I purchased:

•2x 33" Black-gold Umbrellas
•2x 33" White Translucent Umbrellas
•2x 7 Feet Light Stands
•2x AC Swivel Lamp Umbrella Holders
•8x 45w 5500k Daylight Bulbs
•1x White Canvas Background
• 1x Sky Blue Canvas Background
•1x Carrying Case
And a backdrop stand that extends to 10' wide.

However, I was not pleased with the 'Canvas Backgrounds' that I received. They are 5'x 5' but are not what I consider canvas. They are that non-woven material like the reusable grocery bags are made of but thicker. I don't like them, and where they are folded, they are badly creased. I have no idea how you would get them to uncrease. I made Trick-or-Treat bags for my kids using the reusable grocery bags, and when I was ironing appliques on, I got the iron on the bag itself. It melted.

I plan on purchasing a couple of 10' x 20' backdrops in the very near future. Cotton. Washable. I am thinking of getting one black one. I'm not sure what color to get for the second. I'm considering a blue/gray marbled style.

  

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MEMcD Moderator In depth knowledge in various areas Nikonian since 24th Dec 2007Thu 10-May-12 07:44 PM
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#10. "RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on what to buy"
In response to Reply # 9


US
          

Hi Miranda,

I use a fabric steamer to remove the wrinkles in my backgrounds.
It works very well even on 12' x 24' background.
Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!

Best Regards,
Marty

  

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MJCreations Registered since 28th Feb 2012Fri 11-May-12 01:37 AM
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#11. "RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on what to buy"
In response to Reply # 10


US
          

Marty,

What kind of backdrops do you use? Cotton or something else?

Do you weaken the fabric softener with water and spray it from a spray bottle?

  

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CharlieS Registered since 29th Aug 2007Fri 11-May-12 02:16 AM
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#12. "RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on what to buy"
In response to Reply # 11
Fri 11-May-12 02:24 AM by CharlieS

US
          

Miranda
Speaking for myself, i use only a fabric steamer, an inexpensive one from wally world. I've never bothered with fabric softener, i simply fill the steamer let it heat then run the wand over all the wrinkles. It takes maybe 10 minutes to dress up a 10 x 20 muslin backdrop.

As for backdrops, don't go crazy purchasing several until you have an idea of what colors will work for you.
With light, or the absence of light, you can make any color a pure white to solid black. Take x colored backdrop and add enough light to overexpose the background, you have instant white. Ditto for making one black. remove all light, use flags to block your existing flash and get plenty of distance between the background and subject and you have dark.

Another option for backdrops is visit your local building supply and find a large painters canvas. Simply bleach it white or dye it the color you want. Thats what I ended up doing, wanting a midrange sized (about 8 x 12) light gray. I ended up with about a $20 investment in it and its probably my most used color. Another color I find I use frequently is a darker brown.
I find i seldom use the blues anymore likeing the adaptability of the gray and the richer warmer brown tones.

____________________________________________________________________
When no one is looking, Pigs can walk on they're hind legs

  

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MJCreations Registered since 28th Feb 2012Fri 11-May-12 12:54 PM
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#14. "RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on what to buy"
In response to Reply # 12


US
          

CharlieS,
I read the fabric "steamer" as softener on that post. I feel silly, but...oh, well. lol.

Thanks for the info.

I am planning to use some wide, white muslin fabric I have (I also sew) to make back drops. I am going to hand-dye them. I LOVE to dye fabric.

I was thinking of using some painter's drop cloths to take outside and splatter with some different colors of paint. I think it would be a cute background to use for kids and use used paint buckets with paint running over the edges as props. actually, I have a used one that I could add some more splats to.

I hadn't thought of using them to dye a specific color, though. Thanks for all the input!

  

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MJCreations Registered since 28th Feb 2012Fri 11-May-12 12:13 PM
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#13. "RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on what to buy"
In response to Reply # 11


US
          

>Marty,
>
>What kind of backdrops do you use? Cotton or something else?
>
>
>Do you weaken the fabric softener with water and spray it from
>a spray bottle?

OOPS! I read your response wrong, Marty. I read it to say fabric 'SOFTENER'. Sorry! haha.

  

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drdave1200 Silver Member Nikonian since 12th Aug 2009Fri 11-May-12 08:11 PM
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#15. "RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on what to buy"
In response to Reply # 13


Englewood, US
          

I was having a bad problem with wrinkles on the backdrop, and had trouble getting them out with a hand steamer. I was using an inexpensive cotton sheet. So I tried stretching it as best I could, and then lit it from the back using an umbrella to spread out the light. Worked like a charm, no visible wrinkles.

Also for the compact flourescent bulbs I found a thing that converts one receptacle to four on Amazon. I can use the 100 watt equivalent bulbs, but four of them aimed at an umbrella, to get a strong light source.

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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MJCreations Registered since 28th Feb 2012Fri 11-May-12 10:33 PM
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#16. "RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on what to buy"
In response to Reply # 15


US
          

Hi, drdave,
That's how my lighting is. I can use it with one bulb or screw in the adapter and put four bulbs in one stand.
I really like that I can have a little light or a lot.

  

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MJCreations Registered since 28th Feb 2012Fri 11-May-12 10:51 PM
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#17. "RE: Considering purchasing lighting and need advice on what to buy"
In response to Reply # 16


US
          

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Photo-Studio-Lighting-Kit-8x-Bulb-Umbrellas-Stand-Backdrop-Tripod-Case-/370612170582?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item564a34ef56

This is a link to the kit I bought.

  

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