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My 500 studio lights too bright?

HarryStan 16 50 Australia
4 Mar 2006 8:13AM
I decided to 'venture' into portrait photography, from high key effects to low light portraits - both head & shoulders to full body & even small groups. I've bought some studio lights - the elinchrom 500 set (2 lights & stands, brollies, softbox & leads). After reading the forums & taking the advice from where I bought them I thought they would be bright enough.
Now the problem - the pics are too bright, I have to reduce the power to 1/4 and stand them (only 1 light used so far)as far from the subjects as the room allows.
Have I bought too powerful lights or what?

keithh 17 25.8k 33 Wallis And Futuna
4 Mar 2006 8:24AM
Yep.....and by moving them away from your subject you only serve to harshen the light. You could always diffuse the light further either by heavier panels on the boxes, or muslin drapes (cheaper), you could even fit ND filters over the bulbs.

The size of softbox will also effect the type of light you're getting. Although a half metre soft is ideal for H&S portraiture, I'd go for a 1.5m hexagonal box, just to soften the light.
HarryStan 16 50 Australia
4 Mar 2006 8:29AM
Thanks Keith, I'm sorry these may seem dumb questions but 'heavier panels' -what do you mean?
how would I hang the muslin drapes over the lights? And as for 'ND filters over the bulbs' you've lost me.
If you could elaborate I'd really appreciate it.
Also, just a thought, could I buy bulbs of less wattage?

keithh 17 25.8k 33 Wallis And Futuna
4 Mar 2006 8:39AM
Well the bulb is driven by the lamp...and you bought 500....I've never gone down that route, so have no idea about fitting lower watt bulbs...but I wouldn't!!

Lee make studio lighting filters and this includes a 1 and 2 stop ND filter which you can cut to fit your own reflectors etc.

You can fit heavier diffusion panels or baffles inside your boxes (I take it you're using interior panels as well as exterior) or just wrap some muslin, even white cotton around the front panel.

I don't know what camera you're using, but if digital can you use iso 50?

Out of interest, with your one light at 1/4 power and at the distance you're using it...what exposure does that give at the camera?
HarryStan 16 50 Australia
4 Mar 2006 8:45AM
The camera is a 10D, iso100 is as low as it goes.
With a distance about 3m, the exposure at 1/250 gives f11.
I take it that when you say panels you mean inside the softbox?

Incidently I will be getting the 5D next week, as it's full frame, do you think the problem will be as severe?
Mark_Readman 15 922
4 Mar 2006 8:48AM
are they shoot thro brollys ?
HarryStan 16 50 Australia
4 Mar 2006 8:52AM
I have tried shooting the lights through the brollies - that does help reduce the light, but it reduces my options & control ie through the softbox (60x60) its too bright also.
keithh 17 25.8k 33 Wallis And Futuna
4 Mar 2006 8:53AM
Funnily enough...the 5D will be better. I say this because I'd move the box closer and work at smaller apertures than f11. The 5D will lessen the DOF over your cropped sensor 10D, plus you'll get iso 50.

You may have to use PS judiciously in softening areas to take back the fact that you're used a small aperture, but with the right lens you'll be surpised how little.

You also have the possiblity of adding ND filters to your lens...but they will have to be of the highest possible quality.

and yes...panels inside the box.
HarryStan 16 50 Australia
4 Mar 2006 9:02AM
Thanks Keith, thats a relief (the 5D being better that is).
Fitting filters to the lens is a good call, but wouldn't that render the reading from the flashmeter wrong or would I just have to allow a stop or two for it?

I've had these for 2 months now, paid 600 for the set from WarehouseExpress - all the suggestions are do-able, but wondering if I should'nt cut my losses, flog the heads on ebay & buy new ones (on the basis that I will always be mucking about with filters, baffles/diffusers to compensate).
keithh 17 25.8k 33 Wallis And Futuna
4 Mar 2006 9:10AM
With ND's you'd just allow the stops used in with your exposure. Most useful would have been one 400 and a 150 or 200, but if you sell them I'd imagine a big loss. I'd wait and see the difference iso 50 will make to your work.

You can always add a couple of lower wattage down the line, but those 500's may come into their own firther down the line hang onto them.
HarryStan 16 50 Australia
4 Mar 2006 9:14AM
Thanks Keith, much appreciated...
Pete_g 16 327 United Kingdom
4 Mar 2006 9:28AM
Hi Alan, I've been going down this route also with some antique bowens lights I purchased from ebay , and even thought they are lower wattage than your lights I too have had problems with them being too bright at times (partly due to them lacking control.

If you don't mind me asking what size room is it you're using? I have mine set up in a double garage (16ft x 16ft) and will be switching soon, and don't want to make the same mistake.
HarryStan 16 50 Australia
4 Mar 2006 9:31AM
I've beensetting them up in a 12 x 12 room with light half way out the door!
But it would be nice to be able to go in close for head & shoulders shots...
Pete_g 16 327 United Kingdom
4 Mar 2006 9:51AM
Thanks Alan.

If Keith is still there, I wonder if I can ask another question on the back of this thread. Given the dimensions we're talking about, can you offer advice on correct purchases/power combos. I had been looking at 300w/400w units but with 1/10 stop increments and 5 f-stop ranges.

I guess I'd never considered before the problem Alan has and assumed that the control of the power would have been possible on modern lights allowing you to buy greater power and operate them at low ouput.

I've also just seen the new elinchrom d-lite's.....does anyone have any views on these or seen them in the flesh (as it were)

HarryStan 16 50 Australia
4 Mar 2006 10:02AM
Saw the d-lites demo'd at focus, they had a digital control push buttons on the back, instead of the sliders mine have - the control looked pretty precise. Also you could reduce the power by 5 f stops in 1/10th increments, whereas mine are only 2 / 3 f stops.
And they're a bit cheaper too!

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