One of the best upgrades anyone can make to their photography gear is in the lighting department. Getting your first or, even, extra lights can transform your images in countless ways. It is also a great way to learn more about photography and expand your capabilities. Here is a quick list of seven lighting kits with options, for absolute beginners to seasoned professionals.
Bolt VD-410 Manual Flash, Times Two!
Absolute beginners don’t need much more than a speedlight to start experimenting with light. One of the most practical for them is one of the most affordable—the Bolt VD-410 Manual Flash. This is for people who want to learn as they go, because the all-manual design requires a bit of knowledge and experimentation to master. This is also what makes it quite affordable. Staying on camera is an option but, if you pick up a second one, you can set it to be an optical slave and use the included stand/tripod mount to get it set up at different angles. Maybe even purchase a set of colored gels to have some fun with it!
Genary SpectroLED 2-Light Kit for Aspiring Filmmakers
Unfortunately, tiny speedlights won’t work for filmmakers. Here, you will want to go with the Genaray SpectroLED Essential 500 Bi-Color LED 2-Light Kit for all your basic needs. It features two bi-color LED panels and two light stands to get these lights set up. LEDs are becoming the new standard for video lighting because they use less power, take up less space, and come in different shapes and sizes with variable color temperatures, for added versatility. The Genaray options here measure 13.6 x 9.25 x 2.2" and have 504 LEDs with an adjustable color temperature range of 3200-5600K. Quite useful for matching daylight or indoor lighting. They can be dimmed from 0-100%.
Impact Three-Light Monolight Kit
Among the most standard lighting setups is three point. This involves a key light (main), fill light (secondary), and hair light (background), and the best way to achieve this is with a three-light kit. Impact has a Three Monolight Portrait Boom Kit with everything you might need. Two VSD300 300Ws Monolights and an EX100A 100 Ws Monolight are bundled together with reflectors, umbrellas, a softbox, stands, and a case. Everything you need. You can now put together your own effective three-point lighting with ease.
Dracast LED2000 Kala Bi-Color LED 3-Light Kit
Now for the big LEDs. The Dracast LED2000 Kala Bi-Color LED 3-Light Kit balances power and price. Each of the LED panels measures 25 x 15 x 2" and has bi-color capabilities. These lights are quite powerful, due to their size, and they come with V-mount battery plates for portability. The panels are all metal for durability and the panel design provides a relatively soft output. Other notable features are a CRI of 96+ and DMX input and output for remote control. Bonus items in this kit include barndoors for each fixture, diffusion, light stands, and a travel case.
Profoto B10 OCF Duo Kit
Serious photographers looking to upgrade their kits would do well to look at Profoto’s B10 OCF Duo Kit. These lights are compact and loaded with Profoto’s latest tech. Two heads are included here, each with 250 Ws output. The truly great part is the implementation of AirTTL and smartphone connectivity. AirTTL makes it a part of Profoto’s existing ecosystem and provides radio transmission from hundreds of feet away using a shoe-mounted remote. You can pick these up for a variety of different systems. The smartphone connection is new in this light, and allows you to change settings quickly and even take photos using a mobile app. Another brand-new addition is an LED modeling light tuned for use in video, with variable color temperature and output equivalent to that of a 150W tungsten fixture. Other advantages of the B10 are its size, about that of a telephoto zoom lens, and that it takes nearly all Profoto’s Light Shaping Tools. My recommendation if you decide to go with this kit is to consider adding an A1 Studio Light.
Light & Motion Stella Pro 555 RF 3-Light Kit
For the action-oriented photographer, you may want to consider some physically tough lights. Light & Motion has a history of creating dive lights, so the durability of its video lights is impressive. The Stella Pro 555 RF LED 3-Light Kit features three of its best waterproof LEDs and all the accessories you would need. Featured here is the Stella Pro 5000, and it is waterproof to 328', has a 5000-lumen output, and a wide beam angle of 120 degrees. Compared to other LED lights, this is a single-point option, meaning that it isn’t going to suffer from the multiple shadow effects that plague panels. These lights are also quite small for their power, making them a great pick for the adventurous types.
Broncolor Siros L Two-Light Kit
With great power comes a greater price. This is getting serious now, because the top-end Broncolor Siros L 2-Light Kit packs a pair of 800 Ws battery-powered monolights. These are full-sized units with speed mode flash durations of 1/18,000 second—meaning you can freeze action easily. They also run on a battery so you can trek them around or use them in a studio. Broncolor has its own wireless radio system and Siros has built-in Wi-Fi for use with the bronControl app. These monolights are quite well featured and put together. With modern Broncolor styling and recycle speeds of 0.03-2.7 seconds, they can be workhorse lights in professional settings.
Profoto Pro-10 2100 AirTTL Power Pack
If you want the best, you are going to need to build your own kit. The Profoto Pro-10 2400 AirTTL Power Pack is among the best you can get today. This will require AC current, but it delivers 2400 Ws of power from its two outlets. This pack is going to give you the best speed and control when you pair it with a couple of ProHead Plus Flash Heads. We are talking flash durations of just 1/80,000 second, recycle times of 0.02-0.7 seconds, and bursts of 50 flashes per second. The Pro-10 is powerful. It also works with Profoto’s AirTTL system, meaning you can use it in conjunction with B1Xs, B10s, A1s, and more. The other benefit is that the heads are interchangeable, so you can pick up more specialized options, such as the ProRing2 Plus Flash Head, to fit each shooting situation.
If you need some new lights, something here should pique your interest. Do you have your own kit you want to share? Or do you need something a little more specific? In either case make sure to illuminate us with your comments!