A while ago I made a video where I talked about the lights that I use in the studio, you can see that video below.
I did plan to write a blog post but totally forgot. my bad. This is that blog post.
When I started in photography years ago I used speedlites ( still do ) and whilst great due to portability they lack power for a studio environment. My first speedlites were Younnuo YN460’s and whilst they spat out light, in all honesty they were garbage. I later moved to YN 560’s and they were not much better, so I picked up a set of Canon 430EXii which a far better light than any of the YN units.
I ran the Canon 430EX II’s for a few years and added a Canon 600EX-RT later. The location kit has change some and that will be covered in another post.
Next came the studio lights. For a few years I rented local studios for clients work before opening mine so I have experience with a fair few brands (Bowens, Profoto, Various others).
For my own lights I started with one studio light of mine own (Lencarta Elite Pro 2 600) and was also long term loaned ( I still have them) 4 Lencarta Smart Flash V1.
In 2017/2018 I upgraded to studio lights that gave me a few things over the lights that I was using.
Instead of going with Bownes (huge QC problems) or Profoto (huge prices) I went with Pixapro lights which have been great.
The reason I chose Pixapro is they are s-mount (aka bowens mount) fitment and offered great features, service/support for a good price. They also mean I have a lighting system which works as one, same triggers, same built in receivers.
The Lights – As of Sep 2018
2* Pixapro Storm II 400 - These offer a good power range, short duration and built in 2.4 Ghz receiver.
2* Pixapro Storm II 600 – Same as the 400 but 2/3rd more power.
1* Lancarta Elite Pro 2 600 – A good solid light but it’s power range is limited ( 1/32nd – 1/1) and it’s duration is slow as Christmas. I have added a 2.4 Ghz usb receiver so it will fire with my triggers, but I don’t get power control.
3* Lencarta Smart Flash V1 – 200ws heads. They were given to me by my good friend and (2nd shooter) Stuart and have worked great for the first few years of the studio.
The weakest lights in terms of build and performance as the 200ws Lencarta units. The stand mounts are total crap and I am always fighting them, at some point I will phase them out and replace them with Pixapro units with built in receivers, but I expect I will get a few years out of them yet.
That’s 8 studio lights in total and they allow me to handle any job that comes in to the studio and offer redundancy for a lot of the work I do. They are all bowens s-mount which means I don’t need to mess with adaptors or speed rings and I have access to a large range of light modifiers.
The Pixapro storm heads bring high speed sync, stroboscopic and very short flash duration’s to the studio which is great and means I have the option to shoot wide open and remove all ambient light and stop action all in the one lighting kit.
You can get a lot of work done with basic studio lights but at some point, you will want to move up to something a little nicer that helps the workflow and opens up new possibilities.
The only thing I wish these lights had was a decent (bright) LED modelling lamp instead of the traditional bulbs but I ma yet to find a light with LED lamps that are real use.
For the wireless triggers I use Pixapro ST-III and also ECO 2.4 Ghz 32 channel units which allow my to use both my studio lights and location lights in high speed sync and control the power of them remotely which is very handy when you have 2 -4 lights set up on high stands at a wedding venue. (Images courtesy of Pixapro)
These triggers provide Af Assist, E-TTL via wireless and a passthrough hot shoe that allows me to mount a speedlite on camera and run off camera lights. They will also provide high speed sync for compatible light and will let you control the power in 1/3rd stops.
If your lights don’t have compatible receivers built in you will need to buy a separate receiver to fit to each of your lights. The ST-III transmitters are now used for backups and during workshops.
The ECO 2.4 Ghz 32 Channel Transmitter
This is my fav trigger, mostly because it’s easier and faster to use. It offers highspeed sync, AF Assist, remote power control in 1/10th stops or 1/3rd. They don’t provide TTL which in my opinion is no real loss.
Both trigger types work with my studio lights and my location speedlites & Hybrid 360ii. The speedlites and 360ii can also be used as on camera flash, off camera and as a master to control the studio lights and each other which provides me with multiple backup options and a good amount of redundancy.
For the none Pixapro studio lights I connect a couple of receivers so they will fire when the trigger/camera goes off but I don’t get remote power control with them. For now they work.
This kit has been rock solid and provides some real nice features for the price point. The upgrades were worth it over buying a new camera because the new lights have brought with them consistency, power and ease of use which is worth far more to me than a Canon 5D IV or 5Ds right now.
Seriously if you have a couple of working cameras and are a studio/portrait shooter.. stop looking at the new camera and invest in the lenses, lights and you first.
Thank You for reading.