Can you tell the difference between $10,000 and sub-$500 lighting setups?
posted Monday, January 29, 2018 at 10:30 AM EST
Light is light, right? Expensive lighting companies want you to believe that their strobes and lighting equipment are superior and produce better-looking images, but is that true? Fstoppers wanted to find out so they compared a $10,000 lighting setup with a $425 lighting setup. The lighting setup was designed to be identical and is a standard beauty lighting arrangement. So what happened, all else equal, can you tell the difference between spending $10k on lights and spending under $500?
The so-called "rich photographer" setup includes 4 Profoto B1 strobes (around $2,000 each), a remote, three speed rings and three softboxes. And the more affordable lighting setup, which is less than 5% the cost of the Profoto setup, was built around Yongnuo flashes and shoot-through white umbrellas. If you'd like to try to guess which lighting setup produced which portrait, head here and scroll to the bottom before watching the video below.
Were you able to guess correctly? The Profoto with softboxes does produce smoother results with a bit more depth, but the Yongnuo flash setup produces very comparable and great results. Ultimately, when you buy expensive lights, you're paying a considerable amount for ease-of-use and build quality. For working pros, time is money so it can be worth a higher upfront cost to be able to save time later. For photographers looking to get their feet wet, it's obvious that you can learn a ton about lighting and produce great images while also saving money. At the end of the day, the biggest difference between bad and good photos comes down to know-how and skill rather than having the best equipment.