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Mini Home Photography Studio

I'm looking to put together a mini home photograhy studio in a corner of my basement. I'm imagining some cloths (white, black, and a dark green perhaps to start) that I can mount or drape over a 6-foot frame (three sides of a cube). I can construct a few soft lighting boxes pretty easily and set it on a table in the middle of this little studio for smaller objects. Two lights, two stands, an umbrella holder, and I'm just about set, I think.

I've read the articles at Strobist, and while I don't quite understand everything just yet, it's basically convinced me that I can get away with using simple shoe-type flashes to do what I need. I'd also gain some portability.

I still have my Digital Rebel XT, and for now, a tripod that will work just fine with it. But I need everything else. I'm not looking to break the bank, but I'm also not looking to take too many shortcuts or deal with cheaper equipment. I want something on which I won't hit my head for a long time.

The immediate use will be product shots for reviews done at The Sand Trap, but I'll probably mix in some photos of my family, items for sale on eBay, that sort of stuff. Golf bags are about the largest thing I'll photograph for awhile, but golf balls and other small items the smallest.

Does anyone have any tips or suggestions? I don't know what lights to get, what umbrellas, what stands, where I might find suitable cloths (I assume a fabric store is fine), etc.

7 Responses to "Mini Home Photography Studio"

  1. Erik,

    I have a very simple set-up for my medical photography needs but it's certainly expandable.

    1. Dyna-lite 1000er (comes with 2 strobes) ~$1500
    2. Impact Radio Slave System ~$125

    The radio slave system is great -- no wires to the camera, but you end up needing to shoot manual. Since the Rebel doesn't come with a PC sync slot you'd likely need some sort of adapter on the hot-shoe anyway.

    I like B&H Photo Video for getting most of this stuff.

    The other source you might want to look at is Gary Fong. He's a wedding photographer that has developed some amazing devices. My favorite is the LightSphere ($50) which might get you just as good results with your on-camera flash.

  2. Just purchased 2 Flashpoint 620's for about 500.00. This included stands and umbrellas. This will take you beyond a mini-studio, and will allow more portrait work. The neat thing is that in a "mini "situation, you can flash easily at f22 and iso 100. These strobes, from, are the best I have found for the money. They compare easily to strobes costing 400.00 each!

    Good luck.

  3. Thanks for the comment. I'm well aware of B&H and have gotten most of my equipment through them, what little I have…

    $1500 is probably a bit more than I was looking at. As I said, the ability to re-use camera-mounted flashes is a nice plus to the setup(s) proposed at Strobist. I don't think I need a professional light kit like the ones you listed.

    And yeah, the Shoe->PC converters seem to be about $20 to $30, so I'm not worried about that piece of the puzzle. I may get the sync cable for now and add in some Pocket Wizards or other radio-type transceivers at a later time.

  4. Hey there, I saw your post on the strobist group, and thought I'd pop over here to reply.

    I do a bit of product photography (mostly fiber arts). I'm in the process of building a similar kit, so I'll share my thoughts and equipment... perhaps it'll lead you in a direction.

    I have a shoe mounted flash (a Nikon SB-600) and an AC-powered studio strobe. The speedlight is reasonably bright, portable, and can be triggered from the camera with no additional hardware (via CLS, there's a similar optical triggering thing for Canon). The strobe is an AlienBees B800, it's about 4 stops brighter than the speedlight, but has to be plugged in to the wall to work. It can be triggered as an optical slave, or with sync cords or radio slaves.

    For slaves, I've got the "ebay radio triggers" mentioned on the strobist group, but I'm not 100% happy with them. They free me from cords, they work most of the time, but sometimes one fires late, or doesn't fire at all. I wouldn't trust them for critical work, but they do okay for my workaday stuff.

    My plan is to get at least 2 more speedlights, and at least one or two more of the AlienBees.

    Hope that's helpful. Best of luck!

  5. If you've already got a SpeedLite for the Digital Rebel XT then I'd really recommend you head over to Gary Fong's site and check out the video he's done to show the results of his LightSphere. It really does produce amazing results at very little cost.

    If you ever do get into studio strobe and power supplies I really like the Impact Radio Slave Unit as it uses the strobe power supply for power on one end and hot shoe unit on the other. It makes cycling near instantaneous. I love mine.

  6. [quote comment="34090"]If you've already got a SpeedLite[/quote]

    I don't have a SpeedLite. I could have used one on Christmas day to bounce some ceiling light, though. I'm starting to think, however, that any SpeedLite I do get will be a separate purchase.

    [quote comment="34090"]If you ever do get into studio strobe and power supplies I really like the Impact Radio Slave Unit as it uses the strobe power supply for power on one end and hot shoe unit on the other. It makes cycling near instantaneous. I love mine.[/quote]

    Thanks for the recommendation. I'm looking at Alien Bees packages right now. I'm leaning towards standard strobe lights over the "strobist" approach, currently.

  7. [...] Thanks for those who offered their help in response to this post. [...]