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Old February 16th, 2012, 06:37 PM   #1
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Is there any reason to go LED over Fluorescent?

I have a couple LED lights in my arsenal so far and not extremely happy with them but they've been enough good so far. Here's my question, is there any reason to develop a full LED kit over a fluorescent kit? I mainly shoot microbudget music videos with a lot of location work. My main reason for initially going LED was the portability and the power consumption. I have the 312 LED which has served me well but my 500 LED lights, I have mix feelings about especially in regards to the green spike.

I'm thinking of getting a couple fluorescent softboxes to start out a new kit as most music video work requires flattering light. With my LED lights seems impossible to get a nice broad soft flattering light.

Here's my question. How do fluorescent lights compare to LEDs in regards to portability and heat emitted. I know they are cool in comparison to tungsten but those lights get so hot you need work gloves. So cooler than that isn't saying a lot.

Also say you take care of your bulbs and don't break them how often do you find yourself replacing the bulbs.

Are there any advantages LEDs have over fluorescents that I might be missing?
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Old February 16th, 2012, 09:53 PM   #2
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Re: Is there any reason to go LED over Fluorescent?

The short answer in your case is probably, "no".

Here are my top-of-head comparison points between fluoro and led:

1. LED uses less power than fluoro. Depending on your fixtures it can range from a little to "a fair bit". If you are running only off battery, then I find LED to last longer.

2. LED generally have more "banks" to cut than fluoro. Dimming doesn't save power in most cases, but cutting banks does. That only applies if you don't need full power, of course.

3. FLUORO are closer to a continuous light source. The crappier a LED you buy, the worse the color is, but even the best have a bit of a spike. If you are using ALL led sources, then you can white balance to the raw color and have more lumens to play with. If you are mixing sources, you gotta cut the green. Even with the crappiest fluoros, you can often upgrade to good quality bulbs and get a nice source from them.

4. LED are a little bit harder light. You can get away with using an LED for a rim light. I find fluoros are often too soft. You can always soften the LED.

5. LED are less fragile.

6. FLUOROs are cheaper. Lumen for lumen, fluoros give you more punch for the same money, especially if you account for gelling the LED.

7. LED are smaller/lighter/sexier, which is important when travelling... or trying to have sex.

8. LED don't require warm-up. For music videos, the minute or two of Fluoro warm up time might not matter, but in the field when needing a fill and yer losing light, those few minutes are an eternity.

As to "a full kit". There are times when each is an advantage. I have LED, fluoro and HMI fresnels. This feels very balanced to me and I wouldn't want to give up any one of my fixtures. In an abstract sense your questions is like "should I buy phillips or flathead screwdrivers?"

I LOVE my cool light led 600s. They come out on every shoot for various reasons and are just so handy to bank and dial in exactly the right amount of fill, or use off battery as key. When i compared them to the ebay 160/312/500 sets, i was shocked at how green and unflattering the light was from the other units. If your choice is between cheap LED and cheap Fluoro and you care about color rendering... my advice is go with the fluoro. As you go higher up in the price spectrum, the differences level out.

my 2c anyways. Cheers!
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Old February 17th, 2012, 04:17 AM   #3
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Re: Is there any reason to go LED over Fluorescent?

Hey Andrew,

Thanks for you insight.

When you say LEDs are less fragile you're referring strictly to the bulbs right?

Is the weight difference between comparable sized LED and Fluorescent fixtures typically significant? I saw an online demo of the flolights and the guy showed that the fluorescent fixture was so light that he could tape it to the wall. I know my 500 LED would never be able to do that. The 312 could with no problem.

I guess each light has its time and place. Thanks for the phillips vs flathead comparison. That has put things into perspective.
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Old February 19th, 2012, 02:29 PM   #4
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Re: Is there any reason to go LED over Fluorescent?

Leds are less fragile than glass bulbs, yeah.

The weight difference is very inconsistent between units. The LEDs + power supply wont weight much at all. Similarly, the fluoro bulb + ballast is more than led, but still not much at all. The weight comes from all the plastic/metal needed to mount the components. LED panels would not survive much flex at all, so they are usually in steel boxes. Fluoro units range from steel units to super lightweight units that just hold the raw bulb and the ballast is on a box on the floor. There isn't a hard rule as to weight for led vs fluoro. it depends on the fixture.

If its a permanent installation, why care about weight? If you are wanting dual-purpose green screen and portable lights, i'd look hard at cool-lights portable units. Mine have been worry free for years.

cheers!
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Old February 20th, 2012, 03:42 AM   #5
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Re: Is there any reason to go LED over Fluorescent?

It all depends on your filming needs but LEDs have a portability advantage. A light can be the best light in the world but without electricity it's useless. LEDs allow you slap on a battery and forget, you can use them in confined spaces even place smaller units in weird places to add some dynamic lighting to a scene. LEDs don't have the widest light spectrum but they are the future for the mere fact that they are energy efficient. I've already replaced most of my lights in the house with LED alternatives.
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