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Old January 19th, 2009, 11:10 PM   #1
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Tungsten vs Flourescent vs LED, what should be my first light kit?

Could anyone tip me on to what would be the best lighting kit for me to get as my first purchase? What are the pros/cons of these different lighting types?
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Old January 19th, 2009, 11:22 PM   #2
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The answer to any "what is the best kind of _____ for me to get?" is always, "depends." On your application, your skill, your budget, your needs, your priorities.

You can learn about all kinds of lights if you search the Photon Management threads here.

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Old January 20th, 2009, 12:36 AM   #3
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What type of production are you doing?
What subjects are you lighting?
In which sorts of environments?
Interiors, exteriors mainly?
Will you be shooting cars?
In the jungle or wilderness?
What is your budget?
What quality level is expected of your productions?
Will you have a real lighting crew or is this one man band?
Will you be shooting film or video?
What kind of camera and how fast or slow is it?
Do you own grip equipment already?
What is your knowledge level about film and video production?

The four main types of lighting instruments on the market now are tungsten, HMI, fluorescent and LED. Within those four categories are hundreds of choices in each. You need to post with a huge laundry list of answers if you want advice that is worth anything.

The list can go on and on... ;-)

Dan
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Old January 20th, 2009, 03:48 PM   #4
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While this doesn't answer exactly the type of lighting instruments one should buy for a first light kit I would certainly look at gear which has bulbs capable of both Tungsten and Daylight color temperature.
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Old January 20th, 2009, 05:00 PM   #5
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There's no such thing as the perfect type of light for all things.

Do you shoot mainly interviews in controlled situations? Then a set of 3 LEDs or fluorescents might be good. Do you industrial work where you need long throws and lots of light? Big open fact tungsten lights might be the ticket. Do you shoot big areas with lots of daylight to match? Then HMIs might be needed. Do you do mostly product photography, or small studio setups? Then maybe a mixture of fresnels and softboxes. Low key dramatic lighting in tight places? Fresnels, probably.


It's not appropriate to use the word versus, or vs., between different types of lights, in my opinion. No one light is better than any other--just depends on the need of the shoot. Some may have properties that in certain situations may be better. Fluorescents and LEDs, for instance, don't pull much power. That's good if you are in an office and have one outlet available and don't know what else is plugged into it. But if you're lighting a big set, they don't have much throw and are too broad and soft for many things.

Starting from scratch, the best thing you could buy would be Russ Lowel's book, I think. It's available on the Lowel site.

Of course, eventually it gets down to how much money you want to spend. A case could be made, for example, that a set of 4 Arri HMIs, a couple of 200s, a 575 and a 1200 would get you through most situations. But that set would cost you over $15,000.
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Old January 20th, 2009, 07:16 PM   #6
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well I'm doing mostly music videos and low budget commercials. I know that there isn't any one size fits all, I just want to know what's the most "versatile" kit to get starting off. I'm looking to invest about $2000 on my first kit.
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Old January 20th, 2009, 09:29 PM   #7
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I would think in terms of lighting a large or small area.

Small areas can afford higher priced instruments because you need less light and can buy better quality.

Large areas need more light so cheaper instruments would be needed to fit the bill & budget.

Cheap are tungsten instruments like Lowel Totas, Omnis etc...

Expensive are LEDs and HMIs

Flourescents seem to be in the middle.

If you can, try to get a mix of hard and soft light so you can have some diversity.
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Old January 20th, 2009, 10:58 PM   #8
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I'm trying to make a decision along the same lines as the OT.

My needs are specifically for lighting interviews - I currently work with a single Lowel Totalite with 500W bulb in a Photoflex Medium SilverDome NXT (24x32) as my main light source and a Lowel iLite with 250w bulb in a Photoflex XS SilverDome NXT softbox for fill as needed or alone.

I typically shoot on location indoors and my biggest gripes are the amount of heat these lights create and having to color balance them when window light can't be avoided. The second issue is straight forward, but the heat issue has become a problem. The advantage is how small the lights are when traveling.

My challenge is - the budget is minimal - I have all the other stands, litediscs, etc, it's just the lights I need to deal with and HMI is out of the question.

I've been considering a high wattage daylight balanced fluorescent that Photoflex has and wondered how this would work for not only indoors, but possibly outdoors on overcast days in the Medium Silverdome being run by a small Honda generator.

Any comments on this idea or should I stick with what I'm currently using for the time being? I'm needing to make a purchase decision soon as I have some projects coming up and want to test beforehand and need to determine the best option.
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Old January 20th, 2009, 11:08 PM   #9
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Hi Cliff:

If it is any help, I usually specify a 4k HMI to work in direct sunlight and a minimum of a 1200 watt PAR HMI for deep cloud cover or shade flooded with ambient daylight.

Fluorescents are pretty wimpy and will not do much for you on a bright cloudy day, the ambient light levels of the sun, even when filtered through clouds are still way too high for anything fluorescent. You need HMIs, you might get away with something as low powered as a 1200 watt PAR.

Dan
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Old January 20th, 2009, 11:21 PM   #10
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Dan - let's take the shooting outside from the equation - should I stick with the Lowel tungsten lights or is Fluorescent a better move given my needs?
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Old January 21st, 2009, 12:48 AM   #11
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Cliff.... if you are shooting indoor interviews, a flo softbox (I have a 200 watt Cool lights model [higher tungsten equiv, like 500/600 watts lumen output] with a grid on it), a reflector fill and a prolight rim/hairlight are the basics for an excellent lighting setup. Add another prolight or equivalent for a backlight/cookie light and I think you are good to go. It's also easy on the circuit breakers and the talent.

I certainly will defer to Dan's expertise but that combo has worked well for me.

You might want to look at the video: "How to Setup, Light and Shoot Great looking Interviews". It is well worth the investment prior to buying anything. I subbed the Flo softbox for the suggest Lowel Tota in the photoflex.(I have some Totas but like the lower heat and lower electricity of the Flo in this situation... for interviews only though.... flo's lack punch and need to be used closeup, in like an interview lighting setup. Here is a link to the video at B&H

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...eo_How_to.html

I can tell you that by buying used where you can their suggested investment price can be cut in half.
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Old January 21st, 2009, 09:14 AM   #12
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Balancing daylight is always a problem and it usually involves larger lights. Most fluorescent units don't throw out enough light to balance an in shot daylight like a window, although a Wall O lite does a good job.

Tungsten lights are the most versatile for the money and have been used for many years shooting interviews. It has also been argued by many DPs that they give better skin tones. Some make up normally sorts out any heat problems.

You could try NDing the windows, but that is pretty time consuming.
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Old January 21st, 2009, 09:52 AM   #13
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Cliff, if you just need to balance with daylight on your interviews and not overcome it (ie., like a person sitting in front of a big window with bright sun outside), then daylight fluorescents or LEDs are great. No heat, little power consumption. Also, all the video cameras I've used seem to look better when using daylight. All those fluorescent softboxes out there are great and cheap but a pain to set up. I generally use three LEDs from flolight.com for interviews. I also have a softbox from skaeser.com that uses six of the big 85 watt daylight bulbs. Also coollights.biz has a nice softbox that uses a single big fluorescent bulb, around 200 watts, I think.

Before getting the LEDs I co-owned a set of three Lowel Caselight fluorescents. Two were the 2 bulb units, one a 4 bulb. They were great too but a bit pricey compared to all the Chinese knockoffs now available (although the way the Lowels all fold up into a case, including the stands, is unbeatable).
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Old January 21st, 2009, 11:08 AM   #14
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is LED lighting useless as far as non-night time outdoor shooting? I'm really thinking about going LED because of the low power consumption, battery capabilities and low heat.
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Old January 21st, 2009, 12:26 PM   #15
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Hi Cliff:

All of the others here have given pretty good advice. If getting away from heat generation and owning daylight balanced instruments are your goals, assuming you cannot afford HMIs, fluoros or LED are all that are left.

I like the fluoros, I built two dual 55 watt Biax fixtures that are similar in size, weight and performance to the Kino Diva 200s. I keep daylight Kino tubes in them and use them a lot lately. I calculated that they cost me $250.00 ea. to build from scratch. If I was doing it again today, I would buy the Coolights dual 55 watt Biax fixture. I don't need dimming on a fluoro, it is easy to diffuse them or move them so the models without dimming are only $273.00, a pretty killer deal. Personally I don't feel that you need the bigger model fluoros for shooting single talking heads but if you do doubles or need full body length shots, yes, then I would suggest the larger fluoros.

I have experience with the Flolight 500s, a client of mine has two of them and they are decent. I just received and am testing the new Coolights LED 600s Coollights LED - Page 8 - DVXuser.com -- The online community for filmmaking and I am a bit more impressed with them over the Flolights instruments. The Coolights have 600 5mm LEDs vs. 500 5mm LEDs on the Flolights and the Coolights cost $100.00 less.

The problem that you will run into with having all fluoros is that they are only a soft, blobby source of light. They are harder to control than tungsten light and you can't get a hard light from them so there is still a place for tungsten lights in your interview kit for BGs, hairlights, etc. But if you are keying and filling with the fluoros, you can just use a couple of smaller tungsten instruments with gels for hairlight, background patterns, etc. and you are at least reducing the heat in the room by using smaller and fewer tungstens.

LEDs are kind of different from either fluoros or tungsten, they are harder that fluoros but softer than tungsten. The falloff of the LEDs is pretty quick, just as it is with fluoros so I am still trying to workout how to use the LEDs in my setups. They are great, but I don't know if I could survive with just LEDs for interviews. Same issues, they are not as good for BG patterns and tight beams as would be a nice little ProLight or Arri 300.

HTH

Dan
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