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Old March 15th, 2011, 10:10 AM   #1
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going to shoot in Czech Rep: can I just switch bulbs to 220 V?

Hi there,
I'm a Canadian (land of 110 Volts) cameraman/editor who's going to the Czech Republic and Hungary (220 Volts) this coming Sunday (March 20), to shoot for about 9 days.

I'm wondering whether I should:
1. bring my own lighting kit: Lowell Rifa softbox (500W), two small Pro lights (250 W) a Lowel V-Light (500W) and a 420W Pepper...
or
2. rent a kit like this

If I go with 1., someone here has told me I need to buy a couple of 1500W transformers; they cost $150 each, they're the size of a shoebox and weigh about 20 lbs. apiece, so that's going to add the cost travel (overweight luggage).

Someone else said I just need to get new 220V bulbs for my lights, and then they'll work just fine. I haven't checked into the cost of 220V bulbs, but at least, if I go this route, I'd avoid having to lug around the heavy transformers. But can people on this forum assure me that it will work?

thanks for your advice,
Malcolm
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Old March 15th, 2011, 12:54 PM   #2
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Re: going to shoot in Czech Rep: can I just switch bulbs to 220 V?

Changing bulbs is the usual method. However, make sure you also have adapters for the local power sockets.
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Old March 15th, 2011, 03:26 PM   #3
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Re: going to shoot in Czech Rep: can I just switch bulbs to 220 V?

Yes, thank you Brian. I will get the small adapters for the power sockets.
Shall I just get the bulbs over there? (I'm not sure I can get them here in Ottawa).
Regards, Malcolm
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Old March 15th, 2011, 10:28 PM   #4
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Re: going to shoot in Czech Rep: can I just switch bulbs to 220 V?

Like in the states, it will be a custom item and you will have to order it ahead of time, they don't stock them at the grocery store.

If you're ordering ahead of time, I'd just as soon order them to your stateside address to be sure you got the right thing and they fit Then again, you're traveling overseas with fragile cargo, maybe best to ship them there instead.

Either way, look into it ahead of time. But no need to get the transformer - just swap the bulb.
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Old March 16th, 2011, 11:38 AM   #5
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Re: going to shoot in Czech Rep: can I just switch bulbs to 220 V?

Thanks Mike. I really appreciate it. I've contacted Ushio here in Canada to ask about getting the lights here, and if that's not possible, then in Europe.
My fingers are crossed because my trip starts this weekend.
Regards,
Malcolm
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Old March 16th, 2011, 11:04 PM   #6
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Re: going to shoot in Czech Rep: can I just switch bulbs to 220 V?

Just a thought (although it's getting late) - I think B&H might carry some 220V bulbs, Not sure if they could be overnighted without any issue or not, though, even if they have them.
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Old March 17th, 2011, 11:39 AM   #7
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Re: going to shoot in Czech Rep: can I just switch bulbs to 220 V?

Hi Jim,
Thanks for the note. I just made a phone connection with Ushio in the Netherlands, and they say they can get me the bulbs (they're in stock, and they're willing to send them to my Prague hotel).
I'm hoping all of this works out... looks good at the moment.
Regards,
Malcolm
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Old March 17th, 2011, 11:44 AM   #8
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Re: going to shoot in Czech Rep: can I just switch bulbs to 220 V?

Good luck with your shoot and if you need any extra resources I am just a couple of hours away, I also have NTSC capable P2 camera's.
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Old March 17th, 2011, 04:40 PM   #9
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Re: going to shoot in Czech Rep: can I just switch bulbs to 220 V?

Thanks Gary... I'll hope my lights work and my camera too. It'll be nice to escape the Canadian snow (much of it melting now, but it's still snow) for a week-and-a-half. I appreciate the kind help and advice I've received on this forum.
Regards,
Malcolm
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Old March 19th, 2011, 12:18 AM   #10
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Conductor Size

If the light fixtures you have are without transformers and are just wires with sockets, they should work fine at the 220/240V range because the wires for the higher voltage and the same wattage are actually a lot smaller.

I don't know what kind of bases your lights have, but their system have some screw bases that are very much like the ones used in North America.

Here is a link to a site with base converters. http://www.solarseller.com/halogen_b...ase__mr_16.htm
For reference, the standard North American household light bulb base is a "Medium Edison".

Be sure to stop in at Prague and take a tour of the old town. I normally don't take tours but in this case it would be worth it.

Last edited by John Nantz; March 19th, 2011 at 01:13 AM. Reason: Added link to base converters.
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Old March 21st, 2011, 04:41 PM   #11
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Re: going to shoot in Czech Rep: can I just switch bulbs to 220 V?

Hi again... a quick update (I haven't slept in what seems like days; didn't sleep on the flight and had to start shooting the minute we got here. But I did walk through a bit of the Centrum/old town tonight, John, and indeed, it's gorgeous):
when I arrived here today, and the lightbulbs were waiting for me. A huge thank you to Bjorn Plomp at BBP Light bv in the Netherlands (and Linda at Ushio headquarters) for getting the bulbs to me this quickly.
But here's what happened this afternoon. I put the 220V bulbs into all four lights that I brought, and for an interview this afternoon used just two of them: a small Pro light and a Rifa 55.
I had on the the little converters at the end of my three-prong North American plugs, so they'd fit in the Czech outlets.
The Pro worked fine. The Rifa turned on, but after about thirty seconds, the bulb burned out.
Am I doing something wrong? I have one more spare bulb (Bjorn sent two of each, luckily).
I really want to pop in this bulb (a Showbiz Quartzline Halogen lamp; marked 230-240V) because I need this Rifa light more than the others, but I don't want to break my last bulb.
Is there something I'm missing?
Thanks for any advice,
Malcolm
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Old March 21st, 2011, 10:09 PM   #12
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Re: going to shoot in Czech Rep: can I just switch bulbs to 220 V?

Hi, Malcom...........

I suspect one of your plug adapters may be less than correctly functioning.

I would suggest that, if possible, you remove your US plugs and hard wire on whatever is used there, incandescents cannot handle intermittant on - off's and will quickly drop off their perch if there is a bad connection.

Also, check the light fitting wiring as well, a loose connection from the flight and handling may welll have been the culprit.

Also, check out the socket the light was plugged into, one loose wire in that would do it as well.

All of that should require no more than a flat blade screwdriver, a pair of side cutters/ knife, plugs (all should be available at any local hardware store, I'm sure a local could source them in very short order) and a bit of care.

Of course, there is always the possibility there's nothing wrong with any of the connections and that particular bulb was effectively "dead out of the box".

Good luck and keep us posted.

I'm a bit jealous actually, I never did get to Prague, bugger.


CS
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Old March 22nd, 2011, 04:52 PM   #13
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Re: going to shoot in Czech Rep: can I just switch bulbs to 220 V?

Chris, thanks for your note... lots of good ideas. First thing this morning I was wondering if I had the nerve to attach another plug when Bjorn emailed to tell me that perhaps, just perhaps (he's very kind), I hadn't pushed the bulb all the way into the socket.
I thought I had, but the truth is, I've always found it a bit tricky pushing a slippery glass bulb (made even more slippery because I'm holding it with a napkin to avoid getting the grease of my fingers onto the glass), with a great deal of force—I'm always afraid it's going to break in my hand).
So for this next (last) bulb, I pushed much more carefully, and forcefully, with the end of some pliers right at the base of the bulb (the ceramic part), on one side and then the other, back and forth, a bit at a time, until I was as sure as I could be that the bulb was all the way in. And what do you know: I used the light today, and the bulb is still burning...
So I hope that was it, and that I don't have any more mishaps with my gear.
Thanks again for your help, one and all.
Regards,
Malcolm
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Old March 22nd, 2011, 04:57 PM   #14
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Re: going to shoot in Czech Rep: can I just switch bulbs to 220 V?

Enjoy Prague I have been twice at christmas as it is a beautiful city especially at night!

Try and visit this brewery if you can it is great fun: U Flek? Brewery and Restaurant
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Old March 22nd, 2011, 05:50 PM   #15
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Re: going to shoot in Czech Rep: can I just switch bulbs to 220 V?

Hi Gary,
Thanks for the link. I will try this place when I get back to Prague next week. I'm now in a city five hours to the east: Ostrava. Very working-class and a bit rough, but what place isn't compared to Prague.
I also want to find a restaurant where part of a very quirky movie (I saw it a couple years ago) was shot. The movie was called 'I Served the King of England' and it was an odd movie, but interesting. And the scenes shot in a gorgeous old-world restaurant were amazing. When I get back to Prague I now have two places to seek out.
Regards,
Malcolm
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