People are always looking for affordable lighting rigs and I’ve received a number of e-mails asking for lighting ideas that fit into a $100 budget. I’m a big fan of CFL bulbs for their life span, power draw, and low temperature performance. There are also a lot of lighting options out there that use CFL bulbs.
So after looking around for awhile I found the Cowboystudio 1200 watt (equivalent) studio light setup for $95. The setup includes 4x 300 watt (equivalent) CFL lights, 2x light stands, 2x double socket light mounts, and 2x 33″ Black White umbrellas. You also get a few light bags and cases.
For $100, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot out of this setup, it’s nice to be surprised. Each Light socket has a ON/OFF switch and a easily adjustable light mount. The umbrellas are as expected, and the stands aren’t rugged but if you treat them well, they should last you awhile. The CFL lights are 5500k so it’s very easy to setup your camera’s white balance.
The best thing is that these lamps sip power. With 4 lights plugged in I was measuring about a 2 1/2 amps draw, and with 6 lamps plugged in I was drawing just shy of 4 amps. That means no tripped breakers, hot extension cords, or fire hazards. You also don’t have to worry about ultra hot lights or fragile filaments.
The one thing to keep in mind is that CFL lights aren’t very directional. They work great for good even lighting, but if you’re trying to get pin point directional lighting this might not be your best option. I think over all the Cowboystudio 1200 watt (equivalent) studio light setup is a great bargain for the price, and if you’re looking for a simple and easy lighting rig this could be a great way to go.
If you don’t want, or need the light stands, you can pick up the bulbs alone for about $14 a peace. They should work just fine in any of the small lamps or light sockets you have around the house. This would also make the lighting setup even cheaper.
Update: The Cowboystudio lighting rig is currently back ordered right now. So you might want to check out the PBL PHOTO DIGITAL VIDEO LIGHT KIT, same price with a slightly different lighting mount.