Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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I need to make some shoot of headwear for a website. Pictures are basically something put on the dummy head. I don't need super professional pictures but I wan't something reasonnably good, better than the built-in flash. The dummy head looks horrible and you have net shadow on the wall.

I managed to fluke some decent 3-point lighting picture with just house hold lamps, but it's really hard to replicate and, as I use cheap and weak lamps, I need to wait for the night to be in the dark etc...

So, as it's for business, even though I'm a beginner, I thought I could invest a bit in buying more professional stuff. I'm torn between either buying a good quality flash to do off-camera shots or a professional lighting kit,(I'm thinking either a Nikon SB-700 or Interfit EXD200) both being around £300.

From what I've read, it seems that a good flashgun is the basic to have (and so the first thing to invest in), whereas a ligthing kit seems to be more what I need for this particular task.

Any recommendation ?

Update

I got both at the end, and I would strongly recommend the ligths vs the flash guns. If in theory you can do everything with Flash guns, something lights (with modelling lamps) allow you to do is, check the shadow in real time whilst moving around the lights (or the subject). With flash guns, you'll have to guess the correct position, take a picture, look at the result, move slightly the flash guns etc ... lots and lots of faffing and very time consuming. So my answer would be : if you need to position your lights accurately then it's a time vs money question : if you have the money get the studio light, if you have time go for the flash guns. In my case, I'm glad I got the studio lights.

(I'm a the happy owner of a Nikon D40)

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1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The most foolproof approach would be to buy a TTL flash such as the SB-700, use the flash on camera but swivel the head to point at a white ceiling, place the dummy in front of a plain wall, set the camera to shutter priority, flash on auto and snap away.

The above will give you a very flat, soft flattering light with no hard shadows. If you want (or need) a more dramatic, angled or sculpted light then the studio starter kit would be better. Operation would be more complicated as you'd have to use the camera in manual mode, position the lights appropriately, set the correct power levels and find a way to trigger the lights (there's no PC sync on the D40 so you can't simply plug the lights in).

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Can't I use the built-in flash to trigger the off-camera flashs or lights ? –  mb14 Jul 9 '12 at 16:35
    
I would prefer manual to auto, because I have a couple of pictures to do, and I would like them to all look the same, whilst spending as less time as possible in post-production –  mb14 Jul 9 '12 at 16:36
    
@mb14 apparently the interfit lights have an optical slave so you should be able to trigger them using your built in flash. If you have no problems with going full manual then the studio lights sound like a good solution for you. –  Matt Grum Jul 9 '12 at 16:58
    
I'm going for the studio lights –  mb14 Jul 11 '12 at 11:53
    
@mb14 excellent - good luck! –  Matt Grum Jul 11 '12 at 12:19

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