I'm looking into getting a studio flash lighting kit with 2-3 heads and a nice little selection of umbrellas/softbox etc. I need it for working in a studio-type setup with my D2X and possibly on location (although it's not essential that they be battery operable). I need them to have modelling lights.
I'm borrowing my friend's Falcon Eyes lights at the weekend to try out.
Does anyone have any advice about these kinds of lights?
Also can you use the modelling lights for film/video shoots?
Using strobe lights for still photography is a very good way to learn about lighting, because one must "pre-visualize" or imagine what the effect of each light will be. We used to use a Polaroid to help visualize the effect, but now with digital cameras I suppose that is not necessary.
One of the great features of studio strobe lights is the ability to use a switch to control the power of each source; you can dial in full power, half power or quarter power. This is obviously much easier than physically modifying the output with scrimns or diffussion.
As regards the modeling lights, they are really just useful in an otherwise completely dark setting. There they can reveal the lighting contrast and overall effect to the eye, but when used in ambient light, they will not accurately show the effect of the powerful strobe light; here if anything they are most helpful in revealing reflections and highlights in objects with reflective surfaces (like eye glasses for example).
I would not recommend their use to light video though, because for the most part they are not of the intensity that would be required (especially when bounced into an umbrella or through a softbox.
You might want to check out two brands. Photogenic and Dynalight. I personally own photogenic powerlights and have used them in commercial and portrait settings effectively for over 15 years. The accessories are very good. You want to be able to control the light and maintain the quality as well. There are some comparable accessories for the Dynalights as well. I prefer a monolight, which is a single self-contained light. The Dynalights use a battery pack. I have actually used my bellows shade and black dot screen filters on my video camera and used the modeling lamps to light an interview with fantastic results. I would probably not recommend that too often, but for the situation it worked great. Hope this helps.