The 'Studio in a Box' is a great little kit from Bowens that's ideal for enthusiasts who are looking for a budget priced, but high quality starter kit, that can easily be added to later. Recently Bowens have replaced the 125 heads with the latest 200W/s versions. This means that the Studio in a Box is now an even better buy than before.
The kit comes in a long box instead of a kit bag, this is fine as it can be stored easily and the box is less expensive! In the kit itself, there are 2 Gemini 200 heads, 2 90cm brollies, 2 Wide Angle reflectors, 2 stands, 2 mains leads, 2 modelling lamps and a sync lead.
The thing that I liked straight away about this kit is the quality. Bowens haven't made any sacrifices here at all. The Gemini 200 W/s heads have all the build features of the other higher powered heads in the Gemini range. They have the same metal bodies, take all the 'S' type accessories and have the same rubberised grip handle. Plus they use all the same knobs and switches.
I think that these features are so important. I've noticed that some other manufacturers, who have also introduced less expensive budget models, have compromised on some of the features and the overall build quality of the heads. Quality and reliability are so important with flash equipment and should come top on everyone's wish list when looking to buy for the first time.
The Gemini flash heads in the kit are now 200 W/s in power and have replaced the original 125's. These new Gemini 200's will give you plenty of power for head and shoulders portraiture and table top product stuff. They also have a good flash duration of 1/1700 of a second. With an increased guide number of 50, the pair of heads used together will give you a respectable f8/11 at 2 metres with just brollies and more with direct reflectors. Okay it will be a bit of a struggle to take full length group shots, but that's not what they are designed for.
The controls on the 200's are very simple, on the side of the head there is one knob that controls the power from 1/4 to full power, a flash test button and ready light and a built in slave cell. The switches on the rear of the head control the modelling lamp, either full or half power, the audible bleep and slave cell on/off.
One other key feature of the Gemini 200's is that they are fully compatible with the Bowens Travel Pak battery. On the rear panel there is a two position switch for either mains or battery operation. Being able to use the 200's outside is a great plus point for this little kit. Bowens tell me that you can get around 1000 shots just using one head and 500 shots using both, that should be enough for any photographer shouldn't it?
Also in the kit are two 90cm brollies with removable covers and two standard 'S' fitting 120 degree Wide Angle reflectors. This makes the kit very portable, easy to put up and easy to take down for storage, ideal for the home enthusiast. The stands in the kit are also excellent, extending from 85cm to 195cm. For you digital users, no problem, like all the other Gemini's the 200's only have a trigger voltage of 5v.
Bowens 'Studio In A Box' Summary
To sum up I think that this is a great little kit and is ideal for someone buying flash for the first time. Bowens haven't compromised on the quality of the product, but just produced a smaller powered version of their standard Gemini. Unlike other 'cheaper' options it takes all the standard 'S' fitting range of Bowens accessories, not just one or two reflectors and a brolly, that's important too. And it's fully compatible with the Travel Pak system so it can be used inside or outside on location.
At around the £430.00 price tag, it may not be the cheapest starter kit on the market and I appreciate from the emails I get that not everyone will be able to afford it. But if you put together all its plus points it probably comes out tops for studio lighting kits of that power, so it's worth saving for.