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Old December 26th, 2010, 06:53 PM   #16
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there an old saying that goes like this: buy the best and you only cry once.

There are always trade-offs in choosing between cheaper and more expensive models. With respectable names like Arri, Ianiro, Desisti, est, the units hold their resale value. Buy used, wait to buy used lights in excellent condition, take good care of them, and, when you are ready to upgrade in a year or four, you'll probably get your money back.

However, you can save money and buy on the cheap now. The trade-off but immediate savings is low resale value, reduced ability to rent out your kit, and scarce replacement parts/service.

The questions are: is this a short-term or a long term investment & what type of worlk environment are these being used in?

Cheers
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Old December 27th, 2010, 06:08 AM   #17
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Let's be honest - the only performance critical aspects of a Fresnel of any make is simply glass quality and reflector efficiency. The other elements get in the way and annoy - like jerky or jamming beam angle adjustment, or stripping the threads on the thumblocks trying to stop them drooping with the barn doors adding more weight than a fibre washer can manage. If the light coming out is bright enough and soft enough most casual users are happy. I've got some Ianiro redheads I've had for years, and a few of these Chinese Arri copies - and in 12 months, the kind of work I do has meant the redheads never came out of the case and the Fresnels got used twice. Finance wise, spending 4 times the amount on real Arris just would have been silly. The annoying features the copies have for two uses can be ignored. If I was using them every day, then these features would be sufficient to justify quality real ones.
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Old December 27th, 2010, 09:00 AM   #18
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yes and no

I reckon with tungstens I'd go ahead and drop the money on brand name fixtures. However, since i opted to go with all hmi/cdm sources, it really changes the game for me. They are so expensive it requires a whole different level of commitment.

I wanted all daylight fixtures with 4 modest fresnel sources, 1 punchier fresnel, a "diva", a pair of led panels and then later wanted a pair of 2 bulb 2' fluoros for lighting greenscreens in the field.

Here is the brand name option:

arri 125w hmi with ballast (not including bulb) $2859 (x4)
arri 125w hmi bulb $239 (x4)
arri 575w hmi with ballast (not including bulb) $5679
diva 400 $1379
diva 201 $757 (x2)
litepanel led $1865 (x2)

So thats around $24,600 for that light kit, not including shipping.

I chose cool lights. They are the price of chinese stuff but with a bit of creativity and attention put in the middle.

I paid less than this, since i was an "early adopter", but this is todays price:

cool lights 150 cdm with ballast and bulb $459 (x4)
cool lights 575 with ballast $2100
cool lights 455p $425
cool lights 255p $275 (x2)
2x cool lights led 600 (dimmable) $449 (x2)

$5800 plus shipping. (i paid less than 5k including shipping when the units were still being tweaked)

My favorite fixture is the cdm 150s... $459 with bulbs... vs $239 for JUST an arri bulb. Its not nearly as smooth of a wash as an arri, in fact it can be a bit spotty depending on how its used. I paid $399 each, vs $3,000 for a comparable arri with bulb, so that spottiness needs to be a serious issue or a critical part of your career to make the financial jump. I can stomach paying 2x and sometimes 3x for a "brand", but 7x - 8x... ouch.

I would never argue them to be the same build quality... but then, neither would Richard. He cut corners where he thought it made sense and created a whole new tier of "prosumer" daylight sources.

Everybody is different, and lots of people would cough up blood at spending $5800. If i was a professional gaffer, I'd probably look at $24k differently than a "video guy" would. I thought $5800 made sense as an investment so I could get out from under the thumb of the few people who own lights on this island. I don't want to be a rental house, I just wanted a nice set of tools in my truck whether i was shooting my own piece or helping somebody else out.

At $24k, i'd basically have had to market and rent and make sure the gear is earning its keep. at $5k... there's a lot less pressure. 1/4 to 1/5 the pressure, i suppose. For me it crossed a line where I could afford to buy them without a loan, which changed the urgency of paying them off dramatically. If you add to that the exchange rate was close to 2:1 when i bought... that put the arri/kino kit at closer to $45,000nz. The pay rate here isnt much higher than in the states, so if you make $40/hour in the u.s, you probably would make about $40nz/hour here.. so thats a very real $45,000 pricetag.

Cool lights are a "knockoff" of arri as much as windows is a "knockoff" of macos or the nokio os is a "knockoff" of palm. There are similarities, but many of them are industry standards now. Everybody has extruded bodies of some kind with cast metal caps that screw in to the extrusion. The clones that look like the new arri design seem to be the ones trying to associate with arri. Cool lights fluoros and leds are more different than the same. The parts that are the same are themselves industry standard parts and rarely made by the light manufacturer. (bulbs, sockets, etc).

I don't mind the argument that if you are "a serious professional" you should only buy brand names. I don't always agree... and every brand name was a no-name at some point and *somebody* had to buy them first. However, the argument that its tantamount to piracy is a bit silly. Is Eschelon Conspiracy an homage to the movie wargames, a pirated ripoff or just a hack film using hollywood standard tools?

I personally would rather show up with a huge compliment of fixtures than one or two with brand logos on them. I'd also rather treat my gear a bit more gingerly in exchange for having more light options.

But thats me, and certainly doesn't apply to anyone else.

Other advantages:

If somebody smashes one of my cdms, i'm 1/10th as likely to kill them as if i had an arri

if somebody steals one of my cdms, i'm 1/10th as likely to kill myself.

hehe.
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Old December 27th, 2010, 10:15 AM   #19
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Calm down Bob, it's only an opinion.

Robin.


You were probably victim to my rather incompetent attempt at some self-deprecating humour. Some haste in typing my message added to the impression I was becoming agitated I think. I am actually quite mellow.

I agree with you on the genuine article versus the emulations. It could the difference between feeling compelled to check lamphouse fasteners between each job because they might loosen after a few thermal cycles, or secure them with loctite or replace them with something differerent that ARRI uses.

Or it may come down to enhancements like heat-resistant ceramic bushes to slide on dry rails instead of bare holes punched out of sheetmetal, which might begin to squeal and chatter when the grease dries off.

The flags on all the lights have remained secure through thermal cycles and have so far been strong enough. The little release latches seem to get tight and baulky but it could be a case of my own incompetence too.

Confidence in long-established quality and performance reputation is the premium ARRI, Desisti, et al are justified in charging for.

Here's the rub though. I got legged over bigtime, attempting to buy some older used lamps of a reputable brand from an eBay seller.

I think I might have some concerns about a reputable brand lamp which comes on the used market after a lifetime of maybe being flogged near to death by who knows and like a second-hand car, given a clean and paint before sale to make it go faster. The same vigilence and checking for defects is desirable. Chances of finding something needing replacement are pretty good.

So far, the big-ticket item, a 1.2K HMI has about trouble-free 30 hours up on it now. There was no way I could have afforded the genuine ARRI equivalent new and used examples were not exactly prolific. For the infrequent usage I put it to, it is fine.

Parts support? I broke a fresnel glass on a 650watt fresnel. A replacement was available and was readily supplied. The only issue is you have to order a replacement or buy in your own reserve parts stock from the Chinese vendor because you the importer are the local service agent and yourself the client.


Whether new cloned product or secondhand used genuine "brand" product, there is identical responsibility for the new owner to have the lights checked for safety issues before turning them to work. The magic CE logo does not guarantee that the light itself remains capable of meeting the claimed standards during its entire lifetime of use, only that the registered design does. The "brand" appliance itself may have already endured far longer than its designers even envisaged.

Hobbs meters can be changed out, maybe even reset for all I know. Non-compliant replacement parts may have been subsituted during a repair/maintenance.

I don't resell the Chinese lamps. I just use them. I don't think Bob Grant resells them either.

Last edited by Bob Hart; December 27th, 2010 at 10:45 AM. Reason: error
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Old December 28th, 2010, 06:01 AM   #20
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My point was (and is) aimed at those who earn money from videography...

There is plenty of cheap lighting out there. If you can't afford an Arri (or can't justify the cost) then you can get a Ianiro Solaris, if that's still too expensive, then get a Desisti, and so on.

The respectable firms have R&D departments. They design their own lamps (although I dare say that they adapt ideas from their competitors) and innovate constantly. The chinese fakers simply buy an Arri (or Ianiro, or KinoFlo) and copy it.

This is damaging our industry. At IBC last year in the conference, two of the established lighting manufacturers stated that they would not be developing new technology until the problem of fakes was dealt with. You can't blame them. Why develop something, only to make a loss as it gets copied and cloned?
The traditional Fresnel manufacturers (Arri, Ianiro, Desisti, Mole Richardson, Photon Beard) are all making workers redundant (according to Lighting Technology magazine) because their sales of traditional units have slumped so badly. That's not only bad news for Germany, Italy, the UK and the USA but bad news for professionals generally.
KinoFlo in Europe is having serious problems with chinese fakes being sold as originals. In today's economic climate anything which endangers firms like KinoFlo endangers the whole economy.

To say that people buy a copy and then "upgrade" to an original is rubbish. Once in a blue moon maybe. To use the music analogy, the person who buys a pirate copy of a CD at a market doesn't go out the next day and buy the original from a shop.

I have no issue with cheap lighting units. Nor do I blame amateurs and enthusiasts from succumbing to the lure of a fake. I just firmly believe that anyone who earns money from lighting (including videographers) shouldn't buy fakes.

The safety, reliability and legal issues are more icing on the cake.
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Old December 28th, 2010, 10:17 PM   #21
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Robin.


Thanks for making us right on the real facts.

Sadly then, history is repeating itself. The initially very cheap imports of consumer appliances and whitegoods shut our domestic appliance industry down or local iconic brands began buying in offshore OEM and re-badging. Either way, jobs are exported.

Over here, it is muchly moot as production equipment is imported. Our industry is too small to sustain a manufacturing base here. But in other areas we have moved from being largely self-sufficient in the basic needs to not being able to clothe ourselves or fit out our houses.

This extends to our military forces. Governments need a good smack with a big stick, when our airforce on a public military parade are reduced to walking out of the soles of their boots in public due to our local industry having been closed down and shittty substitutes given to our forces.

There are some essential industries which should be subsidised at baseline by import tariffs at least to ensure the intellectual property, industrial culture and skillsets are not lost. Our governments are too dumb to see the longterm agenda of the major emerging economy, or too scared already or have been bought off.

And yes, by buying in a cheap import, I am part of the problem, even if the product type is not made here.
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Old December 29th, 2010, 05:32 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Lambert View Post
My point was (and is) aimed at those who earn money from videography...

To say that people buy a copy and then "upgrade" to an original is rubbish. Once in a blue moon maybe. To use the music analogy, the person who buys a pirate copy of a CD at a market doesn't go out the next day and buy the original from a shop.
Thats not really an apt analogy. I bought "britek" lights and when they weren't reliable, i upgraded to cool lights. Had cool lights been unreliable, i would have then probably looked at arri. The analogy would be better served with a pirate copy of a cd PLAYER, perhaps. I know many people who cut corners with a "jastronics" or "phonix" answering machine/vcr/dvd player only to end up with a sony when the noname failed. If the build quality of the clone is good enough that the upgrade concept is "rubbish", then that implies that the quality of the clones is good enough for them to be reliable.

Quote:
I have no issue with cheap lighting units. Nor do I blame amateurs and enthusiasts from succumbing to the lure of a fake. I just firmly believe that anyone who earns money from lighting (including videographers) shouldn't buy fakes.
I can agree in principle, but my problem is that the big lighting companies do little to service the "videographer" as opposed to the rental house or broadcast station. As the prices of all the other hardware associated with production has dropped, is it reasonable for a company to expect to keep selling the same lights at the same pricepoint (adjusting for inflation) since 1980? I mean, recouping r&d is one thing, but how many decades does that r&d demand a premium? Does it really make sense that i can buy a high def video camera AND a laptop computer (both mind bending from the perspective of when the arri electric ballast HMI came out) for less than the price of one modestly powered HMI fixture? I mean, exactly how much technology is in a ballast compared to a camera?

Clones aren't the answer, but they do show where the market demand is. I can understand not wanting to sell inexpensive fixtures, as once it produces light, there isn't much of anything to differentiate it from an expensive light source. Its the same reason sony and canon have always looked for a way to cripple their prosumer line of cameras. And its the same reason DVinfo exists and we all experiment with things like dslr and 35 adapters and... even dv/hdv cameras. There is a trend towards spending less on hardware. Lots of companies have had to shut their doors due to that trend. They wont be the last.

I think LEDs represent the answer/future for videographers. There is a lot of development for use in other industries, and the mechanics of implementing led lights into a housing is extremely simple, without even requiring the complexities of a ballast. They don't have the punch.. yet.

For now i'm keen on a 1.2k hmi fresnel. Arri's is $6500. Some generic on ebay is $1400. The ballast for both is made of 100% off-the-shelf components. The chinese one is not a clone except that the fixture does look a bit like arris *used* to. I dunno. its a tough call for me.

Regarding fake-branded clones? Yeah, thats bullshit. I can debate the behringer vs mackie dilemma from either side, but as soon as somebody puts a fake logo on something thats an entirely different thing.

Nobody asked me and I just rambled. Sorry about that.
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Old December 29th, 2010, 11:53 PM   #23
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Andrew.


Don't apologise for rambling. It is a discussion, maybe even a debate by now. Diversity of opinion and knowledge makes for distilling down to truths and arriving at solutions.

My own honest opinion as to the current lamphouse construction style of cast endcaps and stamped panels/extrusions is that it is inferior across all products, clones or otherwise, versus older designs with entirely cast casework. But that's my thoughts.

All are only as good as the globes, optics and crew, The "known" brands for now can be assumed to have the edge in consistency of performance, safety and reliability as they are not newcomers at the game, not learning on the job. Like all students and disciples, expect the cloners to catch up.
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