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Old September 7th, 2004, 07:58 PM   #1
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Newbie Tota question and other stuff (long)

Hi All!

I am just starting out on my lighting "journey" and after much forum searching, reading (Jackman, Lowell et al, Beaser and Don Berube etc) and cogitating I have decided that a Tota light, decent light stand, with a shoot-thru (Photoflex) umbrella is probably the way to start. I reside in New Zealand so lights with known 220v compatibility and reasonable local lamp availability and pricing were important considerations. Budget - and my "amateur" status :-) was also a factor as I am aware that the soft-box alternative has several advantages over umbrellas. Safety is also an issue as children will be involved so home-made stuff is low on my list of options – having said that I have a redeployed :-) cloths rack frame which I will clip foam-core to for fill if required. (I have also thought about Walter Graff’s suggested method of lighting by bouncing an Omni into a reflector as my key-light with the spill as fill)

Most of my shooting will be recording family and friends indoors and will be a mix of daytime shots with a good amount of general ambient light and night shots under average house-hold lights. Essentially I am looking to increasing the light levels on the subjects as well as providing a bit of "modelling" – that is I do not wish to attempt to light the entire "set" nor provide dramatic lighting. For day shots using ND gel or nets to avoid blown-out windows/doors it not really an option so I am happy to have some overexposed areas in the frame. I have attempted for the night shots to increase the light levels by bouncing work lights from the ceiling and walls and while this did result in the camera requiring less gain to create a usable picture it was still “flat” and so I feel I am ready to take the next step with some more targeted lighting.

I am anticipating that for the day shots I will use some level of CTB gel and for the night shots some additional diffusion (as I am limited to the 800w lamp only in NZ) and I was intending to get the Tota frame. The problem is that while the Tota has a built-in umbrella and gel frame holder is seems that ONLY ONE can be used at the same time (this is from Eric Druker at Lowel). So can anybody suggest what I should do? Having the umbrella and gel frame on the same stand would be advantageous from an ease-of-setup point of view but is this possible?

Many thanks for taking the time to read this rather long winded post!

Nearly forgot … most of the time I will be using a Canon XL1 camera.

Also feel free to make any suggestions on my intended my lighting methods!

Regards,
Andrew

P.S. Assuming I get past the first stage my next light will probably be a hair/separation light so any recommendations on that would also be appreciated!
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Old September 7th, 2004, 08:57 PM   #2
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Hey Andrew. Good luck on your journey! I'm just starting mine too.

One good thing about the umbrella is that it would be a lot more wieldly than the Photoflex. I was surprised how big those things are and fiddly. I guess I will get used to it though.

For your frame issue, you might get away with simply clipping the gels to the tota door. Give it a deep enough "ballooning" out the front to let air in and take it away from the lamp.

You could also buy a Lowel Flexishaft and clamp the gels to that or even the frame if it's strong enough (Not sure it is though)

RE bulbs. You can get General Electric bulbs (I bought some) that are 500W for the Tota, but they are only 2900K, not 3200K so you might need some 1/4 CTB or so to even balance them to 3200K. Also, budget $40 each for the 3200K Tota bulbs eeek! ;)


Oh yeah: Re the Tota cord. You apparently don't need to get the specific 220V cord, you can just use the one supplied and I have just bought a US -> NZ adapter. That way you get the switch too.


I've had my lamp for a few days now but haven't had a chance to fire it up and play! I've been reading as much as I can and I can't wait to start playing and controlling light to see what I can do with the few bits I have.


Cheers
Aaron
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Old September 7th, 2004, 09:03 PM   #3
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Hello Andrew,
Quote:
The problem is that while the Tota has a built-in umbrella and gel frame holder is seems that ONLY ONE can be used at the same time (this is from Eric Druker at Lowel). So can anybody suggest what I should do? Having the umbrella and gel frame on the same stand would be advantageous from an ease-of-setup point of view but is this possible?
Probably the most convenient solution is to use wooden clothes pins to attach a gel to the Tota's doors. Good gels are designed to take the heat and they don't have to be pretty.
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Old September 7th, 2004, 09:34 PM   #4
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Hi Ken! Can you suggest a suitable Gel Manufacturer? Thanks, Andrew
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Old September 7th, 2004, 09:42 PM   #5
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Hi Aaron!

Thanks for the info and update! How much did the Photoflex etc set you back (in NZ$)? Are the GE bulbs from Mitre10 or simliar places??

Andrew

P.S. I'm still investigating using a Britek light as a hair light but haven't solved the bulb issue :-(
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Old September 7th, 2004, 09:57 PM   #6
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<<<-- Originally posted by Andrew Rowatt : Hi Aaron!

Thanks for the info and update! How much did the Photoflex etc set you back (in NZ$)? Are the GE bulbs from Mitre10 or simliar places??

Andrew

P.S. I'm still investigating using a Britek light as a hair light but haven't solved the bulb issue :-( -->>>


I paid basically $960+GST for....

Photoflex Silverdome
Tota
Basic stand (Model 3361 I think). Aluminium, 8 feet.
Casters for the stand
Tota Frame
SpeedRing for Photoflex/Tota
Wescott Illuminator Silver/Black reflector.

Probably chop off 70 bucks without the Reflector.

Of that price, about $150 was shipping.

So more expensive than the Briteks for sure, almost twice the price, but I was happy to pay that for those brands.

Cheers
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Old September 7th, 2004, 10:04 PM   #7
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Hi Aaron!

Did you have to pay GST at the "border"? That is something I had not thought about!

Andrew
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Old September 7th, 2004, 10:17 PM   #8
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Andrew,
Rosco, GAM and Lee seem to be the leaders in gels. I generally order mine from Studio Depot, which is a retail outlet for Mole Richardson. Perhaps you can find a closer source down in NZ. Either way, try to order a manufacturer's gel sample book. It's an invaluable reference.
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Old September 7th, 2004, 10:41 PM   #9
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Andrew, yes you have to pay GST at the border if you've ordered more than NZ$400 worth of stuff (so I was told).

Good thing is that on most video gear you don't pay Duty on top of that..

Depending on shipping costs etc it can be more economical to place 2 orders and have them under $400. In my case with the lights it wasn't and you also run the risk if you run it close to the wire, due to fluctuating exchange rates.

Panavision in Auckland sell Lee filters, and Professional Lighting Services here in Auckland sell Chris (James?) filters. I got some ND .6 CTO combination the other day. Will be interested to see how it goes. I was hoping for what they guy called "window gel" which is a lot thinner and I can stick it to windows with soapy water...Sounds cool!


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Old September 9th, 2004, 11:33 AM   #10
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You poor buggers get GST as well? Must be a Commonwealth thing.

Look at the HIR lamps for the Tota. they give you the equivilent of 1000 watts of light for 650 watts. they have the same life and are 3200K.

The source of the Tpta and the Photoflex is the US so that would be cheaper from there.

Manfotto is cheaper outside of the US since it is from Italy. Anything that touches the US seems to be much more expensie.

Lee and Formatt filters are out of the UK so should be better priced in NZ
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Old September 9th, 2004, 07:49 PM   #11
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Hi Bryan!

Everything to do with lighting seems to be expensive here in NZ! - Aaron K can vouch for that I think. He has contacted most local suppliers of equipment and has found in general that stuff is very pricey - three or four+ times the US price would be typical. Even stuff made in Australia (eg: Rode microphones) are cheaper (including shipping) to get from B&H!! Any thoughts on how I might connect an umbrella to a light stand without using the Tota receptacle?? (I have vague memories of you starting out with a Tota/Umbrella combo before moving on to a soft-box???) I’m sure it is possible but don’t know what to look for…

Aaron:
I’ve decided to go the "eBay way" for now and have purchased a Tota light, 16’ cable, gel frame and Bogen 3086 stand (Bryan’s fav!) for US$95 (~US$190 new). Although it will be NZ$200-NZ$250 by the time it lands here it is still a bargain considering I was quoted NZ$385+GST for a Tota ONLY. I will probably source the umbrella, gels and bulb from B&H. Thanks for the tip re the Tota cable and adapter. Sounds like you have a great kit!!

I think you have the right idea re getting good brands, I am now considering getting a 2nd hand Lowel Pro-Light or Omni light (from the US) instead of a Britek because they are industry standard and I know I can get bulbs and parts here - and resale value should be good in case I wish to jettison my lighting "career" :-) Having said that Tony from WPS has quoted $280 (inc GST and lamp) for a Unomat light (from Germany - must be good?) which is less cash than getting a new Pro Light to NZ.

Ken T: Thanks for the gel info!
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Old September 9th, 2004, 08:29 PM   #12
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Andrew, good to hear you're well on your way, and good deal on the Tota etc on Ebay..

Do you know if the Pro lights work here in NZ? A loooong time ago I was looking into lights and one of the guys said that that's pretty much the only Lowel light that didn't directly work here in 220V land. Why, I don't know. Do you have any insight here?

I am a believer in getting something that's at least known to be a good brand. Now people will bitch and moan about Lowel and Photoflex not being the best, but I'd trust them more than a brand I'd never heard of. And hey, those other brands like Arri and Chimera etc are a crapload more expensive.

Cheers
Aaron
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Old September 9th, 2004, 08:46 PM   #13
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Pro Lights

Hi Aaron,

I have contacted Lowel directly regarding Pro Lights. The reply:
------------------------------------------------
Dear Andrew,

The P2-10 and P2-10 CE are basically the same except when we ship to Europe we are required to have the fixtures CE approved. The same lamp (GLF/P44 230v) is used in both. They will both work. Hope this answers your question.


Kind regards,
Toni Pearl

------------------------------------------------
My understanding from that response is that *any* Pro Light will work here provided you have the correct bulb. Again, if anyone reading this thread can confirm that fact it would be great!!


Andrew
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Old September 9th, 2004, 09:48 PM   #14
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Bloody hell!
What does it cost to ship from B&H ? I may have another source from Canada. Yes some stuff costs considerably less up here.

First point. for securing "stuff" from a light stand or anything else "round" try a Lowel "lobo" clamp. The lobo is about 7 items down from the top.
Keep this link Lowel clamps
The lobo is about $25 US from B&H. and yes I own one.
The lobo from B&H

Try looking at The DV Shop in Toronto. DV Shop
They don't ship out of country but I could send stuff if it was a good enough deal fpor you. another place with dynomite pricing is RVA communications in Scarborough, outside of Toronto. Their mic pricing is great RVA Canada
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Old September 9th, 2004, 11:17 PM   #15
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Hi Bryan,

The Lowel Lobo looks perfect! Regarding shipping outside of the USA and Canada – I have a US mail forwarder which is enables access to stores etc which will not ship offshore - but thanks for the offer! (and links!).

Cheers,
Andrew
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