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Whatís the ideal set-up for off-camera flash - on a low budget?

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  • #16
    If you can "rotate the base by 360 degrees" you have an SB-600 that may have had its neck wrung. They don't come from the factory like that. From the SB-600 manual:



    Originally posted by Hans Lucas View Post
    If you really want to save money on a off camera/strobist setup without breaking the bank, go with a Vivitar 285HV flash or two. Just one wouldn't set you back more than a $100.
    I'd also say, you may want to consider the LumoPro LP120, as well. It costs you $130, not the $90 a 285HV will, but you will get the ability to set to 1/8 and 1/32 power, swivel capability, and four different synch connections: the flash hotshoe, a minijack (good for radio slaves), a built-in optical slave [so you could pop it off-camera without buying additional equipment], and a standard PC port (the Vivitar's is a weird proprietary connector, not PC). Also a two-year warranty. I think you get your forty buck's worth for the 1/8 power and optical slave alone.

    Jane, I think the main decision you need to make between getting monoblocs or speedlights is how portable do you need your setup to be? If you want a studio setup and you're not worried about having power outlets nearby, then monoblocs it should be. If you plan on doing run'n'gun exterior setups in the wild and you're lovin' the cordlessness of running off batteries with wee lights, then speedlights are the better choice. Most of us learn to light the Strobist way with speedlights first because we already owned the flash. But speedlights are severely limited power and light-wise to their tiny AAs. They aren't going to light as large an area/space or as powerfully against the sun as a big light will. And, if you have to, you can get battery packs for the ABs to run away from the wall.

    Radio trigger-wise, if you are going to go for an AB/speedlight mix, I'd say that Cybersyncs are your best bet for total reliability and the most features at a reasonable price, followed by the RadioPopper JrXs. But if you have to go dirt-cheap for triggers, the Cactus V4s or YongNuo RF-602s can get the job done, too, with a mix of both types of lights.
    Last edited by inkista; 01-14-2010, 10:06 PM.
    I shoot with a Canon 5DmkII, 50D, and S90, and Pansonic GX-7. flickr stream and equipment list

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    • #17
      Check my Strobist set on Flickr if you're interested in what you can do with an SB-600, LP120, a couple of umbrellas and Cactus triggers. I won't say it's an ideal setup, but the whole kit cost me right around $500, and I can take it anywhere I want.
      Last edited by dakwegmo; 01-15-2010, 12:31 AM.
      [Į‘Į] marcus
      photoblog | Facebook | flickr | 5∞ px | G+

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      • #18
        That SB-900 is a sweet piece of work, but I've used Sunpaks for a long time now. Back in the film days I used a PZ5000 with my N80 and now the PZ42X works with the newer cameras. They have models that are made to be i-ttl and e-ttl compatible for both Nikon and Canon cameras respectively. The PZ42X costs less than one third of the SB-900 and the only features you sacrifice are the wireless command capability and the hot sync adapter. Both of those can be overcome by inexpensive hot shoe adapters and pc cords (though it is admittedly much less cool). So for the same cost as an SB-900 you could get a pair of PZ42Xs and the necessary sync setup.

        The way I see it, a photographer on a budget (like me, since it's not my primary income) should be spending more on glass than on light.

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        • #19
          "Ideal" set-up

          I used a Photogenic two strobe set-up with white umbrellas for twenty eight years (the same ones!). The power was relatively low, 250 watt seconds. I could use a reflector for a hair light, and a Vivitar 283 on a short stand behind the subject to light up the background. Worked very well, and was easy to carry around.

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          • #20
            If it were me, I'd be looking to make the most out of Nikons CLS and the D90's Commander Mode.

            You can look up Joe McNally who does a majority of his work using the CLS. There are even a couple tutorials by him on Nikon's site... Or check out his book "the Hot Shoe Diaries" (my current photography related read).

            Loosing the commander mode was one of the biggest drags of "upgrading" to my D3, But I already had an SB800. My "kit" is 1 SB800 and 2 SB600's. Stands, umbrellas, and I just got a couple Alzo softboxes.

            With the CLS you need a commander (Camera w/ it, SB800, SU800, SB900). Flashes that work wirelessly controlled by commander (SBR200, SB600, SB800, SB900).

            SB600's can be bought for under 200 on Ebay. SB800s for about 250.

            This is NOT the absolute cheapest route, manual flashes and optical triggers are cheaper.
            Steve
            the Photographic Academy.com
            SharpShooter Industries
            My 500px, My Flickr, My Blog

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            • #21
              Wow. Again, thanks so much for all the wealth of information! And again, thereís so much to think about. I'll spend more time checking out the links that have been provided. Thank you! axlenut, you make some really good points and I'm going to investigate those flashes you recommended.

              Iím taking an online lighting course (mentioned above) and even though Iíve only had one class, Iím thoroughly enjoying it. The teacher uses strobes in her studio. She will be showing us both and is covering quite a bit of material. Although Iím on a tight budget, I have to factor in the money Iíll be getting for the two photo shoots in the spring. I donít want to make my decision, purely based on affordability. I have faith that Iíll earn it all back.

              With that in mind, I keep going back to that Alien Bee kit and it seems like a good basic start for someone who wants to start out simple and build up. Eventually, Iíd like to add my SB24 to the mix or get another B800. My gut is telling me to go with the Alien Bees. There is a higher learning curve when it comes to ratios etc. with speedlights and Iím NOT good with that at all. Iím not ruling them out, but my instincts tell me to go with the other. Does this make sense? Iím so thankful for all of you whoíve taken the time to respond and educate me. From this thread alone, I have learned so much! Iím so happy to have found this forum and the people who have been generous enough to share their knowledge and advice!!!!

              jane

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