As I promised in my last article, I will create a list of equipment, that is
1. cheap to get
2. worth the money
3. enough to set a first foot into strobing
Please be aware that this is only my personal experience, I do not have a real long term experience or the chance to compare equipment. I bought this stuff after reading through dozens of forums, and now I want to share my personal experiences from the viewpoint of a flash beginner.
When I started to look around for strobist equipment, I had the following things in mind:
- I dont want to spend more than 250€
- I want the studio to be transportable, to take it to Shooting trips
- I want to have the chance to create both, soft and harsh lighting scenes
So, with these things in my head, I started searching.
I created the following list:
- Umbrella (1 reflected AND 1 shoot-through)
- Umbrella bracket to put flash and umbrella on lightstand
- Rechargable batteries for the flash
- Wireless Flash Trigger
I began with looking around for a flash.
A fellow photographer told me to get a canon flash, because they are really reliable and of a good quality.
After informing about the different speedlites Canon offers, I decided to go with the 430EX or 430 EX II.
A new 430EX II would have been 250€ alone, so not affordable for my budget.
I looked around some second hand sites, and finally got a Canon 430 EX for 140€.
It looked practically new, was working perfectly and since the only differences to the II version seems to be a louder working sound and a bit more plastic than the II version, I decided it would be the right decision.
Lightstands & Umbrella
After looking around on ebay, I decided to go with the cheapest offers for the first three positions of my list.
2x 70cm white shoot through umbrellas for 12,99 €
1x 84cm reflected umbrella for 9,99 €
2x aluminium lightstand that goes up to 230cm for 14,99 €
1x umbrella bracket for 12,99 €
For the batteries I got a tip from a fellow strobist guy.
Since flashes need a lot of energy to reduce recycling time, you should not use the cheapest batteries available.
The suggestion I got (which was also proofed right by many internet and forum reviews) was to buy
Sanyo Eneloop Batteries.
I bought 8 of the 2000 mAh ones for 14,59 €.
Then I had to decide what triggers to use.
The definitely best ones are the Pocket Wizards, but they are about 380€ for a pack with one transmitter and one receiver. Not possible.
After the pocket wizards, reliability and building quality take a big step downwards (from what I have read). Good thing is, so does the price.
A fellow photographer recommended the Yongnuo pack, a no name producer that offers his stuff on ebay but that somehow sounded like really cheap and shitty to me.
I decided to go with the Cactus V4 set including one transmitter and one receiver, that you can get for 39,99$ on Gadgetinfinity.com.
They ship from Hong Kong (shipping is 6$), and that took about 2 weeks, but when the triggers arrived the whole packaging and design looks pretty neat and qualitative.
2 x 70cm white shoot through umbrellas
1 x 84cm reflected umbrella
2 x aluminium lightstand (up tp 230cm)
1 x umbrella bracket
8 x Batteries Eneloop (2000mAh)
Cactus V4 Trigger Set
Good price for a complete studio beginner set, isnt it?
Here is what the equipment looks like:
In my last article I already showed some example shots, here are some more:
I like the setup, and it all fits into one small bag that I can easily carry around with me a whole day.
After using the equipment for about 3 weeks now, I am quite happy with it.
The only thing I was a bit unsatisfied with was the Trigger Set.
The Cactus Triggers were really unreliable when using them for the first times.
On good days they would only miss firing at every second shot. On bad days I would shoot 5 frames without the flash being interested at all.
This almost made me regret buying all that stuff.
After getting in contact with the customer service of Gadgetinfinity.com, its much better now.
They gave me some suggestions how to improve the reliability of the Cactus Triggers e.g. by changing the frequency, playing with different settings of the screw that connects Flash and Receiver and some other points on the list.
Now the Set really works reliable and flashing is a big fun.
I already got used to taking my lighting stuff with me when doing UrbEx trips, and I am using it more and more often with more and more satisfiying results. I can hardly imagine going back to not having any flash with me at all.
So, if you always thought about starting to “light”, then this setup is a good first step.
Its relatively cheap, light, compact and nevertheless versatile and good for images of all kinds.
If you are not fully convinced now, keep an eye on my flickr updates, I will surely publish many more strobist shots in the next weeks, months and years. If there are additional questions, feel free to contact me via the contact page or through the comments on this page.
Good bye and good light!