View Full Version : Best Lighting for indoor photoshoots

06-04-2006, 05:54 PM
Hello! My boyfriend and I just recently purchased a Nikon D50 and we're really excited about playing around with it.

He's already been messing with the exposures at different times of the day outside, but we don't have very good indoor lighting.

Eventually we would like to convert a part of our house into a makeshift studio, what are the best kind of lights to use? Normal Hallogen lights and lamps we have just have pretty crappy lighting, so what would be the best to use?

Any advice would be X10000 appreciated :heart:

06-04-2006, 07:20 PM
About any lamp would be ok with digital cameras because of white balance. Still, white balance doesn't solve everything because each source has its own gaps and coverage of the visible light spectrum. On top of that, each technology has its own pros and cons. A fluorescent bulb (be sure to check its CRI rating; it should be 90 or better) doesn't run hot but the light output isn't very strong. The key is to experiment.

What's more important I believe is your control on light. That's where dedicated studio lights have an advantage. Not only can you control the light output but you can snap light modifiers on and off very easily.

06-04-2006, 07:36 PM
Any details on how much space you have?


06-04-2006, 10:31 PM
hmm we have two rooms we could use. Both have around 10 ft X8ft of space.

I would say our garage which is nice and big...buuuuut to many props and junk in there now..

06-04-2006, 11:11 PM
Im just going to toss this out in the open.

You really dont want to fall under a 50mm-ish focal length. If you decide to do low key, you need at least 6 feet between the vertical of your backdrop and your subject. For high key, 6-8 feet. Then add the distance to hold a framed individual at a 50mm field of view (80mmish field of view equivalant on a 1.6ish crop factor)

The standard length from backdrop to photographer in a full length shot should be 20-25 feet.

Then to consider the size a backdrop should be.

I just want to help you with a size issue many people run in to. To go to a wider lens you will get a distorted image. The level this distortion affects your output is something that I am SURE would be a point of debate in this forum.

Mind you, high key lighting would require lights behind the subject, yet out of frame. So more room to consider.

Not discouraging you, but warning instead.

I have Alien Bees. A pro and semi pro favorite. http://www.alienbees.com/

AB400s would be more than enough light in that small of a room.

If you have any questions, please ask!

06-04-2006, 11:46 PM
I have Alien Bees. A pro and semi pro favorite. http://www.alienbees.com/
I remember you mentioning when you were going to get them. How are they?

06-05-2006, 11:39 AM
8x10 huh? That's going to be tight. You could always use available light if your rooms have big windows. Windows facing North are best for this but use any window you have. You could also open the garage's door to let light in.

06-05-2006, 02:18 PM
I remember you mentioning when you were going to get them. How are they?

I am outrageously happy with them. If you are thinking about them and want any specifics, feel free to ask. Ive gotten to play with em a little bit, so I may be able to let you know about their features. Definately more than I had expected when I ordered.


06-05-2006, 07:43 PM
Sure thing!

06-05-2006, 08:48 PM
Incidently, i got the ab800s, and even 10 feet away in an open room, Im shooting high key with my main light at 1/4 at f/7-f/9, 1/200 at iso200. Soooo, they pack a punch.


06-06-2006, 08:48 AM
Hey thanks for the advice! It really helps. Thankf for the alien bees site too. I'm afraid to see how much they are, but I will look into getitng some in the future.

06-07-2006, 08:33 PM
Welcome fellow D50 owner!

Yeah, an 8x10 room is pretty small for studio shots.

You might also consider getting a Nikon SB800 and 1 or 2 SB600 Speedlight flashes. Attach the SB800 to your D50, and use its wireless function to remotely activate the SB600, which is placed somewhere else in the room. If you have enough SB units you can sort of get a studio lighting environment.

The SB800 is about $300, and the SB600 is about $180.

06-07-2006, 10:12 PM
I also vouch for the SB800 and SB600. The wireless combinations are awesome an incredibly useful! When I'm using my flash, it's probably being set off wirelessly 85% of the time.

I think they're quite a bit cheaper than Staereo's alien bees (not as good though) but I've found my SB800 to be one of my happiest investments to date.

06-18-2006, 11:32 AM
I would like to join in on this topic as well, I am a Nikon user also and I just bought a D50 as a back up for my D200, and the 50 is such a fun little camera when I am not in the studio. I love to take that puppy out with me, and it takes some very good pictures for the cheap tag price!!!!!

Also I use Alien Bees, and I would NEVER turn back to anything else, well except for DynaPhos, but that is more for my Soft Boxes.

So if anyone thinks that the D50 is a bad camera because of the low sticker price, you couldn't be more wrong!!!!!!!!! This is probably one of the best DSLR starter cameras, and I think it gives the D70 a run for its money, and the D70 is like 300$ more!!!

06-22-2006, 11:47 PM
For a very portable strobe set up I use two SB800 and they do work pretty well wirelessly. I think the SBs are controlled remotely by IR so if you put one in a box or hide it behind something it might not fire. I usually put a pocketwizard on them. But they are very nice. Good discussion of their capability on Ken Rockwell's site - http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/sb800.htm . they are very smart flashes.

The SB800s wont have the punch needed for a studio-like shot if you're wanting to close your lens down (to like f11 or so) and have them more than 10 feet away.

I use 3 AB1600s for studio set up. BTW, you can do ALOT with one inexpensive AB800 and a softbox. I have a small softbox (about 1 ft square) that I use on one of the SB800s.

See you all at AX!

07-06-2006, 01:31 PM
Wow you guys sound like you have lots of gear... What can a guy do to improve his lighting situation if he dosen't have this kind of equipment? I'm sporting a Sony DSC-828 with a detachable HVL-F1000 right now. I really don't know if I'll be getting any other gear as of right now but indoor lighting will be something that I will be dealing with when I go to conventions taking indoor shots. Any advice for the average photographer?

07-06-2006, 02:18 PM
That is a guide no 28 flash.

I am to understand youre asking what you can do with the equipment you already have.

One would immediatly point to methods of diffusing your flash, but with a guide 28 flash, youre not dealing with a whole lot of pushing power anyways. By adding most diffusers you are going to decrease your power even further.

One option is to choose a location with low ceilings, and get closer than normal to your subject. Then angle your light at about 70 degrees, or, between straight up and 45 degrees. If you want to try something else, you can move the flash straight up, and tape a index card to the back of your flash. Either of these methods allow you to bounce light off a light colored, low ceiling, and still push some light forward on your subject. But because your flash is a low power flash, youll need to be decently close to your subjects to photograph them.

The other option is to have the flash aimed directly at them, and move a little back, say 15-20 feet with your flash, and let the distance diffuse your light.

If you can get up against a light/white wall, and face your flash angled up and backwards, you can sometimes throw a diffused light forward a little bit. It takes some practice, and im not sure as though your flash has enough power. But if it did, youd for sure need your subjects close to you while you shoot a wider angle.

Ultimately, you should use the power of your camera. Use a wide aperture (low number value) and higher ISO speeds. Dont resort to dropping your shutter speed unless you have a tripod or are VERY stable with a camera.

A wide aperture is your best bet if youre hurting for light indoors. (Using short focal lengths, wide angle, will help your depth of field if it gets too short with your wide aperture.)

Hope this helped in some fashion,

07-07-2006, 11:47 AM
Wow, thats sounds like I'm McGuyvering it all the way. Theres alot of technique involved if you can't get it all. I printed what you gave me so far and I'll try applying it as soon as I get the chance, this sounds like something I'll need to practice.

I do believe that the topic on this was mostly concerning makeshift studio shoots? Would the advice be any different if the picture was being taken, "Spur of the moment?" Such as on the dealer room floor or out walking around in a convention center. Or would those be cases where I just have to do what I can with the lighting situation and make my corrections later on with editing?

07-07-2006, 12:15 PM
Unfortianatly, you really don't have the time to start trying a lot of things with spur of the moment shots. I would recomend using available light to your advantage. Many convention centers are actually, well usually, decently bright. If you can rely on that light the flash can then become a fill to eliminate shadows on the person and not a main light for the entire scene. The camera you have already gives you a decent amount of control so you can use that to your advantage too. On a convention floor, most of the time, wide apertures and a medium ISO (400 or maybe 800 if the lighting is really low) are your best friend. One thing to avoid is having the subject against a wall because you will get an ugly shadow outline of the person, so try for open places. With this you can use distance to diffuse the light as staereo said. Another option I just thought of (would be interesting to try sometime) is to set everything so that the background comes out almost black and you use the flash to only illuminate the subject while leaving the background WAY underexposed. This could create an interesting affect if done right, just something that would have to be played with.

Overall my recomendation is to use the flash as a fill to take out any shadows the convention hall lights create.

07-07-2006, 12:18 PM
A lot of photographers McGuyver, even when they have extensive equipment. It just happens that many different people have their own tastes and experiences that drive them to try different things. IT's perfectly healthy, and shouldnt make you feel like anyones going to look down on your work. I, myself, mcguyver stuff, even in the studio. AS do models, etc... It just happens to be an art where 'what the viewer cant see doesnt hurt them'. I've seen some seriously 'jerry-rigged' setups being used by some BIG NAME photographers. My advice would likely carry on to even some of the nicest flashes you can buy.

Furthermore, the advice I gave was more situational than studio. If you have a shot opportunity, in a dealers room or whatnot, take a moment to view the best nearby shot location. Then ask the cosplayer if they have 2 minutes to step aside to that spot. (Thus the low ceiling and light wall searching.) Best to try to get aware of these good spots as your walking around so as to know where they will be once you find a cosplayer youd like to shoot.

If they agree, then just step over with them and shoot, since youll already have an idea of how to use your flash in THAT area, you won't use much of the cosplayers time.