First things first... HI! Been meaning to update my blog in a while and thought I'd do so with a recommendation post since I get asked about this frequently. Alright, enough chit chat, let's get started.
This is easily my most asked question lighting wise. Simply put, I can't tell you what is best for you specifically. The good news is that I can tell you a light kit that will best help you learn. I'm going to list the items I highly recommend and go over the reasons as well. You'll need;
1. A Nice Manual Speedlite
This guy here is a manual speedlite that costs just $79.95 at the time I'm posting this. It's full listing name is 'Flashpoint Zoom R2 Manual Flash With Integrated R2 Radio Transceiver'. Two great features it has that warranted my recommendation are that it has HSS and a built in transceiver. Those two things added with the fact that it's part of the R2 remote system are great. If you don't know what I mean by that, I meant that two other lights I highly recommend, the XPLOR 600 and StreakLight 360, use the R2 remote system and this speedlite can act as a transmitter to control them if needed or can be fired along with those lights by the R2 transmitter (mentioned a little below) for some really cool off camera flash lighting.
If you want this light, but can't order from Adorama you can find the light on Amazon right HERE.
This manual speedlite is also my first recommendation because of it's price point, but there are other versions of the light. THIS is the link to the same speedlite but with a lithium ion battery for just $20 more. The lithium ion battery lasts 650 full powered shots and if that doesn't impress you, I'm impressed you aren't impressed... impressed. =P
There's also a TTL version of the light that also uses AA batteries.
2. A Trigger for that Awesome Speedlite
This is the R2 transmitter. Depending on what system you use, you'll need a R2 transmitter designed for it. There's currently a Canon, Nikon, and Sony transmitter while plans for Fuji, Olympus, and Pentax are listed, but not out yet. Those links are ones on Adorama however sometimes they aren't in stock. If they go out there you can find the Godox version of the same transmitters on Amazon here -> Canon - Nikon - Sony
These will work fine with your speedlite.
3. A Stand
While I'm sure there's a million stands out there, you want to make sure you get one that works fine since it's holding your nice new speedlite. This light stand recommendation was a hard one since all stands do are hold your light, right? Well the deciding factor here was price and height. That's it. If you have any stands right now that you think will work, feel free to try them out. Although I love my C stands, I know they aren't cheap. Decide what fits your needs and budget and go from there. You know what, might as well link the C stand I recommend if you're interested in it. This is it;
The main reason I love this stand is because my assistant can stand on it if needed. When my girlfriend would assist me at sessions with a normal stand she'd find it tough to hold down the stand and octabox I use a lot if any wind came along. With the C stand, she can focus all her strength on holding down the octabox. I link the stand on Amazon but if they go out you can find it on Adorama HERE. If that sells out you can also opt for this great C stand that's pretty great from what I hear and also comes with a grip arm.
4. An Adapter to Mount Your Speedlite to the Stand
There's a variety of adapters out there but this one is one I highly recommend because it mounts your light better in my opinion. It has an umbrella hole AND features a Bowens mount end so you can use any bowens mount modifier you may have with it. There's a LOT of mounts out there but Bowens is the best (also just my opinion).
5a. A Shoot Through Umbrella
Once again, I'm listing another thing that is out there in abundance. The specific one here is a 33" umbrella by CowboyStudio. If you take care of your things, you'll be fine with this one. I've had mine for a few years now. I'd also recommend this 43" Shoot Through Umbrella by Fotodiox because of it's larger size.
5b. A Reflective Umbrella
I wanted to throw this suggestion out there as well. The reflective umbrella can be used and preferred over the shoot through if you want more direct light. The shoot through tends to spill light everywhere so if you're indoors and don't want your light to go all over the reflective umbrella might be your preference.
That's a good kit for anyone wanting to get quality gear to learn with. I will be writing an advanced lighting recommendation post soon!
Q. What about Yongnuo Products? I hear those are great.
A. They are great, however my recommendations were chosen because of the remote system the godox lights offer. With one R2 remote transmitter I'm able to control all my speedlites and the godox strobes I own as well. I can't do this right now with the Yongnuo system and it's the one major flaw for them.
Q. What if I want better modifiers? What are some you recommend?
A. I would only suggest moving from the shoot through or reflective umbrella once you're comfortable with them. My personal favorite modifiers are the 5 ft Octabox , the 48 inch octabox and the 36 inch octabox. The 5 ft is nicer in terms of soft light but catches wind easily. I would suggest that if you have an assistant. Without an assistant the 48" and 36" are great alternatives. Some people find the 48" too big some think the 36" too small so I recommend both so everyone's happy, haha. I listed the fotodiox versions of the octaboxes I use because they're nice in price but work almost exactly the same. They also arrive with a bowens mount so it's ready to be used upon arrival.
THIS bowens mount bracket I mentioned above is all you'll need to use those modifiers with the speedlite.
If you guys have any more questions, feel free to contact me on Facebook and I'll answer and add those questions to this post.
These are the links to some of the stuff I've mentioned that I think are the best things to get. By using them when buying it really helps me out and I very much appreciate that. =)
I'll end this post with two images I've taken using HSS with one speedlite. Both are of my awesome nephew =)