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Old February 22nd, 2008, 09:40 PM   #1
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Anyone else have issues with their Lowel Omni lights?

Brand spankin' new kit from B&H (the "Interview lighting kit": 2 Omnis, 1 Tota) and already my Omnis have burned through four bulbs in less than two hours of usage.

I made darn sure not to touch the bulbs with my fingers during installation, and that they were seated properly. They blew within roughly 20 minutes of striking. One blew right after I changed from spot to flood, but the other three bulbs blew spontaneously, no one was even near them.

This happened in two different locations, so I can't say for certain if the location wiring is the culprit.

These are 500w bulbs and at a cost of ~$25.00 each, this is getting bloody expensive! I've lost two days of shooting because of this. I'm almost at the point of tying them to a trebuchet and launching them into the St-Laurant, tabernac!

Has anyone else had this problem from their Omni lights? Do I have a bad batch?
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Last edited by Mike Barber; February 23rd, 2008 at 01:19 AM. Reason: added url for kit
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 11:25 PM   #2
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you got bad bulbs period, or you have really hot line voltage ( unlikely ). I'd call lowel and get the bulbs replaced, and you should not be paying $25 for a lowel bulb, they should be around $15. bulbtronics.com is pretty much the wholesale supplier even B&H gets their bulbs from.
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 11:49 PM   #3
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The historic problem with Omnis is that the bulbs mount laterally in the fixture, which means that if you happen to operate them with the fixture and thus the bulb upside down, they will burn up prematurely. So it's a good plan not to do this...
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 01:18 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Steve Oakley View Post
you got bad bulbs period, or you have really hot line voltage ( unlikely ).
I bought the bulbs from two different vendors. The first two I bought from B&H, the second from Solotech (in Montreal). So I'm not sure about the bad bulb theory, unless my luck is really that bad!

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I'd call lowel and get the bulbs replaced, and you should not be paying $25 for a lowel bulb, they should be around $15. bulbtronics.com is pretty much the wholesale supplier even B&H gets their bulbs from.
B&H, Solotech and Video Service Ltee all sell the FTK (500w) lamps for about $21.00 (plus tax), which appears to be the going rate for an FTK lamp AFAIK. Though I do see that bulbtronics.com does sell for $12.50 USD...

Getting back to the problem at hand, what could be the problem? And what can I do in the meantime? I have to continue with the shoot tomorrow (after making the trek to get replacements), otherwise I am getting dangerously close to not making the delivery in time for the DVD's replication. I am on a tight deadline and am getting close to both angry and worried. If voltage may be the problem, how can I go about finding out if that is it? Would running my lights off a power strip (*shudder*) be a way to protect the lamps from blowing?
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 01:22 AM   #5
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The historic problem with Omnis is that the bulbs mount laterally in the fixture, which means that if you happen to operate them with the fixture and thus the bulb upside down, they will burn up prematurely. So it's a good plan not to do this...
Indeed, and the fixtures were upright at all times. I have been taking every precaution to make sure that they are handled correctly, and I still get lamps blowing out...

My Tota lamp is going nice and strong, on the other hand. No issues there.
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 02:29 AM   #6
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Cluck cluck. Sorry to hear about your issues Mike. The Omnis are long known to be the dog of the Lowel line due to their burnout legacy. Certainly the Totas (and the DP's) do work better. I used a Tota as a worklight through a long house renovation, actually had it outside last night during a rainstorm so the contractor could see, the thing just won't die on me!
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 02:35 AM   #7
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Cluck cluck. Sorry to hear about your issues Mike. The Omnis are long known to be the dog of the Lowel line due to their burnout legacy.
So they do have a reputation for this? It's not just me?
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 02:39 AM   #8
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Well, I haven't heard anything for a long time (haven't USED them in a long time myself) but they don't appear to have changed much...always a flawed design. I'm sure some will chip in and say they have never had issues but who knows...
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 03:00 AM   #9
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Another source for lamps (bulbs) is bulbconnection.com

They sell the Osram FTK for $12.50. I have had excellent personalized service as well from this company when I was trying to locate special lamps.

Regarding the omnis, I have used them off and on (I have several) and have not had a problem, so I can't say what your problem is. But when I've used the omnis I've run then for several hours at a time, both on a celing bar and and on stands, with barn doors and clothes pins holding filters, and haven't had a lamp blow. There must be a special issue, either with the lights or the power in your case.

I think it would be worth using a power strip with a surge protector to eliminate that possibility. You can also check the voltage of the power of a volt meter.

However, I can highly suggest calling Lowel and talking to them about the problem. If there is a known issue at all, they will be able to help you. I have called lowel several times and always got excellent, straight advice and/or help.

(I can also attest to the virtual indestructability of the Totas, though this is not a help regarding your problems with the omnis.)

I have had a pro light blow out lamps several times at the slightest jiggle of the light after running 5 minutes or so.
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 05:47 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Barber View Post
Brand spankin' new kit from B&H (the "Interview lighting kit": 2 Omnis, 1 Tota) and already my Omnis have burned through four bulbs in less than two hours of usage. <CLIP>

These are 500w bulbs and at a cost of ~$25.00 each, this is getting bloody expensive! <CLIP>
Hi Mike,

While I normally use my Totas for 500+watts, the Omni should accomodate 500 watts used properly. As others suggested, the Omni should be operated with lamp filament horizontal. And of course the ventilation should be unobstructed (hopefully not the narrow snout w/500 watt bulb), careful not to move the Omni until the bulbs cool down, no excessive voltage, etc. In fact, until I could figure this out I'd put dimmers inline and turn down the voltage 20 percent - that should certainly add to the bulbs life without messing up your color temperature.

http://www.lowel.com/download/Omni-light.pdf

Good luck, Michael
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 07:01 AM   #11
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Omnis go through bulbs like crazy.

Yep. The guys are right.

I work as a news photog, and I have a double Omni kit I use every day outdoors for a couple of hours. I carry it with me all day. The truth is, the little blighters pop ALL THE TIME.
I get a blown bulb every week and a half, and that is over me being absolutely ridiculous about my behaviors around them. I have deep, deep protocols for bulb life, and it doesn't help.

I never:
1. Move them lit. EVER!
2. Never move them after lit for at least one minute to properly cool. Or, you've probably halved their lifespan.
3. Never WANT to move them if you can let them cool to the touch on the casing.
4. Never put a cable, or anything near them that might bump. Otherwise, a foot tap on the light stand (I am not kidding, a FOOT TAP, happened to me) will blow them.
5. BE VERY, VERY CAREFUL ABOUT YOUR FOCUS ADJUSTMENT. Even looking at it funny can cause your light to get scared and blow. DO YOUR FOCUS ADJUSTMENT SLOOOOOOWLY. No excitable movements.

Good luck man.

Now, on the other hand, Omnis can kick the light out. Really pump it up. I need that. I am lighting buildings at night, without HMIs.

Still, if you can, get Arri fresnels. If you can't sell the Omnis on eBay and get some DP lights. They're better.

Last edited by Alex Lucas; February 23rd, 2008 at 07:03 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 07:07 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Michael Nistler View Post
Hi Mike,

the Omni should be operated with lamp filament horizontal. And of course the ventilation should be unobstructed (hopefully not the narrow snout w/500 watt bulb),
That's it!

Never, ever, ever buy an omni bulb that is cylindrical. Get the big, round ones. Never the skinny ones. NEVER!

Also, are you using your safety guard? Must use that if there is no barrier. You need that. They blow hot glass.

Also, look up 600W Impact dimmers. They're 25USD. They'll help you with lifespan, and you can get away from stopping out your lights with gels.
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 07:24 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mike Barber View Post

Getting back to the problem at hand, what could be the problem? And what can I do in the meantime? I have to continue with the shoot tomorrow (after making the trek to get replacements), otherwise I am getting dangerously close to not making the delivery in time for the DVD's replication. I am on a tight deadline and am getting close to both angry and worried. If voltage may be the problem, how can I go about finding out if that is it? Would running my lights off a power strip (*shudder*) be a way to protect the lamps from blowing?
That's fine. It won't stop the blow with the power strip. The heat/glass structure is the issue. I always use a power strip, but I am attached to a generated live truck, so the air compressor kicks, and kaboom. Get a 'power squid,' they're a ton easier than a strip for moving around, because a strip twists, and the individual cords help stop tipping.

I would, if I had space in the car, keep some diffusion, and some quartz worklights around, they're cheap. You can buy them at the 'home depot' store in your area. Keep in mind, background lighting in a pinch can be done with those, and if you get a blown light, you can run to the car, and just explain that you got a bad batch of bulbs to the client, and tell them that you're 'changing your light kit as soon as you can for full reliability, and that you're always "a step ahead at solving all of the problems." Stress future reliability. Stress that you always have a workaround, with a positive attitude.

I've always said, "You could sledgehammer my gear, and as long as the camera is fine, by God, come hell or high water, I will get you everything you need."
That gives them a laugh, and makes them feel better.

Diffuse them well.
For clients, defuse them well.
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 10:19 AM   #14
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My light kit includes three DPs, two Omni's and a Tota. (I have a seperate fresnel kit).

I know it doesn't help, but I'v had no problems with my omni's. LONG interviews of over two hours, rock solid.

I get my bulbs from Top Bulb, but I don't think I pay more than 15.oo for them. And yeah, they are the 'roundish' bulbs.
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 10:34 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Alex Lucas View Post
Never, ever, ever buy an omni bulb that is cylindrical. Get the big, round ones. Never the skinny ones. NEVER!
What would be the part # for those? Anyone know offhand? The ones I have been using are FTKs and they are indeed cylindrical.

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Originally Posted by Alex Lucas View Post
Also, are you using your safety guard?
Indeed, I am.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Lucas View Post
Also, look up 600W Impact dimmers. They're 25USD. They'll help you with lifespan, and you can get away from stopping out your lights with gels.
I'll check those out as well.

At times I am thankful for this online community, at other times I am really thankful for this online community!
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