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Best, Cheap Starter Kit?

Eathan Mertz , Apr 01, 2010; 07:36 p.m.

I run a small Internet retail site that sells gold prospecting, rockhounding and treasure hunting equipment (see my profile). Historically I've done the photography with a point and shoot digital with a macro setting, and then carefully (and painstakingly) edited out the backgrounds. Absolutely fed up with zooming in and deleting pixel by pixel on what aren't even great shots to begin with, I am now setting up a very basic studio that can be easily set up and taken down.
I've built a light box from an article at strobist and am shopping around now for a basic set of studio lights. I tried the light box out today with natural light and had pretty good results considering I had no tripod and was using a point and shoot with a macro setting (see below), but I want a more reliable solution.
So far I've found a couple kits that are affordable and may be enough to get me started.
The first is a Flashpoint Budget Studio Monolight Flash Kit with 2 x 160 WS Flashes, 2 x 7' Light Stands, 2 x 33" White Umbrellas and a carry case ($200).
The second is a JTL 220 W/S Double Umbrella Starter Kit with 2 x J-110 strobe w/ modeling light and variable power, 2 x 33" White Translucent Umbrella, 2 x 7' Light Stand and 2 x PC Cord ($260).
The Flashpoint kit has a little more power per light, but doesn't mention modeling lights or variable power. I guess I'd need a hot shoe adaptor with either. Variable power may be a moot point on a 110 WS light. I really have no idea...
Going off my product line, my amateur (at best) skill level and my modest budget, which of these, if either, would be the best choice? Is there a much better option I should look at?
First experiment with light box:

Responses

Eathan Mertz , Apr 02, 2010; 04:53 p.m.

Two other options would be the Westcott Photo Basics 240P Strobelite Two Light Kit ($464) or the Alien Bees Digi Bee kit ($599).

I know everyone is keen on the ALien Bees, but they are really pushing the envelope on price, so the Westcott kit may be a happy medium between the cheaper kits mentioned above and the Alien Bees. I also like that the kit includes an instructional DVD.

Will I also need the hot shoe adaptor for use with a Canon EOS Rebel XT?

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