By Andrew Pece
You are just getting into lighting, or just getting into real estate photography, and you want to know what lighting equipment to buy. It can be a complicated process, but rest assured, this article will make it simple.
Who am I? What is my name? I have been lighting things, and fiddling with photographic lighting equipment for the past twenty years. As Alec Baldwin says in Glengarry Glen Ross “That’s my name!”
In all seriousness though, I only mention it because I want you be comfortable following my advice, and have a certain amount of faith, because there is in fact one lighting system that is currently heads and shoulders above all the rest right now. Godox.
Who the heck is Godox? Guess what, you do not even need to know who they are! Godox has a deal with a retailer called Adorama, and Adorama rebrands Godox lights by putting their own logo on them and giving you a great warranty and customer service. All you need to know is Adorama has a family of lights called the “R2 Family” that you will be buying into.
First of all, why is this R2 Family of lights so great you may ask? It is because the selection of lights within the family is second to none, and because if you buy within the family, you will not have to worry about any flash triggering issues. All the lights within the family have built in triggers. This makes the purchasing process much less complicated for beginners. All you need to do is attach one of their transmitters to your camera’s hot shoe, and as long as you have the settings right, all the flashes you buy from the R2 Family are going to fire every time you press the shutter.
This is great, because historically we have had to attach receiving triggers to our lights that communicated with the transmitter in our camera’s hot shoe. But, the integrated receiving triggers within the R2 Family of lights take care of all that for us.
There are three transmitters the Adorama R2 Family has though. Which one should you choose? The Flashpoint X1T Transmitter appears to be the simplest, but at the same time it has a hotshoe on the top that could be handy for you in the future. This is the one I would choose. Just make sure you get the version that goes with your camera (e.g. “X1T-N” for Nikon, X1T-C for Canon & X1T-S for Sony).
Next up we have the XT32 transmitter. This one and the next one will be a little easier to read the display, but we lose the hot shoe on top, and it has a little bit of a higher profile. You may run into a job one day where you would like to put a flash, or another trigger, on top of your camera via the hotshoe, and this one would not allow that.
Lastly, we have the XPro transmitter. Since I am aiming this article at beginners, I think it is sufficient to say this is just a souped up version of the other two. It also has no hot shoe option on the top.
Once you pick the trigger, it is time to grab your first light or two. I recommend you start out with two speedlights, as this will give you an opportunity to explore multiple light setups right off the bat.
There are two speedlight options that will work with your new trigger. The first is the “Flashpoint Zoom R2 Manual” (TT600). This light will need four AA rechargeable batteries and a battery charger. So keep that in mind when considering the price.
The next speedlight option is the “Flashpoint Zoom Li-on Manual” (V850II). These speedlights are a bit more expensive, but they come with their own lithium ion battery and a charger, so you do not have to deal with AA batteries.
A couple of things to note here. For real estate photography, you will always use “manual” flashes. Spending the extra money on “TTL” is not necessary. Also, notice that the manual lights are not brand specific. You won’t have to worry about getting the proper light for your respective camera manufacturer like you would if you were buying a TTL speedlight.
With your new trigger and your two new speedlights, you now have a great system to start experimenting with that should be easy to operate. And more importantly, in the future as you grow and need more powerful lighting options, you will have a wide array of options available to you that will function with your transmitter. And they are great options at that, like the Xplor 600 and Evolv 200 units. In short, you are future proofed with the system you have bought into.
But what do you put the speedlights on? Luckily, there are some very cheap options out there.
Amazon has a set of two “Cowboy Studio” seven foot light stands that should be great to get you started. Also on Amazon has a two pack of speedlight mounts, also called umbrella brackets, sold by “ChromLives”. This obviously is not top of the line gear, but if you take me as an example, I do not even use light stands anymore. I simply carry my light around with me and use it handheld. The point here is, this cheap set of light stands will be more than adequate to get you started until you figure out exactly how you will be working in the future.
Lastly, I would pick up an umbrella. I recommend the 32 inch Westcott White Satin with Removable Black Cover umbrellas. They are cheap, they last forever, they pack up very small, and they give you a lot of lighting options to experiment with for real estate photography.
Who is Godox again? Who cares! Adorama buys their lights and repackages them, and puts a bow on the package by offering a great warranty and service within their “R2 Family”. Many pros are even selling off their high end lighting gear, moving to the R2 Family, and reporting that they are losing nothing with this cheaper equipment. Have no reservations as you enter the lighting world that the R2 Family of lights Adorama has rebranded from Godox is the right way to go.