Behind-the-Scenes: Studio Lights!

I’ve been thinking about purchasing studio lights for the longest time now. Relying on natural sunlight and a $20 mini LED light just wasn’t working anymore. Poor lighting shows, and as I approach my start date for full-time employment, I cannot limit myself to only filming on Saturday or Sundays when the sun is at the “correct position,” AND it’s not cloudy out, AND I have nothing else to do, AND I have the energy, ha!

So, as a very belated birthday present (my birthday was May 2nd), my roommate (and very good friend!) went to B&H with me to pick out a new birthday present. I say “new” because she (and another very good friend!) had chipped in and gotten me a Dooney & Bourke bag in May, which I admittedly was never going to use, so we decided to return that and purchase something that wouldn’t sit in my room, unused.

So, of course, I picked the Interfit EZ-flo Flourescent 2 Light kit! I probably would have purchased that on my own at some point anyway.

My first reaction to the kit was that it’s heavy! We had some trouble carrying it back home, but I was super excited to get it after waiting so long.

While unboxing, I thought it to be very sturdy and well made, but my judgment was probably clouded by my excitement of opening it in the first place! Because after setting it up, and having it sit in my room for a bit, I immediately wanted to bring it back to the store. I thought, “Perhaps this was a bad idea, and it’s not the right time for it. Maybe I should wait until I have more space, and money.”

It’s also very large and made my room difficult to maneuver around (my room is small, so that doesn’t help). I accidentally knocked it over within the first 48 hours and one of the light bulbs came apart (even WITH the protection of the large soft box!). The screws and handles to adjust the height are also made of cheap plastic that feel like they’re about to snap/bend at any given moment.

The actual soft box is good, though – the material is very strong and will not rip even if you tried, but the mechanism to put the soft box onto the stand is less to be desired. You really have to screw it on there, and you can’t tell whether it’s really secured…until you shake it a little to see if it wobbles! The angle of the soft box can be adjusted, which is great (and standard). But, again, it feels like it’s going to fall downwards without some extra tightening.

That said, it “does the job” for the price. The FUNCTION is worth the price. It was $174 before tax. So, it could have been worse! If you have enough space, and don’t plan to travel with it, or disassemble/reassembly it a lot, I would recommend it. If you’re planning to move it around a lot, go for something a little less frail. 

Now, the naive part of me thought that having studio lighting would solve all my problems and give me the “perfect image” all the time, every time. But boy was I wrong! I thought I would put the lights up, turn them on, set the video camera on “auto” mode, and I would be good to go. Nope. Not like that at all. Apparently, video cameras (and DSLRs) are not mind readers, and apparently, not so smart, haha.

Instead, I spent hours trying to “angle” the lights correctly, adjusting the exposure, white balance, etc etc etc. And in the end, the image was STILL coming out differently from what I anticipated. I mean, there’s definitely enough lighting at this point, I just can’t get the camera to do what I want it to do because up until this point, I’ve always relied on “auto” or “intelligent” mode.

I think I just need some more time to play around with it, but it’s quite frustrating. The lights are also super hot and bright, so it just wasn’t a very good experience: Filming, adjusting, filming, uploading, adjusting, filming, adjusting, adjusting, adjusting…waiting…

Anyway, I’ll continue to play with it some more. I might have to seek some professional help, though. 😛 Here are some photos from the set up in my room. I’m excited to start sharing new designs!