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Q&A: What portable lighting should I get?

Q&A: What portable lighting should I get?

I’ve been getting some question sent to me lately on the blog, Facebook and Twitter, which is brilliant. It means I can turn them into posts so everyone can hopefully benefit from the answers.

First up was Matt with a question about lighting:

Hi Simon

I found your site originally when I was looking into light painting, then I ended up here again when I was looking into different portable lighting systems. Impressive work all around! It’s definitely inspiring me more to give lighting a proper go too.I firstly ended up looking into Alien Bees or Einsteins, but once they’re imported to the UK the cheap price point quickly disappears.Anyway – I’m just curious, would you still recommend the Quadras you have? I’ve been looking into Profoto and Bowens too, it’s just tricky to decide between them all. I’ve found a couple companies that seem to be designing similar ones to Paul C Buffs lights, or at least at that price-point, but there’s practically no reviews for them and I don’t really fancy being the first to try them either.

There’s plenty of people aswell as yourself that love Quadras, so that’ll definitely make it easier to part with the cash in the future.

Cheers! Matt

Hi Matt

I know what you mean about the Paul C Buff stuff. I’d love a Vagabond Mini and a couple of Einsteins but you’re right, by the time you get them to the UK the price is far less attractive.

In answer to your question, yes, I still love my Quadras, there’s so much about them to like. They are small and light, pack a decent punch and the built-in Skyport radio triggers are very handy. The Profoto packs and a heads are gorgeous but I just couldn’t (and still can’t!) justify the cost. And to be honest they aren’t as compact and portable.

If you are just getting in to lighting though, I’d say start small. Buy some used hot shoe flashes and some cheap eBay wireless triggers and learn to use them in manual. Then, when you run out of power and find yourself limited, step up to something bigger.

Bear in mind you can use any constant light source to light paint with though. It’s a great chance to get all McGuyver with a torch!

Hope that helps, Simon

Thou Shalt Not…

Thou Shalt Not…

I love photography. I care about the the craft and I appreciate those that came before me and pushed the art form forwards. That’s why I get annoyed by some of the things I see and read online.

So it’s time to vent, with a Dan Le Sec vs Scroobius Pip inspired list of things thou shalt not do.

  • Thou shalt not use selective colour. Ever.
  • Thou shalt not buy a piece of gear because a celebrity photographer (being paid by the manufacturer) tells you to.
  • Thou shalt not buy into any “programs” or “systems” that promise to make you rich and successful. They make the people behind them rich and successful.
  • Thou shalt not waste time watermarking images no-one would ever steal and you have no intention of licensing. Just enjoy sharing.
  • Thou shalt not be afraid to ask a question because you think you’ll look foolish in the eyes of your peers. They might not know either.
  • Thou shalt not use any Photoshop plugin/action/filter at 100%. Photoshop is not a blunt instrument.
  • Thou shalt not post poor photographs of every media pass you get to impress people. Impress them with the images you take whilst your are there.
  • Thou shalt not share any of those ridiculous “this is what your are really paying for” memes on Facebook. It just makes you, and the rest of the photography profession, look whiney and amateurish.
  • Thou shalt not buy any piece of gear or software without knowing exactly what it will do for your photography or business.
  • Thou shalt not think you know everything. You don’t and you never will.
  • Thou shalt not buy anything with the word Fong stamped on it.
  • Thou shalt not believe that gear has anything to do with other photographers creating better photographs than you.
  • Thou shalt not say to yourself “That’ll do” or “I’ll fix that later in Photoshop”.
  • Thou shalt not share your entire memory card after an event or shoot.
  • Thou shalt not share “unedited” photos on Facebook as if it’s some sort of badge of honour. Especially when they are under exposed and on a dirty length of seamless.
  • Thou shalt not take a backpack stuffed with every bit of gear you own to a trade show.

You might not agree with all of these or you might have some gems I have missed. If so, hit the comments below.