Studio and Portable Lighting for Digital Photography

Studio & Portable Lighting for Digital Photography

For commercial professional photographers, the choice of digital slr camera versus medium format cameras is just one aspect of achieving the client's image from planning to execution. For the ultimate control of lighting, studio lighting sytems must be used and there are portable lighting kits for photographers who shoot on location.

For advanced or professional photographers, the range of camera & lighting equipment available today is vast.

Professional digital SLR cameras are now available with full frame sensors and resolutions as high as 36.3 megapixels as found in the superb Nikon D800 DSLR. In addition digital backs are available for medium format cameras which offer even higher resolutions. Studio & portable lighting kits have also developed rapidly with wireless flash and wireless triggers now common place.

Studio lighting kits are available from the most basic kits for the home studio or location photography to complex high powered systems for high end studios run by professional photographers and their staff.

Choosing a studio lighting kit and Setting up a Complete Home Studio.
With the vast range of studio lighting kits available on the market today ranging in price from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, purchasing a complete system based on your needs as a photographer will involve a variety of factors including the following:

1. Budget or price of studio lighting kit.
Purchasing the lighting system is often only the beginning and costs can easily escalate if the photographer decides to buy a complete system involving lighting accessories, professional digital slr cameras and lenses, powerful PCs, software and photographic insurance. Fortunately costs can be minimized by renting exotic and expensive items such as lenses, spotlights etc. and making use of natural light if available. 

2. Type of photography.
For instance fashion photography in a studio or on location will require powerful studio flash lights with fast recycling times to freeze action and keep up with fast changing poses from the model whereas still life table top photography is possible with both continuous light sources such as fluorescent or tungsten lighting systems or low powered flash units with slower recycling times. 

3. Lighting accessories.
To control the quality, direction and color of light from either continuous or flash lighting systems, a vast array of lighting accessories are available including reflectors and umbrellas (in gold, silver or white), softboxes in all shapes and sizes, basic to complex lightmeters for measuring both flash and continuous lighting as well as flash to ambient lighting, colormeters for measuring light color or temperature, wireless flash triggers for multiple flash setups and backgrounds such as seamless paper or muslin.

4. Type of camera system.
The choice here is largely between digital SLR cameras and compact system cameras (also known as mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras). Most professionals still use professional digital slr cameras from Nikon and Canon for the ultimate in quality but also because the range of lenses and accessories covers all their needs. Compact system cameras are capable of producing professional results but the range of lenses and accessories are limited as the system is fairly new. Regardless of the type of camera system chosen, the camera must have a hot shoe for the wireless flash trigger or a pc sync socket to connect the camera to the studio flash system. 

5. Powerful PC or laptop for post production image manipulation and color correction.
The choice for most photographers is still between Apple computers and Windows based systems such as those from Dell, HP, Acer, Asus, Sony, Samsung and Lenovo. 

6. Powerful imaging software.
Most enthusiasts and professional photographers use Adobe Photoshop CS5 or Lightroom 3. See the section on Photo Software for more information. 

7. Photo Printers.
Photo printing as advanced to a very high level and many professional photographers are using inkjet photo printers to produce exhibition quality color and black and white prints. See the section on photo printers for more information.