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Old November 6th, 2012, 02:55 PM   #1
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3 point lighting kits - Digital Juice or Lowel

I'm looking to make my first investment into some mid-ranged lighting options, (moving up from hardware store clamp lights) and I would like to see if I can get some advise first.It seems like to get any half way decent kit, I'll have to spend something in the $1000 range. Ok, fine. I just want to make sure I'm investing wisely.

My first stop has been with the Digital Juice Helios 3 point lighting kit. These look good from the site, like cheaper knock-offs of Arri lights, they also come with stands, scrims, barn doors, and a soft carrying bag. Two 650's and a 300 watt are good enough.

The other option I've been looking at is the Lowel DP3 jr. kit. It comes with 3 - 1K watt lights, they are not fresnel faced, they look a little weird, but carry the reliable Lowel name. The come with a bunch of accessories including a durable hard carrying case.

Same price (about) for both kits. Can anyone comment from experience on either of these kits, or recommend any others for starting out?
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Old November 6th, 2012, 02:59 PM   #2
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Re: 3 point lighting kits - Digital Juice or Lowel

by the way, I defiantly have my creative work always in the back of my mind (shooting music video's, narrative shorts, etc.), but frankly it's commercial work that will pay the bills. Assuming equal quality on both kits, I think that two 650's and a 300 would be most practical for low budget commercial work, often interview subjects.

However, just getting a softbox probably would meet most of my needs (again interviews), and maybe that's where I should start...
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Old November 6th, 2012, 04:45 PM   #3
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Re: 3 point lighting kits - Digital Juice or Lowel

I've got an ARRI 3-light kit (650, 300, 150) with a small softbox for the 650. It works great for interviews, though I would also like to have more light to cover backgrounds.

One trick is to put a gel or colored foil on the floor and to bounce light off of that for the background. Since the gel/foil is uneven, it reflects colored patterns on the wall that can be very attractive for interviews. I've tried the 150 as a background light, but it doesn't work at all. To get enough light from it, it needs to be too close and then it doesn't have enough span. Move it back for even coverage and it's too weak.

With two 650s and a 300, you could do a softbox on a 650 for the fill, a naked 300 for the key, and a background bounce with the remaining 650. Adding a 150 (or 300) would provide a hair light. Of course, you can always find a background that doesn't need lights. In that case a 650 w/softbox, 300 key, and 300/150 hair light might be the better combo than two 650s.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 02:55 AM   #4
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Re: 3 point lighting kits - Digital Juice or Lowel

Usually for interviews you can get away with a photoflex reflector/5-in-1 reflecting the softbox/key for fill. They run about $65 for a 42", have the option of gold, silver, white, black and translucent (like a silk). Unless your client demands your key/fill be equal (flat) or nearly so, the reflector is usually enough to fill, especially the silver side.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 03:29 AM   #5
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Re: 3 point lighting kits - Digital Juice or Lowel

I'm old school, and would if faced with the choice above, go for the Fresnels. The Chinese ones are actually quite nice - although I note they're now selling the same thing with an LED light engine. Sadly, the only downside to the tungstens is the heat. I'd certainly be looking at LED versions - although beware that some of the Chinese LEDs don't have any beam angle adjustment and worse, despite the Fresnel label - they're not, using the plastic microgroove Fresnel panels which don't give the same soft edges. The ones using the old 1K housing still use glass proper Fresnels - these are maybe going to be a bit over on the budget - but worth considering.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 09:03 AM   #6
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Re: 3 point lighting kits - Digital Juice or Lowel

Never been disappointed with my Lowel Omni kit. It provides a choice of modifiers and bulbs, including 12 volt DC.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 09:55 AM   #7
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Re: 3 point lighting kits - Digital Juice or Lowel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Henry Kenyon View Post
Never been disappointed with my Lowel Omni kit..
I for one have never understood the "love affair" with Omnis. The "donut hole" drives me crazy. Although I DID have a great discussion with Guy Cochran of DVEStore (a DVInfo sponsor) a couple of years ago in a cab back from the NAB show floor about them... Guy is (or was... this was 2010...) quite fond of them... And one can't argue with the flexibility of the Lowel accessories system...
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Old November 7th, 2012, 09:55 AM   #8
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Re: 3 point lighting kits - Digital Juice or Lowel

I've never used the DJ lights so I can't speak to their quality but I like the versatility of having Fresnels and soft boxes in those cases when I need soft lighting. Like you I do corporate shoots/interviews for a lot of my paid work. I also do a lot of independent movies which don't make a lot of money, but from a creative standpoint, a lot more challenging and rewarding. So, focused hard lighting is very important for me.

Another one to look at are Cool Lights. They have a couple of very affordable Tungsten light kits. I'm not a fan of the stands that come with most kits, too light weight, but I would almost always prefer using C-stands. I've got the CDM light from Cool Lights and have found them to give very high light quality. While they aren't the most rugged pieces of equipment they have stood up well. The plastic light stand adapter on both the DJ and Cool Lights (and almost all other cheap lights) is prone to fail. The first thing I did was change all of my lights to something like these
Avenger E390 TVMP Yoke to Baby (5/8") Stand Adapter E390
.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 05:05 PM   #9
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Re: 3 point lighting kits - Digital Juice or Lowel

You at the beginning of assembling your lighting kit. Don't buy a kit thinking it has all you need. It won't. My kit began with Lowel Omni's but added some real fresnels and other lights over time.

All that said, I recommend you budget a softbox of some kind from the get-go. They make some that can be attached to Lowel Tota and Omni lights with a speed ring. But the Rifa EX series are hard to beat for versatility (convert fast from tungsten to flo) and portability.

This article by a well known NY lighting guru may be a good read for you: Light Kit
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Old November 7th, 2012, 05:52 PM   #10
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Re: 3 point lighting kits - Digital Juice or Lowel

If you're doing mostly interviews I'd agree with Les and budget for at least one soft box. I've got two that fit my 650 Fresnels.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 06:00 PM   #11
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Re: 3 point lighting kits - Digital Juice or Lowel

If a softbox isn't in the budget at first, get a stand and reflector (or some foam core) and bounce the light.

In fact, I'd be curious to compare the efficacy of a box vs. a bounce. Softboxes aren't close to 100% efficient. For all I know, a bounce off of a good reflector or card actually delivers more light. Could it be that we buy softboxes because they look cooler and are marketed to us?

Once set up, a softbox is certainly easier to control. Just place and aim and you get nearly zero unwanted spill. With a bounce, you have two elements and the potential for spill. Also, you can get a box closer to the talent without entering the frame. But building up and tearing down a softbox takes time. If you need it for one setup, maybe a bounce takes less time. If you will use it for multiple setups, a box probably gets you there quicker.

Someday, I'll get around to testing the two solutions to see how they compare in light efficacy. Anybody already have some data?
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Old November 7th, 2012, 06:33 PM   #12
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Re: 3 point lighting kits - Digital Juice or Lowel

I got rid of my bounce. It's cumbersome to transport and requires another stand. The Rifa opens like an umbrella. But for me, a softbox is all about controlling spill... especially with egg crates.
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Old November 21st, 2012, 07:33 PM   #13
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Re: 3 point lighting kits - Digital Juice or Lowel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Roemich View Post
I for one have never understood the "love affair" with Omnis. The "donut hole" drives me crazy. Although I DID have a great discussion with Guy Cochran of DVEStore (a DVInfo sponsor) a couple of years ago in a cab back from the NAB show floor about them... Guy is (or was... this was 2010...) quite fond of them... And one can't argue with the flexibility of the Lowel accessories system...
I vaguely remember that cab ride...so I'm betting it was after a few drinks :)
Bang for buck 500 watts focusable with barn doors, it's tough to beat the Lowel Omni at that price point. The Lowel DP is 1000 watts. Drop it, kick it, slam it on a c-stand. Still works. Toss a tota frame on and gel it to any color. I use it with one of those router speed control units from Harbor Freight. Makes for a great dimmer. LED's are great, but a lot of the cheap stuff that is out on the market has a purple / magenta / blue tinge to it. Tungsten bulbs have a CRI of 100. I've seen some pro material with that color cast and just cringe. I'm glad that Lowel waited to jump into the LED game. Their lights are accurate Color Temperature & Color Rendering Index DeMystified
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