BKA’s Studio System Pro Starter Kit; Two Lights In One

The Studio System Pro Starter Kit distributed by the Brandess-Kalt-Aetna (BKA) Group includes two components--a professional studio setup and a smaller, more portable unit. The first component is a good solution for experienced photographers who want to get more serious about studio lighting. It includes the SP Excalibur 3200 Monolight, a full-sized strobe head with self-contained power pack and reflector; a heavy-duty four-section 13-foot air-cushioned light stand; a swivel bracket; and a 27" square softbox.

The BKA Studio System Pro Starter Kit includes two components, a professional studio setup and a smaller, more portable unit. The first is a good solution for experienced photographers who want to get more serious about studio lighting. The second is a smaller unit that's a nice solution for a simple one-light setup.

The other component is a small setup that works well as a secondary light source with the 3200. It's also ideal for photographers just getting into or experimenting with portrait photography. It's also a nice solution for a simple one-light setup. Included is the Squire Series SP S920 miniature strobe, which also has a built-in power pack; a four-section 8-foot aluminum light stand; a 33" white umbrella; and a light focusing snoot. All the equipment comes packed in two soft cases.

Set up was fast and simple. There wasn't any of the "wrestling" with light stands and softboxes that's sometimes the case with other equipment. Each piece of equipment came together as it should, without having to force it. That's a big plus.

The Excalibur 3200 strobe includes a built-in 100w-120v modeling light that makes it easy to preview compositions. Both the flash power and the intensity of the modeling lamp can be controlled from 1/8 to full power by continuous slider adjustments on the back of the unit.

Even at half power, the Excalibur 3200 did its job very effectively. The modeling lamp simplified checking compositions. (Model: Janell Cantu.)
All Photos © 2006, Ron Eggers, All Rights Reserved

The daylight-balanced flash has an average color temperature of 5230K. According to the specs, with a guide number of 160 with ISO film (or equivalent digital sensitivity) of 100, the 3200 Monolight provides a rated 320 ws at full power. Using the standard reflector, and taking readings at 4 ft, full-output power measured at f/22. Half power measured f/16, which is what would have been expected, but dropping down to 1/8 power, exposures were consistently measured at f/11, which is somewhat higher than would be expected.

With the softbox, at 4 ft, full power exposures metered out at f/16, half power at f/11, and the ¼ power reading was f/4. The 32" umbrella's full power reading was f/11 while half power was f/8. Recycling time is rated at 4 seconds for a full power exposure. It's possible to shoot considerably faster at a reduced power level. For really quick shots, exposures can be taken at approximately 1-second intervals when the unit is set at 1/8 power.

The Excalibur 3200 strobe includes a built-in 100w-120v modeling lamp for easy composition preview. Both the strobe and the modeling lamp can be set from 1¼8 to full power by slider adjustments on the back of the unit.

All the controls and indicator lights are located on the back unit. There's both a ready lamp and an audio-ready indicator, which can be turned on or off, as preferred. The unit can be connected to a camera with a sync cord, or fired off through the built-in slave. It uses a standard AC/computer power cord. The flash tube and the modeling light bulbs are user-interchangeable for quick replacement without interrupting the shooting schedule.

As the results show, the S920 head is a good choice for photographers just getting into shooting people in a studio or other controlled environment. (Model: Janell Cantu.)

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