Lighting equipment is expensive and so I spend a reasonable amount of time searching out used equipment on Ebay. Craigslist tends to be too small of a market even in the SF Bay Area to get a good selection of equipment on a regular basis. I got my favorite lens, the Sony 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss, on Ebay for 1/3rd off the nominal price.
About the same time I got the lens, I found a Dyna-Lite set that picked up for $217. New Dyna-Lite kits are about $2k, but lighting equipment hasn’t dramatically advanced in a long time, so used sets have great potential. I wasn’t a complete expert on the different makes and models of Dyna-Lites, but it is one of the best brands in the lighting industry and they are made to last forever.
When I got the kit, it was in great shape but perhaps a bit older than I’d imagined. This became apparent because there wasn’t power cord. I thought I’d go grab one from the garage, but three seconds of examination led me to the discover the power cords were more custom long ago and this plug required a special one. I went to the local lighting store and they stared at it for a bit and said “hmmm, I think this is a 1958 model and I don’t know where you’ll find a plug like that.”
Needless to say that this became a journey. After visiting about 20 stores, I finally found out what type the plug was called — a twist-lock and if you have seen the bestiary of plugs, it’s worth examining at NEMA. Of course no one had one of these plugs in-town but I eventually traced one plug to an electrical supply store in Maine which got it to me for $20. Then I found that a couple of bulbs were burnt out and Keeble & Shuchat which replaced then for about $30. Low and behold the lights worked great – immensely bright.
Now I needed light diffusers and finding the right speed ring was a trick, but Keeble & Shuchat gladly helped me at locating the right speed ring and getting me a beautiful Westcott soft box for it. This entire process took about a year, as it wasn’t high priority and today I did the first quick shoot of my daughter with the new setup.
It was a two light set up with soft boxes. The bright one is the new 2’x3′ soft box that I got on the Dyna-Lite and the dimmer one is the old Westcott moonlight on a 2’x2′ soft box. I liked the results with the new bright light and can’t wait to use them more. The long story short is that Dyna-Lites last forever and you can recover these old beautiful systems.