I have never used studio lighting. As most of you know I shoot film. I have done a lot of reading but have no idea where to start if I want to buy lighting to do portraits. I do not know if I need soft lighting, strobe lighting, and continuous lighting. Can you guys give me a place to start? I would like an economical kit that would serve the purpose of providing nice even light. Monte Johnson.
I am not into portraits so I can't advise you in that respect. If you want to go the continuous light route, look at B&H; they sell a stand, 12 inch aluminum reflector, white umbrella and 500 watt Photoflood lamp for about $65. I have used two of those for table top photography with good success.
What kind of things do you want to photograph under studio lighting conditions? Do you want to use strobes or hot lights? Do you have the room to set up lights?
I always recommend using strobes because you won't have to deal with color problems using daylight film or heat affecting the subject. This is especially true if you are photographing people. I learned through trial and error using Velvia, which is a more difficult film to work with because it has a narrow exposure latitude.
The basic kit should contain two lights and more advanced would be a third for a rim or hair light. I believe exposure with lights in a studio set up should be manual using the f-stop or lighting intensity to control the exposure. Shutter speed shouldn't be an issue because the room should be dark enough that it doesn't affect the exposure.
I use Dyna Lites but a good basic kit can be purchased from Alien Bees. It's a reliable stobe company owned by the White Lightning people. My Dyna Lite kit would cost about four times as much.
If you already have any flash units that can be set on manual, consider an off camera flash set up like on this page of my web site.