Studio lighting kits for beginners are not necessary the cheapest ones. However, if you already have a good flash, you can compile you studio lighting for really little money. I remember the days when I first wanted to try studio lighting at home. What I did was simply to use my Nikon SB-900 AF Speedlight and a 36” shoot through umbrella. I can tell you that even though this doesn’t sound like a serious equipment for studio I have made some good portraits of my son with it. Here is an example:
Shoot through umbrella works pretty well for this kind of shots. I don’t want to go too much into details why, but the most important reason is that the distance of the light source to the subject is very little but yet the light is really soft (because it is defused by the umbrella).
These studio lighting kits (if we can call them so) are good for beginners because they are easy to assemble, they are cheap – you only need a light stand and a shoot through umbrella. Another advantage is that this setup is very portable.
However, there are some disadvantages compared to strobe studio lighting kits:
– Strobes usually have much more power than flashes. Just to give you an example with my SB-900. This is amazing flash but here is what I read in it’s specifications regarding recharging time – 4 Seconds with fresh alkaline batteries & full power; 4.5 Seconds with Lithium batteries & full power. Usually, powerful flashes like mine produce 90-100 ws. Compared to a 300 ws. strobes you can imagine how much faster a strobe flash would recycle at 1/3 of it’s power.
– This setup is good as mostly because it is portable. However, if you want to try something with 2 or 3 lights than it becomes very expensive (a Nikon SB-900 is around $500!).
You probably already know that for $200 – $300 you can buy studio lighting kits which are really good for beginners. They come with everything you need to setup your studio – light stands, umbrellas and softboxes, backdrops etc. If you need to buy these separately you would spend much more. Of course they are not as potable as a flash and a shoot trough umbrella. However, all studio lighting kits come with handy bag so you still can move it if you really need to do so.
Here is what I would expect from a “beginners” studio lighting kit:
– Two or three 200 to 300 watt MonoLight strobes with stands for each of them
– Two 20×28” Soft Boxes
– A wireless trigger kit
– One reflective umbrella
– One shoot through umbrella
– One barndoor with 4 gels
– One gold/silver reflector
Please, take a look in some of the studio lighting kits listed in our site. You will definitely find something which will suit your needs.