Lighting Recommendations?

Stephen Eastwood|Beauty and Fashion Photographer | Tutorials

Lighting Recommendations?


Q. What lighting do you use and what do you recommend for differing
budgets and styles of use?

OK, lets start with I use many different types of lights and even more different
brands, I use strobes, fluorescent, hotlights, LED’s, HMI’s, HID’s, hotshoe,
battery powered, speedlights, mini slaves, maglights, flashlights, blacklights
and underwater lights so there is no real answer, other than it depends on when
and where and for what and why, and my mood. That said, my main strobes are
Broncolor, now Verso line, and Speedotron Blackline, and I have recently picked
up several Hensel porty premium packs and heads and ringflash and octahaze and
beautydishes that make very nice and less expensive alternatives to the Broncolor
Verso line when that is not in budget. I use Lumedynes and find them extremely
valuable in there small size and ability to put them anywhere and have 400-800ws
with only one booster on and ac adapters and modeling lights when needed. I
use Canon Speedlights and think highly of the E-TTL system when one learns to
use it efficiently. More on that can be found here Using
the Canon E-ttl System
And I also highly recommend the small and very inexpensive
Vivitar 285HV lights and show how they can be mixed and matched with full strobes
and even with digital point and shoots when needed, and some of that can be
learned here Using Strobes with
Point and Shoot Digital’s.
As for fluorescent I find Kinoflo and a very
affordable alternative
which makes great lighting products in fluorescent, tungsten and hmi’s at
very affordable prices.


As for strobes here is a ranking of brands in my opinion from a post I had
made on a forum not too long ago.

Would need an idea of how much you would like to put on that plastic. 
Pack/heads have advantages, but generally cost more and you need more than one
pack to have any sort of redundancy where as each mono is its own so taking
two gives you redundancy if one goes, in other words taking two heads and one
pack is great if one head goes you still have one, if the pack goes you have
two useless heads with you, so you need two packs min, in that case monos are
better, also each mono is completely independent of each other and can be adjusted
separately.  I would say the best investment is to get a setup that has
both available that way you could mix and match as funds are available and all
the modifiers and speedrings would be interchangeable. 

As far as brands, I think it goes like this 

Best broncolor verso packs,

than profoto 7 series

Profoto D4




speedotron blackline pack and heads and mono force series


White lightening zeus 2400ws pack head system

dynalite pack head systems


White lightening Zeus 1200 ws pack head system

White lightening monos



Speedotron brownline

dynalite monos


sp Excalibur




Location units include lumedyne and quantum systems which fit between white
lightening and alienbee,  vivitar 285hv is great on camera or off small
hotshoe type strobe and cheap, great slaves as well, and brand specific Canon
ettl or Nikon ittl hotshoe speedlights like the Canon 580exII or Nikon sb 800
which I would place as on par with alienbee 400 and 800 units in power output
and a compromise between more versatile in size and usage but less versatile
in ease of use no modeling light and alienbees have far greater range of accessories
and modifiers available. 

If your looking at specialty lighting like ringflashes broncolor, profoto, hensel,
lumdyne, white lightening zeus packs,  elinchrom all have for pack heads
and alienbee has a mono version, lower in power than the others but very well

Speedotron black can have a hensel, profoto and possibly broncolor ring adapted
at a number of places to work on their packs as well. 

Lightsticks are broncolor and profoto only.

Lightbars, broncolor, profoto and hensel.

Fresnel’s (strobe) Speedotron blackline up to 4800ws, broncolor up to 6400 ws,
profoto 2400 or maybe 4800ws not certain, Hensel, NS of the rating, elinchrom
NS of rating.  I am sure there are others and many can be adapted to fit
either packs or even a few that can be modified to fit a small mono inside an
old large Fresnel hotlight fixture, but the best results are from units designed
from the ground up as the placement of the light is where it should be for the
proper effect. 

If you want to overpower daylight check the forums for that or read here first
to see how much power you will need at what distance/f stop/desired degree of

then decide what will work for you.

This is not all inclusive by any means.

As for mainly portable and travel packs here is a post I had made on those
in particular.

Well it depends on how much light, inside or out and how much weight.

I use Broncolor Verso 2400 packs and heads,  amazing and battery, also
the most expensive around and heavy.

I also have many hensel porty packs and head 1200 ws also heavy and big but
plenty of power and much cheaper (not cheap however by many forum posters standards)

Next would be Lumedyne systems, they can be expensive new but found very inexpensive
on ebay, they are very small and a typical pack and two heads will be either
200ws (very inexpensive to find on ebay) or the better 400ws packs, its limited
in versatility in that it is 50, 100, 200, 400ws selections and symmetrical
only, you can add boosters up to 2400ws, but that start getting very big, I
do recommend at least one 400 or 200ws booster to get a pack up to 600-800ws
however.  They have small modeling lights, very low power but plenty bright
to see to focus in the dark.  And they are battery, and can also use AC
adapters, the smallest yet biggest bang for the buck.  The heads are so
small that they can fit where no other 400ws strobe can, and they can take softboxes,
grids, reflectors umbrellas, most things, and have a ringflash now that is 1200ws
with modeling lights which s of the same design as the hensel ringflash. 
Newer units have more control and versatility but the cost is much higher.

Next dedicated speedlights, Canon, Nikon, etc, they are small, have decent power
and an ability to high speed synch which may be worth a lot if trying to overpower
the sun and you do not have enough actual power to do it.  They have no
real modeling light, and are limited to batteries, but can often be plugged
into an external battery pack for better recycle and longer run times.

Next the Vivitar 285hv or even the 283 and little manual switch you can get
for 20$ to give you manual power settings on a 283.  They are battery powered
and suffer the same issues as above, cannot do a high speed sync, and offer
approximately the same power levels as the speedlights perhaps one stop less
than the highest speedlight available, but they are workhorses, and go for years,
they are used most often as strobes in manual for great consistent results and
work well, can take high voltage battery packs for faster recycle and longer
runtimes and best of all they typically run under 90$ new per unit so multiples
are a viable option to many of the above setup for a similar price point and
you could actually but 40 or more for the price of a verso pack, so its a great 
Value even if you just grab two as back lights/accent lights to have in a bag.





©Stephen Eastwood 2008

About photographers1

Stephen Eastwood Fashion and Beauty Photographer and Retoucher based in NY/LA/Ft. Worth TX Current Canon Explorer of Light.
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2 Responses to Lighting Recommendations?

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