Choosing the Right Kit
Two head and three kits are available so the first thing to decide, is how many lights you will need. Just take a moment to think about exactly what you want to do, draw the floor plan of your studio area and plan out some shots. Place the camera and subject on the plan, the rough position of the lights, it may help you decide. Two heads are good, three are even better, if you want to shoot portraiture, you may want two lights in front of the sitter, and ideally one to light some or part of the background. For more simple portraiture two heads are OK. For product photography two heads are fine to start, but as you get better in your lighting techniques you’ll soon run out of ideas and find that you need that third or even fourth light!
So be sure that you have thought it out before you buy anything, if your not sure contact me for some advice. I have given some idea of the applications and powers available in the Gemini overview, again be sure you buy the correct power of flash heads that will easily do the work that you want to accomplish.
So you know the power that you want and how many heads that you need, so buy it! I wish it was as easy as that I hear you say. Believe me, I know how much lighting costs, and I know for some people it will be a huge investment. But look at this way, whatever lighting you buy will last you for at least ten years. Unlike digital cameras, or computers, this will be a long term investment for you, so buy the best that you can afford at the time. So many people buy the wrong thing, usually not enough power or the right accessories and in a very short time realise their mistake.
Yes the kits do come with some accessories, but it’s a bit like you buying a camera, you know that you will have to invest in other lenses, long or wide to take the pictures you want. So it’s the same with flash, the accessories in the kits are basic and will not be suitable for every studio application, so set aside some of your budget to buy more specialist reflectors and bits. And don’t forget to consider the Travel Pak option, you can buy all the Gemini kits with the travel pak included.
OK what do you get in a standard Bowens Gemini 250 or 500 two head kit?
- 2 x Gemini 250 or 500 flash heads with mains leads and modelling lamps
- 2 x portable stands
- 1 x umbrella, with detachable cover
- 1 x wide angle reflector
- A softbox 60, (60cm x 60cm size)
- A standard sync lead all packed into a kit case
The 3 head kit, a better buy in my opinion, comes as follows:
- 3 x Gemini 250 or 500 flash heads with mains leads and modelling lamps
- 3 x portable stands
- 2 x umbrellas, with detachable covers
- 2 x wide angle reflectors
- A softbox 100, (100cm x 100cm size)
- A standard sync lead
- Packed into 2 bags
- A kit bag for the heads
- A carrier bag for the stands and brollies
The 750+ 2 head kits are slightly different from the 250 / 500 versions as they come with a softbox 100 as standard.
If you price all the individual items separately, you will see what great value these kits are. The price is virtually for the heads only and all the other bits are free. So for the bag and accessories it really is worth investing in a kit. As for the accessories, let’s look at what you get in the kits and what you can do with them.
Bowens Gemini Kits
The wide angle reflector is 15cm in diameter and designed to support umbrellas via the bracket on the side. As a reflector it can be used to light broad areas, but it does create hard shadows and high contrast. Not something you would use everyday, but a useful tool nevertheless. It comes into its own when used with an umbrella, it pushes all the light from the flash head into the umbrella without any light loss, maintaining a good output from the brolly.
The umbrella 90cm in diameter is a white translucent brolly with a detachable cover. This is a good combination because you can use the brolly in a number of ways. First just as a white brolly without the cover, used either bounce or shoot through. Either way will give you a nice soft light, or though you may find it gives a slight hot spot, you will lose some power here especially bounced, maybe up to one f stop.
With the cover back on (it fits on easily over the ends of the frame) you will get an increase in output with a little more contrast. Brollies are ideal for fill in light and lighting largish areas, but because of there sheer size, the light is a little difficult to control, especially lighting smaller areas. However they do fold up and are truly portable, a very useful tool for the photographer.
Finally the softboxes, the 60cm x 60cm and 100cm x 100cm. Softboxes are just that, a large soft box made of fabric stretched over a rigid frame. Both the 60 and the 100 size boxes are very versatile producing a soft ambient light source in the studio. The bigger the box the wider the area it covers, so the 100 size will light a larger area than the 60 size. Used by social and commercial photographers alike, the softbox is an easy ‘broad brush’ type studio tool to use, either as a main light for family group shots or product work. I personally think that they ought to be used sparingly for portraiture as a main light because they can give square catch lights in people’s eyes, which can look odd.
So I hope that gives you some ideas about the accessories that come with the kits and what you can do with them. As I said before, my analogy to buying cameras is true, these accessories are very much like a standard lens, you can do a lot with them, but be prepared to buy other lighting accessories especially designed for the job that you want to do. In the long term it will save you time, money and a lot of frustration trying to achieve good results with insufficient equipment. Over the coming weeks I will be adding more information to the lighting area, looking at other equipment like the Bowens DX range of heads and more lighting accessories.
Steve AvesBack to top