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Old December 19th, 2003, 02:38 AM   #1
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Lowel Ambi Tungsten Light Kit

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=285836&is=REG

I've been looking through lighting kits to buy soon and I came across this one. It seemed like a very nice kit, and it's around the max price I'm willing to pay.

I'm going to be using it for mostly internal lower light shots, house, halls, stuff like that. I may need to do external night shots sometimes, but for the most part it would be for inside shots.

If someone else has a similiar kit but they think it would be better, I would appreciate the recomendation.

Thanks.
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Old December 19th, 2003, 12:31 PM   #2
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Bryan, I urge you not to buy this kit. There are many better choices in your price range. I'm sorry I don't have the time right now to go into this further, but if you could explain a little better what you mean by your comment:

"I'm going to be using it for mostly internal lower light shots, house, halls, stuff like that. I may need to do external night shots sometimes, but for the most part it would be for inside shots."

Are you going to be shooting real estate? Or "films?" This kit uses very coarse, open-faced lights that are similar to using a rip saw when you should be using a scalpel. Additionally, notice there are eight lighting instruments and only four bulbs provided.

I cannot urge you strongly enough to pass on this kit.

Wayne Orr, SOC
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Old December 20th, 2003, 04:18 PM   #3
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<<<-- Originally posted by Wayne Orr : Bryan, I urge you not to buy this kit. There are many better choices in your price range. I'm sorry I don't have the time right now to go into this further, but if you could explain a little better what you mean by your comment:

"I'm going to be using it for mostly internal lower light shots, house, halls, stuff like that. I may need to do external night shots sometimes, but for the most part it would be for inside shots."

Are you going to be shooting real estate? Or "films?" This kit uses very coarse, open-faced lights that are similar to using a rip saw when you should be using a scalpel. Additionally, notice there are eight lighting instruments and only four bulbs provided.

I cannot urge you strongly enough to pass on this kit.
-->>>

I do not agree with this statement. First of all you read the parts wrong: there are four light heads (two Tota and two Omni) and four lamps (two 750w and two 500w). So it might be a nice kit to take out and shoot.

Your comparison on how to use these lights as seen from a "medical" point of view is also wrong, as you can do excellent lighting by using open faced lights, very much "scalpel like". As on any craft you have to know how to use your tools.

You can do boring, character-less lighting by using other tools, particularly soft lighting.

Now if you tell me you can get a better quality by using fresnel heads, that I would agree with.

My only concern with Bryan's question is if he will be really taking advantage of the Lowel kit. What other systems are you considering or tried? Do you know how to better use these systems?

No doubt knowing what jobs you will be shooting using this or other kit is important for a serious advice.


Carlos
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Old December 20th, 2003, 05:44 PM   #4
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Thank you to Carlos for correcting my error. In my haste I did not investigate the "specifications" closely enough, or I would have noticed that the bulbs were listed twice, for some reason. It is not uncommon for some Lowel lights to come without bulbs.

But I still stand on my comment that these lights provide a very coarse light that is mainly useful for bounce purposes, or punched through a softbox. And using a softbox will require an additional outlay. If you are going to do that, you can step up to an Arri kit at around $1600.00 that will include a softbox along with three professional quality lights and stands.

I am not going off on Lowel here, as I have done that before. Search the posts and you will find others that agree with me (and some who don't) If you want to spend a hundred bucks on a Tota to punch through a softbox, fine. But to spend $1300.00 on this kit is a poor choice, IMHO.

You can light with anything, even Home Depot work lights. But if you are truly interested in learning a craft, then the proper tools will go a long way in your education.

Finally, Carlos, using soft lighting instruments does not have to be "boring."

Wayne Orr, SOC
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Old December 20th, 2003, 07:21 PM   #5
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Bryan,
I'll be a middle-of-the-roader on this. I have a Tota and 2 Omnis I purchased as my first lighting kit. Subsequently I purchased a set of Arri fresnels as well as a Lowel Caselight 4 (flourescent).

The Tota is very handy for use in a soft box. In fact, it's nearly essential for that application. Very lightweight and cheap/easy to re-lamp.

The Omni's are also lightweight and can also be handy. But, also being open-faced intruments they can be challenging to control. Yes, they have barn doors. Wayne's "rip saw" analogy is rather strong but not really inaccurate with respect to the Omni's . Controlling their light can be like doing an electrical experiment under water.

By far, the Arri fresnels are the real scalpels of my kit. The focus control on good fresnels and the evenness of the light they throw are unmatched by any open-faced light. They are even better for use with cookies and gobos, as the focus of their light maintains their patterns much better.

So in retrospect I would probably have benefitted from assembling a hybrid kit instrument by instrument. Perhaps a Tota, maybe one Omni, a set of fresnels, etc.

In summary, consider your applications closely and select the instruments that make the most sense for the job. Sometimes you really need a rip saw. Other times you need an X-Acto knife. Other times you need a fluffy down comforter. There is no such thing as one solution fits all.
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Old December 20th, 2003, 08:30 PM   #6
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Well put, Ken, but about Bryan's original question: with the knowledge you now possess, would you recommend spending $1300.00 on that Lowel kit with its four open faced lights?

Wayne
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Old December 20th, 2003, 09:35 PM   #7
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Thank you for all your opinions. To be more specific, I would like a kit with a pretty large range of shooting uses. I plan to shoot films/shorts, commercials, and mabye weddings (in that order of importance).
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Old December 20th, 2003, 10:33 PM   #8
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Bryan, if I were you, living in Las Vegas, I would check into the rental houses and see if you can set up an account. Then rent a Lowel light kit. See what you think. Then rent an Arri kit. Get something with a softbox. Try a number of different kits and individual lights. They are not expensive to rent. You can rent what you need depending on the project. And you will be establishing a relationship with a rental house. Think about it.

Wayne Orr, SOC
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Old December 21st, 2003, 05:30 AM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Ken Tanaka : Bryan,
I'll be a middle-of-the-roader on this. I have a Tota and 2 Omnis I purchased as my first lighting kit. Subsequently I purchased a set of Arri fresnels as well as a Lowel Caselight 4 (flourescent).

The Tota is very handy for use in a soft box. In fact, it's nearly essential for that application. Very lightweight and cheap/easy to re-lamp.

The Omni's are also lightweight and can also be handy. But, also being open-faced intruments they can be challenging to control. Yes, they have barn doors. Wayne's "rip saw" analogy is rather strong but not really inaccurate with respect to the Omni's . Controlling their light can be like doing an electrical experiment under water.

By far, the Arri fresnels are the real scalpels of my kit. The focus control on good fresnels and the evenness of the light they throw are unmatched by any open-faced light. They are even better for use with cookies and gobos, as the focus of their light maintains their patterns much better.

So in retrospect I would probably have benefitted from assembling a hybrid kit instrument by instrument. Perhaps a Tota, maybe one Omni, a set of fresnels, etc.
-->>>

You are not the middle of the road, you just put in better words what I was trying to say.

A fresnel is by far the best light to design with. It's not a coincidence that in the history of movies fresnells have been and still are the most used ones.

In fact all light types have some application, but the fresnel is probably the most universal one and also the most controllable.

Your advice to assemble a hybrid kit is a very good one. A Tota is great to light backgrounds, an Omni is great for kicker or backlight, a softlight (diffused Tota or Omni or a softdome) as fill-light and a fresnell as key-light. They all make a good team.

Wayne's advice to rent different systems at first is an excellent one.

Bryan: only buy a kit when you better know what you want for your particular job and style.


Carlos
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Old December 21st, 2003, 08:20 AM   #10
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Oh, and I was already stretching from $1000 to that budget. So increasing to like $1600 isn't really a possiblity right now. If it would be better to to get individual pieces over time to build up to a great set I could do that. If you have any suggestions for a custom setup, I'd appreciate your advice. The majority of my uses for the lights would be films and shorts. Most of my work, would probably involve a dark feel, so lighting for dark would be the best. I don't know a large amount about lighting, so I'll probably grab a few books suggested here on the subject. Secondly, I'd like to do some commercials. I did my first one for money a while back with my first cheapo sony camera, so the idea of using my XL1s, ME66, and lighting for a pro commercial excites me. I feel kind of nervous shooting weddings, because I get the feeling of "what if something went wrong that resulted in them not getting video of their weddinig". That would be terrible, so I'm still thinking about that. So, I guess a majority of it would be for scripted material, inside settings mostly. Secondary would be outside night shots.

Sorry I jumped around alot, I havn't slept yet, working on a script. Hopefully I was more specific. Thank you all again for your help.
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Old January 14th, 2004, 03:08 AM   #11
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Okay, let me redefine my needs.

Im positive my next project is the one I am currently writing, and have named "The Deathwatcher"

It takes place entirely in the desert. Most of the shots will however, be inside a small bunker (shack - wooden structure, semi circle with a flat edge, about 50 square feet) The shack will have three small glass 6 inch x 12 inch glass windows in it to provide some outside light. Below each is also a latch that can be undone to point a rifle through it. There is a door on the flat edge, and the rest of the shack is solid.

My shots:
40% Mid Day inside the shack.
20% Night inside the shack
20% Mid Day outside the shack.
20% Night outside the shack.

All in the desert.

I just bought the lighting book by John Jackman, so mabye when I finish, I'll have some idea on my own what to buy, but I'd like everyones opinions.

with the space limitation (though I could definitly cut holes in the bunker for lights to stick through, and then plug them up for shots pointing towards that area) I may need to lighter smaller stands, mabye just simple worklights.

Any recommendations for a setup? I have no lights at all except 2 250watt worklights from home depot.
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Old January 14th, 2004, 05:26 AM   #12
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<<<-- Originally posted by Bryan Mitchell : Most of the shots will however, be inside a small bunker (shack - wooden structure, semi circle with a flat edge, about 50 square feet) The shack will have three small glass 6 inch x 12 inch glass windows in it to provide some outside light. Below each is also a latch that can be undone to point a rifle through it. There is a door on the flat edge, and the rest of the shack is solid.

My shots:
40% Mid Day inside the shack.
20% Night inside the shack
20% Mid Day outside the shack.
20% Night outside the shack.

All in the desert.

Any recommendations for a setup? I have no lights at all except 2 250watt worklights from home depot. -->>>

If you are really in the desert, you should seriously consider several things:

1) Using mirrors to throw light inside the shack through the glass windows you have. Sun is something you will have plenty of in the desert: it's cheap, silent and strong. That's the way "The blue lagoon" was lit by Oscar winning Nestor Almendros.

2) Shoot exteriors day for night style. As long as you don't have any practical light reference and as long as you darken the sky (if in the shot) with a camera grad ND, you can use reflectors to fill in the dark areas.

If the shack is not large, 250W lights can go a lot inside as actual lighting, if properly used.


Carlos
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