Continuous Light Portraits with the Britek Pro-5000 Daylight Fluorescent Kit

It’s David Griffin, “The Prince of Cheap,” here again!!!

Now anyone that’s asked me about lighting choices knows I am a big proponent of strobes. But today I am a changed man! After having a try with something totally new, I may be reconsidering my exclusive thinking about my lighting equipment choices. Now, on to the post…

Portraiture truly is a sweet science of light. For years I have stuck exclusively close to my strobes, totally rejecting hot lights (and absolutely any other continuous light source for that matter) as kiddish, under-powered, or just plain impractical. Today is a different story as I have become an instant convert to continuous lighting! Hold your horses there – I didn’t say hot lights though! I’m talking about the low cost, high output of Daylight Balanced Fluorescent Continuous Lights! Just think Hot Lights without the “Hot”!!!

Here the small kit and the large kit side by side:

Britek Pro-5000 Daylight Fluorescent Kit


Here the large kit shown with the LARGE fluorescent bulbs installed.


A better look at the large kit with the 40 x 40 inch soft box setup:

Large Kit


The Large Kit with the softbox mounted from the side:

Large Kit w/ Softbox


A look at the small kit setup with the 10 inch silver reflector. It also has a small 24 x 24 inch softbox that can be mounted in place of the reflector.

Small Kit Setup


Power selector

As you can see, the Britek Pro-5000 has 4 power switches that turn each fluorescent light on and off – a real plus.

Now, let me walk you through my first time ever out with these hidden jewels of the industry. Since I am known here at as “The Prince of Cheap,” my goal was to shoot assuming I had minimal gear so that our newbies could be able to repeat and surpass my results. I was set for a basic DSLR (any brand would due), a kit lens (F5.6 would be the widest aperture I could use), a fastest shutter speed of 1/125th, with the highest ISO I could use being 400 (many DSLR’s image quality suffer above ISO 400).

Having such a strict set of rules could nearly guarantee if I were a beginner I should be able to get good results from the lighting. Also, I limited myself to a maximum of only 2 lights for this test – this way if I were on a strict budget only having 2 lights would probably reflect that. The kit consisted of a large bank (a single housing that holds multiple lights that are individually controlled), 40 x 40 inch soft box, large heavy duty lights stand and a 4 bulbs. The secondary light consisted of a single light head, a single bul,b and a parabolic reflector as well as an optional 24 x 24 inch soft box. My only other option would be my trusty eBay 5n1 reflector kit with stand.

A word on continuous light: continuous light is in essence an “always on source.” What you see is what you get. Traditionally continuous light sources are bright, lights from Tungsten or Halogen sources – hot and very uncomfortable for models and fire hazards themselves. Daylight Balanced Fluorescent lights on the other hand remain relatively cool and have even been color corrected to mimic the same color output as electronic flashes! Because of this, many beginners don’t believe in light meters because of the digital age of the “shoot n chimp” (take an image and adjust purely based on your cameras LCD). While I get caught in this myself, I will always start off very close by metering my situation with a light meter first. Also, remember, because of a digital sensor’s low dynamic range (ability to record both very bright and very dark areas in an image at once) it’s even more important now than ever to have a light meter! I’m sure Will Crocket would agree. My suggestion: get a light meter that reads ambient light as both incident (striking an area) and reflective (reflecting off of an area). Try the Polaris SPD100 light meter. Also, florescent light in particular only requires 25% of the electricity to make the same amount of light as a tungsten light bulb!

Heres a look at the the Daylight Balanced Fluorescent Bulbs shipped with the units:

When I setup my lights I already guessed I would have to use ISO 400, F5.6 @ 1/30th of a second (meaning I expected a very low output of light) as a couple of continuous light users have reported in the past to me with other kits. But since this was a single person, 2/3rd body shot where I wanted ultra soft light and a low key background I placed the main light about 4ft from the subject with the light from the soft box only skimming across the subject. To my overwhelming surprise, my meter read a correct exposure of F5.6, 1/60th at ISO 100! That meant that my initial thought was about 2 + f stops under what the lights could produce! Awesome! But heres a tip: because you’re burning the image to the sensor/film you will still want to keep a tripod handy. For example if I wanted a smaller aperture (which would let in less light I would probably use a longer shutter meaning a tripod would further reduce camera shake during the exposure.).

Cheap Studio, huh?! :)

This means that this single light bank WILL grant even a newbie enough power to light like a pro! After I figured my exposure it was time to shoot away. I set my white balance to auto for some and manually set it to 5600k (to make sure the light wouldn’t have a greenish-tinge) but found that the auto white balance of my DSLR did a much better job than I had! Shot after shot I have perfect exposures of ULTRA SOFT FINE LIGHT!!! Once I realized that I had never created light so soft I also realized that I had just been converted to a fluorescent light lover of the highest order! 275 images later I realized that this was FAR easier than working with my strobes! You don’t have to wait for them to recycle, no wondering if they went off from the remote trigger, if the optical slave saw the flash if the subject blinked – NOTHING! What you see is just what you get!

As you can see the Light quality of the Britek Fluorescent Continuous light System Pro 5000 produces exquisite and absolutely beautiful light for portraits. The amazing thing is that with the amount of power generated would’ve allowed me to go up to F8 without killing myself (image quality wise) at ISO 800 – an amazing feat for continuous lights!

Okay, here’s the way I see it. With Fluorescent lights inherent ability to remain relatively cool (even within inches of my subject) makes it an attractive alternative (yes I said ALTERNATIVE) to flash if you are starting out. The soft light of this kit is perfect for engagements sessions, portraits, senior sessions and any other in-studio session where everyone can just walk up and let there cameras program mode steal a great shot from the paid photographer (that’s where strobe has it’s advantage – the photographer is the only one with control over the lights on location, with a wireless triggering system that is).

Here you can see the screw in mounts at the corners of the back where the soft box is mounted onto the light housing… very sturdy!

Mounted Softbox


Trust me… these lightstands are built like tanks!

light stand


Here you can see the locking mechanism where the vertical angle of the unit can be locked into place.

locking mechanism


The last thing I wanted to highlight about the Britek Fluorescent Kit is the the quality of the hardware: from the light bank, light stands as well as the innovative soft box, it is just far,far more than what I expected! I mean this in a good way! I was actually surprised at how sturdy the large light stands were for the larger Pro 5000 kit. It can obviously take a real beating – lots of weight and lots of metal attest to this. Putting together the 40 x 40 inch soft box was absolutely a joke (as far as how difficult it was). First you pop to rods into opposing sides of the mount. Then take the Velcro square shaped fitting with brackets and place the rods into the pockets then attach the other two rods into opposing sides of the mount and then into the rod pockets. Viola! A frame is built! Now just slide the silver/black cover over it from the back and Velcro it to the frame, attach your outer diffuser and you’re done! Two minutes well spent! Coolest part: the rods flex relatively easy and don’t put tons of stress on the box! Overall, there should be no complaints as far as hardware is concerned. This setup is has been thought out and made to be setup quickly and easily! Hint, hint to all the beginners out there!

Preliminary results, this high output fluorescent kit means that I can setup a quickie shoot for 30 minutes in-studio with one background, change, move on to outdoor romantic portraits, collect the check and have an even larger variety of images to show! Make sure we understand this though… there are definitely other companies on the market such as Westcott and Photoflex just to name a few that offer Daylight Balanced Fluorescent Light Solutions. These companies have some VERY versatile systems themselves (some are even able to change the bulb for strobe heads!)! Its just that the Britek unit offers the best price per wattage you can get right now, and with me being the Prince of Cheap, how could I resist! I suspect that if Britek continues to provide low cost lighting to the masses of this quality, they’re going to be really successful!

Here are some preliminary results!



Sample Photo 5

Here I used the Classic Clamshell Lighting pattern. Find out how! Click Here!!!

For more info check out the Britek website.

David Griffin

About David Griffin

The Prince of Cheap I am a "Jesus Freak" and a DIY photography junkie! I'm also the *second* cheapest man alive... but only 'cause my Dad is the first!

38 thoughts on “Continuous Light Portraits with the Britek Pro-5000 Daylight Fluorescent Kit

  1. Rick

    Question – Where can I purchase a similar setup?

    I’ve been looking at the Westcott Spiderlite TD5 but it is too expensive.

    Thank you.

    – RD

  2. David GriffinDavid Griffin
    heres where you can get started. March 18th they will have some low cost specials. the prime kit to go after is the Pro 5000 kit.

    It’ll have a 4 light head. 4 large bulbs. 1 Large Lightstand. 1 40×40 softbox. Somewhere round $400. I’m tellin you man… this stuff is absolutely fantastic! I’m very hard to convince that something like this is worth the price. I’m just thinking of how much time it’ll save me in studio situations… if all it cost is $400 for an ultra versatile light source thats soft as baby powder (an awesome quality for portraiture) that doesnt require lots of work and is this forgiving… man… I gotta go for it!

  3. John

    This is the studio lighting of my dreams. I like to shoot fast with my model acting natural, so I have feared the flash refresh/recycle rate slowing me down. I did a single portrait shoot with a double 500w tungsten umbrella setup. The light “looked” great, but was not powerful enough (and hot too) and could not realistically shoot any smaller aperture than 2.0 without blurring issues. So then my DOF was so small most of the images were ruined… Photography is all about the learning process. I was just about to finally give in to strobes, and found this review! Thank you Mr Griffin, you are the man.

  4. David GriffinDavid Griffin

    just remember… the site is
    they are setting up a very special price the kit but I dont know when it will be available. Also, remember… I did this with the Pro 5000 and a single smaller flourescent light. For what it sounds like your doing you may need one Pro 5000 and one medium light as well. also remember… you can mix this light with flash!!!! I’ve done it and the results are great! I’m thinking about a companion post for this article!

  5. John

    A companion post would be great! Though, still no Pro 5000 on their webpage. I see the PE9110 lightbank (no bulbs) going for $269.99. I also see, with bulbs, and a 40×40 softbox only = $689.99. And 4500watt kit with (2x) PE9110, (2x) 40×40 softboxes, (1x) PE9030 Light Bank, (1x) 32×32 sofbox, all bulbs, stands, and case = $1,399.00 which seems like a good deal but I would love some middle ground and am really hoping for this Pro-5000 kit you reviewed for around $400 as mentioned. Any clues when this great deal becomes available?

  6. David GriffinDavid Griffin

    PE9030 4X80W(960W) Fluorescent Light Head Set
    Still too expensive? Try this!
    1 High Output Continuous Light Head (960 watt equivalent)
    4 Bulbs
    1 32×32 inch softbox!!!

    All you need now is a good lightstand and reflector for fill! :)

  7. John

    Wow thanks for all the suggestions. I have been cross comparing all the Britek’s light banks available on the Linco page to find the correct product for my needs. I noticed that the specifications for all the bulbs, from the 40w all the way up to the 240w, have the same lumens of 2800. Except the one 80w which states a lumens of 5600. Is this correct? If so, why the extra watts for the same light output. I have a feeling its a possible typo…. what do you guys think? I’m eager, can you tell? :)

  8. Jay


    I am into photography as a hobby for now but as each day goes by, I’m loving it more and more. I dont have any “Studio” equipment (YET!) but all I have is a nice camera with a good lens (50 1.8) and just purchased a reflector and a light meter. All I want to do “so far” is shoot outdoors and get great shots! I guess what I’m realy trying to say is that you should make some videos and put them on YOUTUBE. I’m sure I speak for everyone else. Thanks for all the tips brother….keep doing your thing.

    Jay Garcia

  9. David GriffinDavid Griffin

    TO JAY:
    Thank you for your encouragement! I really appreciate it Jay. Guess what? Monster Lighiting Tactics II will be videoed (on the cheap I’m afraid :). I’ll be getting it professionally edited and setup for sale. :) It will be hot! And if its not… I will create new footage from G-Studio 01 (my el cheapo garage studio) and add it to the disc before I set it up for the wordl to own!

    Thanks Jay!

    -David Griffin, A.K.A. The Prince of Cheap

  10. Chris Kalessin

    Hi David – have just found this site and the practical and straightforward advice is wonderful, backed up by the pictures too – many thanks!

    I am just moving into the world of lighting – I shoot with analog SLRs and have a small-ish space with good window light, most of my portraits range between 50-135mm fixed lenses with apertures 1.8 and 4. However, I’m becoming limited by having to keep the model within 1ft of the window, and generally finishing about 2pm! In addition, I can’t get “off tripod” for creative angles because of low shutter speed issues … anyway … having read up all your fabulous articles I’m totally sold on a continuous lighting kit because of the “what you see is what you shoot” element.

    I also love the way your advice is aimed “on the cheap” – there are so many pros and semi-pros around who look down their noses at beginners/up-and-comers, or those on any kind of budget, so it’s refreshing to find your great attitude, thanks!!

    Soooo – really, what I’m wondering is this; with my existing window light giving me something, can I get any joy with this ‘budget’ set from Linco – – or a ‘starter’ set from ebay – item #320223322582 from

    It’s right at the bottom of the price pile, but as I’m going to spend a further 6 months + really learning the ropes in all aspects, I am thinking – even if it is only ‘just’ enough (and in combo with my big sunny window), I could spend the (slightly) bigger bucks later when I’m more ready to get the benefit …

    Please let me know what you think of this (or similar) continuous kit, or where the lowest option I should/could jump in is (note I also have to add shipping to the UK often around $100 …

    Thanks for all the great tips so far, and in advance for any help you can give!

  11. Adam B

    Hey D…. this Linco site is great! I have been searching and searching for some decent ‘extras’…bags, stands etc. Prices at linco kick a**.
    I’m quickly learning that experimenting is getting costly, too costly. And I have been slightly hampered with the ‘flash’ learning curve.
    As of now, and I think I may have gone overkill… I have the ABR800, WL x1600, the vagabond, the 580ex and the 430ex, a cheap photobasics 5-1 reflector kit. Started with the canon’s wanting portability, but after doing a shoot at El Mirage, wanted more power, and the misfires were killing me.. so I got the Skyports. Now I have too much… LOL. Ultimately I wanted continuous light, and looked everywhere for something comparable to the spiderlites. The prices on those are ridiculous, even the bulbs are over the top, but the competition seems either flimsy, underpowered, or lacking any real photographer or testing support.
    With these briteks… if you shoot at faster speeds, say 200… is there enough power, or would you have to mix it with flash, and if so, how much loss would occur from the briteks? Would you even see their effect?
    Also, because the bulbs are so long… can you barndoor them… for moody looks, spotlighting and such?

    I have also been on the lookout for a decent light kit bag (whelled duffle type) have you used any of the bags or accessories from Linco? Any good?

    Feel free to send me an email…

    Thanks Dave… as always, excellent advice.

  12. Vince

    This is a really great article. I’ve got an indoor portrait shoot at a client site coming up, but I usually shoot in my own studio with natural light and reflectors. I was looking at $100s for gear rental plus a few days figuring out how to use it all. Now I can BUY the flouro gear for about what I was going to rent flash gear for, and the metering and light arrangement will be more like natual light, so I’ll know what I’m doing.

    THANK YOU for sharing this information.

    And those are great portraits, by the way. If I can get anywhere near that good on my shoot I’ll be a happy man.

  13. Jeff

    I still haven’t seen the Pro-5000 on their website. I also didn’t get a response to my emails. I’m considering buying the kit that’s on sale for $999 (2 PE9110’s and 1 PE3480SO). Does anybody know how those heads compare to the pro-500?
    Thanks for the great article Dave!

  14. Terry

    Does anyone know if the pro 5000 kit actually exists, or was this a promotional item? I have been checking the Britek site every few weeks but I have yet to see it. I would love to get one of these kits, but Britek has been unresponsive to my emails.

  15. Mr. Tracey

    Hi David,

    Great site!!! I am very new to photography as well. Your web site explains everything in “Plain English.” Love the self portriats above. As an African American myself, I have noticed in photo I have had taken and snap shots I have taken of other people, lighting can be your best friend or worst enemy (especially for dark complections)in your portriats above you nailed it. To achieive a close second to photos above what liting kit would recommend for under $300 and in stages what would you add to ultimatly make it a tie? Also was your studio door open for fill in these shots?

  16. david griffindavid griffin

    Heres what I suggest on a budget of $300. Check out ebay seller auction4less$ and get this

    Now, just spend the rest on a single reflector and a light stand to hold it on and BOOM! If you have enough money left over I’d get a 60 inch optical white satin umbrella from B&H photovideo for only $29.00!! This way you can have a mainlight, a fill from the reflector and then a background light! If your really clever you can position the mainlight so light spills onto your background then use the other light as an edge light for your subject! :) Yes I use the open garage door for fill. I didnt need to but hey I say use what you got! I’ll give you one more suggestion… if your gonna be doing this for money from the gate… I’d get an Alienbee B800 kit and call it a weekend. I’d later get that 60 inch umbrella. Why you ask? Durability.

  17. Mr. Tracey

    Thank you so much for the information. The hardest part about photography is getting started. No one wants to spend money on things they dont need or put all their eggs in the wrong basket. I think I’ll go with the first option right now and later get the Ailen Bee. Again thanks, you took all the guess work out this process.

  18. Mike Maples

    Greetings David,

    This continuous lighting review was just what I needed and just when I needed it! I’m an avid nature photographer and have done a fair amount of outdoor/natural light portrait photography. I want to set up a home studio in my garage with a 10′ wide muslin stand and right now I have a pair of 30″ satin umbrellas with SB-800’s as the flash source. I use Nikon D2x bodies with Nikon 28-70 f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses for the majority of my portrait work.

    I’ve looked at the available kits from Britek and my question is, what would you consider the minimum Britek Kit for serious portrait work in this environment, wattage, type and number of lights? Unfortunately they don’t offer a kit with the combination of one large and one small light like you tested so I’m trying to decide which kit to get or if I should just buy the pieces required to mimic that set-up (which will cost more). Is a boom light useful or just fluff? I don’t mind spending some bucks if that gets me what I need but I don’t want to purchase foolishly.


    Mike Maples

  19. Mr. Tracey

    Oh and while it’s on my mind, is there an advantage or disadvantage with contiuous light over stobe/flash lighting. Finally, what is meant by modeling light?

    Thanks a buch,

  20. Mr. Tracey

    Well put Mike Maples! It’s not the money you spend, its the money you spend on unnessesary equipment. David Griffen has been my answer from above. Here you get one answer from one person. I’ve learned quite a bit from the other sites, yet here, you don’t have people getting in PEEing contests making your desicion even harder. This place is the nets best kept secret.

  21. david griffindavid griffin

    As for advantages vs disadvantages over strobe? TRUE WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get)! The modeling light on a strobe isnt bright enough to really show it how it is. However continuous lights (those designed for shooting) are. Disadvantage… in a pro situation (at an event) anyone can just walk up and “take” your light and use it to put you out of business! Disadvantages? With flash the ambient light has little if any effect on your images. However with continuous since your leaving the shutter open far longer the ambient light becomes a major player requiring you to block out additional light sources. Flash is still the power champ! Its just not as simple as continuous light. For example. I can take a 440 Watt Britek flash about 10ft from my subject and get a solid F8 exposure depending on what modifiyer I use. Try that with even the most powerful Westcott, Photoflex or Britek fluorescent light and you’ll only get “F-Angry”!

    To your first question Mike… I’d consider 2 of these kits then go to ebay for a 40×60 reflector with stand and holder arm. Just dont forget the lightstands for the britek lights cause that kit doesnt have them! I intend to get 4 more of the little continuous lights and 1 more PE9110 kit (the Britek Pro-5000).

  22. David Wells


    I am setting up a studio in my house to do portrait photos. You have intrigued me with your about face on continuous lighting. I was all set to get the $299 deal you had spoken about previously and now I am doubting myself and considering the Cont Fluoro set up.

    At a minimum, what would I need to do the Fluorescent in a 13X14 room that will be a dedicated portrait studio..



  23. Courtney

    Hello David!
    I am about a year into “professional” photography. I shoot in my home but have a “portable” studio where I also go to the clients home to set up portrait shoots. However, I don’t feel I get all I need out of my lights. I have 2 Westcott softboxes (1 of them is an umbrella) My lights are 250w a piece. I am amazed by the setup you showed here. I love it but I have limited space and dollars. I am trying to expand my business and I think lighting is everyting but I become frustrated with my current setup and sometimes have to do a lot of adjusting. What do you think the best (and cheapest) fluorescent set up would be for me? ( Also I was concerned about what seems to be a lower wattage like the 50w (which is probably stronger than a “regular light) should I be concerned or was that just a dumb question? Thanks in advance for all of your help!

  24. Racahel

    Hi David,
    I have read through almost all of your postings and looked at all the setups suggested in this article and still have a question. I do on location photography (anywhere from one to 10 people) and need a quick lighting setup that is inexpensive. Do you recommend fluorescent or strobe? I can’t seem to get an answer that makes me feel confident enough to make a purchase.

    Thanks for any help you can give me!

  25. adam

    david, im new to photography and your reviews are invaluable. bought a 2 light flourescent set from ebay, sold as a a 1250w kit. thought it would be enough, but its not. im getting pics, but got my d90 hunting for every scrap of light and the images could be better. how is wattage measured? that is, if i duplicated that pair of light i have now would i have 2500w of light on the subject? i like close in very candid pics and thought strobes might limit me in capturing those sort of images. sincere thanks.

  26. Stevenja


    Thanks for the awesome info presented here…. Your last post on here was in September, are you still sold on the Britek fluorescents you describe here? I am close to pulling the trigger on ordering at least a small kit, I have been shooting with available light and on-camera (580ex) flashes for several years now, we are ready to make the plunge into some simple studio lighting for portraits, etc but I want to make sure that we are directing our meager budget towards something worthwhile. Can you give me some updated feedback here? We have limited space and $$, I would really like something simple to start with that we can use in our converted garage studio and also take on the road some. Thanks in advance for any help that you can provide…Steve & Lyn

  27. David GriffinDavid Griffin Post author

    TO RACHAEL: Go Portable Monoblock (Strobe). Go with the Alienbees AB-800 and a 60″ Translucent Umbrella. Add an Alienbees Vagabond II or an Innovatronix Tronix Explorer and you’ll have no problems lighting a 10-15 people group! Thats 320 watts of good power!

  28. David GriffinDavid Griffin Post author

    TO ADAM:
    Fluorescent lights are best used: 1 in very close if you have under 2000 equivalent watts. 2 You should increase your ISO to about 400 with slower shutter speeds to get brighter images. Sounds like you should start with your fluorescent lights about 4 feet away at ISO 400 for 1/60th a second. It works well for me using one 900 watt equivelant light and a reflector.

  29. David GriffinDavid Griffin Post author

    I still am heavily sold on Fluorescent lightning. I truly think that in higher end studios it will replace many strobe systems because it is easy on the eyes, no to low heat and the softness for them is awesome! Using 3 of the highest end Britek Kits 9160 I can easily place 2 side by side and one high behind them with 2 reflectors chained on the shadow side and viola… Great setup!

  30. Jay

    I have been shooting landscapes and some product and portrait work. I am currently using 1x SB-800 and 1x SB-600 speedlights triggered with CyberSyncs and mostly shoot through umbrella and brolly box.

    I want to start shooting more portraits and I had my mind pretty much made up on getting a couple of the AlienBees MAX 640 (if they come out) for main/fill and use my speedlights as background and/or additional lighting as needed. The ABs should allow me to starting using larger softboxes.

    One area of portraits I am thinking about entering into is high contrast bodyscaping with one subject light and I have read that continues lighting can aid in this type of shooting since it’s WYSIWYG. I am thinking about just getting one continues lighting head just for that? Or do you think that I should I just get the ABs?

  31. Jim Washington

    Great review! My research had brought me to the same configuration. Please do an analogous type of review on Canon lenses. Can a cheaper lens give the same portrait results as the 85mm 1.2 L USM lens which sells for about $1.8k?

  32. Mr. Tracey

    Hi David,

    I read that the flash is what freezes motion, if true. How do you get the crisp sharpness in your photos with continuous lights? Also, how do you make the signature strip on your photos. Can you give a tutorial?

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