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Old August 20th, 2007, 12:42 AM   #1
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Cool Flos from Kaiser??

Has anyone tried the Cool Flos from Steve Kaiser? Or any of his other gear? I'm assuming they're not built like Arris, but do they pass reasonable muster. Comments on either his heads or stands would be appreciated.
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Old August 20th, 2007, 08:36 AM   #2
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Got a link?
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Old August 20th, 2007, 07:06 PM   #3
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Here's the page with the Cool Flos:
http://www.skaeser.com/servlet/Categ...egory=COOL+FLO

Richard Andrewski has a similar instrument at CoolLights and I've heard god reports about his gear. But when you add up the price for the head, bulb, stand, softbox, and stand adapter, getting 2 of them is a bit over my very tight budget.

I know Kaeser's stuff is all over ebay, so I figured at least a few people in this froum might have worked with his stuff.

As a side note, after a back injury a few years back, I mostly do post work. So I don't need heavy duty instruments like Arris, to weather a few shoots a week. OTOH, I would like them to hold up reasonably well on the 5-15 days a year I'll need to take them out.
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Old August 21st, 2007, 12:39 AM   #4
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Hi Eric:

While I have never used these lights, they look like all of the other Chinese stufff that's flooding the market right now like Smith-Victor, FotoDiox and about half a dozen other suppliers. Not terrible but nowhere in the same neighborhood as Arri or Mole.

I built my own Kino Diva 200s for about $200.00 ea. that I think are built better, although a 55 watt biax tube is a 55 watt biax tube. My point being that any halfway talented camera person or DP can do great lighting with any of these. It's just that the cheaper stuff will last you a year or possibly two and will then be pretty junky versus Arri stuff and Mole stuff, I have already been using all 20 of my mine for about a decade so far with no problems and just a few minor repairs.

You get what you pay for. When you are a noob and buy cheap, you will double or triple the cost when you replace it in a year or two. I vote for buying or building quality but it's your call.

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Old August 21st, 2007, 01:31 AM   #5
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Thanks for the interest Dan. I was a noob when video cameras had tubes and BetaCam hadn't hit the market. So, as I tried to explain above, I really do understand about the build difference between say, an Arri and a Lowell and a Smith Victor- in descending order.

I have no interest in ramping up the shooting part of my work-if I want something to look good and the budget allows for it, I'd rather hire either other camera ops with a good kit, or a gaffer with a well-equipped truck. Just something that will work within my restrictive budget and go out a few times a year for pickup interviews and some personal stuff. So hopefully, someone in this forum has ACTUALLY WORKED WITH these lights or other Steve Kaeser products.
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Old August 21st, 2007, 04:03 AM   #6
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I'm sure it will be fine. It's hard to mess up putting a bunch of E26 sockets on a fixture and plugging spiral CFLs into them so its highly unlikely that it won't work.

I wonder though on these type solutions how much there really is to separate them from a DIY solution. If you're on a budget, it's so easy to go to Home Depot and get the N:Vision 5500K bulbs in 30w or 40w (which many around here will confirm work fine), a few edison sockets, a suitable backing like a piece of masonite and wire the sockets up. You can put switches on there to bank select them. Maybe you can find a more attractive backing for the bulbs too with a bit of imagination, but how much could it cost really?

The point is, the ballasts, or the hard part are in the base of these type bulbs. that's where all the active electronics and circuitry are. Also the single bulb reflector setups from skaesar are not very much different from a bunch of home depot worklight scoops with stand adapters on them.

If you really want to save some money just make something on your own and see if you like fluorescent or not.
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Old August 21st, 2007, 07:54 AM   #7
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I recently bought some of Richard's CoolLights and I'm very impressed with the quality and the value.
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Old August 21st, 2007, 08:41 AM   #8
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Thanks Paul for the kind words.

Its just two different philosophies: self-ballasted or separate ballast. There's a perceived convenience and lower cost factor in some of the self-ballasted systems. However, for those that care about lumen output, the ballasts in the base of those CFLs are never as good as those that can be put in a separate ballast system. The power factor is always lower. Its one reason we mostly only sell the separate ballast systems. I viewed these type of units as entry level and fragile and not able to stand up to the rigors of daily use over a long time. But spirals are simply the most accessible DIY fixture you can get. Simple to setup, simple to debug...

With the multi-spiral type fixtures, you can just keep putting sockets in them to up the lumen output and at $6.95 for each bulb (if you're using the home depot variety) its not too bad. It's just when you get to some of these other specialized high CRI "full spectrum" spiral CFLs that it gets quite a bit pricier and some of the cost advantages to a self-ballasted system start to look less interesting.
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Old August 21st, 2007, 11:45 AM   #9
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Paul, I too have seen and worked with Richards' CL255's and 455's. They are nice! It was the first place I went to on the internet.

Richard, I figured you might chime in. Here's my situation: I've got up to the hight $300s' to spend. I've already got part of a kit, tungstens, but I'd like to add softlights to it as well. Right now, I'm trying to snag a client whose work will consist mostly of editing interviews from around the states, but with the possibility of shooting some of the local ones. So the lights are for both a specific need as well as a general one.

Already tried DIYs' and I'm not a very good craftsman. I do need the lights to have a decent build and finish. Client perception, and they WILL be at the interviews, is important.

Richard, if I ever get the income stream back up on the production side, I definately will be back to CoolLights to look at your HMI fresnels. I'm really pleased at the work you're doing for the video community.
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Old August 22nd, 2007, 02:32 AM   #10
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Okay

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Lagerlof View Post
Thanks for the interest Dan. I was a noob when video cameras had tubes and BetaCam hadn't hit the market. So, as I tried to explain above, I really do understand about the build difference between say, an Arri and a Lowell and a Smith Victor- in descending order.

I have no interest in ramping up the shooting part of my work-if I want something to look good and the budget allows for it, I'd rather hire either other camera ops with a good kit, or a gaffer with a well-equipped truck. Just something that will work within my restrictive budget and go out a few times a year for pickup interviews and some personal stuff. So hopefully, someone in this forum has ACTUALLY WORKED WITH these lights or other Steve Kaeser products.
Hi:

Okay, so you have been doing this as long as I have and aren't a noob. But still, I am speaking from experience with the www.fotodiox.com lights. These same lights are also sold here in the U.S. under the Savage name and a few others. Nothing wrong with that but they are pretty amateur quality as far as the appearance to your client. I agree with Richard, I like the quality of the 55 watt biax tube with a separate ballast over these lights that use spiral CFLs.

So far, nobody else has even heard of these Kaeser lights, that may be a good indicator or their quality and reputation. I have bought, borrowed or rented most of the low-end no name flourescents on the market although not specifically the Kaesers. I totally am in line with Richard in that you get what you pay for. If reliability and appearance are important to you, (and it sounds as if it should be), I wouldn't want a light to catch fire, flicker or not work with a client at a shoot, I would consider Richard's lights at the least. The last two cheap flouros that I worked with had problems, even using Kino tubes. One actually caught fire and the other flickered and killed two different bulbs in a row. Fortunately, I was working alone shooting tabletop so no harm, no foul.

DIY with flourescents is easy, I made my own in about an hour and half, most of the parts are available pre-fabbed, you just out them together and wire the ballast, insert bulbs and shoot, but I can understand if you want to NOT do this, there is an element of "adventure" when you turn on the light for the first time.

Best of luck,

Dan
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Old August 22nd, 2007, 06:06 AM   #11
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Hey Dan,

I still want to see those DIY kino's of yours. Pictures please!
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Old August 22nd, 2007, 06:21 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Lagerlof View Post
Paul, I too have seen and worked with Richards' CL255's and 455's. They are nice! It was the first place I went to on the internet.

Richard, I figured you might chime in. Here's my situation: I've got up to the hight $300s' to spend. I've already got part of a kit, tungstens, but I'd like to add softlights to it as well. Right now, I'm trying to snag a client whose work will consist mostly of editing interviews from around the states, but with the possibility of shooting some of the local ones. So the lights are for both a specific need as well as a general one.

Already tried DIYs' and I'm not a very good craftsman. I do need the lights to have a decent build and finish. Client perception, and they WILL be at the interviews, is important.

Richard, if I ever get the income stream back up on the production side, I definately will be back to CoolLights to look at your HMI fresnels. I'm really pleased at the work you're doing for the video community.
Hey Eric, no question that perception is reality and DIY is fine (and thats how I started out too) if you're off alone working in isolation but when you're on a gig with a client paying and especially out in public somewhere, you really do need to look the part. Showing up with bright yellow colored worklights or things that look like they were built in the garage doesn't play well.

As Dan mentioned, the 2x55w solutions with 3200K tubes work great with the tungsten in your kit; and in addition, you can get them in 3200K which you really can't with the spirals so often. So your fresnels don't blend as well with the daylight spirals.

One or two of the CL-255s are in your range and include everything you need to be ready, including 2 tubes each. As you may have noticed they look the part and you shouldn't feel embarrassed with any part of your kit at that point.
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Old August 22nd, 2007, 12:12 PM   #13
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Comparison

I've used both Cool Lights and Kaeser lights, and...well...the both light up the place pretty well. The difference is quality -- the Cool lights are a beefier build than the Kaeser Units. Both are exceptional values when compared to Kino's or Arri's, but I would be a little reluctant to take the Kaeser units out on the road very often. If you are going to hang them in your studio and leave them, or if you are going to go on location with them only once or twice a month, they will work out fine and are an amazingly affordable way to get cool 5600-ish soft-box illumination. Richard's lights, on the other hand, are more like the theatrical units I'm accustomed to from my touring days. Very robust, very solid. Nice work, Richard....
Maybe I'm just used to another way to do it, but I fond the Kaeser softboxes slightly less-than-easy to put together, and I would worry about popping a seam if I were tying to do it out on location somewhere. Once they're put together, however, they work great -- the light is utterly gorgeous. Up close, (ie, just out of frame on a talking head) a pair of his 6-spiral soft boxes will read outdoors on an overcast morning.
Both companies ship quickly and are easy to work with. As multi-cam virtual set units like Newtek's Tricaster become commonplace and we start having to do 3 green screens on one shoot, workable and coast-efficient options like Richard and Kaeser will become important. If budget is your ultimate concern, I would recommend a mix of both.
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Old August 27th, 2007, 11:35 PM   #14
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Just an update. Richard, I found your assesment pretty much right-on. The Kaeser lights have a decent build - the instrument itself has a nice textured matte black finish. It's certainly not ARRI quality, but they won't fall apart if you breathe on them either.

Some nice design touches; 3 separate switches control 3 two light banks. Plus a master switch. Two stand mounts, so that the instrument can be mounted 'portrait' or 'landscape', a convenient handle, some nice stands... Overall, I'm very pleased.

And one lovely thing about fluorescents as opposed to tungsten 'point' lights. Even at fairly large distances, and with no diffusers in front of the lamps, the light remains fairly soft, shadows don't have hard edges. Much softer than a fresnel or open face with a Chimera at that distance.
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Old August 28th, 2007, 07:04 AM   #15
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Pretty good deal for $379. a key and fill I guess. For an interview, what would be a good hair light to match this set up?
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