Frezzi Micro-Fill vs. Micro-Sun at

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Old May 30th, 2004, 05:57 PM   #1
New Boot
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Location: Chandler AZ
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Frezzi Micro-Fill vs. Micro-Sun

I am looking for an on camera light for event shoots (I will be using a Sony PD170). Probably 60 percent of my shots are inside while 40 percent will be outside. The outdoor shoots will be at various times of the day and evening. The inside shots run the gambit of dark reception halls to corporate board rooms to manufacturing floors with flouresent lights to gymnasiums.

I have been researching Frezzi lights and I have a question. They appear to have 3 models of Micro DV lights. A typical on/off version, a model featuring a dimmer, and an HMI version (which from what I can tell from their literature is called the Micro-Sun).

Does anyone have experience with these lights that can tell me the differences and which would be better suited to event shooting? I have not used an HMI lamp before so I have no frame of reference for this type of lighting.

Any help or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

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Old May 30th, 2004, 09:28 PM   #2
Barry Wan Kenobi
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 3,830
The Mini-Fill Dimmer is the "rolls royce" of tungsten on-camera lights. It normally takes a 75w bulb and can take a bulb up to 100 watts, and the dimmer gives you a lot of control over light intensity. But it gets very hot, it drains batteries quickly, and it's very powerful (perhaps too powerful) for indoors situations unless you have a softbox. Even dimmed down to 20% it was too bright to use as an accent light... I view the softbox as fairly mandatory. And when you dim it too far the color goes decidedly reddish.

The Mini-SunGun comes in many sizes, from 10w to 50w. HMI's put out about 3x as much light (per watt) as tungsten. So a 24w HMI is about as powerful as a 75w Mini-Fill. But HMI's draw much less power, so the HMI will last way longer on batteries (i.e., the 24W HMI will last 3x as long on the same battery pack as a 75W Mini-Fill would).

However, the light is not the same color, so it's not directly comparable. HMI's are balanced for daylight, the Mini-Fill is tungsten (balanced for indoor situations). You can use color-correction filters, but that will affect the light output.

For example, let's compare the 24W HMI against the 75W Mini-Fill Dimmer.

The Mini-Fill has an optional "dichroic" filter, which changes the light color to be blue (appropriate for use outside). But that filter cuts the light output to 1/4 -- so you end up with maybe 20 watts worth of light, outdoors. Nearly useless. But with the 24W HMI, you'll get about 75 watts worth of light output in the proper blue color. Much more effective. You'll get nearly 4x as much light while the battery lasts 3x as long, when using the HMI outdoors. No dimming though.

Indoors, the Mini-Fill is already the right color, whereas the HMI will require a #85 filter to turn it the proper color. That'll cost the HMI a little under 1/2 its light output. So the Mini-Fill can put out 75 watts of light indoors, whereas the HMI version will give you maybe 40 watts worth of light. And the HMI version will still last 3x as long on the battery.

40 watts is plenty indoors, but may not be enough to get adequate illumination through a softbox. And the HMI can't be dimmed, so you'll have to bring ND gels or scrims if you want to cut the light output, whereas with the Dimmer Mini-Fill you can just rotate the dial on the back to get as much light as you want.

And HMI's are much more expensive, of course. The Mini-Fill Dimmer is $300 for just the light itself (no barn doors/filters, etc), and the 24W HMI version is $800.

If you can afford it, the ultimate situation would be to get both: they can share accessories (softboxes, barn doors, etc) so if you're indoors, you'd use the Mini-Fill Dimmer head, and for outdoors, use the HMI head.
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Old May 31st, 2004, 10:34 AM   #3
Inner Circle
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Location: Albany, NY 12210
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I use a 35w lamp in our Frezzi dimmer mini-fill, and it seems to be the perfect wattage. 75w is way too bright, and eats the battery like mad. I used to want to get a micro-sungun because of the battery issues, but the lack of a dimmer is a much bigger drawback. Besides, since we've switched to the 35w lamp, the battery has never kicked. We use the Frezzi on-camera with a Chimera softbox. The thing with on-camera lights is that you need just enough light to brighten up the subject, but not so much that it looks flat and artificial. With our setup, most people would never realize that an on-camera light was used. Also, the subject doesn't get blinded. I would agree that a softbox is essential, as is a dimmer.
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Old June 11th, 2004, 12:50 PM   #4
New Boot
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Chandler AZ
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Thanks for the great advice. Based upon your recommendations I am going to order the Frezzi dimmer Micro-fill. I noticed that they have the light itself and also a kit which includes battery and charger. I was disappointed to see that the battery was a Ni-Cad even though Frezzi sells NiMH cells. Has anyone had experience with the Ni-Cad that can tell me what the battery life is like for this 35 watt light (assuming full power rather than dimmer to keep the math simple).

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