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Our college is setting up a photo studio in campus. Mostly the we do product shoots. We have some old strobes, softboxes to start with. We need suggestions on the equipments listed below.

  1. Which are the commonly used backdrop screen colors used or say must have colors?
  2. Suggested tripod and head?
  3. Colors for reflectors?
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  1. I'd use a black, a white and a mid-gray (18% reflection). Theoretically, with the right lighting, you'll be able to make the white background look black, and vice versa, but it limits the lighting options for your subject.

  2. I'm using a Manfrotto tripod and a head with separate controls for the three directions, though many people prefer a ballhead, as it moves more intuitively. Make sure to have a sturdy tripod. They're usually a bit heavier, but I guess for a studio setup this is not much of a problem. A head with built-in spirit levels might be handy.
    edit You may also want quick-release camera plates, which allow you to quickly change cameras on the tripod, without having to screw it on and off again.

  3. Personally I'm not too wild about color reflectors. You can make neutral (white) reflector panels of styrofoam, which, thanks to their light weight, are easy to handle. I'd use Lightroom to adjust colours (if you shoot digital).

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  • A black reflector might come in handy, to remove stray light as well – Rowland Shaw Sep 3 '10 at 12:03
  • A black reflector? Don't I have to see it as an "absorber" then?? – stevenvh Sep 3 '10 at 12:46
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Those things you must have in your list for a basic product shoot studio are that:

  • White background
  • White bounce cards made of foam
  • Table
  • Tape
  • Plenty of lighting
  • Table cloths
  • Binder clips
  • Props

Regarding backdrop, about the same number of consumers (38%) say they’re most likely to buy a product if the images have a plain white background as the number who say they want to see photos contextually (37%). That means you can’t please everyone. So, try different backgrounds, isolate the image, set the stage with lots of props, play with the lighting, and shoot from different angles.

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If I was building a studio I would start with a cyclorama- a curved wall spanning the 90º angle of one of the room's corners and curves out onto part of the floor and painted white. This kind of room configuration gives you enormous flexibility with the type & size of products/subject matter and lighting configurations. If your intended subject matter is tabletop sized, then I recommend the Cambo ST-1 Frame for Shooting Table as a starting point and use translucent acrylic sheets for its surface (I have one of these ST-1s along with smoke gray & translucent white acrylic sheets for it). It also gives you the option to use seamless paper rolls or fabric backdrops overlaid on the acrylic surface. With the addition of your existing studio strobes & other lights you will be able to shoot just about anything.

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Not asked, but in case you ever want new (or used) strobes I would recommend Elinchrom Prolinca: they're powerful, have clear controls and recharge in a fraction of a second.

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