Bought softbox light kit – how many bulbs are enough/too much?

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    • #50818

      I purchased this light kit:



      after getting frustrated with all the DIY clamp lights, etc.  After assembling just one of these softboxes and turning on all 5 bulbs, I was amazed at how much light it produced. So I assembled two of the three softobxes and I need to use them to light a very small area, basically just a subject sitting in front of a wall in a 11×12 foot room.


      Each softbox allows me to turn on/off each bulb.  So the question is, how do I know how many bulbs to turn on on each softbox? I just need a nice evenly lit subject, something like you might see on the evening news. I'm not going for any mood or dramatic effect. 


      If I turn on all 10 bulbs, I think it's way too much light for this small area.  I'm shooting the video with a Canon XA-10 if tha helps.  How can I determine how many bulbs on each softbox to have on while shooting my video?

    • #204221
      Luis Maymi Lopez

      There will be no exact way of knowing how many bulbs you need, but a little trail and error will do wonders. Start playing with different bulb setups until you get the desirable lighting. For small spaces I generally use two bulbs in each softbox, but like I mentioned before it varies. Trail and error is the key here. 

    • #204222

      Two bulbs in each softbox might not be enough; I tried three in each and it looked ok, but it's hard to tell. I set the white balance properly.. I'm just trying to get the best possible picture to minimize color correction in post production.. Is it ok to have too much light when I shoot?  Seems like it's better to have more than enough when shooting, and then reduce the brightness in post production if need be. 

    • #204223

      You would greatly benefit from a few tutorials on lighting. The question you're asking is not nearly as important as other factors involved in aesthetically nice lighting. Most cameras require a minimum illumination level. After you've got the minimum, the rest is about creating a look and feel. For that, it's all about quality, color and placement of light(s).  To use a cooking analogy: if a little salt is good, a lot is not 'better'.


      So long as your camera is not starving for photons, you'll be okay with adding more light…but it always comes at a cost (which might be spill, aperature, heat, energy, shadows, etc.)


      The story changes if you're trying to balance exposure with existing lights (practicals, as they are called in tv production).

    • #204224

      No other lights, just the two big 5 bulb softboxes in a small room, illuminating a small area, about 7 feet wide by 6 feet high and maybe 3 feet deep (just picture a person sitting in a chair in front of a backddrop) They don't get hot so that's not a concern, shadows aren't a problem either. I've watched all the tutorials on 3 point lighting, problem is I don't have enough space to do that properly, so I opted for just a lot of light to fill the area. I know it's a subjective question to a large degree.

    • #204227

      Maybe this will help: no matter how much light there is — e.g., the sun — you'll get the best image if you provide a bright side and a side in shadow. In video and film terms, think key and fill.


      We're accustomed to seeing people with light from some source on one side of their face and less light on the other. It's a convention that is introduced to the graphic arts as early as the 13th century and it was codified for the stage and film by theorists like Stanley McCandless in the very early days of electric lighting.


      So try this: see what happens if you use one of the soft boxes with three lamps for your key light, the other with only one for your fill. Or if you must have more light, put one light closer to your subject than the other. Play with the intensity and position of your softboxes until you see a well defined, molded face on your monitor. And it's important to use your monitor in making your lighting decisions. It doesn't matter what the scene or subject looks like to your eye; what's important is how it looks on monitor.


      You can use your two softbox setup and get back light, too. Use a piece of foamcore on the diagonal across from the key light, as high as you can get it. The bounce from the foamcore should provide definition to the hair and shoulders.



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