Best budget studio lights: 8 tested

Photo Basics Strobelite 2-Light Educational Kit - £350

Like both Elinchrom kits and the Interfit EX150, the Photo Basics Strobelite 2-Light Educational Kit includes an instructional DVD to help beginners get up and running. Indeed, the video runs for two hours, and the 'educational' aspects don't stop there.

The kit also includes a floor positioning mat and a floor mat guide card, to help you place the subjects and the flash heads in the right positions for various lighting effects. It's a bit like the studio photography equivalent of painting by numbers.

In other respects, the kit is rather lacking. The heads don't live up to their 300Ws potential, and lack auto-dumping. You have to manually fire a test flash every time you reduce the power setting. There's also no facility for turning off the recycle/ready beep. Power adjustment is via a stepless rotary control, which enables a nominal four-stop range.

The heads are quite compact and lightweight, but the light stands feel flimsy and only extend to a maximum height of 1.9m, which is the lowest in the group. The two translucent brollies are of reasonable quality, but we'd rather have one translucent and one silver to add versatility.

Performance

Best budget studio lights: 8 tested

The Photo Basics heads gave less light output at their maximum power settings than either of the lower-rated Interfit heads. Shooting from 2m through a translucent brolly, the aperture range stretched from f/2.2 at minimum power to f/10 at its highest.

The calibration of the power dial was fairly accurate, but the consistency in flash output throughout a series of shots was disappointing. We experienced fluctuations of +/-0.3EV throughout sequences of shooting, with changes in light intensity occurring at random from one shot to the next. Overall, this is poor value, especially compared with the cheaper Interfit EXD200.