I finally have created a dedicated studio style setup for my reviews and other videos. If you like the look that I achieved in the above video, you’ll find this blog post very useful. All the links to the products in this guide are marked in red colour and also can all be found together at the bottom of the post.
My goal was to achieve a minimalistic, low-key look with a soft, but interesting lighting that would make me and the objects I have on the table really stand out from the background. More importantly the task was to achieve the look at the lowest budget possible. Lucky for me I had most of the things I needed already, but I will share some options with you to help you create similar setup. Disclaimer (could be boring): You can find the items I’ve used both on Amazon and on Ebay and some even in your local hardware store, but for this guide I will use Amazon links. If you will buy anything that I’ve included in this guide through my links, a small percentage of sale will go my way. This way you’ll be able to help me run the website and produce more useful content by buying what you need. It will not cost you a penny more to buy them through my links, in fact I try to find the best deals, so if anything it will cost you less.
So back to this guide:
First of is a monitor, which is not essential, but is very useful. As I mentioned in the video I used an old Liliput monitor. I generally like Liliput Monitors
and have 2 myself.
A similar to one
I’ve used only costs just under $170. To be honest I’m not a big fan of the particular model, but it more than suitable for this sort of project.
If you don’t have an HDMI monitor yet and want one for everything I would advice going for 5D-II/O/P model
, which works great with DSLRs, has peeking, zebras, false color and even a histogram, all for just under $270. Now this is a great deal.
Next up we have a backdrop. There are loads of options for backdrops
, starting from under $20. The size that I have
costs just under $18. 6x10 works great for me and will work fine for anyone wanting a similar framing.
I’ve already had some light stands, anything up to 6ft high will do the . If you have them already, then you will only need to buy an extending cross bar
for the stands. The cheapest
I found is $20.
If you don’t have any stands yet, then it’s worth buying a complete backdrop support
instead. It will work out cheaper than buying the stand and a cross bar separately. The cheapest backdrop support
I found is just under $35.
To secure the backdrop well, just get some cheap plastic clamps
, which run for under $5 for a set of 6.
Now you need some back lights. There are plenty of options
on Amazon. I even found the light
I’m using for my setup. It’s a Smith-Victor KT-500U kit
(2x250w lights). There are plenty of other alternatives too (see below), all costing just around $100.
Moving no to the key light. For my setup I’m using a Camtree BeamLite 72 Flood
because it’s quite powerful and I have it already. To achieve similar soft lighting you don’t have to get the same light and a diffuser. As an alternative would recommend one of many fluorescent softbox lights
. The choice for these is massive, but I would recommend going for something more powerful, definitely no less than 1000w. One of the best deals that I found is ePhoto 2000w light kit
, which comes together with 2 heads, 2 stands, 2 saltboxes, 10 bulbs and even a carry case for the stands. All this for under $130 is pretty amazing considering that 3 times less powerful kit for the back light costs nearly the same. Here is another alternative
for just over $100.
This is about all you need to create this complete setup, assuming you already have some soft of table, chair if you like to sit and obviously a camera.
The whole thing should cost you more than $500 and these are the things that you will be able these for you other projects, especially the lights and the monitor. The actual backdrop support and the cloth is no more than $50, so definitely something worth investing into is you are after a similar look.
I hope this guide was useful to you guys. Any questions, feel free to ask.
In last few weeks I’ve been looking at what follow focuses are currently available on Ebay. I discovered a few new ones, see some of my latest posts andchecked out the latest prices on the ones that have been available for a long time like Trusmt, Forga, RJ as well as other Chinese and Indian stuff. This gave me an idea to do a FOLLOW FOCUS BUYER’S GUIDE. I’ve tried a lot of them myself, other ones I don’t know so much about, so can only give my opinion from what I see.
How this guide works: You will find links for every FF in below ( you can click on word in red and pictures). Some are general search links (Trusmt, Gini, Filmcity), others specific deal links (RJ, Fotga) because they are sold by many different stores and I will include the links of the best deals I found. Chances are that some of the listings will end by the time you read this, so just do a search on the particular shop to see if it got relisted the item or search for similar elsewhere on Ebay.
I decided to go from cheapest to most expensive, rounding up with my personal recommendations and conclusions. I haven’t included every single Follow Focus on Ebay, but only the ones that I personally think deserve a place in this guide. Value for money varies, but even the most expensive ones are still great deals if you think about choice and prices even 2 years ago.
1: Starting with something that broadly known as RJ Follow Focus. I don’t have one myself, but I’ve used it a couple of times and I was very impressed. There was a very little play and overall it performed nicely. Currently the cheapest Follow Focus deal on Ebay, so for this price, I certainly recommend it. One thing to know though, its accessory port is not standard side, so you usual Whip and Speed Crank won’t fit properly. You would need to look for one made specifically for this FF 2: Fotga DP500. This is very nice looking unit, all metal, much better built than RJ, but from seeing some reviews on the net, it looks like the gearbox is a bit of a letdown, which might be the reason why it’s not as popular as RJ. The price is pretty much exactly the same as RJ, crazy cheap, so definitely worth looking at. 3: Next up is a newly discovered, but a bit dull/cheap looking FF-110, which uses the Huco gearbox (in my opinion not such a bad option), but the biggest advantage of this unit is that it comes with whole set of accessories including 6 lens rings, 1 flexible lens ring, whip and a speed crank. The unit is only slightly more expensive than the 2 above and I thing it offers really good value for money, definitely worth a closer look. 4: Coming from the same seller as FF-110 is the Filmcity X1, which I only just realized looks too much like Shoot35 FF. I must say, this looks like a rip off, definitely not as good as the original, but unfortunately I don’t have money to buy the high end stuff, so I can only hope that I get a good value for money when I buy something cheap. The X1 looks like a nice unit, however I don’t know anything about the gearbox, which is a bit alarming. The price though is still well below £100/$150 mark, so still looks like a great deal, I'm really interested in this one. 5: Next up virtually at the same price we can get something quite unique. This is an RJ unit with a special mount that allows it to be mounted directly to the camera, without the need of rails This is probably was invented and can be found in Dfocus units. I know for sure that some people prefer to keep their setups to the minimum, taking advantage of the DSLR form factor, so a unit like this really cuts down on the size and weight of the rig. If you don’t currently have a set of rods and a compatible base plate, then this unit is definitely something to think about. I found a virtually new one on Ebay for a slightly lower price and bought it. Will review it soon. 6: Now going slight over the £100 (under $200) we get to the first of adjustable hard stop FFs. Again, this is basically an RJ unit, with some hard stop, originally introduced to budget world by Trusmt. The RJ unit is a bit on the cheap, plasticky side, but for this price, I can’t fault it. If you really want the hard stops (which can be very useful) then this is the cheapest option out there. 7: Going up a bit higher (due to a high postage cost) is the Gini’s iFocus. Amazing unit really well built like the rest of Gini stuff. I used to have one, but sold it because it had the same amount of play as my Camtree FF. The reason for sale, I knew I’ll get more money for iFocus, than Camtree, so I decided to kept my good old Camtree. From other reviews and comments on my review, it appears that that majority of iFocus FFs don't have any play at all. Until I hold one in my hands that has 0 play, I can’t be sure for 100% if that is the case. I do still highly recommend it, even it it has tiny amount of play. 8: With a very little else worth mentioned in £100-£200 ($150-$300) price bracket we jump right over to over £200/$300 mark starting with the cheapest, the Lanparte FF. I’ve heard these are really good, even better than iFocus, however at this price I can’t personally force myself to get one just to prove this right or wrong. It appears to be very well built and as all the other Lanparte products sold all over Ebay (rigs and accessories with green knobs). This company is a real competitor to Trusmt with a wide choice of product built to high standards. Shame there is no dedicated Lanpatre store on Ebay, it would have been nice to see everything they have in one place. 9: Trusmt NF2. Good, old Trusmt. I used to have a T2 version and at the time, when most of the FFs above were not available I was amazed by the value for money. Really well built unit with an upgraded gearbox, which is suppose to have less than 0.5mm backlash. I guess it is true if they so bravely put emphasis on the play. I also haven’t seen any feedback claiming otherwise, so it could be a really good choice if you are looking to buy a quality FF without experimenting with cheaper options, like I do :-) Of course this unit also has the famous hard stops, which I personally didn’t use much, but is a nice feature if you are not working against time, as constant adjustment can be very time consuming. 10: And the final FF in this user guide, just still under £300/$500 bracket, but quite expensive Lanparte with Hard Stops, just like Trusmt above. This is certainly a quality looking unit with all the bells and whistles, but I’m still not sure it it’s worth the price when so much other stuff is available at half the price or less. If you are a Lanparte fan though, this could be an ultimate FF for you. Conclusion: With such a great choice of completely different FFs it is really hard to recommend just one. I think it is more about your budget than anything else. The few than stand out to me are: RJ (for being the cheapest), Filmcity X1 (looks good for the price), RJ with direct fitting to the camera (unique mounting option) and Gini iFocus (built like a tank, great value for money). I won’t recommend just one, but I would suggest that you guys make up your own minds about what you need and how much you want to spend. Maybe watches some reviews, I’ve done a few myself including iFocus and Trusmt (click the names to see the reviews). I’m also hoping to review a few more in near future, so stay tuned. P.S. These posts always end by being really long (hopefully not too boring though). I hope some of you stuck with me till the end, let me know if you did and if it was helpful at all.