Zack Arias Shares His All-In-One Bag Travel Lighting Kit

With the rising prices of additional baggage when flying. Traveling with all the gear photographers need for the average location shoot is getting out of hand. There are lots of articles and tricks for saving some money but most of us have stripped down our travel kits to the essentials. This of course means for bigger jobs renting extra gear once on location. Manufactures seem to get this and there has been a boom in options, from battery powered strobes to wireless flashes and all sorts in between. Back from his online blogging hiatus, Zack Arias shares how he has solved this issue with an all in one ready to go lighting bag.

Arias is no stranger to sharing his knowledge and experience, having written and created countless educational articles and videos. However, he has been quiet for about the last year or so with just little bits here and there to keep his blog alive. Hopefully this new video is a sign of things to come because years ago Arias's early videos based on his failure and then success in starting a photography studio were super influential for many budding photographers.

In this video Arias sets out to accomplish two basic things. An all in one brand specific lighting kit that is compact but versatile and have it all fit into one travel bag. The solution was to use the various strobes and flashes made by Phottix, combined with various modifiers that use the Bowens mount. The beauty of what this combination offers is that all the modifiers can be swapped between strobe and flash. This cuts down a lot on the number of modifiers needed. 

For years I have adopted Canon Speedlights as my travel kit and take them everywhere but recently I've been on the look out for a compact strobe kit that I can add to my flash kit. I dream of the day Canon makes a radio trigger that could work with its built in radio system but until then there really isn't a great way to mix brands without using Pocket Wizards. Arias's system seems like about as close as you are going to get if you want a mix of power and portability.

He also shares a few other pieces of his lighting kit that are pretty interesting. The Fresnel mounts seem cool and I'd be interested in seeing a video on these, as well as the Manfrotto boom stand. I hate the bulkiness of most boom stands and have resorted to using a typical stand, C-clamp, and lighting pole. All three things I need to carry anyway, but combined they make a reasonable boom pole for lightweight objects.

Here is a selection of what is included in Arias's kit.

Think Tank Logistics Manager

Phottix Indra 500

Phottix Indra 360

Phottix Mitros Plus Flash

Phottix Stratos II (Triggers)

Bowens Mount Fresnel

MagMod Basic Kit

Manfrotto 420b Boom Stand  

Godox S-Type Bowens Hotshoe Bracket  

[via Dedpxl]

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Caleb Kerr's picture

I've always been on the fence about Zack Arias' minimalist cheap gear thing (not that he asked my opinion). It seems like he's very focused on the tools he actually needs and not on marketing hype, which is great. But toward the end of the video, he says "yeah, sure, I have to walk over to each light and adjust the settings, but whatever, you just walk over and do it" which I found very strange. The day I got transmitters that could adjust power output of off camera lights changed my life forever. My ability to get my lights dialed in quickly and precisely was major. It lets me work fast and get good images. It's weird because he works with so many musicians and celebrities who traditionally only give you like 5 minutes. I'm surprised that the inability to work quickly with his gear doesn't matter to him.

Justin Berrington's picture

but he also mentioned twice in the video that he really hopes they come out with a universal trigger. I think he does care. There's just nothing he can about it so might as well just be happy with what he's got for now.

michael andrew's picture

I have Profoto, and the remote is amazing, but i still walk over to the lights because I can never remember what they are set at, and the remote does not tell you. I can walk over to a light and adjust in seconds, and in all reality once you have you ratio set you can lower or raise your F-stop, to adjust globally. Im not sure what the big deal is.

Caleb Kerr's picture

I also use Profoto and while you're right that it doesn't show you the absolute power, I typically don't care what it is, I just know it's too high / low, and want it brighter / dimmer. Also, when you have two lights set up 30-40 feet apart, up on boom arms, 13' up on a light stand, it's not as simple as just walking over to it.

Michael DeStefano's picture

This may be true but I think there just isnt a good system that incorporates different lights of different types/sizes well right now. As far as shooting someone in 5 mins its not if thats a new scenario. Plenty of photographers did it long before triggers where even a thing.

Chad Hamilton's picture

Caleb, he also doesn't do the type of shoots we do. I think we have lights spread out a little more than he does. Not a big deal for him to take two steps, but for us its 20.

Justin Berrington's picture

Awesome! Zach just gave me a few more pieces to improve my kit. That boom is exactly what I've been looking for. I've been building out a similar lighting kit with the Phottix line for my location headshot setup. I can't say enough about the versatility of their gear. I've been able to get rid of all cables and having to build a softbox on location. Not to mention it's extremely reliable and affordable. I'm holding off on the indra's to see if they release a version with a clip in battery.

Hans Rosemond's picture

My jaw dropped when I saw that boom stand. Want. Like, now.

Michael DeStefano's picture

Yeah that boom is def. something I'll be picking up.

Chris Ingram's picture

Been using mine for years. Was my first stand beyond a basic portable stand...and it's my #1 go to stand for most location shoots. Yes, it's a bit bigger, but the versatility that it offers...totally worth it for me.

Dan Howell's picture

Misleading title. The reality is that it is 2 cases and 100lbs. I would (and do) make vastly different choices given those parameters.

Caleb Kerr's picture

And STILL has to rent C-stands when traveling.

Michael DeStefano's picture

Not really I think the vast majority of people consider a lighting kit to be your lights and maybe modifiers. A stand bag or grip kit is a whole different thing. So I still say its a full lighting kit in one bag.

Dan Howell's picture

umm...he has 3 umbrellas and 3 Octas of different sizes in the 'stand' bag. Those are light mods. To me full kit in a bag would include light, mods, and stand(s) in a single case. I do it all of the time and keep it under 50lbs (single Profoto AcuteB/head). That's the way I read the headline. Lots of options if you are expanding it to 2 cases/100lbs.

Michael DeStefano's picture

I guess its personal preference and semantics. I travel with one lighting kit bag that contains 10 Speedlights all my grip gear, various modifiers, a small tripod, and batteries etc. It all fits in a carry-on sized roller and always goes in the overhead with me. I check a second larger bag with lightstands and larger umbrellas/softboxes. If I lost the lightstand bag on arrival I could still shoot the entire job with everything that is in my lighting kit without stands. Obviously I could also rent or borrow stands in most cities if need be.

That to me makes it an all-in-one lighting kit. Which I feel Zacks does just fine.

Dan Donovan's picture

Good gear info here. However, remotely controlling the power of a flash is HUGE. And it is not just the fact of walking over to it. What happens when the controls are on the head and it is high or in a hard to reach on a boom?! Or, you have multiple lights to adjust. It is a pain without a remote (I know...I had 25 years without using one). My plan now is to stay with Profoto, but is good to know there is a reasonably priced portable option available. And I definitely will be adding a couple of the other pieces of gear mentioned by Zack!

Michael Bock's picture

Unclear why no mention of the Phottix Odin II. There's your remote power control. The Indras and Mitros Speedlights have built in Odin receivers. Oh, and the Mitros + has a built in Odin transmitter. So it can act as a master on camera. Complete automation...and no, I don't work for Phottix.

Wait...I forgot he shoots Fuji and Phase...nevermind. Strato trigger it is!