Gear part II — lights

In the previous blog post, I told you about my camera gear. Today, we will discuss the second part of the story, the one about lights and studio equipment. 

Over the past ten years, I’ve made significant progress in this area. I switched from Elinchrom to Godox because I prefer a battery-based system, which has allowed me to have a studio where I don’t get tangled up in cables. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I gave up a dedicated studio space. Instead, I rely on a minimalist home studio set-up and direct client collaboration. This decision was made mainly because I focus on product photography. For example, I shoot and sell a lot of food and drink on microstock. I also shoot photos for small and very small items — electronic components, jewelry, and the like.

The experience I’ve gained over the years helps me a lot, so I now achieve with only two or three lights results comparable to what I did 5–6 years ago in a big studio. 

Under these conditions, the expense of a dedicated studio was no longer justified. So I gave up my studio, sold everything I didn’t need anymore, and adapted my lighting set-up to the new circumstances. If I have projects requiring a larger and better-equipped space, I rent a studio on a short-term (hours/days) basis. All of these changes have saved me significant money. 

My minimalist studio 

If you’re interested in trying similar changes to what I’ve done or are just starting out and don’t know what to purchase, I hope this article may be helpful. 

Let’s start with the lights. I prefer flashes over continuous light. As mentioned above, I now use Godox flashes with batteries. I currently have two AD200Pro and two V860IIIO flashes, the latter being dedicated versions for Olympus and Panasonic cameras. I also have a Godox XPRO-O and an X1T-O trigger, both specifically designed for Olympus and Panasonic cameras. The whole system can operate in both manual and TTL modes.

I kept one trigger from the old Elinchrom system. This is necessary when working in studios equipped with Elinchrom equipment or when attending workshops with multiple participants, where Elinchrom equipment is used. 

I also have a few continuous lights: two Nanlite Compac 68 led panels, one Godox LEDP-260C 30W panel and two Godox TL-30 RGB LED tubes. These are mainly used for videoconferencing, and the two LED tubes have also proved extremely useful in blackout situations.

As for the light stands, I have four Manfrotto 1052BACs, which feature the Quick Stack System (QSS) for easy coupling of multiple stands together. In addition, I also have a Manfrotto Mini Compact Stand 1051BAC, which is helpful in placing a flash in a low position. 

I own two Manfrotto 026 umbrella adapters, which I prefer to the ones included with Godox flashes because they are sturdier and can support heavier weights. For the two speedlites, I use Manfrotto Smart Tilt clamps. 

I have eight Manfrotto Super Clamp 035. I can easily support photo backdrops using two stands, two clamps, and a 2-meter aluminum bar. 

I decided to ditch the softboxes and opt for umbrellas to create a studio that takes up as little space as possible. I own two 85cm Godox UB-85W parabolic umbrellas with white interiors. I also have a 160cm white reflector umbrella from Godox with extra diffusion. This is excellent for portraits, providing incredibly soft light. 

In addition, I have a couple of products from RoundFlash: two stripboxes that are a perfect match to the two Godox V860IIIs, and a beauty dish. They take up surprisingly little space when collapsed and only take a few minutes to set up. 

Unfortunately, recently, I noticed that the RoundFlash website is no longer working. I hope it hasn’t shut down; that would be a pity. 

I have some light modifiers from MagMod. I’ll write a separate blog post about these as they are an ingenious, compact system that allows for highly creative applications. 

This is my essential equipment. I also have a box of various accessories and items collected over time: gels, grids, and other small light modifiers. You know, the kind of stuff that adds up over time. 

I neglected to mention that I own a Benro tripod with a Manfrotto XPRO Geared 3-Way micrometer photo head. I’m one of the few photographers who doesn’t have a collection of photo tripods. 

That’s all!

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