My lights are turned down and I still can’t get f16

I have been reading your tips and tutorials, and they have been very helpful.

I recently purchased a beginners home studio kit from a company called britek for about $850. I believe that the W/s are 960. I have set up and metered the lights and I really have to try hard to get f8 at 60th. If I put all the lights (main, fill, and background) on the lowest power (main 1/4, fill 1/4, and background 1/2) they still seem too powerful for individuals and small groups. I end up having to shoot at F16 or F11 at a 60th, and I lose depth of field that way. To get the meter to read F8, I have to difuse my soft boxes more, and move them back quite far. The studio I am using is dark (my basement) I can control the lighting, but it shouldn’t be this difficult.

Did I buy the wrong lights, are they too powerful, or am I doing something wrong?


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8 thoughts on “My lights are turned down and I still can’t get f16



    Too much power isn’t always a bad thing. You may need that output someday! For now, assuming you have your camera sensor or film at a low ISO, consider adding neutral density filters to your lights or your camera to reduce the light levels.

    I assume there is a reason, like showing motion, that has you wanting to use 1/60 second? If not, you can certainly afford to increase your shutter speed somewhat to allow less light into the camera and still have shutter-flash sync.


  2. Hal 2021

    What speed film are you using? I am going to guess something in the 400 ISO range. Swap over to something in the 100 ISO family and you will find more controllable results and wonder where all that power went.

  3. Ericka

    I thought it was mentioned by you that a shutter speed has no effect on strobes, so why would jeana have to suggest increasing shutter speed?

  4. Ed Hidden

    1/60th is a fairly slow shutter and could introduce some camera shake if not held perfectly still (depending on the focal length. If it’s anything over a true 60mm then it’s probably too short of a shutter.)

    Since Shutter speed doesn’t affect exposure, increasing to 1/125th will yield better sharpness.

  5. jeana

    Hey, thanks for the reply everyone!!! I was waiting a long time for a response, but I did figure out some things on my own by playing around with the equipment a little. I did difuse my lights more by cutting up an old sheet and attaching it to my soft boxes. that seemed to help a lot. I am using 1/60 of a second for shutter speed because I don’t want to always have to use a tripod to avoid camera shake. I also use f8 at 1/60 because I like the depth of field better. Thanks again I love this website. You guys are extremely helpful, and you’ll probably be hearing from me again.

  6. Jim

    With all due respect to Ed, I’m sorry, but shutter speed most certainly _does_ affect exposure.

    Shutter speed directly affects how much light is allowed into the camera body by controlling how long the film or DMOS is exposed to the light source.

    Aperture controls how much light comes through the lense, which has the aberative affect of altering field of depth (what’s in focus).

    ISO/ASA is the rating for the “film”s absorptive qualities– in other words, how much light is required to fully saturate the surface to fully expose it.


    With that said, you cut down the amount of light entering your camera by a) closing aperture down – higher numbers mean smaller opening, b) lowering your film speed (ISO/ASA) lower lower numbers mean more light needed to saturate/expose film, and c) increasing shutter speed so less light is allowed to enter the camera at all.

    A combination of adjusting a, b, and c, will give you results you seek.

    Best of luck to you
    OMP 91734

  7. Ed Hidden


    maybe I should have clarified my statement. Adjusting your shutter speed will make little to no difference when using strobe lighting indoors. Especially if you have 960w/s.

    The reason being, if you are shooting at 1/125th and your strobes are measuring at f16, unless you are in a really bright environment (not typical of a studio usage)… the ambient lighting will be extremely low and will have no effect on the overall exposure.

    I was trying illustrate this point to my friend the otherday. We were shooting at F11 and I told him, just put your shutter on 1/125th. He was asking if he could change it to get a brighter image.

    I showed him with my light meter that in the “typical room lighting” we had, with at 1/125th… the ambient light was well F1 at 1/15th of a second… I couldn’t even get it to meter at 1/125th at ISO 100.

    So you can see in this example… Adjusting the shutter speed would make no difference unless you would slide it ALL the way to 1/5th or so of a second. Which is certainly not feasable for people at least.

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