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Photography Q&A with Zack Arias: Real Questions. Real Answers.

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In this excerpt from Photography Q&A: Real Questions. Real Answers., Zack Arias answers questions on cheap eBay lights, gear lust, low light, and more.

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This chapter is from the book
  • Cheap eBay lights.
  • OneLight for life.
  • All lenses are not created equal.
  • Trade shows.
  • Résumés for photographers.
  • Things I’ve learned while learning others.
  • Gear lust.
  • My shit ain’t sharp.
  • Low light blues.
  • Blowin’ up some photos!

Cheap eBay lights

Q: WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ABOUT THE REALLY CHEAP LIGHTING KITS YOU CAN FIND ON EBAY? I CAN FIND AN ENTIRE THREE-LIGHT KIT WITH LIGHTS, STANDS, AND MODIFIERS FOR ABOUT THE SAME PRICE AS ONE NAME-BRAND LIGHT ALONE.

A: Most of that cheap eBay stuff is garbage. You get what you pay for in photography. I have found that there are things that are cheap and there are things that are inexpensive. You could end up spending thousands of dollars on cheap gear before you found the things that are inexpensive. What’s the difference? “Cheap” ends up not being worth the money you spent. “Inexpensive” is actually finding a good deal.

Cheap things fall apart, break, or are so quirky you can’t deal with them. Inexpensive things don’t cost a lot of money but they work well. Alien Bees are inexpensive. Those kits you find on eBay for the price of one Alien Bee strobe? Cheap.

Besides, you don’t need all that crap that comes in the kit. Three crappy lights are not better than one good light. Two crappy softboxes are not better than one good umbrella. Yes, the whole kit seems cheap but you need to realize that all of it is cheap. The lights will suck. The stands will suck. The softboxes will suck.

You’ll spend a bit more to get one good light, one good stand, one good modifier, and one good trigger. It will cost more but it will take you 1,000 miles further down your path than that piece-of-crap “kit” on eBay. Seriously. Take my word for it. Not only have I been sucked into thinking that cheap stuff would save me money, I’ve seen countless others get drawn into that stuff only to regret buying it later.

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