I created my blog account probably 1 1/2 year ago, never got motivated enough to prioritise my time on writing anything until now. What triggered it was to finally put the pieces of the jigsaw together without cheating too much on the corners : I bought a studio set for about 1K € (from Barker Photographic which were fantastic customer service-wise and price-wise) and so far it seems like I made the right decisions for what I had in mind !
3 years ago, as I was a student looking to get more experience of studio lighting, I bought a very cheap kit on Ebay...one of those with 3 lights and full set of accessories from Hong Kong for ...300€ if I remember well...postage included. Needless to say it only lasted a year but a year of good service, very handy to play around and learn despite its unreliance. I kept the stands, the gels and the umbrellas from it.
At work and while in college, I've used different kits, mostly Bowens (500, quite powerful) and Elinchrom ranger Q (very handy to travel but too light and tiny to my taste to summarise my feelings) and so I knew what I wanted to myself...trustworthy lights fit right in between the power and speed of an expensive pro kits and the value for money of cheap starters kits. I don't work under time pressure or in large studios so a decent power (400Ws) and recycling time (1.3s -0.4s) is fair enough for me.
I bought the Elinchrom Dlite 4 "it" kit that comes with 2 X 66cm softboxes, stands, modeling lights and the skyport transmitter. Regarding the kit itself, comes in a handy tube bag, not as neat as the Ranger's case but that will do. The softboxes are really easy to assemble. It's actually the first time I really consider that accessory as portable. There is room for improvement in the quality of the diffusion of the light though, with the fabric that is used. Having the comfort of the cable free system with the skyport transmitter is great. I used to have my own transmitter receiver but that wasn't always working and I ended up using a cable (and kept stumbling on it or having to reconnect it every 5 shots)
Light accessories, particularly anything that isn't a standard softbox or an umbrella, can be quite expensive if your budget focuses on another part of your business, so I was delighted to find these guys EOC Camera Accessories on ebay (yes I am a slight ebay freak !) and I got a couple more cool light attachements.