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Thread: Next Step: What to get?

  1. #11

    Re: Next Step: What to get?



    I'm going to break with Oren and suggest that you do get an external HD for the Macbook. The main reason is using the included Time Machine software on your laptop to backup your stuff. It backs up everything including your OS so if something really bad happens to the laptop you can pick right up where you left off when you replace it with a new laptop.





    Along those lines I'd suggest the Iomega 1TB MiniMax... it's pre-formatted for Mac and is basically bulletproof. B&H has them for $118 right now.

  2. #12
    Administrator Sean Setters's Avatar
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    Re: Next Step: What to get?



    Of course, my recommendations will be (for the most part) lighting-based. And, as far as I'm concerned, you can never have enough. That's why I'm just going to throw a bunch of possibilities at you.





    Justin Clamp ($25-$55)- You can buy the Manfrotto one for around $55, or you can make your own by joining a spring clamp with a cheap ballhead/swivel from ebay for a total cost between $25-$30.





    Studio Clamp ($20 + swivel cost) - Very useful tool and similar to the spring clamp. I have the Lumopro version and love it. It requires an umbrella swivel to use.





    Drop Ceiling Scissor Clamp ($10) - So why would you need a drop ceiling scissor clamp? Well, if you ever want to shoot in a room with a drop ceiling (think schools or office buildings), then these inexpensive items will allow you to attach an umbrella swivel to the ceiling. Is it something you'll use every day? Uum, likely, no. However, it's just too darn useful and cheap not to have one (or two) on hand just in case.





    CPL - I'm not sure if you have one of these, but if you don't, get one. They help make really interesting portraiture.





    More flashes ($50 per flash) - If you're going to be using a CPL in portraiture, you'll likely need more light than one flash can put out. Of course, Alien Bees would certainly help you there. If I had a couple of grand to burn, I'd be into them. However, I like my mobility. Working with Alien Bees is simply more cumbersome. Today I did a shoot where I hung a flash, umbrella swivel, and umbrella from a tree limb (it was easier than using a lightstand). With Alien Bees, some doors are going to open up for you...but you're going to lose a lot of flexibility in the process. I like having a bunch of shoe-mount flashes because then I can light the subject with a main light, use a light or two for rim, and still have flashes left over for the background if I need it. Stroll ebay for used Vivitar 285 and 285HVs.





    Alzo Mini Softbox - I use this thing all the time. The Alzo Mini Softbox is relatively small (but larger than your LQ III), but it's really easy to set up. I use it whenever I want a soft light source while limiting the amount of light spillage in the scene. There are similar versions on ebay (search for "softbox for speedlight") but I cannot attest to the quality of those particular items.





    SaxonPC Grids in Foam Housing (depends on how many you get)- Grids are great when you need to accentuate a certain aspect of your frame, or else you want to add some interest to the background. The SaxonPC grids are custom fit to your flash (so they fit better), and if you buy a set, you get a wide variety of spreads. Personally, I find the tightest spreads to be the most useful.





    Optical Slaves ($20 for the Wein peanut; others vary) - While they may not be completely necessary if you have enough backup receivers, they're still nice to have. I have 5 Cybersync receivers, and I still use my 3 optical slaves quite regularly. They're easier to set up than having to deal with receivers and cords, and they work under most normal working conditions. They are a great backup to have.





    Beauty Dish ($70?) - I know you said you were making your own, but if you aren't satisfied with the results you get once you complete your DIY project, then take a serious look at the Lumodi. Earlier this week I created a post on the strobist threads in which I gave my thoughts on the products (by the way, I highly recommend you leave a comment on the thread or ask a question...the developer of the dishes is pretty cool and I'd like for the thread to get seen for more than a day). Right now, I own two Lumodi beauty dishes (14" and 11"), and I'm about to get a third. Why a third? Well, while emailing Brandon (the developer), he told me they were going to start adding customizable options to the dishes. The dishes I own have a metallic silver coating which produces a very cool light. Now, however, you can choose among metallic silver, white, and metallic titanium (which produces a warmer light). You'll also be able to add a customized logo to the center of the dish. After hearing that, I ordered another 14" with the Titanium finish. I also created a logo and sent it to him so that he could include it on the dish. Seeing as how one of my dishes was going to have my own personal logo, I decided to convert to add my logo to my silver 14" model as well (forgive me for posting this so large, but the image is set to "private" in my photostream so that the stream doesn't get too cluttered...and therefore you can't click on it to get the full-res image):






    So why do I list this as $70 with a question mark? Because the original version is $70. I don't know how much he's going to charge for a customized one once he starts offering it to everyone (as I'm such a good customer, he gave me a very good price on my 3rd one). That said, I'm sure you can pick up the original for the original price. Can you buy a cheaper version from China? Absolutely. Can you build one yourself? Most certainly. However, having used this dish quite a bit, I can honestly say it's worth every penny. It performs extremely well. I've seen comparisons with a common "strobist" dish right off the freight liner--and the Lumodi's results were superior.





    Books/Educational Material - To be honest, I learn best from reading the strobist threads and browsing the pool. However, there is at least one book I learned quite a bit from--Joe McNally's Hot Shoe Diaries. There are many other books out there that you might want to try out instead (or in addition to). But truthfully, a good, illustrative book can be worth its weight in gold.





    PIXMA PRO9000 ($200-$300)- I didn't own a printer for a very long time. After seeing the prints this printer made on Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl paper, I wished I had purchased one much earlier. Will you make prints all the time? Probably not. But when you do, a good printer coupled with exceptional paper will give your prints a "wow" factor that photo retailers just can't touch. And in the coming weeks, with the rebates in full swing, there will be an influx of PIXMA PROs on ebay that will drive down the selling price to a much more affordable level.





    Well, those are some of my recommendations. If I can think of any more, I'll be sure and add them.

  3. #13
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    Re: Next Step: What to get?



    Sean


    Have you ever had the opportunity to compare the light from the Lumodi to an actual beauty dish? The one I had built that was similar to that, while nice light didn't have that specular quality beauty dishes do.


    The closest I've come to a beauty dish light is the Photek 36" Soflighter with the silver insert in the center. It is great light. The insert gives it the specular quality.

  4. #14
    Administrator Sean Setters's Avatar
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    Re: Next Step: What to get?



    I wouldn't call the output specular. I'd say that it is simply like a spotlight with a soft gradient from highlight to shadow (and at the center, it's bright, but still doesn't produce overly-harsh shadows). It's odd, but quite wonderful, in my opinion. And, unlike most light modifiers, you don't seem to lose very much light at all (at the center).

  5. #15
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    Re: Next Step: What to get?



    Yeah that is how I'd describe the one I made. My complaint about the one I made was, I didn't build up the paint inside the bowl enough and I was getting a color cast from it. It differed from a beauty dish in a couple ways it didn't have the specular qualities and like you said it is like a spotlight. A beauty dishes light has a more gradual fall off.

  6. #16
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    Re: Next Step: What to get?



    Thanks so much for the suggestions everyone.


    Looks like I'll be doing some research over the weekend!


    I really like the speedlite grids, the drop ceiling clamp, and the external HD idea. Along with the 4GB RAM for my MB. Maybe throw in a background support system from BH. Oddly enough, I've had a couple needs for backgrounds recently. Even though outdoor location is much more my preference. I'd have such a hard time pulling the trigger on a B+W $100+ CPL. Maybe someday.


    Still more research to be done though!


    Thanks again,


    Rodger

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