Rostronics 1500W Britek kit vs Lowel DV Creator 1 kit at DVinfo.net

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Old March 18th, 2006, 11:11 PM   #1
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Rostronics 1500W Britek kit vs Lowel DV Creator 1 kit

I'm a total amateur looking at buying my very first lighting kit to go with my Z1 and can't decide between the 1500W and 1600W Britek kits from Rostronics or the Lowel kit from B&H.

Including postage to Australia, the prices are pretty similar, and if I were to purchase the Lowel kit in Australia, I'd be looking at spending an extra $800 or so, so I think it's a pretty good price from B&H.

But what are people's experiences with either Britek or Lowel - or what you get from those specific kits for that matter. I'm not really sure what half the stuff is that's listed on the sites anyway so I don't really know what I need or what I'd be getting.

Thanks for your feedback,
-- John.
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Old March 19th, 2006, 01:28 AM   #2
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1- What kind of work do you want to do? Some lights are better at some tasks than others.

For example, if you have to travel a lot, smaller lights are better. The Lowel lights are pretty compact.

For cost, the Britek kits are obviously better.

If you shoot a lot, then the more expensive lights can save you a little more time.

For very controlled shooting scenarios (i.e. narrative films, product protography), the umbrellas may not be that great since you can't control the light very well. I've also found that the Lowel umbrellas lose a lot of light.

If the lights will be rented or used by students, the Lowels aren't that great/durable.

2- You might want to check out some other alternatives:

A- The sticky for low budget lighting is very good. Check the top of this forum for the stickied post.
B- Victor Milt's "nanolights" may be worthwhile to build. Instructions are on his DVD "light it right".
Basically they are dimmable fluorescents (the kind that mimics the incandescent bulb form) in particular arrangements. An easy one is a bunch of fluorescents in a chinese lantern. Y-adapters allow you to stick a bunch in a lantern.
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Old March 19th, 2006, 01:30 AM   #3
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I've used plenty of Lowel, no Rostronics.

The kits you're looking at are pretty different. Here's a couple things that stand out for me.

All these kits are 3 lights. The classic 3-point lighting takes 3 lights. Maybe you're trying to set up to do a one person interview?

Except it frequently takes 4 lights, fill, key, back and background.

Lowel Tota is a bad-ass light for such a small package - broad, bright and difficult to control. Great to have a couple when you need to light a large background, but near-useless in an office interview without additional diffusion. A Tota gets pretty hot, too.

Lowel Omni is a fairly versatile little light. Having a Pro head is good too. Something soft like a Rifa 55 is a real nice key at the right distance.

The Britek kits are nicely configured for the price - a 24" softbox is pretty close to a Rifa 55. I'd try the 1600w kit with the focus control upgrade and a 5-in-1 reflector. Rostronics has gotten good reviews on this forum.

But what are you looking to light? If you've not had experience with lighting before it may be well worth your while to rent for a couple of shoots before buying. Talk with the rental people about what you're shooting and get their recommendations, ask more questions here too...
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Old March 19th, 2006, 01:52 AM   #4
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The 1500w Britek kit was the first light kit I ever bought, and while I don't regret the purchase, the fact is that they're glorified worklights. The problem with open faced lights is that they are hard to control and spill light everywhere. If you have around $1000 to spend, I'd seriously consider looking on eBay for used Mole-Richardson or Arri fresnel lights of the 300, 650, or 1k variety.

Yes, it can be a hassle to cobble together a set of used lights, and yes, you might end up spending more, but there is an amount of control and finesse with these lights that you just can't get with an open faced light. To me, it's the difference between trying to paint with a brush vs. trying to paint with a stick. Even if you're an amateur, you should still have proper tools.

There's also the issue of durability. Professional, metal-casing lights like Mole or Arri will basically last forever--you need to critically damage them to take them out of service. Not so with plastic lights like Britek. They WILL break, even with moderate wear. Within the first year of owning my Britek kit, both c-stands broke and were thrown out, and the tightening handle broke off one of the lights, making it useless for anything except for special uses like handholding or just laying on the ground.

You really get what you pay for with these cheap open faced lights... I highly recommend looking into used Mole or Arri fresnels.
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Old March 19th, 2006, 01:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
1- What kind of work do you want to do?
I'm trying to be an indie filmmaker with my Z1.

I've worked with rented lights before on my last two short films but was not very skilled with them and didn't think too highly of them. I'd really like to have my own simply so that I can familiarize myself with them rather than show up on the day of shooting and try to make sense of their workings.

So I guess I should have specified in advance that that would be my purpose: to use them as an independent filmmaker.
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Old March 21st, 2006, 02:58 PM   #6
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I have the Lowell DV55 kit and really like it. Packs up small throws alot of light and with some dimmer switchs is fairly versitle and easy to control. Just a thought. Holding up pretty well too, but I had to replace the Lowell umbrella right off the bat it was a total POS.
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Old March 21st, 2006, 03:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Hewat
So I guess I should have specified in advance that that would be my purpose: to use them as an independent filmmaker.
Great, that's who you are, what do you shoot?
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 07:48 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum
Great, that's who you are, what do you shoot?
I hate to give the impression I am successful, so by answering that question, I'll change it to the past tense, since it's been a long time since I've shot anything of worth. I wrote and directed a 15 minute short in 2003 and another in 2005, both of which were self funded (ie: cost next to nothing) and used borrowed or dirt-cheap rented equipment from universities. I shoot them in my holidays (I'm a school teacher).

I've purchasaed a camera (the Z1) and want to continue making shorts the same way (unless someone decides to give me money) but have been dissatisfied with the lighting more than anything in both my movies so I'm not even going to attempt to shoot another one until I get my head around lighting.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 11:17 AM   #9
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I'm still not getting it. What is in front of the camera in these shoots - what are the subjects you're trying to light?

I'm getting the general sense of "people"... how many, in what environments? What other subjects? Indoors? Outdoors? Little rooms? Big rooms?

There's a reason for my nagging; while small location lighting kits (and the DV1 is one of the smallest) are very common for good reason, they generally are designed to light one person in an interview-like setting. They way I light, the DV1 is too small even for that purpose, but YMMV.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 11:21 AM   #10
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John,

For what you are trying to do, either one of these kits will work for you. My experience with Britek's equipment is that it doesn't last, but the cost makes it attractive. Lowel equipment is optimized for lightweight, location lighting. They make some compromises to stay on that track, but I've had good experiences with their equipment.

If you haven't already, my recommendation is always to start with a good book on lighting basics. Two that I've found very useful are:
Ross Lowel's "Matters of Light and Depth"
John Jackman's "Lighting for Digital Video and Television"
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 11:32 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Keyser
John,

For what you are trying to do, either one of these kits will work for you. My experience with Britek's equipment is that it doesn't last, but the cost makes it attractive. Lowel equipment is optimized for lightweight, location lighting. They make some compromises to stay on that track, but I've had good experiences with their equipment.

If you haven't already, my recommendation is always to start with a good book on lighting basics. Two that I've found very useful are:
Ross Lowel's "Matters of Light and Depth"
John Jackman's "Lighting for Digital Video and Television"
Ralph- I have tried the Lowel kit, and found them to be pretty weak in some places. After a few uses, the lights wouldn't hold an umbrella anymore without dipping down. The knobs were plastic, and would likely shatter before I would be able to tighten them enough. How are the Briteks on that point?
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 01:51 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Keith Forman
The knobs were plastic, and would likely shatter before I would be able to tighten them enough. How are the Briteks on that point?
Pretty much the same. I noticed that Benjamin mentioned similar problems with Briteks in an earlier post on this thread. I haven't actually managed to break any of the knobs on any of the Lowel kit, but it doesn't surprise me that there are some issues in that area.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 03:30 PM   #13
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I have the opposite experience... I am using the Brifocus GY-650 from Britek with a Chimera 24 X 36 Softbox (which is much heavier than the britek softboxes) without any problem. The knobs can be tightened pretty well and hold the position perfectly...

Perhaps they have upgraded the system since you tried it... I bought mine in April 2005
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 05:46 PM   #14
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I think we've all gotten the point that both the Lowels and Briteks are low budget kits and have their limitations. I'm wondering what kits/lights you've used and LOVED that are higher budget lights. If I had a budget of say $5000 to $7000 to put together a decent all purpose kit what would you recommend?
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 06:12 PM   #15
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Ethan, it isn't so much that they are budget kits, but whether it will work. If the equipment is going to fail early on, I'd like to know before I drop $1,000 or more. I'm sure there are even cheaper kits, but if they are decent service units, it might be worth while.
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