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Old May 22nd, 2006, 01:26 PM   #1
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High Quality Light Manufacturers

I see post all the time giving suggestions for the low cost lighting solutions. I am actually interested in opinions on high quality light manufacturers. Although fairly pricey I have seen Mole-Richardson mentioned as a very high quality light manufacturer whose lights will last years. Are there any other light manufacturers that make high quality lights that maybe aren't as expensive as Mole-Richardson? Are Mole-Richardson lights as good as I have heard? I am mainly interested in open faced and Fresnel lights.

Any opinions would be appreciated.
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 02:45 PM   #2
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If you have the dollars I do not think you can go wrong with Mole, Arri is another good brand.
I personally went with Altman, same as Arri just less expensive.
Altman and Arri while their light quality is every bit as good as Mole they are not quite as robust. Both will give you many years of service however.

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Old May 22nd, 2006, 07:27 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Penhorwood
I have seen Mole-Richardson mentioned [...] Are there any other light manufacturers that make high quality lights that maybe aren't as expensive as Mole-Richardson? [...] I am mainly interested in open faced and Fresnel lights.
I'll cast my vote for Arri Fresnels. I own Mole Frenel, Arri Fresnel, and Lowel Open Faced units, though when I rent it's usually always Arris, as they are very well designed and of high build quality. The Arris might not be as tough as the Moles, but the Arris are newer in their design and thus trade off a little toughness for being lighter. The Arris have actually improved over the years, and I'm very fond of using their 1K, 650W, 300W, and 150W Fresnels in both documentary and narrative scenarios.

With the combination of one large soft key light (either the very affordable and compact large Lowel Rifa or more versatile yet pricy Arri 1K Open Face with a large Chimera soft-box) and a collection of Fresnels for back lights, accents, and fill (with diffusion) you'll have a very versatile kit.

Fresnels are more expensive and heavy than their equivalent open-faced units, but more versatile. I like having a choice of Frenels in my kit, it's easy to throw some diffusion on a Fresnel and soften it up a bit, bit it's impossible to make an open faced light do what a Fresnel can do in terms of the sunlight-like quality of light (crisp shadows) that's easy to cut with barn doors (which are almost useless on an open faced unit).
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 07:32 PM   #4
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If cost is no object, I'd take a close look at the new product from Zylight. Talamas, of the local audio/video rental houses here in Boston, has had one in their showroom for several months prior to it's intoduction at NAB and every time I was in I played with it, and it's a fascinating little light. I love the the ability to choose daylight, tungsten, or dial in the exact color you want. You can control multiple units wirelessly. While the cost keeps these in the special lighting category for now, the future of lighting includes lots of developments in the area of LED technology and the Zylight offers a glimpse of this future you can hold in your hands today. LED lighting is expensive, but the cutting edge usually is. If you're interested in LED lighting you should also look into Lite Panels.

Check out the thread on LED lighting at http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=48532
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 08:18 AM   #5
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Thanks for the info.

I was curious if Arri was as high quality as the Moles. I have heard the Moles are pretty heavy and a hassle to carry around. I think I would give up a little toughness for a lighter weight unit. I just don't want to have to re-purchase lights in a few years because they are falling apart. Are the Altman's as good as the Arri's....do they hold up well? It is my understanding that Lowel's are not very well made and knobs break etc after a short time...is this correct?

Unfortunately, there are no rental houses here that carry any of the Arri's or Moles....just a couple of cheap Lowel kits that I have used a couple of times. I would love to be able to rent some Moles and Arri's and try them out but don't have the opportunity so I am just going to have to do my research and bite the bullet and purchase some.
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 09:41 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Penhorwood
I was curious if Arri was as high quality as the Moles. I have heard the Moles are pretty heavy and a hassle to carry around. I think I would give up a little toughness for a lighter weight unit.
In my experience over the years, both the Moles and Arris need some maintenance. Older Moles don't lock the lamp in place so the socket get pitted over time and you have to replace it, easily done, not so bad. The Arri's, since they optimize for lower weight, are more likely to break if you drop them off the lift gate of a grip truck. Under normal handling, they will be fine.
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 11:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Penhorwood
I have heard the Moles are pretty heavy and a hassle to carry around. I think I would give up a little toughness for a lighter weight unit. I just don't want to have to re-purchase lights in a few years because they are falling apart. Are the Altman's as good as the Arri's....do they hold up well? It is my understanding that Lowel's are not very well made and knobs break etc after a short time...is this correct?
All these manufacturers have excellent quality. Light weight is less durable. Lowel is excellent quality for its intended use - the lightest weight you're likely to find. No, Lowel is not very durable for rental use. Yes, owner-operators of Lowel are getting years of use.

My other experience is with Arri and Mole. I think Arri is my number one choice for something that needs to be both light and durable. My Mole stuff will probably outlast me, but it doesn't go out much - I'm usually reaching for the lighter instruments. C-stands are a great example; a standard stand from Mole or Norms is made of steel, has legs designed to hold sandbags, goes 12' high, etc. That is GREAT when you're working off a truck.

But 9 times out of 10, I take aluminum light stands and booms instead of c-stands, they're probably 1/4 the weight but they'll hold a background or reflector or whatever. And there are no sandbags in my kit - way too heavy unless I'm going by truck and can have a sandbag cart.

The same lessons apply for lights. Are you going out solo? In a car? Do you need to go on commercial airlines? Have a cargo van? A mini-van or pickup truck? Need to light a factory? A wedding party? A two-person interview? Your intended use will steer you towards a broad type of light, then look at specifics of instruments and manufacturers.
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 11:55 AM   #8
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This is good information to have since I have no first hand experience with either Mole or Arri.

The lights will need to go to locations. I use a jeep and have a trailer that I use to cart equipment around in. I need to have light kits that will light a variety of situations from low budget commercials/industrials to low budget films that we do. Occassionally an interview or things like that. Since I work on the lower scale projects I don't have the need (yet anyway) to light huge areas although I have had to light some outdoor night stuff but set it up to where the coverage was limited in scope. I am trying to bring as much as I can in house to cut expenses.

It sounds like I should check out some Arri's since I try to be very careful with my equipment. They sound sturdy enough but are still light weight and easy to carry around.
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 11:35 PM   #9
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Let me throw a vote in here for LTM. I have about 1/2 dozen Peppers and they're as tough as old boots, and they have never not worked (not counting lamp failures).
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Old May 24th, 2006, 02:53 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Kevin Penhorwood
Unfortunately, there are no rental houses here that carry any...
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Old May 26th, 2006, 05:30 PM   #11
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Coming in late...however. The Moles and Arri's, etc. are al great lights. This is based upon quality of build, durability. If money is no object, other solutions make themselves available as well. Dedo lights are small, dimmable without dropping color temperature and very efficient. CoolLights (CoolLux?) are also small and efficient. Both are great for those hard to fit spots.

Lowells' Rifa softbox is quick to set up if you need fast setups, and of course there are also KinoFlow fluorescents for soft light that don't heat up a room. And don't forget the Joker series and other HMI's if you need to balance your levels with sunlight pouring in from outside.

And while you don't plug them in, if you think of silks, scrims, flags, etc. as 'instruments', they can be as important to your lighting as a fresnel when used properly. Which means C-Stands, arms, knuckles. There's plenty to spend your money on...Boy, I sure wish I had some $ to spend right now...
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Old May 26th, 2006, 06:01 PM   #12
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I've heard a lot of good things about LTM Pepper fresnels. I've been satisfied with the ones I've used.
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Old June 2nd, 2006, 12:26 PM   #13
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I don't understand why people constantly say that Arris are lighter and smaller than the equivalent Moles.

At B&H, the Mole Tweenie II (650w) is described as 6.75 lbs., with dimensions of 8.75 x 8.75 x 11”.
The Arri 650 is 7.2 lbs. with dimensions of 9 x 12 x 7.5”.

I’ve seen those two lights used side by side and B&H’s specs seem dead on to me.

Am I missing something?

The Mole 1K is a big heavy sucker, I'll grant you, but I haven't used an Arri 1K, so I don't know how it compares.
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Old June 2nd, 2006, 12:51 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Marco Leavitt
I don't understand why people constantly say that Arris are lighter and smaller than the equivalent Moles....
I see forum-folk ascribing all sort of near-mythic qualities to Arris. The only thing that we can be certain of, is that they are more expensive than the others.
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Old June 4th, 2006, 05:52 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Jack Barker
I see forum-folk ascribing all sort of near-mythic qualities to Arris. The only thing that we can be certain of, is that they are more expensive than the others.
More expensive compared to who? If you compare the Arris to other "Pro-Grade" lights, they are in the same ballpark, actually, here are the latest B+H Prices for four roughly comparable 1K Fresnels (though the Mole and DeSisti has a smaller lens):

Altman 1K Fresnel 7" Lens $ 569.95, 4 Leaf Barn Door, add $ 69.95

Arri 1K Fresnel 6.9" Lens $479.95, 4 Leaf Barndoor, add $ 76.50

DeSisti. 1K Fresnel - 6" Lens $ 438.95, 4 Leaf Barndoor, add $ 62.95

Mole-Richardson 1K Fresnel 6" Lens w/ 2 Leaf Barndoor $487.50, 4 Leaf Barndoor , add $75.95

They are all about the same. You'll notice similar comparable pricing at smaller sizes. Add LTM Peppers to the mix for little Fresnels. Different dealers will have different prices, the point is they are all in the same ballpark. They all come sans lamp, add $ 29.95 each for an EGT 1000W/120V. Yes, there are cheaper 1K Fresnels out there, for example, the Strand Fresnels are cheaper, but they are of a completely different design, intended for theater use rather than film use, thus are built lighter, less rugged, just as nice of a light, but designed for theater use rather than much harsher film production use. Apples and Oranges. If you're on a tight budget and can take very good care of the instruments, the Strand units are a good value. You will not hear any religious arguments coming from me, photons are photons... no matter where they come from (as long as the quality of light is comparable).

I've used Arri instuments a lot over the years, as well as instruments from Lowel, DeSisti, Altman, Mole, ETC, and others, and I can tell you as someone who owns Arri, Mole, and Lowel instruments, and sometimes rents Kino-Flos and Arri lights (both Fresnels and HMI) when I need more than I own, that the Arri lights are designed for, and meet the demands of, professional production. That's why so many people like them. There are lots of good brands out there, I'm not saying "Arri is better" all I'm saying is that their reputation is based on performance on the set.

As far as mythic qualities go, I ascribe those to Fresnel instruments (for their unique quality similar to sunlight), as well as really large pieces of 216 or large Silks with lots of light blasting through (for the Vermeer-esque window light quality), regardless of brand...
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Last edited by David Tamés; June 4th, 2006 at 06:25 PM.
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DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

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