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Any Suggestions for backlights Hikey [Archive] - Event Photographer Society Forum


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06-10-2011, 09:25 PM
Hi Folks,

This is my first post on the forum. I'm looking to buy a full Hikey lighting setup to use for events but I'm not sure what to get for inexpensive backlights. I started looking for a pair of Portaflash 336VM lights but these don't appear to be available anymore. Thinking of a pair of Lencarta 300W to use as a front pair of lights with brollies or softboxes.

Does anyone know of any inexpensive reliable alternatives to the portaflash lights please ?

Many thanks :-)

07-10-2011, 12:05 AM
The trouble with hi-key is getting a lighting setup which lights the floor as well as the background so that you can do full length photographs without any PP.

Also, if you look at using a hilite, it's far less flexible than a large seamless background.

Don't ask me how I know this.

Jeremy Nako
07-10-2011, 07:13 AM
I wouldnt consider Portaflash. Built down to a very low price, if I remember correctly their guide number shows that a decent hot shoe flash is more powerfull.

I can personally vouch for Lencarta as I've worked with them on product development and did some lighting demonstrations on their stand at Focus last year.

Good kit at very reasonable prices.. and their Tech support is done by Garry Edwards who is known to many on this site as an extremely knowledgeable lighting expert.

Daniel is right in that you'll need a lot of practice to be able to get full length high key shots using a Hilite and train. However, many people start with 3/4 shots (indeed, many don't do anything else, and there's nowt wrong with that) which is much easier.

Mike Weeks
07-10-2011, 07:25 AM
I have done plenty of bright white background work using 4 lights and white paper. Most seem to need 6 lights with a HiLite - so maybe the HiLite is not always the way to go and yes I have the largest HiLite and it is great for 3/4 length.


07-10-2011, 08:06 AM
Thanks for all the suggestions, I am thinking of using a large white background sheet with stands rather than a highlight as it must be difficult to do full length shots with those I expect.

From what I've seen the chalenges are to get the background completely white without too much bouncing back to spoil the eges around a subject and avoiding a grey floor. I am thinking a 4 light setup will do it and need advice really on which lights and modifiers to get then I'll have to set it all up and do a fair bit of practice.

I've seen some special backlight reflectors available, but I'm thinking by the time I buy 4 lights with maybe front softboxes and tall stands the cost is going to be a bit high.

Any further tip greatly appreciated :)


ian griffiths
07-10-2011, 08:23 AM
Hi Robert,

I'm one of those who don't actually like the Hilite system, mainly for the reasons you've identified.

When I have to do hi-key I use a white vinyl background, must be 5 years old now and is just getting to the retirement point, mainly because its been trimmed and trimmed to remove stubborn mark that wont clean off, even had the jet washer on it! I also find it easier to light the floor and the curve, I think because it's vinyl and highly reflective, more so than paper.

Forgot, ladies heels do not puncture the vinyl.

Regarding Portaflash, I still have 6 of the 336VM heads that I've had for 11+ years, still work just fine providing you understand their limitations, you can't take shots in quick succession as unlike better lights they will discharge on demand regardless of if they have recharged to a sufficient degree to deliver the light you need, for example if you need a full discharge and it only has a 1/4 charge it will still fire giving very unbalanced lighting results. I now use Bowens but keep the Portaflash as back up. We do use them in the Grottos, so small they don't get in the way and you are not taking shots in quick succession.

Although I've not used the Lencarta myself a few of my guys use them and are very happy with them. You could also visit http://www.viewfinderphotography.co.uk" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; based in Liecester , they have a great range and a super new showroom where you can test equipment before you buy, they also have a good range of backdrops, paper, vinyl and material, I have 3 of their black rag in a bag type, they never crease, work well and come with velcrose stitched down the sides so its very easy to attach them together to make a 6m, 9m or even 12m wide backdrop as we do for Cheer, Dance and Choirs shots. Well worth a visit as I said.

I have no connection with the guys at Viewfinder, just a very satisfied customer.

Dave Derrett
07-10-2011, 09:38 AM
Another vote for lencarta... I have used their lights for a couple of years now with no probs.
for hi-key use two 200's with background reflectors on white muslin placed about waist height either side and about 1 metre in front. for main light - have got away with one 300 with a brolly slightly to one side to give some shadow. Although two is better. Ok you are a bit restricted in doing 3/4 shots but they buy 'em.
Hope this helps.

Graham Taylor
07-10-2011, 01:16 PM
Hi Robert
You saw and experienced my basic hi key setup on a budget. The white sheet used now has been through the washing machine and is as good as new. Remember my advice for your main lights? Buy right and you'll buy once. Lencarta have a good reputation although maybe not as robust as Bowens or Elinchrom. As for the Portaflash you can only buy S/H and you will find them on ebay if you look (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/PORTAFLASH-33 ... 1c1ebc01db (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/PORTAFLASH-336VM-FLASH-UNIT-/120774722011?pt=UK_Photography_Flash_Lighting_Kits&hash=item1c1ebc01db) )

Jeremy Nako
07-10-2011, 05:31 PM
If you're struggling with your lighting then have a look at this explanation of how the Adidas photo of Lionel Messi was lit...


I think the guy used every head and every modifier in the Profoto range.

And the result...?

It's obviously subjective, but to me it's computer generated painting rather than a photo.

07-10-2011, 06:36 PM
Thanks all for all the great tips, I've got a reasonable idea what to look for now so will go and look for some deals. If anyone is selling some good kit I'd be interested to chat by PM :)

Hopefully I'll get sorted quickly so I can get some practice in.

All the best