Best budget studio lights: 8 tested

Both of the Elinchrom kits in this testing group offer supreme sophistication and excellent build quality. They're also very easy to use, thanks to highly intuitive and versatile controls.

Of the two kits, the D-Lite 4it Studio To Go is the more appealing, because both flash heads are of the more powerful 400Ws variety. You also get a pair of high-quality 66cm softboxes, which are a step up from the translucent and silver 83cm brollies included in the cheaper D-Lite it 2/4 Two Head Umbrella Kit.

Both Elinchrom kits come with wireless radio trigger systems, auto-sensing cooling fans and video DVD guides, as well as quality carry cases.

Next on the list, it's a close call between the Bowens Gemini 400/400, Interfit EXD200 Home Studio and Lastolite Lumen8 SV 400W. The Bowens kit has impressively strong build quality and powerful maximum output, but the overall design and controls feel a little too utilitarian, especially considering the high asking price.

The Lastolite kit is quite similar in all respects, but is rather better value for money at nearly £100 less. However, the heads are a bit down on maximum light output for their 400Ws rating and the softboxes are annoyingly fiddly to assemble.

The Interfit EXD200 has refined controls and advanced slave modes, more akin to the Elinchrom kits. The heads also punch above their weight for light intensity, considering they're only rated at 200Ws. By comparison, the rest of the lighting kits on test look like also-rans.

Verdict

An unbeatable combination of power, versatility and ease of use, the Elinchrom D-Lite 4it Studio To Go Two Head Kit boasts intuitive control panels and built-in wireless radio triggering. Every item is beautifully made. It's marginally the most expensive kit, but worth every penny.

For power, sophistication, quality and ease of use, the Elinchrom D-Lite 4it Studio To Go Two Head Kit delivers the perfect package.

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