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Old November 20th, 2010, 12:21 AM   #1
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Britek as a newbie starter kit?

Hi everyone,

I'm new to this, and looking to get a very cheap, decent kit together for shooting indoor video at night. Right now I'm using cheap worklights, and they are hot and the light is extremely harsh, so I'm looking for some sort of an alternative.

I've been trying to piece something together for $200 or less to get started this is just for personal projects, so while quality is important to me personally, it's not as crucial as it might otherwise be. I'm starting to give up on getting anything in that price range the things I've found like Cowboy Studio that come in at that price I've seen brutalized on various fora.

What I did come across were some Britek starter kits through Linco, which seem robust enough to get me started, don't seem awful, and are less than $500. I was looking at something like this: Britek#FK3200 | 3200w Fluorescent Lighting Kit | Fluorescent Light Kits |

I guess what I'm wondering is are there any major drawbacks to a setup like this? Could I reasonably do a DIY version of this to save money (my budget is very tight to begin with, and I'd love to cut corners wherever I reasonably can)? Is there an alternative that would yield enough light for me to get decent video quality indoors at night for interviews that might be cheaper or comparable in price with higher quality?

Thanks so much for bearing with my complete ignorance!
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Old November 20th, 2010, 12:54 AM   #2
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I'm also considering just getting a cheap two-brolly set and replacing the CFLs that comes with it with an 85W 5500K CFL. Something like these:
Would give me two 40" umbrellas, mounts and stands for $60, and two 85W 5500K Alzo bulbs for $20 each, which would get me 8500 lumens for a little less than $100.

Does that seem like a passable start-up? I really just want to get away from these hot harsh worklights, and even though I have no money, I know I have to do something!
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Old November 20th, 2010, 01:25 AM   #3
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Britek tried to make an entry into the studio strobe monolight market with a product that had significant quality control issues. A lot of beginning photographers tried to get started with these and never could understand why they couldn't get consistent results from them.

I wouldn't trust any Britek product for that reason.

What I would suggest is that you look at the Smith Victor A100 light. A very sturdy continuous light with standard socket that will take either CFL bulbs or standard tungsten. I use 100W equivalent bright white CFLs for fairly soft lighting effect, not quite as soft as umbrellas or softboxes but a bit more directional than either without being harsh. The bright white performs very much like photographic CFLs. My lighting style is in fairly close (3-4 feet for the mainlight and about 6-7 for the fill).

When I want lighting that is not so soft I use 60W or 100W tungsten bulbs.

The lighting unit is about $83 at B&H

Smith-Victor A100 Ultra Cool 10" Flood Light 401018 B&H

This unit will require a sturdy light stand, I recommend the 13' air cushioned stand below.
Impact Air Cushioned Heavy Duty Light Stand, Black - LS-13HAB

With the legs spread for maximum stability the stand may only be 10.5 feet fully extended so don't try to go cheaper for shorter stands. You'll regret that if you do.

Most advertised kits will have inadequate stands so you're better off going this route.

Good luck.
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Old November 20th, 2010, 03:30 PM   #4
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You might like the Impact Qualite 300 kit, sold by B&H for $199.95.
It has 2 focussing 300W lights with barndoors, stands, and umbrellas. Seems like that would be a nice starter kit.

Impact Qualite 300 Focusing Flood 2 Light Kit QL300-2KI B&H

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Old November 20th, 2010, 03:50 PM   #5
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Thank you both, these are very helpful!
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Old November 20th, 2010, 08:41 PM   #6
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Here you go. decent cheap light with softbox and stand for $150 (how can you go wrong?)

Interfit Stellar Tungsten One-Light Softbox Kit INT185 B&H Photo

The light uses 500 watt bulb (standard house screw in) so when you order the light, order 4 or 5 more bulbs for $5 a piece. Check the prices of bulbs (globes) on any light before you buy, and the estimated hours of operation. many lights are 100 hours or so with a price of $40-$60 a piece. So remember to look at replacement costs of bulbs/globes.

The Light fixtures is built well enough. The softbox was a little too tight fit for me to break down and set up everytime, so I just leave them assembled in my storage unit. The ligth is pretty soft and talent can look at the light without squinting.

Light stands, cheap, but good enough. All in all, hard to go wrong. BH has two lights with a travel case for $280. But you can start with 1 of these.

AFter you get a couple of these, you can keep an eye out for LTM Pepers or Mole 200, 650 or 1,000 watt fresnels... but that's a different thread.
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Old November 20th, 2010, 09:05 PM   #7
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The stand supplied with that kit is an eight foot stand. They probably don't offer a taller stand in that kit because anything taller won't be stable with the weight of the light head and the softbox attached.

The first time he needs to extend the stand past seven feet (probably the maximum height of that eight footer with the legs spread widest for stability) he will likely regret that purchase.

And...Interfit was another of those outfits that put out a very low quality "cheap" made strobe monolight system. So I class them with Britek.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 03:11 AM   #8
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I bought a set of britek a few years ago and Its a mixed bag. On the one hand, the lights are a simple design with a sharp look and seemingly good components. I got the 200, 400? and 650 "focusable" halogens. The 200 is rather nice, with both a shoe mount and a baby connector with umbrella mount. Its a good size and a nice build. The 400? (or around that size, its been a few years) has one of the stupidest stand connectors i've ever seen. Its like a conch shell that you try to tighten while holding the light. The 650 is a good design again.

The fit and finish are nicer than many other lights. They look rather good. The stand connector on the 650 is similar to the cool lights fresnels, but a higher quality and a more durable design.

But... and this is a huge major gaping but...

They popped bulbs. Randomly, and ALL the time. I checked all the wiring and the switches and the bulb connection and honestly i have no idea what gremlin was causing it, but i never had a shoot where I didn't lose at least one bulb. At $30/pop for bulbs, it became uneconomical really quickly to use them.

I read some theories about the contacts in the lamp connector being slightly too short for the pins of most bulbs. Sounded possible, but I couldn't see any way to troubleshoot or fix it.

I bought a bunch of cool light hmi, led and fluoros and am really happy with them. I couldn't bring myself to get rid of the briteks though... Even though they've been sitting in the shed for like 4 years now, I just a few weeks ago tore one of the 650s apart and crammed a 70w hmi/cdm bulb inside it from a set of fixtures i got dirt cheap. Unfortunately, the bulb is too long to allow focusing any longer, but it was cheap, and it was kinda fun to play with it. I'm looking forward to buying a 35w HID headlight kit and seeing if i can cram it into the 200w fixture. (i really do dig the design of the 200w.)

Since i replaced all the guts, i hope the days of lost bulbs are over. If they continue to pop, then there are evil spirits at work.

So, no, i cannot recommend britek. I dig the cosmetic finish and design well enough (and the compact size)... but a light that won't stay on is... well, its dark. Screw that. The best thing about britek is that it got me so frustrated that I dropped $5k on cool lights daylight fixtures which are reliable, don't broil me in a small room, have been 100% reliable... and can all run off one domestic plug here in nz. Sweet!

Thats my 3c anyways. Cheers!
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Old November 25th, 2010, 02:43 PM   #9
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This is interesting, i was searching b&h for something unrelated and this popped up:

Impact Qualite 300 Focusing Flood Light - 300 Watts V-201 B&H

This is identical to the fixture i was referring to as the 200. With b&h behind it, you can guarantee the QC has gone way up. Its an interesting little light for $100.
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