Review of iKan S400D dimmable fluorescent now online at DVinfo.net

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Old February 2nd, 2006, 04:06 PM   #1
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Review of iKan S400D dimmable fluorescent now online

Many thanks to Pete Bauer for putting it together.

Please see http://www.dvinfo.net/articles/lighting/ikans400d.php
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Old February 11th, 2006, 07:33 AM   #2
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Earl Thurston e-mailed me to ask if the loose fitting I mentioned in the review involved a lock nut that wasn't tightened down. Posted with Earl's permission:

Regarding your review of the iKan S400D, I was wondering about your problem with the screw-top stand fitting. The photos show that the fitting was provided with a locknut. Were you unable to tighten this with a wrench?

By their nature, locknuts are incredibly tight to fasten down. The rounded end contains a nylon insert that grabs onto the threads of the bolt. This is what keeps the nut from threading back off. If the bolt isn't wound far enough into this insert (as may be the case with the added washers), it may come off too easily.

The whole explanation about the lock nut was a bit lengthy to put in a review, but in case others are also curious about this, here are my expanded coments:

You're exactly correct; it is a lock nut with a plastic binder. My thoughts are that if one intended to more or less indefinitely afix the fitting by wrenching down the lock nut, that would certainly be the most rock-solid thing to do. That said, for those times when the yoke gets a hefty torque applied, metal washers (perhaps thinner than the ones I used so the nut can still be locked down) should still be in place to dissipate the force and prevent warping the fitting or yoke.

But if one has a varied work environment that may call for the fitting to go on and off repeatedly, I don't feel that forcing videographers to wrench a lock nut on and off is a particularly elegant solution...who wants to add a wrench to their video go-bag? So I tried the washers and they did the trick for quick-on, quick-off but, yes, it would be slightly less safe and secure than wrenching down the lock nut.

Overall, the fitting issue is a very small one; just worth a comment, I thought. But a tool-free mount setup would be nice. Mr. Yeung from iKan did mention he would look into it, but I haven't gotten back to him as yet...I know he is really busy putting the finishing touches on his huge new studio location.

Additional comment: I tried to write my review article in a neutral way, so it fairly included the rough spots along with what's great about the light. I'm sure some folks are left wondering, well, words are nice but would YOU buy it? Yes. After the review was finished and turned in to DVinfo, iKan were kind enough to agree to an open-box deal so I could call it my own, and I do plan to buy another iKan light (one of the longer ones like the L400 http://www.ikancorp.com/products_lights.htm, which I figure will be great for evenly lighting a green screen or using as a super-soft key or fill).
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Old February 11th, 2006, 09:50 PM   #3
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It's really an apples-and-oranges contrast, rather than a head-to-head comparison between Divalights and iKan lights. They're very different in their design. As noted in the review, Kino's (much more expensive) Image series is a more similar model to the iKan lights: http://www.kinoflo.com/pdf_bay/manua...g804020_op.pdf. There's nothing wrong at all with Diva's but IMHO their features represent a basic, highly portable light targeting the "small guys." The Image series is much more a studio light. And iKan seems to split the difference.

I don't own any Divalights, but Kino's own web site (http://www.kinoflo.com/pdf_bay/manua...a200400_op.pdf) shows the dimmer being mounted externally to the main light box and doesn't have a distinctly labeled and repeatable setting display. The barndoors are simply an extension of the black corrugated plasticized material from which the light box is made, on two sides only and with limited or no adjustability. Divas don't have internal DMX cabability -- not sure if they can even support it externally (maybe someone who uses Divas can clarify that).

All that aside, you're getting a good deal if you can be ready to throw the switch on a Divalight 400 for $100 less than an iKan S400D, as tubes are sold separately for Kino lights (about $21 x 4)...a Diva kit at B&H goes for $1039 sans tubes, while the iKan with DMX currently goes for $935 with the tubes installed:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ughType=search

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ughType=search

Maybe you can find a special deal on the Diva, but these B&H prices probably represent a typical comparison of cost between these dissimilar lights.

I don't see the Image 40 listed on B&H now, but I recall the price being somewhere in the $1600+ range without barn doors or tubes, although a quick internet search shows a site advertising about $1350 for the bare-bones fixture...from there you'd spend a few hundred more to get the trimmings like barn doors and tubes.

The Image 40 is a larger light with similar lux capability to the Diva 400, and I can't find it on B&H at present. The Image 20, which is listed at B&H at close to the price range we are talking about, has about half the light output, per KinoFlo, of the Diva-Lite 400.

Yet more words on the mounting fitting: it is a standard fitting. My only small gripe was the use of a lock nut to afix the fitting to the light's yoke, and my opinion that it would be prudent to put a washer between the nut and the yoke. Once the fitting is securely attached to the yoke, the light can be easily and properly attached to any standard stand or pipe system -- no differently than any other hardware with standard fittings. And the whole issue wouldn't matter if you plan to leave the fitting on the yoke.

In the end, each type of light best serves a particular type of need, has particular strengths, and particular weaknesses. Relative prices are roughly predictable by assessing features, needed accessories, and as is often the case with our toys and tools, maybe a bit of a "brand name premium." I wouldn't consider any of these lights to be a bad deal, but it isn't quite a one-size-fits-all decision.
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Old February 12th, 2006, 09:24 AM   #4
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Again, as stated in the review, DMX is a $50 choice. If a person wants DMX, he or she can buy the DMX version of an iKan light. If a person knows he or she will never want it, he or she can save $50 and get the iKan that doesn't have the DMX built in.

Any of these lights can be either "Studio lighting" or used on location (at about half the power draw per brightness as compared to using standard lighting with a softbox). It is a light's feature set that tends to draw the subjectively-derived label of "studio" or "location" lights. Although I personally percieve the Kino Image series as being targeted primarily at studio use, there is no reason at all you can't box them up and put them on a stand at a location. Divas seem to be made for location use; you could use them in a studio (and I'd be surprised if they don't live in some studios) but they don't have some design features of higher end models that a studio might require.

If a person can get an especially good deal on a Divalight and it serves his or her puproses, then get a Divalight. In general, though, I think the iKan offers more capability for less money. I'm not a spokesman for iKan; I just tried one of their lights and found I liked it.
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Old February 12th, 2006, 09:51 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Bauer

You're exactly correct; it is a lock nut with a plastic binder. My thoughts are that if one intended to more or less indefinitely afix the fitting by wrenching down the lock nut, that would certainly be the most rock-solid thing to do. That said, for those times when the yoke gets a hefty torque applied, metal washers (perhaps thinner than the ones I used so the nut can still be locked down) should still be in place to dissipate the force and prevent warping the fitting or yoke.

But if one has a varied work environment that may call for the fitting to go on and off repeatedly, I don't feel that forcing videographers to wrench a lock nut on and off is a particularly elegant solution...who wants to add a wrench to their video go-bag? So I tried the washers and they did the trick for quick-on, quick-off but, yes, it would be slightly less safe and secure than wrenching down the lock nut.
This type of lock nut is commonly used on aircraft. As the nut is removed and retightened the nylon gets worn and the nut must be replaced. For portability, it might be preferable to use a wing nut in combination with a lock washer and perhaps a couple of nylon washers to facilitate ease of setup and rotation.
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Old February 12th, 2006, 10:40 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Michael
This type of lock nut is commonly used on aircraft. As the nut is removed and retightened the nylon gets worn and the nut must be replaced. For portability, it might be preferable to use a wing nut in combination with a lock washer and perhaps a couple of nylon washers to facilitate ease of setup and rotation.
Jim, the wing nut and a thin washer is a great idea. Doh! Why didn't I think of that?
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Old February 12th, 2006, 11:52 AM   #7
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Let this be the last comment in this thread on Kino vs iKan. This is becoming a personal attack with half-truth and insinuation, and has nothing to do with the fact that they are both good companies with products of interest to our DVinfo members.

I've posted links to B&H prices as the usual comparator around here, and they show the price spread, except for the Image 40's because I couldn't find them listed currently on B&H. As stated earlier (and just updated in my previous post), the 20's give you much less light; the 40's would be much more expensive -- guessing $1500 or more by the time you got all the bits and tubes. People can look at the links and even do further research themselves. End of that story.

I don't own any Diva-Lites (don't use them and thus am not intimately familiar with them). But yes I have seen them in person in a studio setting, giving me familiarity with their basic construction. The links are there; people can read them for themselves and see what the deal is.

Again, without direct experience handling the iKan light, you can have no idea how the reliability of these various lights compare, and no matter if you're an EE PhD, your self-built hardware experience has no bearing on these products; one of which I'd imagine you've never seen more than pictures of. And iKan agreeing to change the warranty was fully covered in the review. End of those stories, too.

If you want to do comparison testing, get all the lights, do your research and write it up. The community will eat it up.
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Old February 12th, 2006, 12:49 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Bauer
This is becoming a personal attack with half-truth and insinuation.
Just a quick follow-up, as per our policy here at DV Info Net, I have removed all traces of the personal attack that Pete refers to (all the time wondering why some folks insist on posting that kind of garbage here when we clearly do not allow it), and sadly I've had to close this thread.

If anybody *else* has serious questions regarding Pete's review of the iKan light -- that is, shoot me an email and I'll be happy re-open it, and I'm sure Pete will be glad to answer them.

Meanwhile I'll probably append Pete's article with most of his replies above, as they will make an excellent addition to the review (linked in first post at the top of this page).

A final reminder, if you've had no direct experience with a thing -- in this case, the iKan S400D -- if you've only seen pictures of it on the web, in no way does that qualify you to to make an authoritative comment about it one way or the other (which is what led to some posts being removed from this thread). Have some hands-on experience with the iKan light, is all I ask.

Many thanks again to Pete Bauer -- anybody else has a question about the iKan, shoot me an email and we'll put it in here. Much appreciated,
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Old February 17th, 2006, 12:09 AM   #9
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Hooray! We made it to FresHDV!

http://www.freshdv.com/2006/02/revie...ent-light.html
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