Best budget studio lights: 8 tested

Elinchrom D-Lite it 2/4 Two Head Umbrella Kit - £460

Uniquely in this group, the Elinchrom D-Lite it 2/4 Two Head Umbrella Kit has two heads of different power ratings. The 400Ws head is intended as the main light source, whereas the 200Ws head is more ideal for use as fill-flash, a hair light or for illuminating backgrounds. The Guide Numbers are 64 and 45 respectively.

Although the heads are of different powers, the control layout is identical. Everything in the kit is beautifully designed and built with Swiss precision. Simple push-buttons on the back of the head enable power to be increased or decreased over a five-stop range in 1/10th stop increments, and the LED display is easy to see in dark studio conditions.

The kit also contains two 83cm brollies; one silver, one translucent. They're very good quality, but a cheaper option than the softboxes included in the dearer Elinchrom D-Lite 4it Studio To Go Two Head Kit. A bonus of both kits is that wireless radio triggering is built into the heads and a hotshoe-mounting transmitter is part of the package. Everything's wrapped in two smart, slimline carry bags; one for the heads, the other for stands, brollies, and other bits and bobs.

Performance

Best budget studio lights: 8 tested

Good for prolonged use, performance is enhanced by the fact that the heads are the only ones in this group to feature cooling fans, which kick in automatically when needed.

Colour temperature was consistent throughout the power range, and the push-button controls adjust flash power with precision. Throughout a series of shots, the output stayed consistent as well, so performance is pretty much flawless. Our only slight criticism is that the 200Ws head lacks oomph, needing f/10 for a correct exposure in our 2m translucent brolly test. On the plus side, it has a quick recycling time of just 0.6 seconds from full-power flash, and the 400Ws is pretty quick too, at 1.2 seconds.