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Old December 25th, 2008, 02:40 PM   #1
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Bout to Purchase New Light Kit, Suggestions?

Hey everyone!

So my Christmas/Birthday present (yay Christmas babies) this year from my folks was some assistance toward a lighting kit.
I've looked around and settled on a Lowel | DV Creator 1 Three Light Kit, LB-30 Case | DV-901LBZ but before I purchase it, I'd like to know if anyone recommends a better kit in a similar price range, or confirmation of the capabilities of this particular kit.
It seems to have a good blend of power, variety and utility.
I do a lot of random shorts and the ability to light indoors of course is the main reason I'd like the kit, and from what I've seen this would also make a good core to base future lighting kits off of when I'm able to expand it.
Comments or suggestions are much appreciated!
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Old December 25th, 2008, 03:02 PM   #2
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Your not going to light a short with that kit. I know what it's like to not have proper lights, but honestly, I'd rather a Lowel DP/Tota kit and spend the rest of the money on grip. You'll want some diffusion, c-stands, foamcore, and a few other bits.

The problem with this kit is that it's really underpowered. The Tota has enough power, but you're going to have to bounce it, and you can't really control it much. I use mine for room ambient, bounce off a card for front fill (2-shot), or for a wash on a back wall, or down a hall. The other lights are just going to be way too underpowered when you add any diffusion or a gel, and especially with both. You can really do a lot with one powerful light if you know what you're doing and you don't need to do TOO much. A 1k Fresnel with some grip would probably get the job done better.

Something like this:

Mole-Richardson | Baby 1000W Fresnel Light | 407 | B&H Photo

or this:

Arri | 1000W Fresnel (120-240V) | 531100 | B&H Photo Video

Along with a decent baby stand, some bounce and gels, and a scrim or two, and you're golden. Then maybe get a used Tota off Ebay for $50 and go to town.

I know this probably isn't what you want to hear, but it's really the truth.
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Old December 25th, 2008, 04:10 PM   #3
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I think the answer is one of those "it depends" situations.

I hear what Perrone says, but I am not in full agreement with him... let me explain. (He is certainly right though that with one large light you CAN do a lot with reflectors, etc.)

On the one hand, you can go for 2000W Arri's or Mole Richardson Fresnels... but I don't think that's what you want or need... and besides they use a lot of power and get HOT... but for outdoor fill they are more or less on the low end of power. But, let's keep in mind you have to start somewhere, and well... with that in mind let's look at what you propose.

Lowels are a respected brand, though in some folks minds somewhat flimsy - but light and easy to transport and easy to set up. The Pro-light, with a snoot and an added dimmer makes a great hairlight or backlight. The Omni is a versatile performer though many report premature bulb burnout as a result of burning the bulb in other than a horizontal position. If I had a choice I would probably opt for the DP over the Omni. The Tota is a great all around hard light source, and can be " lamped" pretty high wattage wise. I find it is best as a "area fill" bounced off a ceiling or otherwise used off a reflector or umbrella. (btw I own Pro lights, Tota lights and an Omni I just picked up off E-bay - so I have used all these lights and have most of the accessories to go with them.)

As a halogen-tungsten starter kit, the kit you propose is a decent kit. With gel frames and blu gels (or in the case of the Pro light a dichro filter) you can use it either daylight or 3200k, adding versatility.

Now, you really should have a pop open reflector (or two) with diffusion, white, silver and gold, as well as a holder and a grip mount. A light boom for backlighting and hairlighting is another "must have" in my book.

This "starter" set should serve you well... as long as you plan your future purchases around your identified needs.

Some flourescents and a softbox can be handy for closeups and for interview head shots and is a good complement to your initial starter set. I'm thinking that is something you will find yourself wanting to add rather soon in fact.

The list of grip stuff that is handy is somewhat limitless and arbitrary, but multiple extension cords (avoid orange - someday one will end up in a shot and if it is black it might go un-noticed) , power strips, dimmers (the router dimmers sold by Harbor Freight for $20 can handle up to 1000 watts and are perfect for your use - buy a couple at least) flags and holders, a gel assortment and a home made cucaloris, clamps, mounts, c-47's etc etc etc. and you are on your way. Budget about $150 to start for this stuff... and buy it up front.

In the FWIW category, the majority of my lighting kit has been purchased off of E-bay. I set a limit of 50% of new price, and have met or exceeded that goal on my purchases... sometimes picking up a truly "great deal" for much less than 50% of new. It's a great way to extend your "buck".

Hope this helps.


PS... I do agree with Perrone though in that you may soon find that a brighter fixture along the lines of a Fresnel will be be on your future acquisition list. I just do not think it needs to be your first acquisition.

Last edited by Chris Swanberg; December 25th, 2008 at 09:55 PM.
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Old December 25th, 2008, 07:33 PM   #4
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Great advice Chris and Perrone! I'll look around a bit more before I buy the kit, perhaps see if I can find some better deals on ebay. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer.
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Old December 25th, 2008, 09:39 PM   #5
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If it helps at all....this is an image taken from a recent video I created.

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/members/c...ure159-kim.jpg

It was shot using ambient daylight through some large windows on the left, augmented by two daylight balanced flourescents and a Lowel Pro light on a boom for a (rim) hairlight. The hairlight is "blown out" by design. (The video was also done with a diffuser in the image path to "soften" the image as well. The image was intentionally color balanced "warm" using warm cards and the entire environment, including the table felt color, was red..)

I like the prolight with the snoot. So will you and your female talent. I usually put a dimmer on it and adjust it to suit though.

ps. Also, though I DO have a dichro filter to make the 3200K Prolight match daylight, I find I rather like the warmer hairlight... and tend to use the Prolight in that capacity unfiltered at 3200K when shooting in daylight conditions.

Last edited by Chris Swanberg; December 25th, 2008 at 10:59 PM.
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Old December 25th, 2008, 09:47 PM   #6
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Chris makes a good point, but I hope he notes that I suggest a 1k and not a 2k. Pretty big difference not only in power and heat, but also in the ancillary gear. My 2k sits on a junior stand. The stand alone is 2/3 the cost of the kit you're looking at.

That said, the reason I say this kit is underpowered is this:

In most cases, if you're lighting a short, you will not be in a studio. You'll be on location. Which means you'll generally have daylight either in a hall, through windows, etc. So for practically every shot, you'll not only be battling the sun a bit, you'll have to color balance for it. When you balance tungsten to daylight, you are generally going to lose a stop and a half. That means a 1k light is now a 320. And a 500w light becomes a 180. The Lowel Tota in that kit starts as a 750 and could survive. However a 350w or 200w light would be so weak, it's actually be more effective to use a reflector than to plug in a powered light and keep it far enough away to keep it out of the shot.

Take a look at some short films. Look at what fixtures they are using. In nearly every case, you'll rarely find anything less than a 1k unless they are trying to emulate a lightbulb in a table lamp. You're shooting video, not film. You can't reach down into the dark like you could with film. If you do, your video will be full of noise.

So while I somewhat agree with Chris that selecting a 1k fresnel as the first light is a bit interesting, it's how I would proceed if I had it to do all over again. But for the record, I bought Halogen worklamps first. Then I bought some 14" aluminum reflectors, and a few smaller ones, and put some CFLs in them. And then I bought a Lowel Super Remote Kit. And then I bought a Lowel Rifa 88 1k. And then I bought a Mole 2k fesnel.

I shoot mostly interviews, and the occasional corporate video. Out of all the lights I own, I use that 1k softbox, and the Tota more than any other. But I don't think I've ever shot anything, with any of my lights, without some foamcore, and my c-stands. That stuff really is important. Because as important as it is to put light on a subject, it's equally if not more imporant to keep light OFF others.
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Old December 25th, 2008, 10:07 PM   #7
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Actually Perrone and I agree here more than disagree. I can only offer though that in CA we usually have a very LARGE and BRIGHT daylight balanced light source called the sun, and so can only once again stress the need for reflectors for outdoor shooting!

My lights so far have seen most of their use indoors.

ps. And yes, Perrone, I was trying to exaggerate a point by going to 2K lighting. Sorry.
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Old December 25th, 2008, 10:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Swanberg View Post
Actually Perrone and I agree here more than disagree.


ps. And yes, Perrone, I was trying to exaggerate a point by going to 2K lighting. Sorry.
Yes, thanks for pointing this out. We seem to be very much in agreement, with only the order of purchase seeming to be different. That's why these forums are great. Different opinions give readers a chance to sort out their own needs.

And no prob about the 2k / 1k thing. Just wanted to make sure you knew what I was saying. I use the 1ks often, but when I roll in the 2k, things are getting serious! LOL!

I've added some attachments from an interview setup in October. You can see in the 2-up I had my Mole 2k and Lowel 1k softbox, and for the 1-up, I had shots just before filming, so you can see the reflector, flag on the softbox, dp with CTB and diffusion as a hairlight, mic on boomstand, EX1 locked and loaded, and shooting dual system so my seperate 24 bit recorder. I am also monitoring video on a remote monitor.

Previous to the client walking in, he and I had only done quick run and gun setups with no light. His reaction walking in and seeing this was quite funny!
Attached Thumbnails
Bout to Purchase New Light Kit, Suggestions?-mole_and_rifa.jpg   Bout to Purchase New Light Kit, Suggestions?-rifa_and_dp.jpg  

Bout to Purchase New Light Kit, Suggestions?-full_setup.jpg  
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Old December 25th, 2008, 10:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
Out of all the lights I own, I use that 1k softbox, and the Tota more than any other. But I don't think I've ever shot anything, with any of my lights, without some foamcore, and my c-stands. That stuff really is important. Because as important as it is to put light on a subject, it's equally if not more imporant to keep light OFF others.
Yes Perrone I agree (as he and I have said not surprising), and I also find the above quoted statement "illuminating"... and I also could not agree more fully about controlling the "fall of light".

That being said, I would suggest to the original poster that he only consider a softbox (when he gets around to buying one) with a "beehive" grid as a mandatory add on. Otherwise their light is "everywhere".
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Old December 25th, 2008, 10:43 PM   #10
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That being said, I would suggest to the original poster that he only consider a softbox (when he gets around to buying one) with a "beehive" grid as a mandatory add on. Otherwise their light is "everywhere".
Funny you should mention that. The OP should note my attachments in the above post. Note that this was a "blackout background. So I had to use a flag to keep the softbox light from spilling onto that black background. Otherwise it would have been a crappy shade of gray!

These photos are deceptive. There is a LOT going on here. Subject to background distance, light angles, soft light, reflectors for a specific fill, separate system audio, hairlight that is NOT colored the same as the primary light so yoi've got to monitor color temp mixing, etc. Not much for a pro, but for a beginner like me, it was a lot to manage alone.
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Old December 25th, 2008, 10:49 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
These photos are deceptive. There is a LOT going on here. Subject to background distance, light angles, soft light, reflectors for a specific fill, separate system audio, hairlight that is NOT colored the same as the primary light so yoi've got to monitor color temp mixing, etc. Not much for a pro, but for a beginner like me, it was a lot to manage alone.
Ah, now we come to the all too common denominator!! ... YOU... one person, get to handle camera, lighting, sound, etc. It is a lot to handle all at once, let alone master individually. THAT my friend is the lot today of the independent cinematographer it seems. Yet we pull it off... somehow, more often than not. Maybe the challenge is part of the joy? when it all works.
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Old December 25th, 2008, 10:52 PM   #12
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Ah, now we come to the all too common denominator!! ... YOU... one person, get to handle camera, lighting, sound, etc. It is a lot to handle all at once, let alone master individually. THAT my friend is the lot today of the independent cinematographer it seems. Yet we pull it off... somehow, more often than not. Maybe the challenge is part of the joy? when it all works.
Would this be a good time to mention that it was a 2-camera shoot? Byron, you getting all this? :) We're there in the trenches with ya buddy!
Attached Thumbnails
Bout to Purchase New Light Kit, Suggestions?-two_camera.jpg  
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Old December 25th, 2008, 10:55 PM   #13
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Ahem.... no....

ps. What's with the on-camera mic? I think I see a wireless receiver on the closer camera, I assume that's to a lav?
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Old December 25th, 2008, 10:57 PM   #14
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Ahem.... no....
Oh, I was still alone. I just needed a B-cam to cut to. Ever try to cut an EX1 at 1080p With a DVX100? I stopped trying after an hour and just went with 12 minutes oa A-cam!
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Old December 25th, 2008, 11:00 PM   #15
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Ahem.... no....

ps. What's with the on-camera mic? I think I see a wireless receiver on the closer camera, I assume that's to a lav?
The SM58 on top of the EX1 was just there to get sync sound. I put one channel of internal mic on the recording, 1 channel of external SM58, and a boom mic running into the separate recorder. I didn't have my wireless at the time. The unit on top of the close cam is the Firestore recorder. I don't use tape anymore unless I HAVE to.
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