Assembling a Lightweight Lighting Kit for Photography
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Assembling a Lightweight Lighting Kit for Photography

In lots of photographic genres, it’s essential not solely to have highly effective lighting gear, but additionally to reduce the gear’s weight and hold it transportable! Outdated-school lights had been fairly hefty, however fortunately, developments in batteries and LED tech have made it extra sensible than ever to construct a light-weight lighting equipment. On this information, I’ll take a have a look at a few of the greatest lighting choices for several types of images, with a concentrate on portability.

Strobes / Speedlights

Despite the fact that steady lights are a good selection for each images and videography, utilizing a strobe system as a substitute has a lot of advantages, too. I’ve already coated the variations extensively in my steady vs strobe mild article, so test that out in case you haven’t already.

How do you go about making a light-weight equipment of strobes? The excellent news is that there are a ton of light-weight strobes in the marketplace. Developments in lithium batteries and wi-fi triggers have made small lights extremely helpful.

At a broad stage, it’s best to goal for a equipment with 2-3 strobes. Strobes vary from super-compact, 100Ws lights, by means of bigger studio-style strobes that may output 1200Ws. You actually don’t want the higher finish of that vary for most photographic purposes. For many photographers, the fitting stability might be one thing that’s highly effective sufficient to make use of even in sunny situations, however sufficiently small to pack a number of models at a time. I discover that the fitting stability between output and portability is across the 200 Ws mark – one thing just like the Godox AD200 or the knockoff Neewer Q3.

For photographers who want to chop each ounce of weight, or simply want a tremendous compact supply for issues like small product images, smaller options just like the Godox AD100 are additionally accessible. In my testing, nevertheless, I’ve felt that these lights lose an excessive amount of energy with out reducing sufficient dimension/weight to make them worthwhile.

NIKON Z 7 + NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S @ 45mm, ISO 400, 1/10, f/7.1

One other method is to stay with an on-camera flash, whereas rotating the pinnacle to bounce it off ceilings or partitions. The standard of sunshine often isn’t what you may get from an off-camera system, and the ability output is decrease, however it definitely makes you extra cellular. For one thing like marriage ceremony images, I’d stick to an on-camera strobe for precisely this cause – whether or not a name-brand flash from Nikon/Canon/Sony/and so forth., or a third-party lighting firm like Godox.

After all, the flash itself is just not the one a part of a lighting equipment that issues! Should you’re attempting to go nimble, you’ll additionally want to decide on your lighting modifiers rigorously. The correct modifiers rely in your style of images, however some giant diffusers may be very unwieldy and troublesome to deliver on location.

Broadly talking, the lightest and most transportable lighting modifiers are reflectors and umbrellas. Nonetheless, in addition they supply the least management. I often favor to deliver alongside a compact softbox as a substitute – I significantly like Angler’s 24in softbox, because it’s a helpful dimension for merchandise and particular person portraits. The 24″ mark is a fairly good stability between the standard of sunshine and the portability of the softbox, and this explicit softbox is appropriate with my varied Godox strobes.


Transferring into bigger softboxes and parabolics actually strikes away from the light-weight equipment type, however I feel they’re nonetheless value mentioning. A parabolic umbrella can supply a vast number of appears whereas losing little or no mild, which is at all times good when capturing with 100 Ws or 200 Ws strobes. In the meantime, a tall stripbox is a superb different for sure product images. I nonetheless assume that a foldable softbox is a higher general-purpose alternative, however it actually comes right down to what kind of images you do.

By the best way, while you’re attempting to maintain issues light-weight, don’t overlook that some equipment can pull double obligation! A scrim with diffusion may be lit to make a enormous softbox, for instance. In the meantime, a reflector may also function a impartial bounce floor even in rooms with magenta partitions. I often deliver a few poster boards within the automotive, and whereas these are a bit cumbersome to hold round, they’ll act as V-flats, backdrops, bounce playing cards, and extra. Creativity can prevent extra weight than spending a number of cash.

Steady Lights

I really like strobes, however I’ve discovered steady lights are more and more the primary instruments I seize for a big selection of shoots. That is partly as a result of they work so nicely with video in addition to photograph, and I do each for a lot of shoppers. Additionally, nevertheless, the moment suggestions (without having to take a lot of check images) helps me work quicker and collaborate with the shopper higher.

Lightweight steady lights usually are not going to pump out as a lot mild that a strobe can; that’s simply the truth. Nonetheless, trendy LED steady lights usually are not slouches. I’ve beforehand reviewed the Zhiyun FR100C on Photography Life, which inserts 100 watts into a transportable kind issue. Others are even smaller – the dimensions of a softcover e-book and even much less. For steady lights, I’ve actually loved using the X100, as each the shape issue and energy output match actually naturally into what I shoot. A well-liked different is a video panel mild – one thing just like the ikan Onyx, the Aputure MC, or any of a million options of various sizes.

NIKON Z 7 + 105mm f/2.8 @ 105mm, ISO 160, 1/200, f/13.0


While you’re deciding on a steady mild, one of many first issues to consider is the supply of RGB options. With the fitting steady mild, it’s very simple so as to add a splash of coloration to your lighting setup, which may be helpful for extra experimental appears.

NIKON Z 7 + 24mm f/1.4 @ 24mm, ISO 400, 1/15, f/1.4

Nonetheless, not all RGB lights are equally good, so be sure you get the correct setup. The very least expensive fashions could have three colours of LED: crimson, inexperienced, and blue. To be able to (attempt to) get white mild, the RGB panel will activate all of the LEDs on the similar time. Nonetheless, this leads to sorta-white mild, with poor coloration rendering and saturation.

Transferring up the ladder, RGBW merchandise add a devoted white LED. That is clearly a huge enchancment and could be my baseline suggestion in case you intend to get an RGB-type steady mild. Nonetheless, it might nonetheless can depart a few of the white stability vary off the desk, as a result of it achieves “heat white” and “cool white” by mixing the white LED with the RGB LEDs.

RGBWW tech is the place issues actually begin to get attention-grabbing. These lights are costlier, however supply each higher output and coloration high quality. This time, there are two white LEDs, one cool and one heat. By mixing these collectively, RGBWW LEDs give significantly better protection of the white stability vary, with out introducing unwelcome tints.

As an illustration, Slite’s LED panel makes use of this tech to ship 98.9CRI and 99+TLCI scores, making certain extremely correct and flattering mild, together with the inventive prospects provided by 16 million coloration picks.


On the high of the tech stack, and with a correspondingly excessive value, is RGBLAC. The addition of lime, amber, and cyan LEDs allow stunningly vibrant colours, image good daylight balanced mild, and a huge CCT vary. I noticed lights that use this tech in particular person on the NAB Present earlier this year, and even on a chaotic present flooring, I used to be shocked by how full-bodied the colour was.

Seen listed below are the varied colours of LED that make up a RGBLAC emitter.

The Nanlite Forza 60C is a good instance of the strengths and weaknesses of this tech, coming in at round twice the value of the bicolor model, however providing a lot extra by way of inventive prospects. The construct high quality, whereas spectacular, does work barely in opposition to the light-weight goal of this information, however given this mild can substitute a white or bi-color supply and RGB or gelled supply, I feel it’s value it.


Is that this stage of coloration accuracy and constancy crucial in case you’re simply utilizing it in lieu of a gel on a background mild? Positively not. If, nevertheless, you’re going for a vibrant, gelled look, the wealthy coloration is a good praise to the excessive finish coloration science trendy cameras are able to.

Moreover, I’d think about each it and Slite’s merchandise to be an instance of purchase as soon as, cry as soon as – they’re amazingly nicely constructed, make use of related requirements like USB-C or V-Mount, and can be utilized throughout something you shoot. Photographs, movies, social, dwell streams, and extra can all be accommodated with simply a few of those lights, and also you’re unbound by inventive restraints. Want crisp whites to match current sources in your scene? Simple. Going for a inventive, gel heavy look? You possibly can shortly experiment with a number of types from behind the camera, because of top notch app assist.

Instance Lightweight Lighting Kits

If I used to be ranging from scratch, I’d think about the next two kits: one for strobe work, and one for lighting work. If you recognize you gained’t shoot any video, sticking to the strobe solely equipment, and even increasing it, may be a nice lighting setup for a various vary of topics. I’ve shot portraits, occasions, and merchandise huge and small, all with out points.

My strobe equipment could be constructed round 3 Godox AD200 lights and one V1 speedlight. You’ll additionally need to decide up a set off, just like the XPro that’s related to your camera model. The V1 can act as a flash grasp, however the heavy on-camera weight may be a little bit of a ache in comparison with the compact triggers. A pair of softboxes and a stripbox could be my place to begin for modifiers, as these work for a big selection of topics. You possibly can simply add snoots, magnificence dishes, or different modifiers primarily based in your wants. Due to the tiny lights, you may get away with small mild stands, as a substitute of cumbersome c-stands, saving a ton of weight right here. The final addition I’d counsel could be some gels, leaving you with a lighting equipment that occupies about as a lot house as a single mono-block type strobe, however with way more inventive potential.

NIKON Z 6 + NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S @ 70mm, ISO 100, 1/60, f/7.1

It’s a bit trickier to be prescriptive with regards to steady lights, owing to the number of viable kind components. Should you’re capturing video extensively, and want excessive output over a lengthy interval, COB monoblock type lights are the most effective wager. These can assist battery operation, however work greatest when plugged in, giving them limitless run instances, even at excessive outputs.

For decrease output wants, like lighting a single portrait topic or merchandise, the super-compact LED choices I’ve talked about would all be viable. I’d think about one thing like a pair of Slite panels, if the RGB performance is beneficial. For devoted white-light use, bi-color COB LEDs are additionally viable, and even overlap nicely with strobes because of the everyday assist for Bowens modifiers. Lastly, the extra inventive LED choices are additionally value contemplating – supplementing a strobe equipment with one thing just like the Slite panel or the Forza 60C may be an unconventional alternative that provides you extra flexibility with mounting, modifying, and coloring the lights.

NIKON Z 6 + NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S @ 41mm, ISO 100, 1/60, f/5.6

Having good management over lighting situations can actually set your images other than others, and because of the big selection of lighting choices accessible, it’s simpler than ever to make a transportable lighting equipment. Throwing even two flashes and a set off into your bag solely takes up as a lot house as a single zoom, however it offers you a ton of inventive prospects. I hope this text gave you a sense of what you’ll want in order for you some light-weight lights! Let me know you probably have any questions or feedback under.

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