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Old October 18th, 2014, 01:04 PM   #1
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Cheap Lights: Of these options, which would you choose?

Hi All:

I need to throw together a quick lighting kit for my own personal use—mainly for shooting interviews. I won't use it more than a few times a year, so it can be light-duty (not professional-grade). I've done a ton of research so am aware of most of the common options. I've narrowed it down to a few options, and having trouble deciding which way to go?


OPTION A:
• cheap round clip-on work lights like these:
http://www.amazon.com/Woods-0151-8-5...rds=clip+light
• 100W equivalent daylight CF bulbs in the work lights (one site recommended painting the inside of the work lights white)
• some cheap light stands like these:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...A2L2IBCOJNQSLR
• some clothespins and diffuser

OPTION B:
A ready-to-shoot cheapie 3-light kit like this one...
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...A2ZZIT1M65460C

OPTION C:
A cheap pair of Cowboy Studio soft boxes like these:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...73CLC1YCCGTYBI

---
All of these options come out costing roughly the same.
Which option would you choose, and why?

Thanks!
Scott
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Old October 19th, 2014, 11:58 AM   #2
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Re: Cheap Lights: Of these options, which would you choose?

If you are taking these to a client, then a professional appearance is almost as important as the final results. That would make me lean towards the softbox units. Don't expect great color accuracy or brightness, but at least you'll have a very flattering source light to begin with.

If it's for home use, there are plenty of cheap DIY solutions, but I wouldn't let any paying customers see them. If you're planning on doing more of these for paying clients in the future, then invest in one good light and modifier that can grow with you into a full kit. The lowel kits are popular for their price, size and reliability.
I started with those, and now I lean more towards the LED daylight-balanced units.

To me, it's like any other tool in your kit, sometimes you'll want a screwdriver, sometimes you'll need an impact wrench. The more shoots you do, the better you'll be able to figure out what works best for your particular needs.

Don't forget to check ebay/craigslist or even flea markets for used lighting gear. For the cost of a bulb, you can usually use pro lights for decades.
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Old October 19th, 2014, 12:07 PM   #3
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Re: Cheap Lights: Of these options, which would you choose?

It's not in your list but I got a Datavision Reporter LED Lighting Kit which is 400 pound including a professional rolling case with foam insert, I used it for the first time yesterday and have it more then a year :) but will be using it more in the future, for the price it's an excellent lighting kit.

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Old October 19th, 2014, 02:28 PM   #4
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Re: Cheap Lights: Of these options, which would you choose?

Thanks for the thoughts! I guess I was half-hoping someone might have already used some of these cheap light kits and could offer some firsthand opinions.

Your point, Oren, about looking like a pro for the client is valid. On the other hand, most clients I've worked with would have absolutely no clue what looks professional and what doesn't. :-) That, and I always enjoy blowing clients away by giving them a high-quality end product using mostly low-end equipment. (Again, the kind of clients I'm talking about would never, ever hire a serious, high-end production company to produce a video.)

Scott

PS - A common complaint I read in reviews of cheap gear is that it won't hold up under daily, professional use. In my experience, cheap gear can hold up well _IF_ it's treated with care (which I always do). I've been amazed sometimes at how other professionals I see will literally throw their gear (from 5 feet away) at a gear bag, LOL. I guess if you handle gear like that, then yeah—it better be bombproof! :-)
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Old October 20th, 2014, 09:21 AM   #5
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Re: Cheap Lights: Of these options, which would you choose?

The results matter. When you know how to light for an interview, a softbox will give you professional looking results. Harsh shadows from cheap fixtures won't look good. eBay is your friend here.
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Old October 20th, 2014, 10:57 AM   #6
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Re: Cheap Lights: Of these options, which would you choose?

Scott, I bought the same item as this (Amazon.com) - Amazon.com : LimoStudio Photo Video Studio 2400 Watt Softbox Continuous Light Kit with Overhead Head Light Boom Kit, 2 x Softbox Light Kit, 1 x Softbox Light Kit on Boom Kit, All Light Boxes Come with 4 x 45 Watt 6500K CFL Total 12 Bulbs, Carrying Ca but from Amazon.co.uk (I paid the same amount but in 's) - I did a review here - http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-revi...DateDescending

They work fine (check the bulbs as soon as it arrives!), mine were fused at both the head and the plug but no mention of this in the US Amazon ad, they give a reasonable light output although you might want to add a touch of 'warmth' in editing.

I also bought a second set of two similar lights complete with green screen background and support from eBay for around 65UKP.

As you mention, they wouldn't stand up to full time pro use but for the use I needed them for they'll be ideal, at the price I paid if they last a year I'll be happy, used with care they should last longer!

bit more info here: http://www.foxvideo.co.uk/blog/files...afeade-87.html
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Old October 21st, 2014, 02:39 PM   #7
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Re: Cheap Lights: Of these options, which would you choose?

Thanks Dave.

I ended up purchasing this 30"x30" softbox from PBL:
Amazon.com : PHOTO VIDEO STUDIO LIGHTING CONTINUOUS LIGHTING KIT VARIABLE OUTPUT 1000 WATTS : Photographic Lighting Soft Boxes : Camera & Photo

After some study, I opted for the single, larger, more powerful softbox than the kits with 2 smaller, weaker softboxes.

I had the light delivered overnight for a mere $11 (worth it since I have a shoot tomorrow), for $136 total. Just unpacked, inspected, and assembled it—everything is fine, no issues at all.

1000 watts with variable output (dimmer knob). After a quick test, I'm completely happy with it. As you mentioned Dave, it might not handle daily professional use, but I'll only use it several times a year, and I have no doubt it'll work beautifully for my purposes.

Bottom line? Not everything you buy cheaply on Amazon is crap. Everything depends on your intended use. And for occasional professional use or one-time setup and use in a studio, this $136 softbox probably offers 90% (or more) of the light quality of a far more expensive Chimera. :-)

Scott
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