New Lights!

Posted by meronpan on May 11, 2009

Haven’t quite taken enough photos for a full review of sakura yet, but in the meantime just wanted to say I got some new lights!


Not quite positioned appropriately since I was just trying to fit them in the shot, but you get the idea ^^;

I probably should’ve done some more research and asked around the community before ordering, but I was in a rush since one of the lamps I was using previously burnt out. ^^;

Was only going to order a single umbrella/stand/socket kit but ended up with the set of 2 thanks to a gift certificate and fear of mixing fluorescent and incandescent light.  Shipping was ~$20 so all told it was ~$90 for the set (-$40 gift certificate == ~$50 ^^).  Seeing as how desk lamps that will actually take high enough power bulbs were difficult to find and expensive I figured I’d just go for the real deal.

A little taste of the results…


First thing that I noticed was that it was pretty easy to get results similar to or better than my previous results.  That above pic is (I think) unedited, and just what I got placing sakura down and guessing where I should place the lights ^^;

You may remember the towers of boxes I had previously…


You can’t really see them, but on either side of the main stack of boxes is 2-3 other boxes to get the appropriate heights for things ^^;;  All told it was like 9 or 10 boxes ^^;;  Much easier now.

Basically I just set up the main shooting area and put the umbrellas on either side… started shooting away.  Pretty happy given the small amount of effort I spent setting up these shots.

Tried to do a little comparison with Airi since I hadn’t taken any sakura shots with the old setup.


Hopefully you can tell which is which… and hopefully the new one looks better? ^^;;  But to be clear, the one of the left is with the new lights, right is from my review.

A little more about the kit if you’re interested…

Got it on Amazon, but sold by cowboystudio (I guess they chose the name since they’re located in Texas…?).  Came with 2 stands, 2 umbrellas, 2 light sockets, and 2 30W CFL bulbs.  The bulbs are roughly equivalent to 125W incandescent bulbs or something like that.  It’s no professional kit, but based on what I can tell and the comments, it seems to be a descent starter kit, in terms of getting into this sorta lighting?  Some people commented on it not outputting enough light, but for figure photography it seems fine ^^;  Plus, you can just put in a higher watt bulb if you need more power.

Setup was pretty easy (assuming I put it together right ^^;;)… unfolded the stands, got the sockets mounted, screwed in the bulbs, umbrellas in place… action!  The cords on the sockets are a little shorter than I’d like, but some extension cords took care of that.

aaand one more sakura teaser.


Can’t get enuf alter ^^

Without the gift certificate I had, it was $86 so you’re looking at $43 per stand/lamp/umbrella.  After spending many many many times that on figures I guess it didn’t feel like such a big purchase and worth the investment ^^;;  If you’re more focused on growing your collection though, hard to recommend a nice figure’s worth of lighting :P

Alrighty, time to sleep so I can churn out the actual review sometime soon ^^;;



50 Responses to “New Lights!”

  1. Kairu Ishimaru said

    What are those umbrellas doing the- Oh wait.. I see.

  2. Smithy said

    Oh, those look like very nice performing light/umbrella stands for that price! ^^

    I’m still using either plain daylight through stained glass or self made lightboxes and reflectors based on Happy Soda’s tutorial.

  3. sonic_ver2 said

    Those Sakura photos definitely looks better, a lot. Did you still use a tripod to grab hold your camera steady?

  4. Oh, fancy ^^. It seems to work very well too.

  5. YuKi-To said

    looks good indeed ^^ I think I will stick to outdoor shots to save money =P

  6. kesenaitsumi89 said

    Hmm.. It does seem better after the change. ^^ Good Luck~`

  7. optic said

    The results speak for themselves. It’s a worthy investment for ur consistent figures.
    I’m just more dedicating in spicing up my collection than find equipment to give out great shoots. Guess, I’m not really as dedicated in to photography as I really am as I just do what I can do best and what I have.

    • meronpan said

      yeah, the photography’s not for everyone (and those that don’t get into it get to save a lot of money ^^;;) i was surprised how much i’ve ended up enjoying it ^^ it’s just too bad that it’s yet another huge expense orz (still no idea how i’m gonna get around to affording a dslr and crazy lenses…)

  8. ELTboy said

    Great equipment Gets! You just gone up another level in photography! ^^ As optic said, the results speak for themselves. Looking forward to your future reviews!

  9. Shiddo said

    LOL ^_^ “…under my umbrella-ela-ela-ela…” you are going PRO ^^;
    I am using similar method to Happy Soda method. Started with it but got iritadet to display all difusers and reflecting boxes around. And found up method that dolves it. Instead of “difuser boxes” around, I use one larger box as light tent and place figure inside (still experimenting thru… need to get own camera and find right setups ~_~)

    some pipe based lighttents

    box based lighttent

    pro lighttent ^^;

    the only problem with tens might be for larger items/figures unpacked boxes shots… but then again u can either rebuild it ot get bigger one

    (sry if posted it 2x. browser acted weired so i posted later once again)

    • meronpan said

      yeah, size of the setup is definitely a concern… was really happy to get the cloth because it let me work with a much larger area. and now i’m curious about light tents… once i’ve exhausted the possibilities with my umbrellas i’ll have to see what that’s all about ^^

  10. super rats said

    Wow, that’s quite an affordable lighting setup. Thanks for the link to it.

  11. Blowfish said

    T.T ….

    Me wants!

    What did you exactly search for to find these?
    I doubt theyll send to Germany or at an evil price
    .The results speak for themselves.Im looking forward tp your reviews even though you are now heights above my üictures :P

    • meronpan said

      lessee on amazon I searched for “umbrella light continuous” or “photography lighting” (no quotes) … that should probably give you some results and then you can use key words from the matches to further refine…

      • Blowfish said

        Okay ive searched the Web and they sadly dont offer a complete set like yours over here.
        Shipping to Germany would add 100$ to the Bill and then theres still customs and its stupid 24% Tax


        I found some German Sellers aswell but the cheapest one ive found is about 70€ and its only one Umbrella :/
        I know you dont know much either but what has to be in such a set?Theres tons of lighting umbrellas and lights and stuff to build your custom set but i dont know what i actually need

        • meronpan said

          yeowch, that is quite a bit more expensive ;_;

          As far as the set contents, each umbrella kit consists of:

          a light stand – the tripod stand onto which the bulb sockets screw/attach to
          a bulb socket fixture thing – the fixture that holds both the light bulb and umbrella, attaches to the light stand. it’s adjustable so you can change the angle of the light/umbrella (at the same time, not independently). since it holds the light bulb, it’s also got the switch to turn the unit on along with the power cord

          other than that… you just need a bulb and umbrella.

          For the bulb, i believe the recommended color range is 5000k – 5500k (daylight? or cool daylight? something like that). as mentioned above, i’m using the 30w bulbs that came with the kit – they’re equivalent to ~125W incandescents.

          I think the umbrellas I got were 40″. They’re shoot through, as opposed to bounce. Since I’m doing continuous lighting (instead of flash/strobe/speed lights (whatever you wanna call ’em ^^;)), I wanted the shoot through style to diffuse the light. I’m not sure bounce would work as well (if at all?) for continuous lighting since you’d then expose your subject to undiffused light?

          I think that covers everything ^^; Let me know if you still have any questions and I’ll try to answer ^^;

  12. phossil said

    Wow, the new lights really improves the quality of the lighting. Im assure the camera has something to do too. I think You are becoming a pro in figure photo. ^^

    • meronpan said

      still have a ways to go before i’d call my stuff pro, but thanks ^^

      i am pretty happy with what i’ve been able to produce with my camera. guess it goes to show how important lighting is to get nice looking shots (though it helps a ton if your camera can adjust aperture, shutter speed, iso and such ^^;)

  13. Rin said

    The preview of Sakura is really nice!!!
    The lights are really nice!!!
    Now I might consider getting myself one too!!!

    • meronpan said

      doumo ^^

      have taken more pics since then, i can say if nothing else, i love being able to move my lights around more freely. balancing lamps restricted my options quite a bit (or was time consuming ^^;)

  14. T.I.P. said

    Nice lights. Might consider getting them in the future…but definitely not now. ^^;; Nice pictures, I’ll be waiting for your Sakura review…which might prompt me to buy a DSLR, the lights, and a tripod.

    • meronpan said

      hmmm might be ready to post my sakura review tonite… we’ll see if i have time ^^;

      i spent the other day looking at dslrs and lenses ^^;; been really hard trying to figure out what would be best. will have to do a post for opinions before i make a final decision (not like that’s anytime soon thou ^^;)… currently i think i may go for the 450d, 50mm f/1.4 & 100mm f/2.8 macro. that… that would set me back quiiiite a bit thou ^^;;;; guess i could try the 50mm f/1.8 or even go with the kit lens to save some money… ack i could go on forever about this, better stop :P

      • T.I.P. said

        I know, the lens’ are always painful on the wallet. I was looking at the XSi for starters…and the lens’ would end up costing more than the camera itself. “orz So I’m not sure if I want to go high end camera with nice lens’ from the start or sticking to starter sets and advance from there. It is a topic that can go on forever, but in the end the best camera is the one that you’ll use.

  15. Tier said

    Man that’s hardcore. I don’t have enough space for free-standing lights and reflectors or diffusers (I barely got enough space for a cardboard light box) so I’m stuck with my Home Depot lamps.

    • meronpan said

      can’t expand to another room? well, not like i’d even take my own advice ^^;; don’t think my roommates would be very keen to have me set up a photo studio in the common areas :P

  16. I have gotten myself a light tent a few weeks ago but I haven’t gotten around to really test things out, may be in a week or two I should be able to do a little bit more photography.

    • meronpan said

      ooo a light tent ^^ after i got the lights i immediately started second guessing myself and wishing i had got one of those instead ^^;; (well, then again i still would need lights for it) very interested to see your results.

      • I have tried to use it a few times, it’s a 16″ X 16″ square light tent. I have not yet gotten around to test out the difference in light effect yet. I should be working on that within the next week or so.

  17. Wow, those lights look pretty epic. Their effect is pretty pronounced though a little too bright for me.

    :P But darn a nice a figure worth of lights, I will stick to using my desk lamp lol.

    • meronpan said

      good thing i didn’t upgrade to 50W bulbs then ^^; not to mention that woulda added another $30-$40 to the cost ^^; can’t believe how much those bulbs are orz

  18. Indeed, that changes much. A good material makes all the difference! Very good purchase! Congratulations!

  19. lovelyduckie said

    Wow…that might be exactly what I need. I put sooo much effort into trying to get the right lighting using tracing paper, refective cardboard, and desk lamps that this might be a worthwhile investment. I thank you for you post.

    • lovelyduckie said

      I fell for it! I bought it. I think one of the reasons I’ve been avoiding figure reviews lately is because all my effort seemed useless when the lighting still didn’t look good. When I move over to lovelyduckie.com I want to operate on a higher level of quality befitting having my own domain :)

      • meronpan said

        nice! let me know how it goes! err well i suppose i should be able to see for myself once you get some pics up ^^

        • lovelyduckie said

          At this point I’m going to wait until I have the lighting. Trying to figure out if the fabric I have will be good enough though.

  20. […] in terms of the lighting. I JUST ordered an awesome lighting set last Friday, I was inspired by Meronpan’s improvement in lighting when he bought a set. So until that arrives I’m afraid I want to put […]

  21. vixion said

    wow, u’re really serious to changing your room into a photo studio :D

    i myself don’t have a permanent studio

    have fun with your new studio

    • meronpan said

      i wish mine was permanent ^^;; have to take it down when i’m done or else my room looks like a mess and i can’t get to my manga ^^;; but i am enjoying it, regardless ^^

  22. New lights worked like magic there. I see you get very good contrast and saturation in addition to pure black bg with Sakura. Congrats!
    PS: The Canon 500D is out, you might want to consider that for HD figure video review :)

    • meronpan said

      thanks ^^

      i did notice the 500D but it definitely raises the price tag ^^;; the video is neat but not really something i’d pay extra for.

      need to make a spreadsheet to compare all my options… beginning to be too much to keep in my head ^^;

  23. […] Looking at these photos makes me realize that lighting is my primary problem with doing indoor figure photos.  Even with 3 light sources, a homemade light diffuser, and reflector, the images come out looking bad.  Plus, I still have to shoot with wide apertures and relatively slow shutters which makes getting sharp, in focus images images difficult :(.  Then again, I tend to shoot handheld since I don’t like my tripid much… What I really need is an awesome light setup like Melonpan’s. […]

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