- Why You Want a Photography Lighting Kit
- What You Need in a Photography Lighting Kit - High-Quality
- What You Need in a Photography Lighting Kit - Ease of Use
- What You Need in a Photography Lighting Kit - Advanced Functions
- What You Need in a Photography Lighting Kit - Expandability
- My 4-Month Test of Avant Photography Lighting Kits
- Photography Lighting Kit Final Thoughts
- Other Recommended Photography Gear
- What To Look For In Professional Photography Lighting
- 4 Photography Lighting Types You Need to Know
- 6 Things to Know About the Hobolite Mini
One of the more important photography lighting tips for anyone starting out with high-quality, adjustable, and upgradable lighting is what to look for in a photography lighting kit.
What do I need? What would be nice to have? Will it fit into my current camera system? All of these are good questions to ask about a photography lighting kit. Whether just starting out into studio-style lighting or looking to upgrade to a really nice system, I’ll give you some helpful hints.
To illustrate the points, I’ll be referring to the Avant lighting kits made by Hobolite. I’ve been testing their kits for a few months now, and they’ve impressed me with their high quality and ease of use, two of the aspects I’ll be highlighting in this discussion of what to look for in a photography lighting kit.
Table of Contents:
Why You Want a Photography Lighting Kit
You have no doubt been using photography lighting already since most cameras have a small built-in flash, and you likely have a larger, more capable flashgun for your camera system. Additionally, I’m sure you’ve been using reflectors and mixing natural, ambient light with your artificial light sources.
In a studio setting, such as for portraits or small product photography, you likely find yourself with more control and a higher level of adjustability. The same holds true when on location, especially since you may not know exactly what lighting situation exists wherever you’re going.
If your repertoire includes creating videos, you will want your photography kit to be usable for that as well. When I learned portrait lighting, much of what was taught for great lighting would reference classic cinematography masters, so having a photography lighting kit that can be used for both still imaging and motion pictures, movies, and video is a huge plus.
LED continuous light is a preferred choice for high-quality, dual-usage video and photography lighting kits since you aren’t limited to only the short burst of light emitted from studio strobes or an on-camera flashgun. LED lights also operate with little heat and are color-corrected for photographic norms.
What You Need in a Photography Lighting Kit - High-Quality
Whatever style of light you choose for your photography lighting kit, you want it to be high quality.
For both photography and video use, high quality refers to more than the quality and ruggedness of the light units themselves but also to the quality of light emitted.
CRI, Color Rendering Index, is a measure of the attributes of a light source referencing an accepted standard of what is natural in appearance. The scale goes from 0 to 100, with zero meaning all colors would look the same and 100 showing the true colors of an object lit by that light source.
In a photography lighting kit, you want that CRI number to be as high as possible. A CRI over 90 is considered a high-quality light source; closer to 100 would be even better.
The Avant LED lights have a CRI of 96+, which is considered outstanding. Since these lights are LED continuous lights, you can gain benefits whether shooting still images or recording video footage.
High quality also refers to the durability of gear and how smoothly everything operates. Again, I’ll refer to the Avant lights as exemplifying this aspect. Not only are they built like tanks, but they are also designed well; everything works smoothly, and using them is pretty much intuitive for straightforward lighting setups.
What You Need in a Photography Lighting Kit - Ease of Use
That last point segues into this ease-of-use point. You don’t want to be fiddling with functions and controls that are hard to decipher or difficult to set when you’re in the middle of a photo shoot or a video session.
You also want to be able to see what’s happening as it is changed, another reason why I like using continuous lighting, even when I’m capturing still photography. The Avant lights have a user-friendly design for everything from the control knobs, buttons, and readouts to how they attach to a light stand.
What You Need in a Photography Lighting Kit - Advanced Functions
Advanced functions in a photography lighting kit include being able to adjust color balance and power levels, as well as being able to modify the light emitted from the unit.
I like to be able to see via a readout what power level and lighting color balance I’m using as I adjust it. The Avant lights have a digital readout on the back of the unit where the control knobs and buttons are. This allows for effortless adjustment of these advanced functions.
Some other advanced functions that are nice to have are remote control and heat dissipation. Avant has a built-in cooling fan to complement the cool running LED lights. They are also made of aircraft-grade aluminum with a venting grate that allows hours of continuous use.
There is a smartphone app that can be used with Avant lights, letting you adjust from the camera position without needing to adjust each light from behind the light, making complicated lighting configurations less of a hassle in actual use.
What You Need in a Photography Lighting Kit - Expandability
Once you find the photography lighting that fits your needs and wants, you don’t want to be limited to only those capabilities you have right now. So, being able to expand your setup with lighting accessories is a huge plus.
Avant has multiple very useful accessories available from Hobolite. As for power, you can use both AC or DC power. The batteries let you take these lights anywhere and last a long time on one charge. Or you can plug the lights into any wall socket with 110 AC power for using them without any time limit.
To modify the light emitted, Hobolite makes a wide range of accessories such as barn doors, color filters, a honeycomb, a diffuser dome, and an umbrella-shaped softbox. There is also a Bowen's Mount Adapter, making the Avant compatible with all industry-standard light modifiers.
There are several ways you can get these lights for yourself. You can buy the lights one by one and add any accessory you want, or you can opt for one of the two photography lighting kits offered by Hobolite.
The Standard Kit combines the Avant with a set of barn doors, color filters, a V-mount handle, a V-mount clamp, a D-tap cable, and a power supply, along with a carrying bag. The Creator Kit has all of that, adding a light stand and a softbox.
My 4 Month Test of Avant Photography Lighting Kits
The reason I’ve been highlighting the Avant photography lighting kits in this article’s illustrations is because I’ve been using them for a while and am very pleased with everything about them.
Here is a video I made covering a four-month test period where I put them through all sorts of tests and actually started using them as part of my own photography lighting kit:
You probably noticed from the links that Hobolite lighting products are not cheap, but they aren’t outrageously priced either. Just as with your cameras, lenses, tripods, and computers, it isn’t overpriced if that price provides you with exceptional quality and supreme usability.
Photography Lighting Kit Final Thoughts
Since you’re looking at photography lighting tips and ideas for what to use for your own photography lighting kit, that means you are serious about your photography and videography.
Check out the different lighting types and styles and read the real reviews and test results from users who are like you with similar wants, needs and styles. Then, you will make an informed decision about what to get as your photography lighting kit.