4 Types of Lighting for Your Home Photography Studio

Let me guess, you have been a photographer for a little while now in one form or another, and you are now ready to take that next step into setting up your own photography studio. This is an exciting step that allows room for more opportunities and to be more creative! Besides the bare minimum of a camera body and a lens, one of the most important areas to invest in for your home studio is lighting. Here is a list of 4 styles of lighting for your home studio and why you should consider each of them!

#1 Natural Light

One of the most important aspects of photography is lighting. The saying goes bright pixel are sharp pixels and light can really make or break a good photo. When you are first starting out in photography, the only light source you have is the one that is readily available to you, natural light. The majority of photography taken outdoors relies on the sun (or moon) as their main light source, but we can’t forget the power of natural light in home studios.

If you are wanting to set up your own home studio, try your best to find a room that has a large window that has sunlight coming through it. Two things to note, thin white curtains are amazing on a window for creating a soft light source for nice, natural looking shadows, and if you are planning on using any form of artificial studio light, be sure to find black out curtains or have a dark sheet over the window when you are not wanting the natural light in your photos.

#2 Speedlights or “Flashguns”

The second form of lighting that photographers use in their home studio is off-camera flash, speed lights or “flashguns”. you can pick up a manual speedlight for around $80 and although they are not as powerful as something like a studio strobe, they are small, versatile and very useful when paired with lighting modifiers.

One of the biggest benefits of using speedlights is that they are light and portable. You can use a speedlight attached directly to the hotshoe on the top of your camera for a wedding photos, and then that same week you can use the speedlight off-camera in your studio space for anything from model photos to product photography.

If you are going to use a budget speedlight off camera, then most likely it will not have any wireless capability built into the flash. For this reason it is a great idea to purchase a pair of these Yongnuo Wireless Recievers for around $40. One of the receivers attached to the top of your camera, and the other connects to the bottom of your speedlight to allow you to have a wireless flash. I have a pair of these receivers from several years ago and they still work great! On a quick side note, these also work as a wireless remote for your camera and you can also attach the receiver to any studio strobe that isn’t wireless (you’ll read more about that below) If you are interested in attaching light modifiers to your speedlights, be sure to pick up a couple of these speedlight brackets to attach them to your Bowens modifiers.

I have a pair of these receivers from several years ago and they still work great!

#3 Continuous Lighting

If you have a very lean budget for lighting, another option is to use continuous lighting. These are similar to your typical light bulbs that are always lit, but on a brighter scale. You can pick up two continuous lights including soft boxes for them for under $100. One of the benefits of continuous lighting is that you are always able to see how your lights will effect shadows etc in your photos.

In the past few years, continuous lighting has largely been heading towards LED light panels which work better than bare bulbs, but these panels are much more expensive and not worth the investment unless you are also doing lots of video work. I would still strongly suggest going with one of the other lighting options as continuous lights are not very bright for photography and are used more often in videography such as video interviews.

#4 Monolights or “Studio Strobes”

Lastly, most professional studio photography work takes advantage of monolights or “studio strobes”. These are the large lights that you have come to recognize in most studio setups. They can vary significantly in cost from the $150 Godox SK400 to around $2000 for the Profoto B10. Keep in mind that unless you use different adapters, the studio strobes that you purchase will need to be the same mount as your modifiers. This is why my recommendation, especially for someone starting out in flash photography would be to purchase one or two strobes by Godox like the one listed above.

Almost all strobes take advantage of having two light sources. There is a large bulb in the centre called a “modelling light” which is a form of continuous light that can be turned on and off to see how your light will effect shadows in your frame, and there is the actual “flash tube” which flashes extremely bright and gives off a popping sound. It is worth noting that when you fire a strobe, the modelling light will shut off briefly and will therefor have no effect on your photo.

Strobes from budget brands like Godox or Neewer work with the Bowens mounting system which is the most universal style of light modifier. If you stick with the Bowens mounting system, you’ll always have a good selection of lighting modifiers at your disposal.

5 Reasons You Need “MyGearVault” on your Phone

#1 It is the best way to keep all of your gear organized

I don’t know about you, but when i first got into photography, especially studio-based product photography, I only had a small amount of gear which I could keep organized in one large camera bag. Since that time, my amount of gear has grown to include all sorts of essential equipment such as more lenses and camera bodies, studio lights, reflectors and light modifiers, wireless triggers and much more. With all of this additional gear, it can be overwhelming when trying to decide what you have at your disposal, and what you are needing for your current shoot. MyGearVault created by photographer Jared Polin is an extremely useful photography app that allows you to catalogue all of your photography and videography equipment so that you always know exactly what you have in your studio space and the information about each item. The app conveniently comes with some default categories such as lenses, data storage, lighting, audio etc. which you can easily add your various pieces of gear into for quick reference.

#2 It allows you to customize “kits” for easy planning

One of the features of MyGearVault is the ability to make custom “kits” for different photography situations such as weddings, travel, videography, studio etc. This allows the photographer to include only the gear for that specific purpose into each kit, giving them a form of check list any time they are planning a future shoot. For example, if I am on location at a business one day shooting some product photography, but the weekend is coming up and I know the very next day I will need to be heading out to shoot a wedding, all I need to do is select the “Wedding” kit on my app, and it will give my own customized list of gear that I most typically shoot with at weddings including items that can easily be overlooked like spare batteries, filters, cables etc. I have found this feature to be one of the most useful reasons for keeping my gear up-to-date in MyGearVault.

#3 It allows you to submit insurance claims if the worst case scenario should happen

If by any chance you have some of your gear stolen, you have access to all of your gear’s serial numbers and information so that you can easily submit a police report. The app even has a “Stolen” button, so you can enter a serial number and the police report into a searchable database. This way, if someone tries to verify your gear item as your own, MyGearVault will be notified. Last but not least, MyGearVault has access to top rated insurance companies to help you find the best insurance policy for your needs.

The app even has a “Stolen” button, so you can enter a serial number and the police report into a searchable database.

#4 It is very intuitive and just looks great!

I would be the first to say that I have tried many other organizational apps for my gear and I always felt like they were lacking in one area or another. As a professional Graphic Designer and Photographer, I can tell you that the MyGearVault app is both well thought out and well designed. This makes the entire experience of inputing and referring back to your gear much more appealling and it feels less a chore and more like browsing through a camera store (except you already own all the gear!)

#5 It is completely FREE

That’s right, this app is completely free and does not even include any in-app purchases or upgrades. Whether your camera gear consists of just a camera body and kit lens, or a full studio set, with this in mind, why would you not download the app and stay organized?

Full Frame vs. Cropped Sensors, 8 Things You Need to Know

#1 Full Frame cameras typically have the highest quality images

When it comes to the discussion about cropped vs full frame sensors whether it is a APS-C or micro four thirds, there is a never-ending debate about which sensor size is “better”. No matter what you believe, it is hard to argue that in terms of overall image quality, full frame sensors have a leg up on their competition. There is an argument that if two cameras have the same amount of megapixels, the cropped frame camera will be sharper because the pixels on the cropped frame sensor are smaller. Although this may be true, in my real-world tests it really doesn’t make a difference to the naked eye and full frame sensors still produce better results at the end of the day.

#2 Full Frame lenses are universal and a better investment

If you are just getting into photography for the first time this may get overlooked (I know it was with me). If you start getting into photography on a APS-C or Micro Four Thirds “cropped” sensors, if you ever decide to switch to full frame camera bodies, the odds are your lenses will not work properly. When I first decided to transition over to a full frame camera body, four out of my five lenses which I had spent $100’s of dollars on had to be replaced with proper full frame lenses. They are two ways to avoid this difficult situation if you decide to upgrade to full frame. The first option is to only buy full frame lenses from the start and use them on your cropped frame cameras because they will all work without any issues. The big downside being that full frame lenses typically cost much more, but at least all of your lenses will work on all your camera bodies. The other option is what I decided to do, which is to purchase a full frame body and use the one lens I had that was compatible while still using my cropped frame camera body for my other lenses until that time when I could “upgrade” to more full frame lenses over time.

#3 Full Frame cameras give you a shallower depth-of-field

Although this could be seen as just one minor benefit to full frame cameras, a lot of the time this is one of the biggest deciding factors for “upgrading” to a full frame camera body. Just to set the record straight, full frame sensors do not actually give you a shallower depth of field, but because of the crop factor of cropped frame sensors, if you have both camera’s showing the same focal length, and at the same aperture, the full frame camera will give you a shallower looking depth-of-field. This is great for when you are wanting to separate your subject or model from the background, and it is why photographers spend exponentially more money on professional lenses that have slightly lower f-stops to let in more light and give them shallower depth-of-field.

This is why photographers spend exponentially more on professional lenses!

#4 Full Frame cameras are miles ahead in terms of quality when you are shooting in low light

The fact is that full frame cameras are just simply better in a few ways than cropped frame cameras, and one of those areas is in low light or astrophotography. Full frame cameras have physically larger sensors in them (hopefully you know that by this point in my article). For this reason, they are able to take handle low light much better and with modern sensors, they are much more equipped to handle noise reduction in photos. I first started into astrophotography on my cropped frame Nikon D7100, and although my current full frame D750 on paper has similar specs, because of the larger sensor size, the two camera’s are not even comparable in low light photography. When pushed to their limits, cropped frame cameras will introduce much more unwanted noise in your photography.

#5 Cropped Frame cameras and lenses are more affordable

There is a reason he majority of photographers start out on cropped frame cameras. For the exception of a couple high-end sports-focused cropped frame bodies, they are much cheaper to buy! This also goes for their lenses. With a smaller sensor, you don’t need as large of glass in your lenses to fill the frame which makes them cheaper to produce and more budget-friendly. If you are wanting to have the ability of getting professional results from a camera, but it’s not in your budget to purchase a full frame camera, all of the modern cropped frame camera options are more than adequate at producing professional results.

#6 Cropped Frame cameras and lenses are much smaller and lighter than their Full Frame counterparts

This is a pretty simple concept to understand so I won’t spend much of your time on it. A physically smaller sensor means a physically smaller and light camera body. When you pair that with “beginner” cameras that don’t need as many features and buttons, you get something like the Nikon D3100 which is incredibly small compared to even the smallest full frame camera while still having many of the most important features. If you are doing lots of travelling, this may be a huge benefit to you (and your back!)

If you’re doing lots of travelling, this may be a huge benefit to you!

#7 Cropped Frame cameras are very good for wildlife and telephoto photography due to their crop factor

One specific area where shooting on a cropped frame camera body really comes in handy is with wildlife photography and when using ultra telephoto lenses. Cost of a lens aside, if you are needing to shoot wildlife from extreme distances, using a telephoto lens on a cropped frame camera will allow you to view the subject up closer. As an example, if you were to shoot something far away with Nikon’s 55mm-300mm VR lens, the 300mm zoom is actually the equivalent of 450mm on a full frame lens. So instead of purchasing a lens for a couple hundred dollars that gives you the equivalent of 450mm, you would need to spend a couple thousand on a full frame 500mm lens which is really meant for professionals.

#8 At the end of the day, both sensors are great, it just depends on what you’re shooting and what your priorities are

The age-old question of which camera is best really comes down to what your priorities as a photographer are. For the majority of photographers who want to seriously get into the field, full frame camera bodies are the way to go. But if you are someone who loves to take wildlife photos or if you don’t want to sink as much of your hard-earned money into something that very well could be just one of many hobbies, cropped frame cameras are definitely the way to go. No matter which camera body you are using, the really skill and creativity comes from you, the photographer.