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Photon Management
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Old June 19th, 2002, 07:47 PM   #16
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You're right. -Very- few amatuers have any reasonable chance to try equipment before buying it. Even in a large city such as Chicago there are very few places to even -see- professional or semi-professional equipment. If you live in a more rural area you're really out of luck. Most people's only chance is to either know someone who owns the equipment or to take your best shot purchasing the equipment with a guarantee that you can return it if necessary. Your remark, "This is why this forum is such a blessing." certainly rings true with anyone who has spent a meaningful amount of time here. The "blessing" is in our 1,300+ members' collective knowledgeability and helpfulness, certainly in contrast to so many other sites that seem to attract crackpots and idle minds.

Re: Lowel lighting gear, I'm not sure that "flimsy" is the most accurate adjective. Most of their equipment is designed to be light and highly portable. Much of it, in fact, is engineered to fit into self-contained cases. They offer several grades of stands but normally send the lighter grades with kits. I've had one occasion to send an Omni back to them for repair, which they did with diligence and uncommon care and courtesy. So, while there is certainly heavier-duty lighting gear available, the Lowel line seems designed to provide good performance and versatility for a price below that of a feature film or tv production budget.
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Old June 19th, 2002, 07:48 PM   #17
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"If you are looking for a good alternative to the high prices of the Lowel lights take a look at Photoflex ( photoflex.com/photoflex/index.html ) they have a series of products called Starlites that come in a series of kits."

The starlites are more pricey than the lowel Tota and tougher to pack. The lamps are very pricey and are available in 500 and 1000 watts (there is a 250 and 150 watter that requires an adapter). They are also difficult to find.

To me the ideal setup is a medium softbox (silverdome 24x36) with a speedring and a Lowel Tota. The Tota is cheaper and folds away quickly and compactly. The reflectors fold over the lamp and protect the bulb. The Tota lamps are easy to find and inexpensive. In a pinch they can be lamped using a "worklight" bulb. The Tota sit right at the back of the softbox and reflects it light perfectly into the softbox reflector.

The kit you speak of is a "special' and very limited in scope. It's an extra small(12x16) siverdome with a very poor stand. The kit doesn't include a metal rotating speed ring, it includes intead a plastic mount. The Standard extra small kit(12x16) is $350, the (16x22)small $429 and the medium (24x32)$520 (from B&H)The standards include a heavy metal speed ring that will rotate. It is also very robust. The stands are not the best.

Priced separately the Photoflex medium silverdome NXT, with an accessory kit (louvers, circle and strip masks), a tota, lamp, speed ring and a very robust bogen/manfotto light stand are about $70 cheaper than the Photoflex kit.
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Old June 19th, 2002, 09:03 PM   #18
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"But, they are rather flimsy in construction."

Lowel lights can be serviced easily, parts for every fixture are available and the lights do stand up. most rental depts use Lowel. Lowell lights have been designed on the "KISS" principle. Keep it simple.

Arri can't be beat for quality and they are pricey. The fresnell are actually more reasonable than some of the other brands. I find the Arri 300 watt fresnel to have a very pleasing quality.

I guess I try and use the best for the best price.
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Old June 20th, 2002, 07:20 AM   #19
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Ken,
Since I spent the largest portion of my money on the XL1s, GL1, a new editing machine,and the Korg D12, I didn't have alot left over. So I got one of the starter lighting kits. I'm not saying that all that Lowel makes is crap, but I still think that my kit is flimsy.

Yes, the lights do stand, but it wouldn't take much for them to tip. A major accident waiting to happen. The knobs used to tighten the lamps in position are small, and take a strong effort to support an umbrella. Sometimes they don't want to work. The barn doors are also a bit flimsy, but workable.

Am I whining? No. I spent what I could, and got a starter kit that does work. Just not as well as I had hoped. Would I do it again? No. I would do a little more research, and get a more rugged set.

Just trying to help others that are starting out like I am, and sharing my mistakes and experiences.
Keith
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Old June 20th, 2002, 07:26 AM   #20
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I keep wondering whether their (Lowel's) new and improved
stands are filmsy too. Guess no-one got those new ones yet.
If you do, please chime in with your findings. Thanks.
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Old June 20th, 2002, 11:04 AM   #21
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my experience with most lighting kits is that they are usually priced so that you pay for the heads, case and accessories. As for the stands, they end up being (close to) free. It may be worthwhile to get the kit, then you have extra stands to hold reflectors, gobo's etc. Usually these "kit" stands are useless for holding up a light above 6 feet.

I never put a light on anything less than a 13ft heavy duty manfrotto (available as bogen, calumet and other nameplates) they are usually available at b&h or calumet for about $100.

As for the lowels..I really like the DP lights..its a nice focusable spot. I own a two of them as well as a tota. Next year, you could add a couple of fresnel 1k's and you'll have a great kit.
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Old June 20th, 2002, 03:11 PM   #22
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Bryan

The "special kit" from Photoflex was $279 and does have a metal speed ring not plastic. The stand is no better or worse than the Lowel stands I have nor are they any more difficult to pack. The cost of the 500 watt lamp is $35 verses $27 for the lowel light. The rated life of the lamp is 300 hours, far greater than the lamps needed for my Lowel kits. Starlights also run cooler, I don't need a leather glove to make adjustments. The Starlight is more versatile by being able to group them in clusters for more wattage for the larger light boxes. The light box that comes in the kit is 12 x 16. It is perfect for the table top work I do for a major soap manufacture. I wouldn't replace my Lowel lights with the Starlights. However, for someone starting out they offer a great value and are worth a look.

Jeff
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Old June 20th, 2002, 06:06 PM   #23
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From B&H
500 watt lamp for Tota 3200K FCZ 120 Volts/500 Watts (R7s Base) Lamp is 14.95 and rated at 2600 hours

Lamp (500w/120v) for Starlite 3200 is 42.50 and rated for 300 hours

The starlight is $140 vs the Tota at $110

The "Digital kit" is a great deal for table top but not much else, that's just my opinion. the lightstands in all of the kits, Lowel included aren't the best . The stand in the digital Kit doesn't even have a photoflex model #, it's a special. The speedring is not the heavy duty rotating ring available in the standard kit. Believe me I looked at the kits and bought piecemeal. My manfrotto master stand will hold over 20lbs.
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Old June 20th, 2002, 09:23 PM   #24
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OK, I think I'm going to look for a set of used Lowels on Ebay. They may or may not be flimsy, I'll let you guys decide that. :) However, I think they will suit my immediate needs. Of course, I'll be keeping my eyes open for a cheap/used set of Arris.

Is there anything I should know about buying used lights, especially off Ebay? Besides the cost of buying new bulbs anyway.

Thanks
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Old June 20th, 2002, 10:29 PM   #25
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Lowels or Arri can be fully serviced. Parts for either are always available. Go with your gut and enjoy!
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Old June 21st, 2002, 06:10 AM   #26
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I've been going over and over the lowel catelog yesterday
when I was ill and in bed. I must say that these things are
a tad expensive. A couple of sets even allow me to buy a brand
new XL1S! Some sets I have in mind nearly come at half of
my XL1S costs.... I have narrowed my list down to this:

ViP GO Kit 91
ViP GO Kit 97
ViP GO Kit 98
Easy V Kit
Elemental Kit
Basically 3 Kit

I can not use any pro lights since they are 120V only and
I'm in a 230/240V country. DP's are too expensive so I
probably need to go with V-lights, Tota's or Omni's.

Can someone explain to me what the difference is between
the V-light and the Tota? They look pretty similiair.

Any thoughts on those kits I have on my list at the moment?
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Old June 21st, 2002, 08:58 AM   #27
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The V light is smaller and packs smaller than the Tota. It is also not as robust.

The V light takes a 500 watt lamp. the Tota will accept 300 to 800 watts including the more efficient HIR (watt miser)

The V light uses a clear glass safety cover whereas the Tota uses a screen. the screem amounts to a 30% loss of available light.

The Tota lamps are easier to get and can be lamped with work light or consumer grade lamps in an emergency.

The V lamp has considerably shorter life. I think the cost is $15 (Tota) vs $18 (V)
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Old June 24th, 2002, 06:58 PM   #28
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bump!
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Old June 24th, 2002, 08:51 PM   #29
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On an interesting note, I was in a large camera shop today, and the guy there said I would be better off NOT buying a Lowel kit, and rather buy each item seperately, as they rate their case and stands very expensively.

Prices he gave me for a 2 Tota light kit: $1300cdn

Buying everything seperatly, no case, and different stands: $850cdn

That's quite a difference.
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Old June 24th, 2002, 11:14 PM   #30
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Not only is it cheaper but you get what you want and the stands will be a lot sturdier. Trouble is there's not alot of reasonable places to buy Lowel in Canada.

Gear like Arri and manfrotto can actually be quite a bit cheaper here in can. The stuff is landed right from germany and Italy and doesn't get that good old US markup.

Cinequip out of Toronto are very fair in their pricing.
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