We test a selection of the best budget studio kits for under u00a3500, ideal for small spaces and home studios

Elinchrom D-Lite RX One Umbrella Kit

Price: £375
Website: www.elinchrom.com

The D-Lite RX One Kit is Elinchrom’s entry-level studio set. It includes two Elinchrom D-Lite RX One Heads, two light stands, one 85cm white umbrella, one 85cm translucent umbrella, two carry cases, two 16cm reflectors and a Skyport transmitter.

Alternatively, a softbox kit is available for around £425. With a power of only 100W/s, the D-Lites have the lowest output of any lights on test, although they still deliver around twice the equivalent power of most hotshoe flashguns.

The kit is lightweight, compact and build quality is high. Combined with the supplied carrying case, the D-Lites are the most portable lights in this test. The included Skyport transmitter allows wireless flash triggering. Full lighting adjustment control from a PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch is possible with an additional Wi-Fi Module and app. The Wi-Fi Module costs £174.

Score: 5 out of 5

Specification
Number of Heads: 2
Energy(Ws/J): 100w
Recycling Time: 0.44-1.5 seconds
Flash Duration: Jan-00
Wireless Trigger: Yes
Colour Temperature: 5500
Weight of Head: 0.9kg

Lastolite Lumen 8 Kit

Price: £475
Website: www.lastolite.com

Better known for its reflectors, softboxes and backgrounds, Lastolite also offers an affordable high-powered studio set-up, the Lastolite Lumen8 F400 Kit.

The set includes two 400w/s heads, two air-dampened stands, two 18.5cm reflectors, a carry case, two sync cables and two black/white PVC umbrellas with optional 60x60cm softbox. The umbrellas are of exceptional quality, small and specifically designed to bounce light backwards.

The heads are identical in shape to the Bowens Gemini 200, though the Lumen 8 doesn’t offer the same high build quality – when tightened the tilt adjustment handle tends to catch the bottom of the light. However, the Lastolite Lumen 8 does kick out an impressive 400w/s of power. There’s also an optional wireless trigger for £44.99.

Score: 4 out of 5

Specification
Number of Heads: 2
Energy(Ws/J): 400w
Recycling Time: 0.4-1.6 seconds
Flash Duration: 1/700-1/1700 sec
Wireless Trigger: No
Colour Temperature: 5300-5600k
Weight of Head: 2.5kg

Elemental Trinity Nano Triple 200 Kit

Price: £449
Website: www.studio-flash.com

The Trinity Nano Triple 200 Kit is an entry-level lighting kit and includes three Trinity Nano 200Ws heads, two Spill Kill reflectors, three sync cables, three air-dampened stands, one 40in black and silver reflective umbrella, along with a 40in white shoot-through umbrella. Its softbox measures 50 x 70cm, and there’s one Reemix 1 transmitter and receiver, a carry case and a 80cm 5-in-1 reflector.

With its three heads and huge number of included light modifiers, this kit enables maximum control over the lighting situation.

Interestingly, the included Reemix receiver and transceiver is multifunctional and can be used in conjunction with hotshoe-mounted flashguns. A side pouch for power cables is a nice touch on the sturdy carrying case. This is the most comprehensive kit here.

Score: 4 out of 5

Specification
Number of Heads: 3
Energy(Ws/J): 200w
Recycling Time: 0.2-1
Flash Duration: 1/800s-1/1200s
Wireless Trigger: Yes
Colour Temperature: 5600 +/-100

Bowens Gemini 200/200 RX Kit

Price: £549 (Original version: £399)
Website: www.bowensdirect.com/

Bowens’ Gemini 200/200 heads have a proportionate modelling light, auto power dump and a stepless 5-stop power range. The 200/200 Kit costs £349 and includes two Gemini 200 heads, two light stands, two silver/white 92cm umbrellas, two 120° wideangle reflectors, a canvas carrying case and a sync lead.

The 200/200RX kit is the same, but uses two 200RX heads and includes the excellent Pulsar wireless trigger system, though it is more expensive. The entire kit in the bag weighs around 14.5kg, which is very heavy.

The optional Bowens Travelpak battery costs £149.99 but makes the 200/200 great for location work. What the Gemini 200RX lacks in specification compared with some rivals it makes up for in build quality, finish and attention to detail.

Score: 5 out of 5

Specification
Number of Heads: 2
Energy(Ws/J): 200w
Recycling Time: 0.7 seconds
Flash Duration: 1/1450
Wireless Trigger: Yes
Colour Temperature: 5600 -/+300k
Weight of Head: 2.5kg

Interfit EX150 MKIII Twin Head Kit

Price: £279
Website: www.interfitphotographic.com

The MKIII version of the Interfit EX150 head has better cooling than its predecessors. This is achieved by a newly designed outer casing, which is said to increase airflow over the capacitor inside the unit. Claimed improvements also include changes made to the electronics.

The kit itself includes two 150w/s heads, two air-dampened stands, a 60cm x 60cm softbox, one translucent umbrella and an educational DVD. The EX150 MKIII sports Interfit’s EX bayonet fitting, which is compatible with Elinchrom light modifying accessories.

No carrying case or wireless trigger is included, but with a street price of £279 this kit is the cheapest here. The MKII version can be picked up for £250. Overall, the Interfit Kit is a fantastic studio solution for those on a tight budget.

Score: 4 out of 5

Specification
Number of Heads: 2
Energy(Ws/J): 150w
Recycling Time: 1.5
Flash Duration: 1/1200 approx
Wireless Trigger: No
Colour Temperature: 5600 -/+300k
Weight of Head: 1.23kg

Lencarta SmartFlash 600 Lighting Kit

Price: £489.99
Website: www.lencarta.com

Lencarta offers a large range of studio kits to suit beginners, intermediates and professionals. Although the name might imply that the heads in this kit deliver 600w/s of power apiece, the Lencarta SmartFlash 600 Lighting Kit comprises three 200w/s lights, giving 600w/s of power in total. Also included are three air-dampened stands, two 60cm x 60cm Chiaro softboxes, a 100cm Pro White Reflective Umbrella, three sync leads and one standard reflector.

No carry case or wireless trigger is included in the kit but Lencarta plans to offer optional extras to suit buyers’ specific needs. Lencarta’s own Wavesync Trigger, priced at £39.99, is a recommended buy. The head is simple and easy to use with a stepless dial to control power range and a well-placed handle to help manoeuvre the head.

Score: 4 out of 5

Specification
Number of Heads: 3
Energy(Ws/J): 200w
Recycling Time: 0.2-1
Flash Duration: 1/1800th second
Wireless Trigger: No
Colour Temperature: 5200-5500k

  • alex ray

    the photo of a d-lite rx one kit is actually an older d-lite it 2!