It is a popular belief that only professional photographers can own studio quality lighting kits. However, the recent developments in production and manufacturing of lighting kits has made it possible for amateur photographers to own them as well, and thus enhance the image quality of their photos.
Early photographers used to be constrained to working with a limited number of accessories. However, advanced technology has now enabled the use of pre-packed kits that feature a variety of photography accessories. Great quality photography lighting kits are now considered a key element for achieving enhanced picture quality. Depending on the photographer’s preference, the lighting can be controlled with the help of a couple of lights or even with a complex number of strobes, along with other light modifiers. To serve this need, a variety of lighting kits are now made available to the consumers.
Purpose of the Guide
When looking for photography equipment, it is important to choose accurate studio lights, along with a high-end camera. This buying guide will offer you tips to help choose the right type of photography lighting equipment.
What is a Lighting Kit?
There are a wide range of products available for the purpose of photographic lighting, which includes tungsten, small flashes, big power packs, mono lights, etc. Before deciding on which parts will be included in the studio-quality lighting kit, it is necessary to understand the three main types of lights that are commonly used. These include hot lights, cool lights and flashes.
Hot lights operate at extremely high temperatures. They are also known as tungsten lights and require 500 to 800 watts of power. These quartz halogen bulbs provide a constant light source, making them ideal for recording videos and photographing small objects. However, they are not the best choice for photographers. Any kind of flammable material needs to be kept away from these bulbs as they become extremely hot.
Cool lights are a great alternative to hot lights. These fluorescent bulbs provide a more natural spectrum of light making them ideal for photography. They offer better adjustability and remain cool during usage when compared with hot lights. These bulbs require high ISO setting and very low shutter speed to capture acceptable shots.
Flash lights are by far, the most preferred choice of light used by photographers. They are divided into two types, namely, shoe flashes and studio flashes. Shoe flashes are portable and can be attached to the camera body through the hotshoe. On the other hand, studio flashes are available in various types and contain different accessories to focus or diffuse the light from the flash.
Features of Lighting Kits
A wide range of lighting equipment is available these days for photographers to choose from. A lighting kit comprises of two main components, a light source and a light modifier. Below is a list of different features that must be considered when buying photography equipment.
Types of Equipment
When it comes to choosing the right lighting equipment, it is necessary to first understand the various kinds of lighting kits that are available. It is always preferable to first buy a single piece of equipment, maybe an umbrella or a soft box, and check if it fits the requirement. The photographer can then opt to buy the same equipment once more or choose another one. In order to reduce shadows, it is essential to buy a reflector or bouncer with a single soft box or an umbrella kit.
Type of Light Source
After choosing a suitable type of photo lighting equipment, it is necessary to proceed further and select the type of light source. The light source is broadly categorized into three types, which include continuous light, strobe light and flash.
As the name suggests, continuous lights constantly emit light due to which they are easy to modify and control. Some of its most common types are halogens and lamp bulbs.
Strobes are used with an umbrella or soft box by professional photographers for producing high-intensity light for a short duration.
Technically, a flash light is a strobe; however, strobes are considered bigger and bulkier than flash units. When buying a flash light, it is also essential to buy a flash diffuser.
After deciding the right type of light source and equipment, photographers need to focus on the wattage offered by the lighting system. It is a known fact that brighter light can be achieved if the wattage of the light used is high. When combined with reflectors and bouncers, the wattage of 500 to 750 watts is considered optimal for any lighting system.
Temperature of the Light Source
Temperature of the light source can be termed as white balance. Natural light, which has a temperature of 5500 Kelvin, is considered the best for photography. So, before buying a lighting kit, it is necessary to make sure that the temperature of the light source is similar to natural light.
There are certain types of professional photographic lighting equipment that allow a photographer to change the intensity of light. This can be achieved by adding a diffuser to the lighting equipment to help adjust the power. Strobes usually come with a switch for controlling the power. There are also some umbrellas and soft boxes that come with multiple layers of diffusers for this purpose.
Recycling or recharge time refers to the time taken for a strobe to recharge itself and get running for shooting the next picture. To be precise, it is the downtime of a strobe when it is inactive and unusable as it is charging itself. It is preferable for lighting equipment to have a low recharge time, to avoid time wasted in between shots. Buying strobes with low recycling time helps ensure uninterrupted shooting.
Utilities of Lighting Kits
Studio Lighting Setup
Before choosing your photographic lighting equipment, it is necessary to determine its main purpose. Lighting has a variety of uses which can range from studio or commercial lighting to outdoor lighting. In comparison to taking photos, shooting videos may require a different type of lighting. This is because videos need steady light, while still photos require flash or constant lighting; it is essential to choose the right lighting kit based on the shooting requirement.
Top 5 Manufacturers
The popularity of various types of studio lighting kits have resulted in many manufactures producing high quality camera lighting equipment. Below is a list of the top manufacturers that are renowned for their photography equipments.
Photoflex is a world famous company that produces innovative lighting products that are suitable for photographers. Its products are considered among the best available in the film, digital and video industries across the world. Most professionals opt for photography supplies made by this brand.
Lowel offers light kits for professional digital video, digital photography and film based photographic productions. It also designs equipment for studio production and video conferencing applications. This company has a worldwide standard and reputation for manufacturing the best location lighting equipment.
Westcott is a world renowned company known for creating innovative and professional light control products. It is a major innovator in the category of professional photography and video lighting equipment. This company provides various types of photographic lighting kits for professional and amateur photographers.
Smith Victor is a well-known manufacturer of quality lighting and accessories for imaging and video requirements. It manufactures a quality line of lamp-holders for studio lighting manufacturers. This brand also provides an assortment of other accessories, such as camera tripods, shooting tables, lighting for photography and much more.
Hensel is a German company that manufactures high quality flash and lighting technology equipment. It offers a wide range of components that make it easier for a photographer to face the various challenges of this business.