Most beginner photographers or videographers tend to go for the best camera gear while ignoring the need for lighting equipment. This is a mistake that most photographers and videographers make. But we don’t want you to make the same mistake. We want you to know everything about the studio lighting equipment.
The first thing that we need to know here is what studio lighting is. Studio Lighting is basically your lighting setup in the studio. Here, the studio can be your home studio, an outdoor studio, or an actual indoor photo studio. While most beginners would think of having multiple huge and expensive studio lights, it doesn’t really have to be that way. Studio lighting can vary from as small as the natural daylight coming through a window to the studio lights that are used in multi-billion-dollar movies.
Now that the most basic question is out of the way, let’s start with our guide to the studio lighting equipment.
Guide to the Studio Lighting Equipment
Our guide here is divided into a few sections so that you can breeze through them depending on what lighting setup you are looking for. You can either read through all of this if you are just starting to build your lighting setup or you can just scroll through to find the exact topic that you are looking for.
Things to keep in mind while building a studio lighting kit
When you are starting to build your first lighting kit, you should know what look you are aiming for in your images. The look you are aiming for will actually be a lot more helpful to you in deciding how many lights you’ll require for the setup. It is also important to decide about the location we will be aiming to use the lights.
Once you have decided on the looks and the location, we can now start looking at the lights. When we look at the lights, there are two most important things that everyone should be looking at. The first one is obviously the power output and power range of the light. The power output along with the power range of the light will decide how much light is actually thrown on the subject – and at how much distance.
The second thing that one should consider while purchasing lights is the mount that is available on the light. Two of the most commonly used mounts in-studio lights include the Bowens Mount and the Elinchrom Mount. This is highly important as you’ll need to purchase some of the accessories and modifiers according to the mount that is on the light. If you are just looking at portable lights or the lights that can be mounted on top of your camera like the Aputure AL-M9, you can skip looking for the mounts.
Types of Lights
There are a few main categories of lights that one can be looking for while building their first lighting studio. So, let’s go through them together so that you can decide which one can work best for you.
The first one that we are talking about here is the continuous lights – which can be either fluorescent lights - which come with 45w bulbs, tungsten, or an LED. These are usually one of the best all-rounders as they can be great for smaller photoshoots as well as for YouTube videos. For photoshoots, continuous lights such as the Amaran 200d can help you achieve that exact shot you are aiming for.
For making a YouTube video, these lights can help you get flicker-free footage as they are usually manufactured while keeping video usage in mind. Overall, a continuous light can be great because of the versatility it provides. However, the continuous lights have their own disadvantages – which are the advantages for the strobe light and Speedlight.
Strobe light and Speedlight (also known as flashgun) – both are different categories of lights - just with similar usage. They can be considered as sub-categories of flash lights – that can generate a quick burst of light, powered by mains to lighten up your image. Usually, strobes - that are powered by mains or flashguns can work great for portrait photography as well as product photography.
If you are shooting products, people, or anything else that is in motion, a flash unit like Profoto B10 will serve the best for you. Also, these lights are high-powered as they can light up an entire scene with just a flash of light – given that they just have to be in sync with the camera settings. However, it is essential to note here that these lights can’t just be used for creating YouTube video - which is a major downside.
While studio photographers usually prefer strobe lights or speedlights, we do love to have a single light that can also help to shoot a good YouTube video. This is the reason we love continuous lights – but you can definitely select based on your usage.
Accessories and Modifiers for Studio Lights
Accessories and Modifiers are extremely important to complete a studio kit. Once again, there are quite a few products that we need to know about to build great studio lighting kits.
The first accessory that must be used by every photographer or videographer is a reflector. Reflectors are an essential piece of equipment when we want to use a single light source as they help to fill the other side of the image or video – by working as a fill light without being one.
One of the modifiers – known as a diffuser is extremely important to give a soft look on the subject. It can be achieved by a normal external diffuser, umbrellas, or by using softboxes over our studio lights. Softboxes can easily help diffuse the strong light and give you much more eye-pleasing results.
The last thing that is required to complete a lighting kit is a light stand. Light stands are important as that’s where you’ll be attaching your studio lights. A lighting kit is never considered complete without light stands or a boom arm – unless you are going with the portable lights like the Aputure MC RGB Portable Light - where it'll be handy for you to have a carrying case.
Using everything together as Photographer/Videographer
As a photographer or a videographer, you’ll have to use your light equipment to work as a key light, a fill light, and a hair light. It’s not essential to fill in all parts if you are going for a moody look but having your lighting kit work as all three lights can be great to achieve cinematic results.
If you are a portrait photographer or a product photographer, a strobe or speedlights lighting kit can work great for you. However, if you are also focused on making a good YouTube video, continuous lights with a softbox will serve best for you. Use the reflectors and diffusers to either fill some light in shadows or to soften the light more – to achieve the final results that you want.
Put on the studio lights along with their accessories/modifiers on a light stand and start shooting. You can also use lamps in the background to create a good ambiance for a photo or video. Results can’t be achieved without shooting. So, just start shooting and experimenting with lights to know how different placement of light kits can achieve different results in photos and videos.
Best Photography Lighting Kits in 2021: Photo Studio, Location, and Video
As a content creator, building a first light kit might cause a lot of confusion. But we want to make it easier for you to focus on just creating content. Hence, we are suggesting you the best lighting starter kits here – for different use cases that include a photo studio, an outdoor location shoot, and video.
For an indoor photo and video setup, you can go ahead with a couple of continuous LED lights - Amaran 100d or Amaran 200d. You can pair these studio lights with a couple of Aputure MC RGB Portable Lights to add some flair in the background or just use them as hair lights and fill lights. However, if you are only aiming to shoot photos - and not videos, going with one of the flash heads like Profoto B10 won't disappoint you.
The same setup suggested above can work with an outdoor studio. However, if you don't need to throw light at a distance, then you should be good to go by getting an on-camera led light such as the Aputure AL-M9. This small led is capable enough to light up a small scene by itself.
As there is such a huge difference in the lighting equipment that one can buy, it is important to know almost everything that one can before making a final purchase decision. Investments in lighting equipment can seem to be expensive at first – but it’s totally worth it. And we hope that by reading this, you will be able to make a better decision.