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I a looking for advice for purchasing some beginner interior studio gear for a budget of around €1000.

This is for the photography team of a school festival, where we are planning on taking studio-quality images of a few hundred performers.

From what I've gathered so far (I have not used professional studio gear in the past), this is our budget layout:

  • 2 x Godox X-Pro C (for Canon bodies) transmitter = 2 x 67 = 134 eur
  • 3 x Godox SK400II = 3 x 149 eur = 447 eur
  • 10 x 20 ft Neewer background = 38 eur
  • walimex 120-307cm Telescopic Background System = 85 eur
  • 2 x Andoer Godox softbox w/ Bowens mount = 2 x 60 eur = 120 eur
  • 22 x 90 cm Rectangular strip softbox w/ Bowens = 49 eur
  • 3 x = Manfrotto 5001B Aluminium Stand = 3 x 49 eur = 147 eur total = ca. €1020

I am sure there are plenty of inconsistencies and glaring errors in this plan if a seasoned photographer looks at it. Any advice would very much appreciated :)

On another note, does the X-Pro C transmitter need to be coupled with a receiver? We will be using a range of Canons and Nikons.

There will be up to four people 'on set', but mostly we are aiming to do full-body shots—ideally with two studio setups simultaneously.

  • The Xpro-C will not work with the Nikon. You will need a Xpro-N for that. – Kai Mattern Feb 10 at 12:14
  • @KaiMattern thank you, but I was already aware of that. I have amended my question to reflect this. Is there anything else in our line-up that could be problematic? – bearmohawk Feb 10 at 12:32
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    To be frank, the most obvious incosistency is to me that this equipment won't give you studio-quality images unless you have a photographer knowing how to use the equipment. If you had a photographer knowing how to use the equipment, he would be able to tell you if it is adequate or not. There is a lot of stuff on your list, which is not directly related to image quality. – jarnbjo Feb 10 at 13:05
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    @KaiMattern - That's actually incorrect. The C will work with the Nikon as well, but only in manual mode and seeing that the lights in question are only manual anyway, it won't actually matter. – Robin Feb 10 at 17:36
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    "we are planning on taking studio-quality images of a few hundred performers" - Can you add more detail about the setup? How many cameras at a time? How many people at a time? Posing? Performing? Etc? It's possible to use as few as one light or as many as you can count. It depends on what you plan to do with them. – xiota Feb 11 at 6:46
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The setup is feasible with the exception that I would recommend getting one Xpro-N Trigger instead of 2 Xpro-C (C is Canon, N is Nikon).

While it would not matter for purely manual flash, as only the middle contact is used for this, you then could use TTL strobes later on with the correct transmitter variant for the camera.

You do not write the size of the softboxes, I would recommend rather getting one 120cm round or octa and two strip boxes. With softboxes: the larger the softbox relative to the subject, the softer the light. If you have the room, bigger tends to be more versatile.

The SK400II has a built in radio receiver that works with the Godox Xpro, no coupling is needed. Just the correct channel and group.

If you get the Walimex background system with levers instead of wing-nut-like fasteners, you will notice that they become loose with use. A small tip would be get a cheap pack of Manfrotto large plastic cable clips. They, by sheer coincidence, have a side that is the right-sized key for refastening the levers. And they click to the stand, so you always have them at hand.

I would also recommend getting some cheap sandbags, as a big softbox tends to need some weight at the base with light and cheap light stands.

Speaking of those: They are rated for 1.5 kg max weight. That is the flash head without any softbox. You might want to see if you can find stands that are rated for a bit more weight to offer a stable platform. I recommend looking for used c-stands, if you can. They are forever. The Walimex Pro stands with wing-nut fasteners are ok-ish for the start though and also cost about 30-40 dollars.

I started with a similar setup, just not with SK400II, but 2 AD200 and 1 AD600BM. They are more expensive but also more flexible due to battery operation. However, the mains powered ones usually have better recycle time.

A budget tip: If you do not plan to have complete control over your light and are not doing mainly low key photos, umbrellas are a dirt cheap and fantastic alternative to softboxes. They produce similar light quality, but are bit less directed and you have more light spill.

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    You should probably edit your answer to make that SK400II instead of SK400. The original version is NOT compatible with the XPro. – Robin Feb 10 at 17:39
  • Why only 1 XPro N? Would two XPro C's not work with two separate camera bodies, and hence we would be able to do two photoshoots simultaneously. However, thank you so much for the very detailed answer!!! :) – bearmohawk Feb 10 at 19:23
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    @Robin - thanks for the hint. Done that. – Kai Mattern Feb 10 at 22:28
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    @bearmohawk Yes, you can do that. I thought having 2 separate transmitters would fit you best as you wrote you would be using canon and nikon cams. Robin correctly pointed out that purely manual flash would be working with any variant. – Kai Mattern Feb 10 at 22:32

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