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Photon Management
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Old June 11th, 2003, 01:13 PM   #1
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Tired of renting

I am currently looking at buying a light kit for DV and film. I like the set-up of the Lowel DP-4 kit. Are the other comparable light kits that are worth looking in to that offer the same features and number of lights? How is the lowel quality?

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Old June 12th, 2003, 04:32 PM   #2
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Lowel product quality is OK except it really isn't production quality gear like the gear you see used in the movie industry. That said, it will last a reasonably careful individual for years.

The downside of most of their lights is that their light is hard to control since they have no lens in front of the lamp. Their light stands are a bit flimsy and slow to operate.

Given the high cost of a Lowel kit, I'd take a hard look at a small variety of Arri Fresnell lights and some good C stands.

I have one of their large hard-cased kits and one of the new softside Pro kits. I'd still rather have a range of Fresnell lamps with good stands.

Your mileage may vary.
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Old June 12th, 2003, 08:40 PM   #3
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Please listen to Mike's warning, Dick. If you are looking at the DP 4 kit, notice that it doesn't even include the bulbs! What is that? You will end up paying almost $400.00 each for the lights. For that money there are many other lighting options available, particularly fresnels. For that much money, you should be into more professional gear than what Lowel offers.

Additionally, this kit puts out 4000 watts of firepower, which is way more than most people need for today's cameras. If you can tell us what you want to do with your lighting gear, we can point you to more pro gear.

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Old June 13th, 2003, 02:59 PM   #4
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I am looking to purchase a lighting set-up for productions. I use a 16mm and a XL1s , mostly shorts, industrials, and "indies". I'd like the ability to focus the lights, 1k, and heavy construction. I enjoy the ability to case the lights, for locations and I'd like to steer clear of larger ballast systems-- Arris are nice but not sure about kits and power use, I've always had a colleague set-up lighting and budget him the rentals for the production. Now, I want to own a set for myself. I do not light 3 point, usually I attempt a more realistic lighting style.

Please comment on set-ups that you guys have utilized before, I am looking in 2000-3000 range; complete system.
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Old June 13th, 2003, 09:33 PM   #5
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"The downside of most of their lights is that their light is hard to control since they have no
lens in front of the lamp."
That's why they call them open faced lights. I think it's a bit unfair to criticize lowel on this point. Lowel also make a fresnel

"Their light stands are a bit flimsy and slow to operate."
Most kit stands are crummy / light IMO

I do agree with Mike's suggestion.The quality difference between Arri and Lowel is significant and I don't think the Arri is that much more expensive.
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Old June 13th, 2003, 10:17 PM   #6
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Especially if you consider how long the all-metal Arri will last compared to the plastic Lowel. Eventually, hard-used Lowels will start breaking and discoloring. The plastic finally succums to the heat.

AFAIK, an Arri is sort of permanent gear unless you lose it.

Given what you want to do, with 16 mm, unless your sets are very small, or you are going for the film-noir look, I'm not certain youv'e budgeted enough money for production-level lighting. That amount of money doesn't buy many lights, stands, flags, etc.

Given that I can rent a guy with a truck full of lights, stands, and flags/dots/gobos for $800 a day here in Northern California who can not only light the set the way I want but help set up the (video) camera, I'm not certain I'd want to own enough lights to handle a set for film. Not even certain where I'd store everything when it wasn't in use.

If I own it, then I've got to set it up and repair it and that takes time from my own specific worries.

Maybe I'm tired of having to manage the lighting in a TV Studio. Nasty stuff, lights. Hot, bright, always burning out, never pointed the right place, won't stay where I point them. Then when I get it set up for a 2-person interview, they surprise me with 2 more guests.
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Old June 14th, 2003, 02:23 PM   #7
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Thanks for the info. My location is cumbersome at best, I live in the northern panhandle of texas, and the nearest rental house with any such motion picture gear is Dallas or Austin both six hours away from me; this make rentals very painful most of the time, factoring 12-15 hours drive time into a rental is tough. That being said, I need something versatile, ARRIs sound like my best bet. I have currently budgeted 2000-3000.00 yet, I am capable of going as High 8000.00; I would like to compromise at some point. Can anyone give me a link to ARRI kits or systems, the website appears to be individual light specs. Or perhaps someone could recommend a package comprised of individual lights and accesories. Thanks all for your help.

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Dick Steele
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Old June 14th, 2003, 06:33 PM   #8
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Build your light kit piece by piece with items you actually need, as you need them.

I'd stay away from Lowel kits because their stands seem to be flimsy, and they charge alot for that case they include.

Lowel's quality? You get what you pay for. Not too cheap, not too pricey. Just right for many people.

People always compare Lowel's to Arris and Arris always win because people compare the lower end Lowels to Arri fresnels. Compare Arri fresnels to Lowels fresnels. Wait, Lowel fresnels are $100 more than the Arris... I guess Arri still wins. :)
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Old June 14th, 2003, 07:07 PM   #9
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Dick,
Yes, I can see that your logistics make regular rentals impractical.

I own both an Arri kit and a Lowel kit and like them both. My Arri Softbank D2 kit is well made and reflects what has already been said here about Arri quality and the quality of fresnel lighting. My Lowel kit has one of their Tota lights and two of the Omni lights. It's popular to rag on Lowel lights for their flimsy stands, etc. Honestly, I don't really agree. They are all metal, are very lightweight and can be very handy and versatile to have when compactness is important.

Certainly there are dozens of variations here. Based on your notes I'd recommend getting a 3-light Arri fresnel kit and perhaps an individual Lowel Tota light and Photoflex softbox (with speed ring for the Tota light).
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Old June 14th, 2003, 07:22 PM   #10
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Have a look at B&H for pricing and some specification . You can do some pretty in depth research on the arri site, it just takes a while to navigate it.

Open face lights
http://www.arri.com/entry/lighting.htm

The arri 600, 650 and 1000 watt open face Arrilite are between 260 and $270, the barn doors are $60.

The DP is $148 and the barndoor is $60

The Arri (while still my personal choice) has more plastic on it then the lowel. just pointing this out. Plastic isn't always a bad thing.

here is a link to arri kits.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bh2.sph/...ID=F60000FAE20
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Old June 14th, 2003, 07:39 PM   #11
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I didn't see Ken's advice until after I had posted . I think his advice is excellent.
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Old June 15th, 2003, 12:18 AM   #12
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Dick,
One point worth mentioning, even if it may be self-evident to many, is with regard to the bulk and weight of lighting. As Mike noted earlier, you can hire fellows with trucks of lighting. But, as a practical matter, many of us are generally 1-man crews and have to schlep our own gear. We don't have the luxury of a Ringling Bros union crew complete with a Freightliner.

My Arri D2 kit packs neatly into a durable case. But even it weighs in at just under 50lbs. Even my Lowel kit (with the flimsy stands <g>) weighs-in at nearly 40 lbs!

So if you face similar logistical challenges you may do well to keep an eye on the weight/bulk of your lighting kit as you make your selections.

Good luck and let us know what you select, Dick.
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Old June 15th, 2003, 02:16 PM   #13
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A special thanks to Wayne, and thanks to all who chimed in the info was helpful. Please feel free to continue comment, as I believe the community could benefit from a good dialog on the subject of lighting and lighting equipment.

-Audio may be 70% of the production, lighting must be the other 30%, Production usually takes 200%.


Thanks and cheers,

Dick Steele
3rd Coast Cinematics
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Old June 15th, 2003, 10:48 PM   #14
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I'm starting to consider a small box-van or a trailer with all of my grip/gaffer/camera gear other than electronics and cameras. The cables, clamps, lights, tripods, and all the other stuff is starting to overwhelm my storage space and takes a long time to load into my minivan. Invariably, I find when I get to the shoot, I wish I had brought a ladder/boom/other tripod/another light stand/the IR heater/backdrops, etc.

Going to a multiperson shoot, I feel like the moving company on both ends. And then nothing ever gets repacked like it should.

Convenience and storage all rolled into one.

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Old June 16th, 2003, 02:07 AM   #15
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Bryan said:

"The Arri (while still my personal choice) has more plastic on it then the lowel. just pointing this out. Plastic isn't always a bad thing."

You're talking about the Arrilites which have plastic housings. These are open face lights and compare slightly to the Lowels. I think they are more robust and durable.

The Lowels are great, if you want to really pack light. You can stuff a 1k tota into smaller bags and such. Good for run and gun ENG guys. But control is a problem with Omnis, DPs or Totas.

The Arri Fresnels are much heavier and durable. I have 7 head, 300k, 650k, 1k, 2ks and I love them.

For bigger productions I always prefer renting anyway. Most of the time I want a 500amp generator and 10ks, and 5ks. And of course I want a 1-5 ton grip truck on top of that. But that's a whole different world.
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