Fluorscent Box Light feedback desired at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Photon Management

Photon Management
Shine an ever-loving light on you.

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old July 31st, 2010, 01:23 PM   #1
Major Player
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Seattle WA
Posts: 846
Fluorscent Box Light feedback desired

Fluorscent Box Light feedback desired
One of my projects that will likely be on-going for a while is making videos of individuals playing various instruments, mostly solo but maybe duet. Not a band or large group and probably never up to trio size. The instruments will be mostly likely be accordion but also violin, keyboard, or maybe piano (remember, solo but maybe duet). Just threw the piano in because it is larger than the others and this would be solo and not duet.

The emphasis will be somewhat more on the instrument and less on the individual playing it.

With still photography the basic or elementary lighting method is front, background, and hair light, and this is what is standard for portraits. However, in my situation I'm wondering if a couple "box lights" would be helpful. And by that I mean a couple boxes with 6 x 30W fluorescent bulbs on stands.

I'm thinking of these because they would provide a lot of light and the color temperature would be really good.

For the record, this is just an experimental fun-thing and not a money-making project.

Would this be a good lighting system?
Is there a different setup one should consider?
John Nantz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 31st, 2010, 01:25 PM   #2
Major Player
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Seattle WA
Posts: 846
double post

This is the kind of stuff that happens when you have cookies turned off.

Last edited by John Nantz; July 31st, 2010 at 03:07 PM. Reason: Wound up being a double post
John Nantz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 1st, 2010, 04:42 PM   #3
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Posts: 1,538

Since nobody else has responded, let me try to help.

When considering lights for video, there are three primary aspects to a light's design that affect it's performance.

Broadly they are A) the lamp or gas technology that's generating the illumination. B) the fixture housing the lamp, particularly with regard to reflectors, screens, barn doors, or lenses that shape, control and/or diffuse the light. And finally, C) the amount of surface that the light energy radiates off of.

A is important since the light generating technology determines efficiency (how many watts of power it takes to generate the light) color temperature (the color quality of the original light before any filtering or gels are added) There is NO perfect light generator. Tungsten lamps are traditional, well-studied, and inexpensive. They are also the most inefficient, turning lots of energy into heat instead of light. HMI technology is more efficient, but VERY much more expensive. Fluorescent lamps are inherently softer BECAUSE the lights themselves have significantly more surface area generating light than traditional tungsten lamps. LED is the newest technology and the MOST efficient way to turn electricity into useful lumens, but there are problems with color temperature and lighting geometry.

B is also critical. Most tungsten lights have a point source generator (lamp) that's put in a housing in order to spread or soften the beam. These are widely used since the technology is the most proven, and you get benefits like the ability to cut and shape the light beam using inexpensive tools like barn doors and flags.

Fluorescent sources can't be cut like that. Also, they have a much shorter "throw" since the light is typically boiling off a long tube or coiled glass fixture. So shadows from Flos tend to be softer edged and less defined. Sometimes that's good. Sometimes bad.

Your pictured fixtures use 18w Fluor tubes behind a translucent baffle. There appears to be NO accommodation for any exterior light control like a grid or barn doors or anything else. So the moment you turn on one of these you'll fill most of a small room with light. Yes, a larger percentage of that light will be facing the same way the light does - but make no mistake - much of the light will spill everywhere from the ceiling to the floor to the walls.

The head itself is relatively small. Looks like a foot square or smaller. Which means you'll get little soft light wrap at anything outside of a couple of feet light to subject difference.

In sum, these are the more modern fluorescent equivelent of inexpensive "scoop" llights of a generation ago. Except they'll have much less throw and consume much less power.

It's a type of lighting that - while OK for a beginner - will get dumped quickly as whoever uses them moves along and learns to appreciate lights that come with actual control over the light spread and direction rather than lights that just blast out illumination in a general direction.

For your specific use, they might just do OK. The only issue I can see is that given a light to instrument distance of, for example 3 feet - you'll have an apparent distance from fixture to insturment back to camera of double that - or six feet or so. At 6 feet distance, you should expect significant "hot square" reflections in something like a piano or instrument varnish from a light like this.

So if you can live with the hot spots - they're not a bad choice in a situation like you're suggesting.

Hope that helps.
Classroom editing instructor? Check out www.starteditingnow.com
Turnkey editor training content including licensed training footage for classroom use.
Bill Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 1st, 2010, 11:35 PM   #4
Major Player
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Seattle WA
Posts: 846
I'm in a real quandary on lighting

Thanks for the reply Bill. Part of my problem is I've been out of photography for several years and when I was doing it, it was with a 35mm Nikon, so that kinda dates me. But I've been bitten by the digital video bug and I can tell you it's bad.

I've got a few projects in mind and I've really been trying to get up to speed in this new-to-me area. The two weak areas I have right now is lighting and video editing, and lighting is the subject here. I came across these two fluorsent light fixtures, ~ 18" square with 6 x 30W bulbs each, for what appears to be a fairly good price. So they probably won't stick around too long. However, in searching the Internet I found there are very few of these type of light fixtures for sale, either new or used. And the new ones this size run around $370 to $450 each.

The thing I like about them is the color temperature aspect, being able to render a very slightly warmer color to the talent. I'm not into color adjustments at the moment and something like this might allow me to scoot by in this department for a while. I hope.

Another thing I like is the amount of light they will throw. Perhaps being in a room with an 8-ft to 10-ft ceiling might help?

My real interest, though, is in LEDs. Hopefully ones which will run on batteries and not require wires. I'm also interested in a, or some, LEDs that can be used when traveling, but that's another subject area. I've seen other posters with this same interest.

I will look into other types of lighting which, like you mentioned, can be more easily adjusted, and I was just talking to someone this evening about some. Unfortunately, he just sold the tripod with fluid head I inquired about literally minutes before.

I noticed a lot of viewers of my post but I want to thank you for your reply.
John Nantz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 3rd, 2010, 10:14 PM   #5
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 1,961
I think those lights have a few problems. They don't seem to have barn doors. They don't have any sort of diffusion. I'm not familiar with 30W lamps of that size so they might be non-standard and therefore troublesome to replace. Medium-size lights like this can be helpful, but I wouldn't start a kit with these. You will want a larger source for your front light and a harder source for your hair light. These lights will have too small a source to make really soft light and will have a lot of spill since they don't have barn doors. They might be affordable and easy to move, but they seem to not have a lot of great features.

If you want portability, I would recommend a coollights.biz CL-LED600 with one of their quick softboxes and a CL-LED256 for the hair light. The 600 is almost as bright as the fluorescents you list but can run off battery and can use a softbox or barn doors. The LED256 is tiny and includes the battery mount and barn doors. It is about as strong as a 300W tungsten so it should compliment the LED600 once it has it's strength cut down a stop by the fabric.
Marcus Marchesseault is offline   Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

Omega Broadcast
(512) 251-7778
Austin, TX

(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

(800) 238-8480
Glendale, CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Photon Management

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:42 AM.

DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2015 The Digital Video Information Network