Ratings: Ease of Use, Performance: 24/25, Look & Feel: 23/25, Features & Software 23/25, How much I enjoy 24/25
Lighting a subject for photography can be tough but with digital cameras you can often compensate for bad lighting using the camera controls or even after shooting image editing with a software program. But with good lighting when you’re taking the shot you will have less to do afterwards and the easiest way to do this is with studio lights.
Direct lighting or indirect lighting using umbrellas and constant on lights allows for proper lighting of subjects so you can see before you click what you’re getting for an image. Using a flash is nice but for portraits and objects in product photography you don’t always want to use a flash. With direct lighting you can control exactly what amount of light hits your subject and can control other portions of the image such as white balance and contrast before you spend time with image editing.
Studio lighting does not have to mean thousands of dollars on expensive flash equipment or huge wattage lights that burn a hole in your energy bill even after you spend the money to purchase them. A good inexpensive, or Thrifty, way to light a subject for a portrait or product shot is with the Smith-Victor Thrifty Basic Light Kit.
The kit comes complete with everything you need to start your own home studio lighting; two telescoping Raven RS8 8 foot aluminum light stands, two 10 inch aluminum reflectors, 2 socket and cord sets, 2 UM-6 umbrella mounts, 2 white umbrellas, 2 250 watt 3200K Photoflood lamps and an imaging guide. You can quickly and easily assemble the stands for use with or without the umbrellas.
The umbrellas connect to the stands through the reflectors at the base of the light socket for a sturdy connection. The socket and reflectors connect to the stands using a simple mount that quickly comes off the stands for simple storage when not in use. Using the telescoping tripod stands is simple with the quick lock down screws on the three sections of poles. You can adjust the light stands at any height from 2 and a half feet up to 9 feet, my ceilings aren’t even that tall. The stands feet also fold in and out and lock down with the thumb screws for an additional height variation and stability.
The stands as well as the rest of the kit are light weight for easy portability with the entire kit coming in at ten pounds. All you need for a real portable studio is a nice tote bag to carry the whole Thrifty Light Kit around in. The Thrifty Light Kit is a perfect solution to lighting for studio and still image photography.
Using a flash is great for on the go photography but for portraits and still shots such as my product shots using a good light kit is a must. You can use good photography bulbs in conventional lights you can buy at a local home improvement store or even use shop lights to light your subjects. But when you consider the flexibility of two good stands and the umbrellas plus the low cost of the set to begin with you cannot beat the Smith-Victor Thrifty Basic Light Kit.
I have been trying to use a quartz halogen shop light to illuminate my subjects but not only do they get really hot but the 500 watt bulbs use a lot of electricity. I have also bought a good halogen flood light and use that in a desk arm lamp but the flexibility to get the lighting where I want it on my subjects is just not there. Using the two Smith-Victor lights equals the one 500 watt shop light I had been trying to use and illuminates my subjects so well.
The quartz halogen shop light cost about $30 dollars for one light, two would be $60 but with no way to give my subjects indirect light. I have tried to jury rig, or more modern terminology is DIY, a connection for an umbrella I have had to the stand but it is just a jury rigged deal that does not work all that well. Using the stands and the umbrellas from Smith-Victor I can get the direct or indirect lighting I want where I want on my subjects easily and quickly.
I can also go out and do some on the spot photography easily and quickly using the Thrifty Light Kit by having the whole kit easily in one small suitcase. The little travel suitcases that have wheels at the base are great for the light kit as they fit all the components of the kit as well as a few needed extras such as an extension cord and a power outlet surge protector. You just need to make sure that you find a travel suitcase that will fit the stands that are about 28 inches tall when folded up.
In July I will be conducting a Learn By Doing Center at a local 4-H County Fair and will be taking along all kinds of electronic gadgets as the theme is technology. I will be using the Smith-Victor light kit to show people how easy it is to take professional looking portraits using some simple lighting and a point and shoot digital camera. The Smith-Victor Thrifty Light Kit is a fantastic solution and perfect for a simple to set up and use system to light subjects for portraits, product shots and still pictures.
The Imaging with Light guide is a nice fold out guide that gives helpful tips and information for using your light kit for lighting a subject for portrait images. The guide shows positions of backdrop, lights and subject along with the picture to show what placement does for each lighting setup.
The guide uses many placement setups to show what you can do with your light kit using the two light stands and direct lighting. The guide also has some tricks and tips using more than two lights for even better photos that professional photographers often use in studios for those prize winning photos.
The Smith-Victor Thrifty Basic Light Kit is an excellent affordable lighting kit for studio quality lighting that is very portable. The light kit comes with everything you need to light subjects directly or indirectly using the included umbrellas. I highly recommend the Smith-Victor Thrifty Basic Light Kit for that inexpensive but high quality lighting kit for us up and coming photographers.