Westcott PhotoBasics: Learn to Light, the Arthur Murray Way!

UPDATE: The flashes are available now. Also, a promo video has been added after the jump.

FJ Westcott, makers of our much-beloved double-fold umbrellas, has announced a new series of reasonably priced monobloc strobes.

(Yeah, yeah, Dave -- them and everybody else at PMA this year...)

But no, wait -- Westcott is including with the lights an instructional DVD and a full-size floor chart showing you where to actually place your lights when you shoot people.

Clunky though the "lighting mat" idea may be, you have to give Westcott props for picking the ball and teaching its end users about at least how to begin to light with their new flashes. That is way cool.

More on this Westcott's sprouting of educational antlers after the jump.

Westcott's new line of flashes are called "StrobeLites". They are 150- and 200-watt-second AC flashes, designed as an all-in-one unit. They are best suited for people- and small-product shooters who wants to get into controlled, quality light for not too much money.

You really have to give Westcott props for including a 2-hour instructional DVD in the "educational kit" packages, along with the floor mat thing.

Is it perfect? No, but it is a big step in the right direction.

FWIW, Elinchrom is also doing the DVD thing with the D-Lites. IMO, the companies that get the idea of leveraging their lighting gear with educational content add huge value to the proposition, at very little marginal cost.

Question: Why does it fall to a middle-aged newspaper shooter to create an ongoing conversation about light? Because no one else was doing it in any kind of comprehensive manner. Consider the economic incentive for a lighting company selling modestly priced gear to have created what we all have built here together.

And yet to date, not a single one has even tried it on a consistent basis. I can say that from my conversations with other lighting gear folks, Westcott is not the only one starting to see the value in educating its customers, both current and potential.

Will Westcott take the education ball and run with it? Who knows -- although they certainly passed up the education opportunity in video below. The idea of merging basic lighting gear with basic education is a great start. This creates an informed shooter with each purchase, and grows the pie for all lighting gear manufacturers.

In a crowded field of "me-too" small, AC strobes, Westcott has differentiated themselves from the pack not by the design of their strobes but by their idea of educating new lighting photographers. Although, to be fair I have not seen one yet. The flashes themselves could be the cat's meow, for all I know.

Way to go, Westcott. Let's hope they are not the last to do this kind of thing.

Cheesiest. Video. Ever.

And while we have you Westcott folks on the line, I would like to ask a teensy-weensy favor on behalf of roughly 200,000 other photographers in the room with us: On the next double-fold umbrella run, could you maybe start including a two-inch plug of solid plastic in the end of the telescoping, hollow umbrella shafts?

That way we won't have to jam pencils up into them to make them the perfect little umbrellas.

:: Westcott StrobeLite Kits Page (See "Educational Kits") ::
:: StrobeLites Tech Specs PDF ::


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