Photography Lighting Equipment For Beginners

Photography Lighting Equipment For Beginners

When writing my previous post on photography lighting kits I came across several really great value-for-money photography lighting equipment for beginners.

My first thought was how much of a time-saver it would have been if I could have had a well-researched, and honest view, on what to buy when I was looking for some lighting equipment, at the start of my photographic journey.  

It took me days of ongoing research and in the end I still was not 100% certain off what to get. 

Ultimately I did nothing until some time later when I had learned a lot more about photography and lighting, in particular.  Only then did I start accumulating lighting gear based on other photographer’s suggestions.

In this post I have done all the work for you, eliminating days of research, to get you started straight away with fantastic lighting equipment.

I review 5 studio lighting set-ups for you to choose from.

The following list is in no particular order but to make the list the lighting equipment had to have at least 200 reviews.

Rating - 4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4/5

Price: $165.99 (Amazon price)
Model Number: FBA_10086175
Type: Continuous
Lighting Source: 45W CFL Bulbs (Compact Fluorescent Light) – spiral type
Colour Temp: 5500 Kelvin
Input Power Source: AC – mains power
*Input Voltage: 110-130 Volt
Good For: All studio Photography and video work
Stand Material: Aluminium alloy
Light Fitting Material: High impact plastic and aluminium
Light Fitting: E27
Backdrop Material: Muslin Cloth
Carry Bag: 1 for Background Support System and 1 for Continuous lighting equipment
Total Weight: 31.7 lbs
Shipping Weight: 32.2 lbs
Warranty: Neewer 180 Day Warranty plus supplier’s warranty (if any)

* USA current – check your voltage in case it is different.

Image of the Neewer Studio Photography Continuous Lighting Kit with 6.5x10feet/2x3m Background Stand, 6x9 feet/1.8x2.8m backdrop

What's included In The NEEWER Background Support System and Umbrella Softbox Lighting Kit?

There’s a lot of equipment included with this system. 

The great thing about a kit such as this one is that it is all supplied and you can set it up and get started within minutes of receiving it.

  • 4 x 45W Spiral CFL Daylight bulbs with standard screw-in threads.
  • 2 Single-head light holders (E27 fittings) with umbrella attachment inserts and 180° angle adjustments.
  • Two (2) 33″/84cm white translucent (shoot through) nylon umbrellas with aluminium shafts.
  • Two (2) 24″ x 24″ / 60cm x 60cm soft-boxes with built-in light holders adjustable through 180°.  Soft-boxes are black on the outside and silver on the inside. They come with white diffusers that are quick and easy to fit on the front of them to spread light even more easily.
  • Four (4) x 7 foot/200cm lightweight, heavy duty, aluminium alloy light stands for supporting the bulbs/umbrella combinations and soft-boxes. 
    All 4 lights can be used at the same time giving you an amazing amount of flexibility and options.
    The single action locks on the three stage legs allow for fast and easy height adjustment.
  • Extra length cables allow for free and easy movement without the need for additional extension cords.
  • Backdrop support system comprising 2 x 2.6 meter (8.5 ‘) vertical tripod type support stands and a 3 meter (10’), 4 section, easily adjustable horizontal crossbar – all made from aluminium alloy with a high quality black satin finish.
  • 3 Muslin backdrop cloths in green, white and black. Each backdrop measures 1.8 x 2.8 meters (6 x 9 foot) that are seamless and come with finished edges. Backdrops can be draped or hung.
  • Six (6) backdrop clamps for securing the backdrops.
  • Two (2) black carry bags; one for the background support system and the other for the lighting equipment and stands.

This NEEWER Lighting Equipment Would Suit ...

Suitable for all beginners who want to do any sort of studio work:

  • Portraits
  • Newborn photography
  • Video presentations
  • Product photography
  • Product marketing videos
  • Webinar presenters etc.

Anyone interested in studio work that does not want to spend a lot of money.

Anyone not quite sure of what they need to set-up an entire photography studio.

The rating chart pictured here gives a fair indication of the versatility of the NEEWER background support system and umbrella softbox lighting kit and exactly who would benefit from it.

Chart showing star ratings for the NEEWER lighting kit and who would benefit from using this equipment

Pros

  • Inexpensive at under $200.00 for an entire studio lighting set-up.
  • A number of lighting and background options included.
  • Strong carry bags for easy transportation.
  • Green background allows you to replace the background using Paint.net and Chroma plug-in or similar software. Useful for product marketing and video webinars, also popular with portrait photographers who like to add a particular background image.
  • Fast assembling.
  • Light-weight but still fairly robust.

Cons 

  • Caution required when opening the product on delivery to avoid cutting into the carry bags.
  • Cloth backdrops are thin and light shines through if placed in front of opening.
  • Horizontal backdrop support bar is a bit flimsy  when extended to maximum width.
  • Light stands are too light for outdoor use without sandbags to anchor them.
  • Lights may be a bit dim for professional standards.
  • Thin backdrops not of a professional quality.

What people are saying about the NEEWER Background Support and Lighting System

Most reviews are excellent and the few bad ones stem from possibly expecting a bit much for a ver reasonably priced item.

On the whole the target market for this product – the beginner photographer or the keen hobbyist who wants a simple, affordable and easy to use continuous lighting system – were in large part very happy.

Reviews such as the following are common and plentiful.
“Perfect set up for my needs. Working on a video project and between the lights and the background, it covers everything I need to do quality work. Quality on everything is great and it all works just like it should.”

One or two guys complained that they got too much in the package – can’t please everyone all the time.

The negative comments were mainly about the thin backdrops (but only when light was behind them) and there was the odd one that felt that the horizontal supporting rod was a bit flimsy for the backdrops.  Solution to the latter is to only extend the support bar to the width of the cloth.

With an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars I rate this beginner’s lighting kit as great value for money.

Linco Lincostore Photo Video Studio Light Kit AM169

Rating - 4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1/5

Price: $119.99 (Amazon Price)
Model Number: AM169
Lighting Source: 23W CFL Bulbs (Compact Fluorescent Light) – spiral type
Colour Temp: 5500 Kelvin
Input Power Source: AC – mains power
*Input Voltage: 110-130 Volt
Good For: All studio Photography and video work
Stand Material: Die cast steel
Light Fitting Material: Fire resistant plastic
Light Fitting: E27
Backdrop Material: Muslin Cloth
Carry Bag: 1 bag for all components made from strong durable Oxford cloth
Total Weight: 24.1 lbs
Shipping Weight: 24.1 lbs
Warranty: Contact seller directly

* USA current – check your voltage in case it is different.

Screen shot from seller's website showing the contents of the Linco Lincostore Model AM169 studio photographic lighting set

What's Included in The Linco Lincostore Lighting Equipment Set?

Like the previous kit there’s a lot of gear that comes with this set – however it is slightly smaller and considerably lighter than the NEEWER set.

  • 4 x 45W Spiral CFL Daylight bulbs with standard screw-in threads.
  • 4 Single-head adjustable light holders (E26/E27 fittings) 
  • Two (2) 32″/81cm white translucent (shoot through) nylon umbrellas
  • Two (2) 24″ x 24″ / 60cm x 60cm soft-boxes  Soft-boxes are black on the outside and silver on the inside. Like the NEEWER these come with white diffusers that are quick and easy to fit on the front of them to spread light even more easily.
  • Four (4) x 75″/190cm die cast steel light-stands with zinc stud head.
    The maximum weight loads per stand is 15 lbs.
  • Backdrop support system comprising 2 x 2.6 meter (8.5 ‘) vertical tripod type support stands and a 3 meter (10’), 4 section, easily adjustable horizontal crossbar – all made from aluminium alloy with a high quality black satin finish.
  • 3 Muslin backdrop cloths in green, white and black. Each backdrop measures 1.5 x 3.0 meters (5 x 10 foot). 
  • Three (3) clamps for securing the backdrops.
  • One (1) carry bags for all the equipment.  The bag is made from lightweight Oxford cloth.

Who is Linco LincoStore Photo Video Light Kit for?

Beginners or anyone who wants to do studio photography/videography.

Typically:

  • Newborn photography
  • Product photography
  • Product marketing videos
  • Video presentations
  • Portraits
  • Webinar presenters etc.
  • Family shoots/special occasions

Anyone on a low budget.

Not as highly rated as the previous model despite targeting the same market.

Its also a smaller cross section of users with 227 ratings against more than double that for the NEEWER – I’m not sure why this is. Possibly because it is smaller and the fact that it is almost half the weight indicates it may be a bit more flimsy.

Let’s check out the pros and cons.

A star ratings chart of the LINCO lighting equipment by features and by customer groups

Pros

  • Very well priced for an entire studio lighting set-up.
  • Soft-boxes are dual purpose and can be used as a reflector or as a soft box with diffuser.
  • One lightweight carry bag for transporting the entire kit.
  • A very light studio – making it travel friendly.
  • Three backdrops. One green one to use when you want to replace the background with appropriate software.
  • Backdrop lengths exceed maximum frame height making it possible to extend beyond subjects feet.  This eliminates the break between floor and background for full length images
  • Quick assembly.
  • Light-weight but still fairly robust.

Cons 

  • The set-up is very lightweight and will not hold up outside without anchoring.
  • Maximum height of the light stands at 75″ (6’3″/195 cms) is not very high creating a restriction in the height you might want to work at.  This may hinder some full length portrait photographers.
  • Muslin backdrops are thin enough to see through.
  • Narrow backdrop limits or eliminates larger group shots
  • Plastic electrical fittings are reported by some to be of a low quality.
  • Lights may be a bit dim for professional standards and you will need to push the ISO up and reduce shutter speeds. This is not always ideal and the success rate will depend on your skills and the ISO capabilities of your camera
  • Only 3 clamps for securing the backdrops.  You will need to order more.

What people are saying about the Linco Lincostore AM169 lighting kit

Most of the reviews I read had nothing but high praise for the product saying it was exactly what they were looking for.

The few negative reviews centred around build and material quality and the overall size of the backdrop being too small.

With s many positive reviews its hard to understand the rating of just over 4 out of 5. 

Overall it appears as if the lighting equipment is more than satisfactory but not quite stellar.

Reading the product information from the seller I felt a bit like they were using big or different words to make out that the product was better than it actually is.

Linco Lincostore 2000 Watt Photo Studio Lighting Kit AM077

Rating - 4 out of 5 stars
4/5

Price: $189.99 (Amazon Price)
Model Number: AM077
Lighting Source: 40W CFL Bulbs (Compact Fluorescent Light) – spiral type
Colour Temp: 6400 Kelvin
Input Power Source: AC – mains power
*Input Voltage: 110-130 Volt
For: Studio Photography and video work
Stand Material: Die cast steel
Light Fitting Material: Ceramic base with rubber protectors
Light Fitting: E27
Backdrop Material: Muslin Cloth
Carry Bag: 1 bag fits all components
Total Weight: 36.8 lbs
Shipping Weight: 36.8 lbs
Warranty: Contact seller directly

* According to the seller it is ok to use bulbs designed to work off 220V.  I would double check if buying from a country other than the USA.

The entire Linco Lincostore AM077 studio lighting equipment set-up showing everything that comes with your order

What's Included In the Linco Lincostore AM077 Lighting Equipment package?

This is a different package to the previous model in a number of ways.

  1. There are no umbrellas included with this set.
  2. The lights are more powerful.
  3. Light fittings are a different design altogether.
  4. Comes with a larger backdrop support system.

What you get:

  • 3  20“ x 20″ Flora X Auto Pop-Up Softbox Set – a unique design that is easy to set-up.  Seller claims 3 seconds which from my experience would be revolutionary.  I hate fighting with these things to get them back into their flat state.
  • 3 x Light Banks containing 4 sockets each.
  • 12 x 40 W CFL screw type bulbs
  • 3 x 77″ Light Stands made from die cast steel.  Lightweight with a maximum load of 15 lbs.
  • 1 x Zenith Boom Arm Reflector Holder Kit – nice to have especially if you don’t have an assistant.
  • Backdrop support system measuring 7′ x 10′.  
  • 5 Backdrop clamps
  • 3 Muslin backdrops – green, white and black
  • 1 Carry bag

Who is the Linco Lincostore model AM077 package for?

The extra wattage produced by 4 lights in each of 3 soft boxes make this a good kit for studio videographers and portrait work.

Good for:

  • Studio photography
  • Newborn photography
  • Video promotions of products
  • Webinar presentations
  • Product photography
  • Portrait photography
A table showing the star ratings from customers by feature and by customer groups of the Linco Lincostore AM077 photographic/video lighting kit

Pros

  • A good sized backdrop frame.
  • An inline power switch – so individual soft-boxes can be turned on and off.
  • Handles on light fittings for easy directional changes without having to move the stand around.
  • Includes a reflector boom arm – nice to have for sure.
  • Option of using between 1 and 4 lights in each soft-box for more or less light as required.
  • 2 Point umbrella mount (despite no umbrellas being included) with each light fitting.
  • Quick assembly soft-boxes.

Cons

  • No umbrellas.
  • Small soft-boxes.
  • Soft-boxes are fragile and need to be handled carefully.  They are not built for hard work and rough handing.
  • Inferior material and workmanship requires very careful handling of all items. This is particularly true with the tightening knobs.
  • Light stands are cheap and lightweight and may not support the maximum load (15 lbs) they claim to.
  • Having to insert 4 bulbs in each light-box is time consuming and negates the quick pop-up speed of assembling the soft-box.
  • Short power cords

What people say about the Linco Lincostore Model AM077

It’s a mixed bag of comments from a range of photographers or different skill levels.

All in all for the money it gets a positive “Great set-up for what you pay” type response.

As you get deeper into the reviews and comments you find a lot of people are unhappy with a number of things.

The main one being the light stands which one experienced photographer estimating that all the stands combined would not have cost the manufacturer more than $5.00 in total.

Other negatives were about the flimsy material used in the soft-boxes, the cheap plastic tightening knobs, cheap carry bag, fluorescent lights flickering, too short cords etc.

A big one for me from an experienced photographer was that you would need a lens with an aperture of between 1.4 1.8 and that lenses with a maximum aperture starting at 4.5 just wouldn’t cut it.

I presume he meant for video but even so most beginner photographers do not have expensive lenses with such wide apertures.

Adding up the real negative sentiments (and particularly their source) concerns me more than a bit.

I’m not saying this is a bad kit, and certainly the reviews indicate otherwise, but please do your due diligence.

The detail of the 4-light electrical fittings that come with the Linco Lincostore AM077 photgraphic/video studio lighting kit

Neewer LED Softbox Lighting Kit. Model #10094267

Rating - 4.4 out of 5
4.4/5

Price: $129.99 (Amazon Price)
Model Number: 10094267
Lighting Source: 48W Dimmable LED light heads
Colour Temp: 3200  and  5600 Kelvin
Input Power Source: Two options. AC power adaptor or NP-F550/970 Li-Ion batteries (batteries not included).
For: All studio Photography and video work and outdoor use.
Stand Material: Aluminium Alloy
Light-Head Material: Hard lightweight plastic
Light Fitting: Single enclosed unit fits on top of light stand
Carry Bag: 1 bag that fits all components
Total Weight: 10.36 lbs
Shipping Weight: 10.36 lbs
Warranty: NEEWER standard warranty

A screenshot image from the seller's page showing the NEEWER LED softbox lghting kit package

Whats included when you buy the NEEWER LED Softbox Lighting Kit?

This is a pretty straightforward lightweight packag containing:

  • 2  48W Dimmable LED Light Heads.
  • 2  Studio Softboxes measuring 20″ x 28″ with detachable diffusers.
  • 2  Power Adapter fitted with a standard US Plug (check that your country’s voltage is compatible)
  • 2 Aluminium alloy light stands adjustable between 31″ – 74″
  • Cary Bag
  • Note: Batteries are not included

Who is the NEEWER LED Lighting Kit for?

This LED Lighting kit is ideal for:

  • Newborn photography
  • Recording video presentations for example YouTube and Instagram presentations/recordings
  • Webinar sales and hosting
  • Portrait 
  • Model photography
  • Product photography
An image showing the customer ratings for the Neewer LED softbox lighting kit by feature and by customer group

Pros

  • Excellent Price and great value.
  • Excellent colour rendition.
  • Provide a professional quality finish to videos.
  • Well constructed and not flimsy.
  • Two colour temperature modes and dimmers provide lots of lighting options.
  • The soft-boxes produce a beautiful well spread light with soft shadows – ideal for models and beauty work.

Cons

Surprisingly …

  • A number of people (6%) stated the quality of the materials used was very inferior. The video further down seems to indicate otherwise. 6% is a fair sized number and is a concern.
    Reading all the negative comments makes me think that Amazon have lumped reviews together.  I say this because several of the complaints related to light bulb fittings and in this set there are none to fit.
An image showing the different power settings, effects and functions of the LED lighting that comes with the NEEWER LED Softbox Lighting Kit

What people are saying about the NEEWER LED Softbox Lighting Kit..

Comments are overwhelmingly positive with over 70% of buyers saying they are delighted with their purchase and that the product does an exceptional job.

I really do think the negative comments refer to some other product and are included by mistake – but please double check before you pull the trigger on this product.

The video on the right is pretty convincing evidence that the product is simple to erect (and use) and produces a wonderful light.

StudioFX H9004SB2 2400 Watt Large Photography Softbox Lighting Kit

Rating - 4.4 out of 5
4.4/5

Price: $124.99 (Amazon Price)
Model Number: 2400SB2
Lighting Source: 12 x 45W Fluorescent bulbs
Colour Temp: 5500 Kelvin – daylight equivalent
Input Power Source: 110V – 240V AC 50-60Hz
For: All studio Photography and video work.
Stand Material: Aluminium Alloy
Light-Head Material: Hard lightweight plastic
Light Fitting: Single enclosed unit fits on top of light stand
Carry Bag: 1 bag for all components
Total Weight: 22.9 lbs
Shipping Weight: 22.9 lbs
Warranty: As per seller’s normal terms and conditions

Image showing the entire StudioFX H9004SB2 2400 Watt Lighting kit with softboxes and boom arm assembled plus the carry bag

What's included in StudioFX H9004SB2 2400 Watt Lighting equipment set

Package Includes

  • 1 Bag to carry all the equipment

The Softbox part consists of:

  • 2 16″ x 24″ softboxes with detachable diffuser covers
  • 2 stands for the softboxes (extend to 7 foot)
  • 2 light banks that each hold 4 lights
  • 2 power cords
  • 8 45 Watt 5500K CFL (Compact Fluorescnet light) bulbs.

The Overhead/Boom 

  • 1 Extendable boom arm 31″- 71″ – that’s a nice working range to have.
  • A sandbag for ballast
  • 1 Grip head to hold the lightbox
  • 7′ Stand
  • 4 45 Watt 5500K CFL bulbs.
  • 1 Power cord
  • 16″ x 24″ softbox with detachable diffuser cover

 

 

Who would get good mileage out of the StudioFX H9004SB2 Lighting set?

First of all I’ve been waiting to say I think the name is a mouthful – seriously imagine trying to remember this when telling your friends what “brand and model” you bought!

With that out of  the way …

This lighting set-up is great for portrait work and for product photography.

Boom arms are so useful for overhead product lighting and hair-lights in portrait work – they make portraits pop, changing them from average to WOW!

I highly recommend a boom arm to all who ask either to accommodate a light like this set or to hold a reflector.

This set will also be great for video, as many of the 300 plus reviewers will attest to.

It does not come with any backdrops and these would need to be bought separately.

A chart showing customer star ratings (averaging 4.4 out of 5 overall) for the StudioFX H9004SB2 2400 Watt photography equipment by feature and by customer group

Pros

  • Ample lighting power.
  • The boom arm with overhead lighting.
  • 3 Softboxes.
  • Option to use either 2 or 4 bulbs per softbox at the flick of a switch, located on the back of each light bank.
  • Great value at this price.
  • Overall solid construction.

Cons

  • Set-up instructions are non-existent resulting in first time use taking about 30 minutes to set-up.  After that it gets easier.
  • Supplied light bulbs are inconsistent from one set to another according to reviews. In some cases they last for years in others they seem to pop as early as the second use.
  • Because the light switches for selecting 2 or 4 light use are on back of the lights they are difficult to access when set-up at usable height.  You have to bring it all down to a workable level to switch over and then get it up again.
  • The softbox assembly is tricky with no instructions. YouTube is your friend here and I have provided a video in the section below to help you with this.

What people are saying about ...

The following comments are typical of what came from the positive reviews:

“Very impressed”
“Love this lighting set-up”
“Perfect for the beginner – highly recommend”
“Much better than I expected at this price”
“Great value for money and perfect for the home studio”

On the negative side you get:

“Worked great on day one but day two the second socket on one light packed in”
“One bulb never worked at all”
“Hard to assemble – I gave up after 45 minutes of wrestling with it”

Overall I think a few bad bulbs and connections can almost be expected. If the seller refunds or replaces them that is acceptable, although understandably frustrating.

The StudioFX H9004SB2 light bank with 4 bulbs fitted
View of the rear side of the StudioFX H9004SB2 Power bank showing the switch controls

Wrapping Up This Post on Photography Lighting Equipment for Beginners

Here’s hoping you have found what you are looking for and, if not, hopefully you are a lot wiser for the experience.

A list such as this will be of tremendous help to a lot of beginners and I hope you are one of them.

I’m a firm believer in buying right the first time rather than having to replace faulty gear later.  Have you ever noticed how things pack up shortly after the warranty expires?  

Used to happen to me often. 

These days I choose to buy quality gear, especially when it comes to photography, and have found that this approach pays off in the long run.

On that basis any of the lighting sets here should serve the beginner very well for years to come.

A good set of studio lights will no doubt see a dramatic improvement in the quality of your work. This should generate more income (if you are in this as a full or part-time business) that you can save for whatever goals you set yourself.

Please leave me your comments below I’d love to hear from you.

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