Cowboy Studios: great deal or stay the hell away?

Posted by Las Vegas Photoshoot Locations under , ,
     Everyone has to start somewhere, right? Now the question comes to mind: Do you spend $200 on a great, solid stand, bracket and modifier, or $40 for a basic one that gets the job done and gives you a basis on which to grow?

     Even though this blog is all about doing as much as possible while spending as little as possible, I won't tell you to go out and get something just because it's the least expensive around, that'd be irresponsible of me, and a waste of your time. The gear I suggest and review here will be all be from firsthand experience, and I'll strive to be as unbiased as I can, but sometimes I admit, I do fall in love with certain products. Let's get started with talking about Cowboy Studios.  

Specifically, Cowboy Studio's Speedlite Flash Kit.

I've long been a proponent of off camera lighting using speedlites, it has many benefits, lightweight, compact, and oftentimes very inexpensive ($100 or so for light, receiver, stand, bracket, umbrella.) As you may have read from my Off Camera Flash on a Budget post, you need 5 things to build an OCF kit, stand, bracket, modifier, trigger and flash. A kit like this gets you 3/5 of the way there.

Basic kits like this contain a stand, usually 6' (non air cushioned,) a flash bracket which holds a flash and an umbrella, and a 33" umbrella.

Are the stands the most sturdy things around? No, will they hold your lights? Absolutely. Throw an ankleweight you got from walmart, or a DIY sandbag from an old pair of jeans, and you're good to go under most circumstances. Umbrella brackets are umbrella brackets, (though I do advise to stay away from cheap ballhead brackets) and even the $10 ones do the job well, they hold your light and an umbrella. The ones I use I think I paid $15 for, are similar to the ones here, and have never given me an issue. Umbrellas, I place in the same category. They reflect light, or allow it to pass through. Most umbrellas will act similarly, but cheaper ones might have cheaper construction, or start to experience color shift after 3-4 years as opposed to 4-8.

Should you get this kit if you've got $100 or so to spare? No. Get a heavy duty 13' stand, a solid bracket, and a nice Westcott umbrella.

Should you get this kit if you've only got $40 for a kit? Hells yes! Then start saving some of the money you get from using this kit, and slowly upgrade the components. Modifiers, then stands, then bracket, in my personal opinion.

Budget photography is all about this. Get what you need, and USE IT to progress, get gigs that you otherwise couldn't get, and become a better photographer.