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Old March 6th, 2012, 05:38 AM   #1
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$2,000 Lighting Kit advice?

Hey Guys,

Well I'm looking to pull together my first lighting kit of my own at the moment (I've always rented in the past) and was hoping I might be able to call on your collective expertise. I currently only own 2 lighting stands, 1 umbrella, and 3 little Z96 LED lights, so I'm basically starting from scratch.

I've been scouring the lighting sub-forum for weeks now and I think I've finally got a bit more of an idea for what I want to do, but I wanted to my thoughts past you guys first.

I was hoping to have $3000 to spend on my lighting gear initially, but camera support gear is eating into my budget further than I'd hoped and it looks like I've now only got $2000 to spend for the moment.


I'll be shooting a range of projects, from basic commercials and marketing/promotional videos, to educational videos, and I hope some more creative narrative productions and music videos as well.

The $2000 will need to cover all of my lighting gear, including stands, clamps, power boards/cords, diffusion, gels, cutters and reflectors. So I really need to plan things effectively to get the most out of the few dollars I have available.

In the past I've always used basic hard lights (generally redheads, blondes and the occasional deed) with scrims and gels for most of my lighting, but I've always found the heat they generate and the time required to scrim and gel them to taste has made things time-consuming when running with small 2-3 men crews on the shoots I normally do (I also tend to prefer softer, more diffused lighting for digital video).

Now a large part of the reason for buying my own gear is to expand my business and the scale of the productions I work on (i.e. shoot with larger crews) But given the small scale of most of my productions at the moment, portability and speed are big considerations, so I'm particularly keen on incorporating LED fixtures with V-mount batteries to save on setup times.

Here's the basic setup I was thinking of purchasing:

- 2x Cool Lights Portable 4x55w Flos (with tungsten and daylight lamps for both) $898
- 2x Chinese 700 LED bi-colour lights - $550 (New 700 LED lights with color temp adjustment)
- 2x Globalmediapro 95WH V-mount batteries + mini-charger - $333 (are these any good? Globalmediapro Li95S Lithium ion V-Mount (V-Lock) Battery 95WH )

This leaves me with a couple of hundred dollars to scrape together the gels, scrims, -1/8 greens (for the LEDs), reflectors, diffusers and cutters I'll need (if anyone can recommend good DIY or cheap sources for these bits, it'd be much appreciated). My three existing little Z96 LEDs I plan to use mostly for accenting and highlighting my backgrounds.

At this stage I'm thinking I'll simply rent more powerful hard lights when I really need them, and might grab a couple of basic work lights for blasting the outsides of buildings etc.

What do you think guys? Does this sound like a sensible kit to get started with? Would you change anything up?

Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers
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Old March 6th, 2012, 07:32 AM   #2
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Re: $2,000 Lighting Kit advice?

I own the coollights flos and an speak to their build quality. It's not a kino, but it's a fraction of the cost and way better than most low cost junk out there. No perceptible green spike either.

Now for LEDs, I've used both litepanels and arri units with the arris wiping the floor with the litepanels. Since the budget is limited would it make more sense to get a coollights hmi or two and continue to rent the battery powered Arri LEDs (they are fairly inexpensive to rent) when you know you'll be pressed for time/power? I just fear you'll be throwing $$ away with the really cheap LEDs. Maybe get one of a more moderately priced unit?

Just a few thoughts after going through a similar budget allocation.
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Old March 6th, 2012, 09:17 AM   #3
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Re: $2,000 Lighting Kit advice?

Mark, I know you want to eschew hard lights, but going with all soft sources will limit your lighting to being very, very close to the subject. I'm thinking you'll end up with a nice interview setup, but struggle when you really need to light up a space, or more that a couple of people, head to toe.

We all know that when manufacturers talk about a "1k equivalent" of soft light, that's really only true a few feet away from the soft light. But you can throw 1k of hard light an awful long ways, or soften it up when you need to.

Maybe you're OK with just renting bigger, harder lights when you need them. But you mentioned bigger productions and larger crews, so I'm curious just how large of a space you can light with your budget and your penchant for soft light.
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Old March 6th, 2012, 09:52 AM   #4
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Re: $2,000 Lighting Kit advice?

Mark,
I guess the $50 slow charger is not an option? These led's are more but have a better cri. I've been looking at a similar setup as you are.

LED light
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Old March 6th, 2012, 02:13 PM   #5
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Re: $2,000 Lighting Kit advice?

I don't think scrims are going to help with that lighting set-up regardless, and I think you'll find you won't have as much control as you want for flags and things regardless...
But if you'd rather have something than nothing, as far as flags go there's not much to it-- you just need something that doesn't let light through-- this weekend i was on a shoot where we ran out of materials, I was busy so I just asked a PA to see what he could do... I come back in twenty minutes and there's a pizza box hanging from the ceiling on strips of tape. Worked just fine.
Find or build a frame (speed rail should do it if you can get or make the right size) and some cloth from a fabric store should get you going.
Best thing about this is, once you have your frame, you can either clip the fabric to it for a flag, or get diffusion sheets and clip those to it-- whatever you need.

The things to consider are since you're using such a soft light source, you'll need very big flags to help control it. Also, the biggest limiting factor here is probably going to be stands. The pizza box worked for me because I had everything set up and knew I wouldn't have to move that light... you'll rarely be so lucky so you'll need a solid stand that can be easily moved to the right place. I've tried PVC pipe stands before and while they'll work if they have to, you don't have much control over where the flags go... they also don't fold. So that's where I'd put my money as far as controlling the light goes-- some relatively quality stands with a gobo head and arm.

As for the reflectors, bead board or foam core from your local art store should get you by on the cheap. Probably want to buy a few clamps to mount them to stands though.

Last edited by Alex Payne; March 6th, 2012 at 02:14 PM. Reason: typo
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Old March 6th, 2012, 06:44 PM   #6
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Re: $2,000 Lighting Kit advice?

Thank you kindly for the suggestions guys.

Brian, the reach of the soft lights is perhaps my biggest concern, however most of my interior shoots are done at fairly close range anyway, so I'll see how I go for the moment. If it's substantially more limited than I need then I'll find the extra to add a used HMI or Fresnel.

Greg I'm already factoring in the cheaper $50 charger for the v-mounts. As for the LEDs, most of the commentary and recommendations I've heard so far suggest that having adjustable colour temperatures is the most important factor in getting desired results from them, so I think I'll avoid straight daylight LEDs.
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Old March 7th, 2012, 08:43 AM   #7
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Re: $2,000 Lighting Kit advice?

I'd do 2 Flo lights and a 650/300/150 fresnel kit, but make sure you spend some money on decent stands, not free ones that get included with kits.

For what it's worth, I own both color temp adjustable and daylight LEDs. Most people never need the adjustability if they have a few gels in their kit. Your needs may vary though.
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Old March 7th, 2012, 09:06 AM   #8
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Re: $2,000 Lighting Kit advice?

I rent Dylan's LED lights and ONLY take out the colour temp adjustable ones. I'm "too old" to carry gels and try to figure out how to mount them to lights so they don't make noise anymore...

But, I shoot verite doc-style stuff and don't colour grade much (no Magic Bullet for me...)

But... Gels are cheap. Something to be said about saving money by "deleting" adjustable colour and adding gels and another light IF you actually know how gels and colour temp works in the first place... Always amazed how few video makers understand light adequately... (last statement not aimed at anyone in this discussion of course. Just a general musing...
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Old March 7th, 2012, 05:20 PM   #9
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Re: $2,000 Lighting Kit advice?

Good call on the LEDs. My buddy bought the Ikan 312 color-adjustable one and he loves it. He can get footage with just that and his DLSR on-location doing quick interviews of tight-shot faces in offices and labs without much fuss or setup time. Sometimes he'll use a window or practical as fill, and dial the thing in until the WB looks right.
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Old March 7th, 2012, 06:23 PM   #10
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Re: $2,000 Lighting Kit advice?

Cheers fellas, I've always found the light falloff with LEDs so rapid, that I prefer to keep any kind gels I put front of them limited to diffusion.

I guess my bigger question at the moment, is whether I should get the 2 Cool Light Flos at this stage, or just start with one and put that $500 towards other lighting gear?

I haven't lit with kino flo style lights before, so I'm not sure if having 2 is necessary at this stage.
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Old March 9th, 2012, 03:38 PM   #11
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Re: $2,000 Lighting Kit advice?

Just get 2 Flo lights... :)

You should look at the Stellar Flo lights. DVEstore.com (forum sponsor) sells them. I own a cart load of them. Review here:
Stellar Flo Light – Kinoflo Diva clone review DSLR and Video Gear Reviews From The Battlefield
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Old March 11th, 2012, 10:36 PM   #12
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Re: $2,000 Lighting Kit advice?

Cheers Dylan,

They look pretty good. Have you found any way to work around the bulbs being hard to change? I intend to simply change out tungsten and daylight balanced lamps as I need them, so if it's a real chore, that might present some issues.
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Old March 12th, 2012, 03:11 PM   #13
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Re: $2,000 Lighting Kit advice?

They aren't hard to change, just the clips are a little fiddly. You could use elastic bands instead of the plastic clips maybe.

I should point out, you don't need the clips to hold the bulbs in place, it's just extra security. If you're minding your own gear you may be fine without them and then it becomes a very easy swap.
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