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Old February 18th, 2012, 09:46 AM   #1
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2012 Where are we at? E27 CFL vs Kino light quality

I've spent probably 8 hours a day for the past week reading everything I can find about fluorescent video lighting, and when it comes down to the stuff that really matters... the quality of the light, I see LOTS of opinions, but very little solid info.

Bottom line: I'm about to purchase a good deal of lighting and looking for very even, diffuse light for a large greenscreen (15'x8' plus floor)

I am looking into the various diva type fixtures since they can use real kino tubes if necessary, but really, the simplest and BY FAR the cheapest thing would be to just order a bunch of the multiple screw base fixtures where each has it's own switch, and is encased in a huge softbox.

Something generally like this:

If I have 5-7 bulbs in each fixture, and get something like 24x36 inch softboxes for max diffusion, It will still cost less than 1/3 what it would to do the even the chinese knockoff divas. If the total output is not high enough, no big deal, I'll buy more.

Really, it all comes down to one thing.


Not looking to MATCH kino perse... just looking for overall light quality that is on par.

That's the bottom line. If so, I'll scoop up a bunch of them in a heartbeat and pay any amount for the bulbs. If not, then I need to skip that approach entirely and focus on the tube fixtures.

Any input greatly appreciated as much of the info to be found is outdated, and sorely lacking in objectivity and measurement.

Interested in color temperature, flicker rate, and overall spectrum, spikes, etc.

Don't care about build quality. These lights will never travel, and I don't expect kino quality for a bazillionth of the price... just asking about light quality.

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Old February 19th, 2012, 09:34 AM   #2
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Re: 2012 Where are we at? E27 CFL vs Kino light quality

I've worked in green screen studios from bedrooms to huge production facilities. I've seen all kinds of crazy homebrew stuff work. Your e27 softboxes would probably work.

However, I'd look hard at 4' fluoro fixtures. They produce way more light than cfl, are already physically large so you don't need to build a soft box to create a larger source, and you can buy electronic ballast fixtures at home depot for dirt cheap. (although trial and error to find a flicker free ballast may be needed, newer electronic ballasts are more and more flicker free by design.) Many of the daylight bulbs produce "pretty darn good light" although you can get the best in coatings by buying kino brand bulbs. (6 for $99 at bh).

If you are just lighting the back wall, any old bulb will do. In fact, the green spike of cheap bulbs works to your advantage. Lighting a full body set is different. Often people use a wide distribution of overhead lights to minimize floor shadows (often going too far, as a person floating with no shadow is weird and most keying apps handle shadows well). However, the lights from the side are less often just big and soft and flat. You usually want to sculpt the light more to make the talent look nicer and to match scenes you are compositing into. A hard rim looks nice and helps clarify the key as well.

I have a portable full body screen that I light with "diva" class lights. In fact, i bought a pair of cool light 2x 55w fluoros specifically for that purpose (and they work great.) However, i also wish i could easily rig a light overhead and often fire an hmi into the ceiling to simulate that. That said, it is my belief that lighting the screen and lighting the talent should be treated as much as possible as two separate tasks. The goals are kinda contradictory.

my 2c anyways. Hope that helps or something!
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Old February 20th, 2012, 05:35 PM   #3
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Re: 2012 Where are we at? E27 CFL vs Kino light quality

OK, thx.

Certaiinly the tubes have some advantages... not the least of which is known entities in the bulb department.

I'm really surpriseed at the lack of info out there considering the pricepoints.

For instance, these:

ColorMaster 93 CRI Fluorescent Bulb, 50 Watt - SP50/955K

are available a few places including B&H. 50 watters can be found for around $22, 30 watters around $14.

Claimed cri is 93, and the few posts I have found say the true temp is as claimed at 5500. But that's it. I can't dig up any discussion at all from people who have used them.

Softbox thing is still way cheaper than even the "chino" diva type fixtures I've found. I could go the full home depot route, but I'm really not looking to have a building project on my hands for the next month... and that's after spending something like 50 hours researching the fiddly bits.

Basically at this point, I'm trying to decide between mainly something like this:


or the multi switch 5-7 bulb per fixture cfl type with enormous softboxes (haha... I'm losing my mind... thinking about the 4footx6foot ones)

I'd tend to think that softboxes that big would be softest option of all.

I definitely think I'm going to need more than 5 points total. Probably more like 7. If I'm ok with softboxes that are something like 18x28 inches and 5 sockets per fixture, I can get 6 points delivered for (stands, softboxes, fixtures, and bulbs) for under $400. I'm assuming I'll want to replace their bulbs with the highest quality compacts I can find, though.

Some of the sites are REALLY bad about their info. I inquired from Cowboy Studio about their chino fixtures and got the reply back that they have no clue what a ballast is, and no idea which bulbs they are including.

Scary. As far as I can tell, all they do is sell lighting rigs and other camera gear.

Does anyone have any real info about some of the claims of these newer spirals?

Has anyone actually tested the bluemax bulbs, colormaster, etc? Only real info I could dig up on bluemax said their claimed color temp was off.

Really seems to be a lot going for the lowly Phillips TL950 bulb. If it really is better than any available spiral, and on par with kinos, then I should probably ditch both other options and Home Depot me some t8 fixtures since they're so cheap.

Edit to add: Oh, and btw... so far, I've got 2 videos storyboarded and ready to go. One is meant to be surrreal with weirdo backgrounds, and the other is a Roger Rabbit people in a cartoon world kind of thing, so not too concerned about matching background lighting... just want very even lighting everywhere. That may change later, though, so good stuff to keep in mind. Also wondering though... I'm using a greenscreen that comes out 12' on the floor too, so I'm thinking that using different lighting with more green spike or whatever for background would only end up causing a greater difference in light values captured from screen on wall vs screen on floor... another reason I'm thinking I should just keep soft even tones everywhere.
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Old February 22nd, 2012, 07:05 AM   #4
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Re: 2012 Where are we at? E27 CFL vs Kino light quality

Read some good stuff lately about dispersion patterns... most of light from cfls coming from side (which makes those umbrella setups a bit of a joke)

Anyway, certainly does drive the point home about how a t5 with a nano reflector is being MUCH more efficient than a spiral in any semi-reflective softbox.

Still, though, did some number crunching this morning, and even if the bulbs were $50 or more apiece, it would still be cheaper to just get more of the softboxex.

After all, for $189 for three fixtures with softboxes and stands (and bulbs, though still not sure I'd like their bulbs)... does it really matter that they're not bright enough if I can just order twice as many and still save money?

Fancierstudio has some piss-poor customer service, though. I've contacted them multiple times over the past week saying I'm ready to buy now if I can just get two basic questions answered since their listings are a bit lean on real info. No response at all. A couple thousand bucks burning a hole in my pocket, and zero response to multiple contacts. Called during business hours too... got generic voicemail message.

Oh, well. Even if I order from somewhere else, the basic math is similar. A lot of the bigger fixtures that have 7 or more sockets per fixture only have a few switches. The ones that are 5 per have 5 switches, so max control per lighting. Really, anything over 4 may be a waste, though, since most of the light is coming out of the sides, and 5 sockets means one is in the middle. For these and economic reasons, if the cfl thing works out, I'm thinking more softboxes with 4-5 sockets each would be the way to go.

Also, if the point is the softest light possible, then more sources is better, right?

I can't help but be intrigued by some of the enormous softboxes out there... up to 4x6 feet. I wonder if the size really makes a difference beyond a certain point.

Anyway, getting off track. Anyone got some real info on any of the cfl's in terms of flicker rate, color rendering, spectrum, etc? Yes, I know... they're not as bright... but I'm not as concerned about that part.

Elko has one that claims 93 cri that I just cant find any info for anywhere.
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Old February 22nd, 2012, 11:17 AM   #5
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Re: 2012 Where are we at? E27 CFL vs Kino light quality

Originally Posted by Greg Stout View Post

Do a search for CFLs from Westcott, Alzo, and even BlueMax. There are undoubtedly others too.I use the BlueMax CFLs for practicals since they come in small wattages -- they aren't "instant on" and take a minute or two to warm up. Not a problem, but something to know if you use them.
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Old February 22nd, 2012, 11:40 AM   #6
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Re: 2012 Where are we at? E27 CFL vs Kino light quality

Well, that's the thing. I have searched. That's an understatement. I've pretty much read every search result for:


and more others than I can count... thousands of pages of reading in total.

And there's really not that much out there. The few more in depth discussions have had negative things to say about BlueMax... that it's WAY above the 5600k color temp range, etc.

Westcotts: Just not much info out there. Like most of them, there are a number of general statements from random people saying things like "I like them."

Real info, though, about flicker issues, actual color temperature, or actual charts or discussion by professionals used to the top of the line fluoro systems is hard to come by... and I seriously doubt there's much of anything out there on the web on those topics that I haven't read at this point.

Still, much of it is outdated. There are bulbs now that are relatively new where I can't find a single discussion anywhere about them.

The Elko supposedly 93cri bulb, for instance. Others refer to bulbs whose companies are nowhere to be found.

Basically looking for a critical look at these vs something like kino. Bottom line is I'll build my own kinos if necessary and match them spec for spec... unless I can get similar results with the screw base kind... which would save me a good chunk of money, and be less cobbled together than my reworking of home depot fixtures.

So what I'm looking for is along the lines of:

I usually use kinos, but a friend had some westcott spider lites, so we decided to test them and here's what we found... that kind of thing. Are the mfr specs accurate? Is there anything about them that does not measure up to something like a diva lite? If so, what? Again, I've found lots of general opinions tossed around, but it's also obvious that half the people tossing them around haven't even used these different bulbs.

As for the warmup bit, thx. Helpful stuff. Certainly not a dealbreaker for me.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 11:17 AM   #7
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Re: 2012 Where are we at? E27 CFL vs Kino light quality

Well, I've reached the point where there's just nothing left to research for any of the google terms used.

... and yet real info is slim.

Several of the favorites mentioned in other threads apparently no longer exist.

I know there must be folks out there who have used the spiral and tube types of various sorts that have info to share about accuracy of color temp, color rendering, etc.

What about flicker? I know I can fix it with a decent ballast for t8 or t5, but what about the screw types?

Ready to buy a BUNCH of fixtures, and I've decided to go with all the same bulb so I can dial in any adjustments across the board.

Still torn between cfl and tube route, though.

Who can weigh in on this?
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Old February 24th, 2012, 07:22 AM   #8
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Re: 2012 Where are we at? E27 CFL vs Kino light quality

If your looking for a ready to use solution that looks and feels like a quality product, has a track record of good performance, and won't break the bank, I'd go with the CoolLights. I have a 4x55 and 2x55 studio style instruments and can attest to the quality of the light from them.
As to your CFL question, Bruce gave you what you were asking for.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 08:54 AM   #9
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Re: 2012 Where are we at? E27 CFL vs Kino light quality

He did?

He said do a search. (which would have been very helpful too if I hadn't already searched those names... which I didn't specify in my first post.)

Before I even asked, I had already searched everything I can find for every brand mentioned and many more (literally thousands of posts) and still have near zero info from people who have really used the various spirals, done any kind of testing, or can give any kind of meaningful comparison to the known entity tubes.

As for the cool lights, as near as I can tell, they're a clone of several others out there (all of which sell for significantly less) As to the bulbs since that's the topic at hand, their site goes to great lengths to give the impression these are their proprietary bulbs. Most sites do the same thing. It's very rare to find anyone selling these things that will actually tell you which bulbs they're buying in bulk and reselling. They may possibly be rebranded (as several other shops do), but I just don't see economies of scale that would warrant their becoming a bulb manufacturer.

Hard to tell which model the bulbs are since "made in China" could refer to a number of things. As far as I can tell, though, they appear to be similar to Osram 954's included with many of the other clones available at half the price (for the fixtures, not the individual bulbs). I'll leave the whole 88 vs 93 claimed CRI thing alone as it's probably loaded in more ways than one. It's probably splitting hairs anyway as both bulbs appear to be in the same general league in terms of light quality. Prices aren't though. For the price they have listed for a single non dimming 6 bank with no extras, I could get two with stands and all hardware. Anyway, yeah... I feel pretty confident at this point that any of the chino diva types with decent enough bulbs would work well. Price-point-wise, though, the softboxes certainly cast a strong illusion of value if nothing else. Really can't compute the output, though and would greatly appreciate any info from someone who has measured it.

Looking to buy in next couple days. Does anyone have any real info about either measurements they've done with specific spirals, or comparisons they can make to the known tubes?

oh, and btw, Andrew... some nice points. Point taken about a bit harder rim helping the key, adding definition, etc. Question, though, if I were to use one of these without the diffuser, wouldn't the light be even a bit more concentrated than the diva type lights... so I'd be able to do a bit harder edge if desired by removing the diffusers, right? Not knocking the chinos, btw.... they seem like a great option too. Just wondering whether I can get a somewhat similar output with 5 of the 85 watt spirals in a fixture that can turn each one on and off for greater control over levels.

Speaking of which... anyone got some sort of ballpark for what the output would be for 5 of the 85 watt spirals in a softbox? Way too many wildcard variables in there for me to try and calculate it... hoping someone has measured something similar and can ballpark it. thx.

Last edited by Greg Stout; February 24th, 2012 at 10:42 AM.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 07:11 AM   #10
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Re: 2012 Where are we at? E27 CFL vs Kino light quality

FWIW, I went with the 4 bank 4' kinos. They are not cheap, but I love the idea of being able to
switch lamps for various color temps. We have a 40'Wx20'H composite component screen.
Six kinos cover that *screen* pretty well - could use two more to make sure there's no fall off at the edges AND I am hoping to get six MORE for front/floor light. They put out a ton of light for the watts.

Right now, we hang a white scrim 20x10' and hit that with 2Ks flooded for diffuse front light, and then use 2K side lights on stands for sculpting.

Remember, you want SMOOTH, so the larger the source the smoother the light. We hang the kino's about
a two feet apart from each other. That is why I would not go with 2' lamped instruments if I had a choice.
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