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Old March 12th, 2008, 10:14 PM   #1
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Purchasing Advice

Our company recently made the HD upgrade, purchasing an EX1 and the requisite editing equipment. (We were shooting DV on a camera with 1/2" chips prior.) We do a mixture of corporate promotional videos, event videography, and are moving towards some filmic-style productions. We still shoot a *lot* of talking heads.

We currently light with a hodgepodge "kit" consisting of two Totas and two Omnis. The Totas are old and in bad shape, but generally are used bounced off an umbrella as a soft key. Omnis are used for backlight and fill.

I'm looking to upgrade to a kit that's more versatile, more functional, and easier to transport.

I'm very attracted to the Rifa softbox kit right now, but these LED fixtures (like the Litepanels) and fluorescent fixtures also appeal to me. I particularly like the low heat, low power draw of both those solutions. I'm not as big a fan of the price of the Litepanels kits, and fluorescent still frightens me for production lighting.

Should I just try to replace our aging Totas, pick up the Rifa, and call it a day, or is there a significant ROI or TCO argument that can be made for LED or fluorescent systems?

As an aside, we also want to purchase a decent on camera light for run 'n gun shoots... is the Zylight worth the money over the Litepanel micro?
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Old March 12th, 2008, 10:32 PM   #2
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By reading your post we do some similar work and I have been looking at upgrading our light kit as well. See this thread:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=116629

Like I said in that thread, I am far from a lighting expert and I am sure others can possibly give you better advise. But what I am going to do is buy a couple of flo-banks from Amvona.com the 6-55w for lighting screens (white and green). I already have a pair of softboxes (500w) and a back(hair)light (150w). My plan now is to start with the two 6-55w, see how they work and upgrade the rest of the kit if I like them. Probably go with a 4-55w and a 2-55w. I am making the switch partly because of the heat. We shoot in a lot of small rooms and it just get hot.

I have been using some totas with the umbrellas with some 750w and they are just too harsh. I used a Rifa last week and I had mixed feelings. Lowel has some nice kits but I think there are better options out there.
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Old March 13th, 2008, 07:31 AM   #3
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Dave,

Thanks for the info. I agree that the Tota / Umbrella option can still be a bit harsh compared to a nice softbox. The other frustration is the amount of spill it generates, and there's really no way to compensate for that. If you want to bring the ambient light level of the room up, it can sort of do that, but at the cost of control.

I'll take a look at that thread.
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Old March 13th, 2008, 09:05 AM   #4
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There's no reason to be frightened about fluorescent for productions. Tons of people are out there using it every day. Its a very mature technology, very reliable and definitely cooler than tungsten since fluorescent doesn't have the infra-red component that tungsten does. As far as transportable, Cool Lights offers a line of portable fixtures that is about as light as any in the industry. And lastly since you're upgrading to HD, you'll find that soft light is more important than ever for your subjects since it flatters most people better than hard light will. Not to say though that hard light still doesn't have its place for rim/back lighting and background lighting as well. That's why we made the CL-MF0150 CDM 150 fresnel which is a "cool" equivalent of a 650w fresnel. They were so popular we are out of them at the moment but should have more in the next couple of months.

Hope this helps.
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Old March 13th, 2008, 09:27 AM   #5
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Richard,

Please forgive the potentially stupid question (I'm unfamiliar with florescent lighting), but which of your products would give an output with similar softness to a Rifa softbox? I'm so used to working with diffusion, umbrellas, reflectors and all these other tools to get soft light that I'm finding it hard to believe that an unfiltered Coollight would provide similar results. Also, what's your in-stock status and how quickly can you ship to the East Coast (near Philly)?
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Old March 13th, 2008, 12:54 PM   #6
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Rifa is the king of lightweight travel in a softbox, in my personal experience, and I've taken 2 Rifa 55 (500w ea.) everywhere.

Rifa figures big in my "suitcase" kit, that allows me to travel solo with cam, stix, lights, audio, clothing, and not pay overbaggage charges for air travel.

It's good soft light, too.

Having said all that, if you're not hopping in and out of airplanes or working out of an Austin Mini Cooper, there are a lot of good choices.

But I'd keep the Rifa in the mix for consideration, even so. Yes, fluorescents are good fixtures (I have a couple). I've never had a problem finding 1000w for my Rifas and another 250w for a Pro (backlight). Subjects don't complain about the heat of the light, it doesn't put out much.

Anyways, I think we all tend to get cold light happy, hot lights are still desirable for many applications.
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Old March 13th, 2008, 01:35 PM   #7
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Well, I made my decision: a Rifa EX Triple Softlight kit. It's a bit more than I had hoped to spend, but it's a natural companion to what I have already (particularly the Omni lights), plus the added bonus of being able to switch to screw-threaded daylight fluorescents for color balance or heat considerations.

We have a greenscreen shoot coming up, and we just didn't have enough lights to handle lighting the screen and lighting the actors. This should solve that problem.

I seriously considered both the Coollights and the Pacific Coast DayFlo systems... Coollights may figure into our kits down the road, but it looks like we're sticking with Tungsten for now. The price on the Pacific Coast system seemed too be to be true, and given some reviews I've read, I assumed it was. Anyone have experience with the system? I figure the only way they can give a whole three head kit, including stands and a boom stand, for only twice what a Lowel Boom Stand costs is to seriously cut corners. Am I wrong?

Thanks for the feedback... the EX1 forum on this site has been fantastic, and it seems like the lighting folks are just as kind.

Funny that you should mention a Mini Cooper, BTW. I took one to upstate New York last year on a three city shoot. Great gas mileage, perfect fit for me, my gear, and an overnight bag. Good luck fitting additional crew, though....
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Old March 13th, 2008, 05:49 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Carlson View Post
Richard,

Please forgive the potentially stupid question (I'm unfamiliar with florescent lighting), but which of your products would give an output with similar softness to a Rifa softbox? I'm so used to working with diffusion, umbrellas, reflectors and all these other tools to get soft light that I'm finding it hard to believe that an unfiltered Coollight would provide similar results. Also, what's your in-stock status and how quickly can you ship to the East Coast (near Philly)?
Sounds like you already made your decision but I'll answer anyway.

Fluorescent output is already soft from the start as the surface area of the bulb is relatively large compared to many other types of bulbs. In order to make something soft, you increase the surface area of the light emanating surface. Your Rifa softbox does essentially the same thing by taking a tungsten bulb and putting it behind diffusion material and thus you are increasing the surface area emanating light in that case. Fluorescent is already this way and needs no extra diffusion in most cases unless you just want to cut some light output. For fans of a softbox format, we even have our new and very popular 200w 8U bulb:

http://www.coollights.biz/cl20056-co...bulb-p-83.html

This is a super inexpensive way to ease into fluorescent and the mogul-based bulb works with many existing softbox fixtures which use a mogul based tungsten bulb.

Our in stock status is just fine on everything but the portable CL-655P and some of the metal studio models. Ground shipping from Reno to the East Coast is typically 5 or 6 days but if you chose a faster shipping method (and correspondingly more expensive) in checkout you can of course get it quicker.
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Old March 14th, 2008, 03:50 PM   #9
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Richard,

Thanks for the reply. It makes sense that diffusion filters becomes a moot point when working with a larger light source. It seems like the Rifas will suit for now, but I'll definitely keep Coollights in mind for future kit purchases. Do you have any distributors on the East Coast (Northeast) that keep some things in stock we could go and test out?
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Old March 14th, 2008, 06:34 PM   #10
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Jon,

No, we are pretty much manufacturer direct to keep middle man costs out of the equation. And, we are the manufacturer of most everything we sell except for some things like stands which don't make sense to try and build and it would be hard to do a value-added there anyway so we just try to find the best source we can on items like that.

Thus, we don't have any dealers or representatives because of our philosophy.
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