Monday, July 05, 2010

It's the Lighting, Stupid.



Lee and Patrick over at Fstoppers have put together a video that pretty much proves that good lighting can squeeze great results out of the most mediocre of cameras.

Their sensor of choice for the proof of concept? An iPhone 3gs.

Yep.
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(Lots more lighting BTS stuff over at Fstoppers.com)

-30-


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51 Comments:

Blogger budrowilson said...

Does the camera still work if you grip the phone in your left hand?

:-)

July 05, 2010 2:30 PM  
Blogger Garsteck Photography said...

I know Lee personally, good people over there.

July 05, 2010 2:50 PM  
Blogger ejpierle said...

Haha,

Any camera and 10 grand worth of lights and modifiers...

EP

July 05, 2010 2:53 PM  
Blogger 湯舜 said...

Their lighting equipment are equipments too... can I argue this way? They would have to build their own light mods to proof their thesis.

July 05, 2010 2:55 PM  
Blogger Glyn Dewis said...

Superb video David; great fun, very entertaining and yeah proves yet again that it's not about the kit :)

Cheers,
Glyn

July 05, 2010 2:58 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Well in my opinion it only proves that the best camera is the camera you have with you.

But it does not prove that it isn't about the kit.
They used quite some light shapers and lights there which aren't cheap.

I'm thinking of doing this as well but with (near to)zero costs.

Cheers

next bit publish if you want, no need from my end
(Dave interested in the vid if I pull it off?)

July 05, 2010 3:31 PM  
Blogger RedTerror said...

Re: Any camera and 10 grand worth of lights and modifiers...

A thousand times, yes!

July 05, 2010 3:36 PM  
Blogger András said...

I really had no idea there was this much post-op work with photos of this caliber. It seems I got this photo business all wrong...

July 05, 2010 3:49 PM  
Blogger p. said...

Any camera and 10 grand worth of lights and modifiers...

That's ridiculous! Because you forgot to mention professional models, professional hair/makeup, and a professional re-toucher.

=P

July 05, 2010 3:49 PM  
Blogger Cher Ping said...

apart from the big octo-softbox (is that what its called?) was there anything rather expensive in the setup? I don't think it comes to much, especially when they are using persistent lighting.

(as you might be able to tell, i'm still a newbie on this lighting stuff - so correct me if i'm wrong!)

July 05, 2010 5:03 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Dude,

Like you've really hurt my feelings. My Oly E-1, E-3 and 520 on the same scale as the iPhone? My shame knows no bounds.

Loved the vid and say again, the art directors can't be wrong when they buy pics made with my Olies. You guys still rock. Even if you make fun of my rig.

July 05, 2010 5:58 PM  
Blogger Jose said...

Well, actually they used plenty of equipment to do that photoshot. Couldn't do that with my two speedlights.

July 05, 2010 5:59 PM  
Blogger abey said...

iPhone can't sync? There should be 'an app for that' (using the mic output)!

July 05, 2010 5:59 PM  
Blogger James Lightbown said...

Nice but there's far too much technology in an iphone, how about an old school passport photo booth? I've got an article over on www.cliclamode.com where I used one for a couple of shoots...

http://bit.ly/9Vb0Mq

July 05, 2010 6:33 PM  
Blogger MyTest Blog said...

What a load of nonscene. Oh yeah so "we use a low tech camera and emm.. ignore the thousands worth of lights and make-up artists and professional models OH! and did we mention we have an expert retoucher?" How lame.

July 05, 2010 7:19 PM  
Blogger Kyle @ Photo-Ventura said...

Laughed my head off - thanks guys... yes, their lighting gear is 'high end' - but I've had good results with builder's work-lights from Bunnings (Aussie version of Costco/Lowes) see example of DIY set-up here: http://www.shuttertalk.com/articles/diylighting

July 05, 2010 7:24 PM  
Blogger Bart said...

Regarding the expensive lighting/hair/makup etc.

Firstly, professional models aren't the only good looking people on the planet. Ask a friend or a friends friend...get your grandparents in and do some high contrast stuff...anyway...pro model is nice, as they know how to act, but isn't a necessity.

Secondly, they are in a studio anyway so they use the gear that's there. You want a 6' softbox?...bigger?...grab some floodlights ($50 at a hardware store) and a white bedsheet. If you notice, the rest of the time he's only using modeling lights anyway so grab some cheap brolly's and stick a light in front of it...not much there that couldn't be done on the cheap.

Hair and makeup might be needed if you're looking for the pro model look but if you're just shooting friends they can usually do their own makeup (or each others) to at least 'some' degree...still, only $100-$200 for a good stylist if you wanted to go that way.

The point is, think just a little and there wasn't a lot there that couldn't be hacked together at home for very little outlay...that's not to say it wouldn't take time to pull that all together but it's not impossible.

July 05, 2010 7:44 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Bart, I have to thank you because you seem to be one of the few people with any reason whatsoever when it comes to the real point of this video!

First off, we used a studio because we were there already (and it had Air conditioning). However this shoot could have been done with DIY modifiers in a living room. Besides the last image, we used at most 4 lights. The power on professional modeling lights is very weak so honestly, we got much more use out of the lowes $50 flood lights than the dynalites. Half of the time the octabox wasn't even on, so you could have used a bunch of foamcore for the fill.

The softboxes were from amvona.com which used to be the best deal ever for softboxes (total on all probably add up to $300 new). A couple dynalite packs from ebay with 4 heads are probably $2000. All in all, the setup was about $3000 tops; still much cheaper than a pro DLSR camera body with a single Pro lens.

Again we could have done all of this with bedsheets, softboxes made out of shipping boxes, lightbulbs, and flood lights. Total cost: less than $200 easy. You strobist readers should know this more than anyone.

The whole point is people need to stop worrying about not shooting with their D70s because they don't own a D700 yet. I don't care what your budget is, you should always aim for the best model you can find, work on hair and makeup, and of course lighting. If our use of quality elements makes our video 'disingenuous' then perhaps you are in the wrong field of work to begin with. Great photos aren't going to come out of thin air; but the newest latest and greatest camera isn't going to book you a big job you don't already have. Just saying ;)

July 05, 2010 8:39 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Geez, people in the YouTube comments are killing me.
Apparently they think your modifiers and hotlights cost tens of thousands of dollars, and that none of the effects could be replicated on a cheaper scale.

Seems like some people just thrive on contention. Maybe you should send them their refund check Patrick?

July 05, 2010 9:33 PM  
Blogger Joel Alexander said...

hahaha he is using the 800$ octabank as a reflector to fill.

July 05, 2010 10:25 PM  
Blogger TCPhotogs said...

While DIY equipment can perhaps replace a lot of the lighting modifiers, making them to the point of constant use is actually harder than you thought. I run into the problem of using my own home made light tent for some product shots over the weekend, I realized how convenient it can be just to spend $100 to get a professionally made large portable light tent and get it over with. Same with my awkward use of SB-24 and sync cords that wasn't long enough. Now I realized that a couple of SB-800s will do the job in 15 minutes instead of me trying to find something solution to secure the damn cord and light for 45 minutes.

Opportunity cost is the key here. If the video shoot is completely true that you can use any camera and any homemade solution to accomplish professional worthy works, then the opposite must be true: that people with professional equipments are simply wasting their money and economically foolish. Obviously not true...

July 06, 2010 1:44 AM  
Blogger TCPhotogs said...

While DIY equipment can perhaps replace a lot of the lighting modifiers, making them to the point of constant use is actually harder than you thought. I run into the problem of using my own home made light tent for some product shots over the weekend, I realized how convenient it can be just to spend $100 to get a professionally made large portable light tent and get it over with. Same with my awkward use of SB-24 and sync cords that wasn't long enough. Now I realized that a couple of SB-800s will do the job in 15 minutes instead of me trying to find something solution to secure the damn cord and light for 45 minutes.

Opportunity cost is the key here. If the video shoot is completely true that you can use any camera and any homemade solution to accomplish professional worthy works, then the opposite must be true: that people with professional equipments are simply wasting their money and economically foolish. Obviously not true...

July 06, 2010 1:45 AM  
Blogger David Kelly said...

WOW! What a great video - funny & educational (that phone call during the shoot had me in stitches). It proves the point that in this digital world large sensors aren't necessary to achieve good results. Okay, yeah, so perhaps not everything in the photoshoot was as 'basic' as the camera used, but hey point proven & accepted!
Nice one!

July 06, 2010 4:28 AM  
Blogger Lance Lee said...

This should be qualified as:

As long as you can do whatever you want, in whatever way you want, tailoring the images to best suit the camera, then yes, any camera ....etc.

However, this doesn't help those of us who work in the real world every day.

July 06, 2010 6:41 AM  
Blogger Ian Pack said...

It's not what you've got, it's what you do with it that counts!

Cheers

Ian

July 06, 2010 6:41 AM  
Blogger Bryan Leighty said...

WTF? Did everyone miss the part where they pointed out they were using construction lights thru their softboxes????

Not a strobe fired... all continuous lighting that you can get from HomeDepot for cheap, cheap, cheap.

Amazing stuff guys!!! Thanks for posting Dave!

Its videos like this that inspire!

-Bryan-

July 06, 2010 10:29 AM  
Blogger godfrog said...

Its like a pro shoot with thousands of dollars on the set, except they substantially lowered the quality of the output by saving a tiny amount of cash.

The point of this video might come across a lot clearer with a budget in the low hundreds, not thousands.

Probably Apple "enthusiasts" with too much time/money to spare, otherwise they would call it a "cellphone camera" not an "iPhone camera".

July 06, 2010 11:01 AM  
Blogger Nigel said...

Lights, camera, action - as the Hollywood guys would say. Love the video and what an incentive for all aspiring Strobists.

July 06, 2010 11:05 AM  
Blogger Spencer said...

Good vid. Everytime that a non-photog sees a good shot of mine, I get the question, "Gee, that's great! What kind of camera do you use?". I love it.

July 06, 2010 12:15 PM  
Blogger Ziv said...

The "Hobby Effect" has hit the fstoppers site....
"The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later."

July 06, 2010 12:19 PM  
Blogger mortalwombat said...

I think using bedsheets, window light,and only work lights would have driven the point home a bit more, but it was still a great video. However, you have to keep output in mind. The quality of the sensor in the iPhone 3Gs is still pretty crummy, so it may look awesome on the iPhone but crummy in print.

Yes, there is an advantage to better gear, but it's important to know when it's a necessity. What will the more expensive camera give you that you don't already have? Is that what your photos are lacking, or are they lacking something that you need to bring to the table personally (creativity perhaps)?

Lastly, I find it ironic that the people who consistently push the idea that you don't need good gear to make a great shot are the people who already have really really nice gear. They are right, but it's still a bit funny to me.

July 06, 2010 12:41 PM  
OpenID skunkabilly said...

This is awesome. I've been trying to do the same but with disposable cameras and haven't found a constant source that I like.

Was the light pretty on the modifier even when using the work lights?

July 06, 2010 1:06 PM  
Blogger mefis said...

very good video, but I bet that if i do the same people will start sayaing "wow, your iphone has a really good camera, I'll buy one"

July 06, 2010 1:35 PM  
Blogger Dan Lubbers said...

I totally understand the concept he is going for, but that's only if you have lot's of lighting equipment...

July 06, 2010 2:22 PM  
Blogger ken said...

Oh no... as if "Uncle Terry" wasn't enough. now there'll be some doofus shooting for vanity fair/rolling stone with their iPhone.

July 06, 2010 5:41 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

I feel cheated... the 3g is clearly the worst camera ;-)

July 06, 2010 6:36 PM  
Blogger ijaf28 said...

"Lastly, I find it ironic that the people who consistently push the idea that you don't need good gear to make a great shot are the people who already have really really nice gear. They are right, but it's still a bit funny to me."

...As someone who bent a credit card, or three, on "really really nice gear," my journey went like this: Spent money until I had nothing to upgrade but myself.

July 06, 2010 6:41 PM  
Blogger Peter F. Castro said...

LOL. I just did kinda the same thing using a point and shoot after I figured out a way to get it to use off camera lighting without the hotshoe.

July 06, 2010 11:46 PM  
Blogger zeroplusplus said...

Personally I appreciated their great sense of humor and perfect timing with presenting this video.

The endless comments regarding "I feel cheated and my feelings are hurt" or the "Mac users have too much money" do sound pretty lame. David Hobby uses a Mac and I don't hear the criticism about that. The $$$$ of gear...nope...note really. Less than David spent on the Profoto gear by about $5000.

My point is that we have to have a sense of humor in this industry. Why get bent out of shape over every little detail. Obviously David found the video interesting and decided to share it with us.

There are those on the internet that just suck up the info and never give anything back except cheap shots and juvenile comments. Then there are those that spend a considerable amount of personal time and money producing FREE informative content and quality info.

We have a saying in LA, "the successful photogs have a sense of humor, the struggling ones are always *&%$#@ at life, LOL. Pixel peepers!

Anyway, I had a good laugh over coffee watching this video.

July 07, 2010 12:41 AM  
Blogger Cher Ping said...

"...As someone who bent a credit card, or three, on "really really nice gear," my journey went like this: Spent money until I had nothing to upgrade but myself."

I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one. after buying a whole ton of gear, about 150 photography books (no kidding there. I just did a count - but I read through most of these - so its not wasted), I've come to realize that I actually need alot less.

I'm only thankful that I'm not using one of these expensive brands around on the market - but even so, I'll probably have to live off rahmen for the next few decades.

July 07, 2010 4:01 AM  
Blogger Tamas Zoltan said...

Ok that was just rude. " Olympus camera, who has that?". :P

July 07, 2010 4:34 AM  
Blogger nasa62 said...

I am most disappointed as I scroll through the replies- no-one has mentioned the dig at Olympus in the opening of the vid. I thought they put that in there to elicit some angry Oly users comments, but alas , no takers.
And even though I am an Oly user, yer not gonna get me to bite- so there!
Oh, thanks for the vid, was funny too.

July 07, 2010 5:43 AM  
Blogger Al Overdrive said...

Hi,

I thought this video deomonstrated the point well - the gear makes life easier and that not having the BEST or most EXPENSIVE gear doesn't make you a failure.

Likewise some people seemed to have missed the other points - no, an iphone image isnt going to blow up to a3 or billboard very well...... but its an extreme setup to make you think !

I shoot a range of stuff from mainstream fashion for retailers through to tattoo magazine editorial and live concerts. It's a lot easier for me to do thsi with my D700 and expensive lgihitng gear than it is a d40 and a ebay flash gun - especially the live event stuff ! Like many pro's, if it saves me time and effort I'm happy to spend $$$$ on it, if I thik its worth it to me.

The take home lesson is : Just cos you dont have a budget of 1000's and a support team doesnt mean you cant make good images. Which we sometimes forget... I used to think I couldnt work without a beauty dish....

HOWEVER, when your career and future earnings and the client campaign depends on you delivering the goods, and you only have 10 minutes with the talent..... then do what you want how you want.

If it saves you time, and you can justify the cost... then go crazy !

July 07, 2010 10:53 AM  
Blogger David.Capino said...

now we just need someone to do a photoshoot with a camera obscura and a prizm =) great video.

July 07, 2010 8:24 PM  
Blogger Tristan Fewings said...

Excellent video! I love shooting with my iPhone.

When the iPhone reaches the resolution of my D3 and it's optics, I'll be more than happy to ditch carrying around my heavy kit on most jobs... the speed at which you can shoot and get your images out into the world with the iPhone is very interesting especially as a press photographer where speed is essential in getting the images to the papers. How long before they start incorporating this kind of communication technologies into dSLR bodies???

July 08, 2010 7:07 AM  
Blogger Robert Orsa Photography said...

I love when I show people my work and their first response is, "WOW, what kind of camera do you have?"

July 13, 2010 8:06 PM  
Blogger Turk said...

i'm so good i can even shoot without a camera.

July 13, 2010 11:40 PM  
Blogger Gordon The Photographer said...

It amazes me how many places this vid has been posted and how many folk have completely missed the point.

I use my iPhone virtually exclusively these days. For all the folk who say it cant be done without expensive lights and studios and retouchers...
My shots of this girl, Ella Rose, are all done in my local village hall, cost £15 for 6hrs....with a single cheapy cheap cheap tungsten constant source light head and softbox or grid spot. iPhone3Gs and all post processing was done in the phone using apps from the app store.

first image probably NSFW
http://www.flickr.com/photos/urhere/4428260736/

This one is SAFE FOR WORK
http://www.flickr.com/photos/urhere/4431881202/

July 14, 2010 1:14 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Can I just say, as much as I believe that talent comes from the artist and not the equipment. You may be using an iPhone but you also have tons of light equipment and professional models and make up artists. This stuff does not come cheap. So saying all you need is a camera to get these shots is misleading.

Also I should point out i'm a photographer and have always used Olympus in my work, so having a go at my camera also doesn't sit well with me.

What you should do is show the people how to get great shots on the cheap and improvise how to get lighting, models, makeup and sufficient camera quality.

July 15, 2010 10:53 AM  
Blogger FANTiM said...

This is as rediculous as that guy who shot with just disposable cameras.

July 16, 2010 9:37 AM  
Blogger lee said...

I totally agree with the premise of this video BUT Dean Collins would have used probably used one light and a few bits of cloth and a mirror or 2 and got a similar effect.

The camera/cost issue is irrelevant, it's as you say, all about the lighting and these shoots seem to be more about quantity of sources and less about ingenuity of their use; in the end less is more and the point would of been made more strongly if the amount of equipment had been minimal.

Oh and I am pro who uses Olympus by the way, but won't bother responding to the cheap jibes.

August 03, 2010 9:12 AM  

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