BKA’s Studio System Pro Starter Kit; Two Lights In One Page 2

The 3200 performed flawlessly. The softbox light was gentle and enveloping. The head comes with the flash tube, protective cover, modeling bulb, standard reflector, AC cord, and PC cord. It weighs about 51¼ lbs. That means it needs a sturdy stand to be stable. And it has one. At normal studio operation extensions, it's quite stable. The stand tubing extended out to a maximum of 146", making it possible to elevate the head to about 13 ft. Even at its maximum extension, it still stands solidly enough. It's important, though, to watch the weight distribution and cable connections when extended close to its maximum height. It's much more susceptible to being pulled down by an inadvertent cable yank or loose strobe head.

The Excalibur 3200 equipped with a softbox provided excellent results as a single-light setup. (Model: Janell Cantu.)

The stand is air-cushioned, which means that the tubing was designed to maintain a certain amount of air pressure in it. If a knob is accidentally left loose or comes loose, the extension tube doesn't come crashing down. The air pressure keeps it up. Yet, when you want to collapse the tubing, it doesn't take a lot of pressure to do so. The entire unit breaks down very quickly. The second unit is considerably smaller. The S920's light temperature measures out at an average of just over 5600K, with direct output readings being f/16 at full power, f/11 at half power, and f/8 at quarter power. With the umbrella, full power readings were f/5.6.

Like its larger cousin, all the controls are on a real panel. But the ready light and the slave sensor are on the top. The stand for that unit, which extends to 88", is lightweight. It's adequate for that head, but couldn't do double duty for anything heavier. The smaller unit is compact enough and light enough to carry along just about anywhere. It's AC powered, which means it has to be tethered to a wall outlet, unless some form of auxiliary power is provided.

The S920 is considerably smaller than the 3200, but it still puts out quite a bit of light. It's easy to focus the light with pinpoint precision using the attached snoot.

The complete kit has a suggested list price of $999.95. If the components were purchased individually, the cost would be closer to $1400. That's a $400 savings.

Some photographers prefer to put their own lighting systems together by selecting and matching the individual elements. That may be a good approach for photographers who've had the opportunity to shoot with a wide range of different professional lighting gear and know what types and brands of equipment work well together. But, for photographers who are interested in getting a quick start in studio lighting, a better approach is to go with a matched system such as BKA's Pro Starter Kit.

For more information, contact Brandess-Kalt-Aetna Group, Inc., 701 Corporate Woods Parkway, Vernon Hills, IL 60061; (847) 821-0450; www.bkaphoto.com.