Photography is all about lighting and the biggest argument has always been artificial or natural. Studio lighting has many advantages and is the next step for those looking to move up from just the pop-up flash or Speedlight in their photography lighting equipment and to graduate from natural light only.
• In many circumstances, natural light just isn’t an option, such as in the studio. Studio lighting allows you to create lighting similar to natural but with more control but the studio light price can be huge. Studio lighting is often an obvious photo equipment barrier between pro and amateur because of this.
• The biggest choice in studio lighting is between strobe or continuous. Continuous light has a single “on” setting while strobes can be set to flash when the picture is being taken for extra brightness. Both give different effects but a strobe can also be replaced by a flash unit while a continuous light can’t. It’s often more versatile and convenient than natural light but takes more learning than natural light.
Natural light is free and plentiful, but it’s often unpredictable and there’s no way to control the strength of the light or adjust it so that your shutter speed is better.
BEST LIGHTING FOR BEGINNERS/AMATURE
1.LimoStudio Portrait Studio Continuous Lighting Kit LMS103
A complete studio light kit which is lightweight and easy to move as needed. The umbrellas are high-quality nylon and can be attached to the stands to help eliminate studio lighting glare and spread studio light evenly. The studio light holders are compatible with 45W bulbs and have a cord/plug and an on/off switch with a holder for an umbrella. Each studio lighting tripod stand has three legs for stability while the bags are made of sturdy nylon. Ideal photography lighting equipment for beginners because of its simplicity.
2. Linco Lincostore 2000 Watt Photo Studio Lighting Kit
An almost instant set up since the softboxes simply “pop up” which makes it ideal when you need to set up studio lighting fast or on your own. The boom arm provides a more versatile studio lighting experience that stands alone and has a zinc stud for sturdiness with enough length and range to swing and light the entire background. The lights have 4 bulbs for extra brightness and removable diffusers so you can change the style of lighting (standard on/off switch). The backdrops are made of muslin so they are washable and ironable however the kit does not have clamps to attach these to the stand. A better kit for intermediate users who want more range or variety.
3. CowboyStudio 4 Piece Continuous Studio Lighting Kit SL-314
The photography lighting stands are all lightweight aluminum and fold small for portability with a screw tip stem that can be used for the lighting attachment or separately separate boom/backdrop. They have quick release levers. The lighting socket has an on/off switch and a swivel to adjust the angle but does not have an umbrella holder. cost-effective is very similar to the LimoStudio photo lighting set but has an extra small studio lighting set up.
4. StudioPro Fovitec Classic Softbox Lighting Kit
Available in 1-3 lighting configurations these continuous softbox lights have 5 sockets and three different lighting bulb configurations on the back for maximum versatility. The sockets tilt and have have built in umbrella mounts and fit a maximum of 85W bulbs. The photography lights also have their own fuse and a long 10′ cable. The softboxes fold down for travel. The boom arm adjusts up to 5′ and has a tilting mount for versatility while the sandbag allows for stability.
5. Neewer Background Support System and Softbox Continuous Lighting Kit for Photo Studio
A very complete photography studio light kit that provides continuous lighting without having too many complications (such as bulb configurations or dimming). This is ideal for a beginner who wants everything but still keeps to the basics. The muslin backdrops are easy to clean with included clips. Every single socket has an attachment for the umbrellas and the diffusers are removable from the softboxes. This studio light price is not very economical as it doesn’t include much more than the Limo Studio kit but is three times the price.
6. FancierStudio 2000W Lighting Kit
With by far the largest variety this is a cost effective kit that has everything for an intermediate and works great for videography because of the flouro green screen. The biggest problem is that it’s not easy to set up and break down despite having a travel case, the bulbs must also be stored separate for this to fit. The biggest advantage to this kit is that each light has a dimmer rather than a configuration switch so you will have more control over the studio lighting.
7. ePhoto Professional Photography kit H9004SB-1012BWG
A similar arrangement to the FancierStudio kit but with more backdrop varieties this has 4 bulb sockets that offer 2 configurations. It lacks the boom stand and therefore some versatility and does not come with background clips. The studio lighting stands are lightweight aluminum as is the background stand while the backgrounds themselves are made of a flexible material (not ironable, do not tumble dry). This kit seems like it has a lot in it, but in reality the quality is quite poor for the price compared to others.
8. Kaezi StudioFX H9004SB2 Large Photography Softbox Continuous Lighting Kit
The advantage of this studio lighting system is that even the boom has a 4 bulb light. All of these are fused and have 2 different lighting configurations for versatility. The sandbag and boom arm also allows for more complex lighting than simply having an additional stand or ministand like the LimoStudio. The carry case is convenient for everything and the softboxes have their own protective case inside to prevent the tension rods getting damaged. The price is relative to others since there’s no background but it is significantly cheaper than the similar StudioPro setup.
1.Profoto B2 250 Air TTL Location Kit
Rather than being a studio lighting setup this is a portable strobe arrangement that is ideal for travel because it’s so small. The remote is extra and not included and these will not work wirelessly without it. The cable is only 4ft but there is an optional extension for an additional $200. Each unit has a dedicated battery but it’s not reliable below 50% of battery power when set to a high-speed sync. These are much better for location use than studio lighting as the batteries will drain quickly even if they are plugged in and the whole kit weighs only 1.6kg. There are also no stands or extras included. While this gives you the option to strobe or 250W continuous lighting power, the price is high and could be done better with other lights.
2. Westcott 240 Strobelight 2 Light Kit
A basic strobe set that is ideal for an advanced intermediate looking to move up. This is a good value set which can be either wired or wireless (trigger is separate) depending on your camera and needs. The Floor positioning system is also useful if you’re not professional level as it gives you the best-suggested positions for both lights. Everything, including the strobes, fits into the carry bag and these have a short recycle time for convenience. The DVD is also helpful if you’re exploring studio lighting and stylistic techniques with help on poses too.
3. Impact Quality 300 Focusing Flood 2 Light Kit
With continuous bright light, these have an adjustable angle between 21-40º. The barn doors have a filter or scrim holder and are made of lightweight polycarbonate. Each head also has an umbrella attachment to soften the lighting. The lights are quite heavy so the stands conveniently can have wheels (extra) and the air cushioning means they adjust smoother and are less likely to damage your lights. These are an ideal companion to the Westcott 240 Strobes to make a more complete studio lighting setup. The lights only have a protective glass rather than a Fresnel lens.
4. Bolt VB-11 Bare Bulb Flash w/Cyclone PP-400DR Power Pack
A simple kit that is essentially nothing more than a flash unit with a different bulb configuration. It can be used in slave mode and has a 28mm reflector. The unit tilts between -15-90º and also rotates 135º right and 180º left but can be locked into place. The output is between 1/1-1/28 and it takes between 0.05 and 2.6 seconds to recycle with an option for the stroboscopic mode. There’s also an umbrella mount, optional filters, hot shoe adapter, grids (all extra) and it fits onto a standard light stand screw. The unit has a belt clip and shoulder strap and a carry pouch for protection. The charger is included but it will not work while charging.
5.Lowel DV-901LBZ Creator 1 Kit LB-30
This is a small kit with three lights that have a flood with barn doors and optional softbox or speedring. There’s an adjustment focus to turn it into a spotlight. There is also a Tota-light which offers broad light with an umbrella mount, filter frame (including a blue filter) and a third light which is only 250W and ideal for accents. The glass in the small light can be swapped out. Each light stand extends to 8′ and everything fits into a padded protective case.
6. Raya Octa Fluorescent 7 Socket Fixture
This is a basic light fixture that has an option for 7 bulbs with two different configurations. It can hold up to 5 50W bulbs or 2 105W bulbs (dependent on size). The power supply is suited for worldwide use and the light has a tilt/swivel connector for a lighting stand but does not include the stand. This is a single studio lighting piece which could be added to an existing basic studio photography set-up. It’s one of the types of studio lights that isn’t particularly useful unless you just want strong lighting because of the number of bulbs but it’s cheaper than a tungsten which would do the same thing and the arrangement will give more natural catchlights.
7. Profoto B1 500 Air 2 Light Location Kit
This is the step up from the B2 units and also includes a backpack and car charger. Like the B2 kit it does not separately the AirTTL trigger, however, these lights are cordless and can be charged and placed anywhere which makes them ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. These are both 500W lights and have a fast recycle time of 1.9 seconds with up to 1/19000 speed. Each charge is good for approximately 220 flashes before needing to be charged.