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Old September 14th, 2006, 05:40 AM   #1
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Best lighting kit for about $3000?

I want lights for flimmaking in HDV. I cannot predict what scenarios I'll be lighting. I'm in Australia and need to purchase from an Australian store.

All I know is my boss has given me around about $3000 to spend. He won't mind if it goes a bit over that.

I'm looking at the Lowel DV55 kit with all sorts of lights and the Ianiro Redhead kit with three redheads.

But I'm worried that you can't do much with three identical lights like the redheads - do I need more variety like in the Lowel kit? Can I mount softboxes on the redheads?

Or can anyone recommend another similarly priced alternative kit? Or is it worth buying four different lights rather than a kit?

I'd appreciate advice; I have about three days to make my purchase.

-- John.
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Old September 14th, 2006, 09:56 AM   #2
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Send me the $3000?

No?

Speaking only from my experience, Lowel are best in environments with a single user, or if a few users, everyone is careful with them. Lowel are very lightweight, and one of the few ways to build out a kit that weighs less than 50 lbs. Some durability is exchanged for that light weight, and these lights will suffer in a couple years of use if not babied.

A kit consisting of a Rifa 55 or 66, a couple of Omnis, a Pro, and a couple of Totas, bulbs of various wattages and usual accessories would get you through just about anything but lighting a huge space - and the totas will light a fairly large background.

For durability in a 75 lb. kit, Arri 650w Fresnels are great. Four of those, various bulbs, accessories, and a Chimera softbox is a great kit, and the rental houses here seem to favor them, in part because they are very durable, but also because they work well.

I've not used redheads, but I've heard good things about them.

Why 50 and 75 lbs? Because airlines used to allow a single piece of baggage to weigh 75 lbs. without extra charge, now it's 50.
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Old September 14th, 2006, 02:52 PM   #3
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If you've got 3g's to spend, consider the Mole Biax4 fixtures with local dimming, in addition to your other kits. They run like 750 ish but have a lot of output and can be daylight or tungsten. Either way, they are nice soft fixtures and well built. The idea of a chimera is really nice, (and lightweight) but you'll get a lot more punch out of a biax than a 1k in a chimera. Plus the biax doesn't get hot! Food for thought, but you have a nice budget to assemble a kit, and most people eventually end up needing some soft light.

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

2 x 300's, 2x650's barndoors, lamps, stands, case

and

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

Biax 4 - 220W dimmable flo

Should put you about exactly at your budget. Lots of flexibility. The only thing I would add would be a couple of Lowel Tota-lights. I love them for ambient fill and bounce. Two with bulbs should be about $300. Good luck on your purchase, I'm sure a LOT of people are jealous you have that nice budget for a starter light kit.
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Old September 19th, 2006, 02:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Hewat
I have about three days to make my purchase.
If you're just out of the door, I'd like to put in a good word for the Dedolight softbox thing round the 150W bare bulb Dedo unit - same price as the Lowel 500W, but with really big differences.

- Dimmable
- Way cooler for the talent
- Runs whiter (or a brighter look)
- A smidge bigger, like for like
- Even, even, even.

I've been using a rental kit with the Lowel Rifa, and it's been good - but I've just had an epiphany with the Dedo thing. I'm stumping up my own cash for this over the Rifa because the light is a thing of beauty rather than a utilitarian illumination job.

Then there was the V-Light in my rented kit. For a few bucks more, there's the TotaLite. In the UK, we have to cover these things with a mesh by law - probably a good idea, but the V-Light is chickenwire compared to the TotaLight, but the latter is just made better. 500W of location lighting. Shove it through a diffusion brolly, reflect it out of a silver brolly, or just open it up and bounce it. The V-Light is a bit fragile and cheap. The Tota isn't - it's stackable, though.

Finally there's the ubiquitous little Dedo. Let it look at points of interest whilst you do Key/Fill with the softbox/Totabrolly, or do a nice subtle backlight, or key the talent for a noir-ish feel. Own one/two, rent the rest.

Dedo 150W, Soft Dedo 150W (both dimmable and cool to work under), and a TotaLite (with scrim or foil brolly), stands, etc - well in your budget, should light a lot of situations nicely within your budget. If /$ improves, you can add another Dedo. :)
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Old September 20th, 2006, 11:00 PM   #5
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Thanks everyone,

I've bought some extra time to make the purchase, so I'm no longer rushed. I quite like the Fresnel kit. But I'm worried about not having soft light. Jaron, you said:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaron Berman
...and most people eventually end up needing some soft light.
But I wasn't sure if it's covered with the Fresnels. Do the 300W lights provide soft light? Or is that what the filters do?

My only other concern is that I can't find that kit on any Australian websites. I have to purchase in Australia unfortunately.
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Old September 21st, 2006, 02:29 AM   #6
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Soft light vs. hard light has to do with the relationship between the size of your light source relative to the size of your illumination area (subject). If your source is large compared to your subject, the light is "soft". Now, I mentioned the fluorescents because they are excellent for soft lights, and extremely efficient. However, you can get soft light in a number of different ways, including bouncing and diffusing. A "softbox" goes on the front of an otherwise hard light like a lowel tota or even an arri fresnel, and diffuses the light through a large panel. This effectively makes your light the size of the front diffusion panel - large. You could also take that same arri or tota and bounce it off a white card and achieve the same effect (albeit with a lot of light spilling all over the place). Many DP's feel that a soft and low-level fill from directly above the camera's lens is the best way to fill shadows without creating new shadows. If my description doesn't make sense, try googling soft vs. hard light. There are thousands of photography sites out there that deal with the topic, but they probably won't deal with fluorescents. So very quickly - flo's are cool because unlike tungsten lights, 90% of their energy gets put into light instead of heat. This gives you a few advantages. First, you can plug more of them into standard outlets. Second, they make more power-per-watt, so you'll end up with a FAR brighter source than you could otherwise afford to plug in. Third, they don't get too hot. This is SERIOUSLY important. Soft lights are only effective based on their proportion to the size of the subject. So imagine a light that has a 2'x2' face. If it's 20' away from the subject, it's relatively small - it'll put a rather dim and hard light, even though it may be a "softlight." move that light WAY closer, about 4' from the subject and all of a sudden it looks entirely different - it "wraps" around the subject, and fills its own shadows. But consider for a second the heat of a light 4' from the subject. With something like a lowel tota or a fresnel, even if it's firing through diffusion, it's still SUPER hot. The talent will sweat, guaranteed. With a flo, the talent may not even notice any appreciable heat.
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Old September 21st, 2006, 12:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Soft light vs. hard light has to do with the relationship between the size of your light source relative to the size of your illumination area (subject). If your source is large compared to your subject, the light is "soft".
To be more precise, it has to do with the angle of the light in comparison to the subject. The larger the source, the softer the light (the larger the angle). The closer the source is, the softer the light (again, the angle is larger). Or you can just ignore the angle stuff, and just base softness on size (1) and distance (2).
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Old September 21st, 2006, 08:59 PM   #8
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Glenn - are you describing a tangent of the angle = size of source/distance of source? If so, that's interesting, never thought of it that way, but it would make a lot of sense (and numerically describe what is difficult otherwise). Thanks Glenn!
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Old September 27th, 2006, 02:49 PM   #9
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Hard and hot, soft and cool...

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Hewat
I quite like the Fresnel kit. But I'm worried about not having soft light.
Current fashion is definately soft, but another thing that's raised its head during my investigation...

Consider your talent/interviewee - in various beer sessions with lighting cameramen, there was a certain grumpiness over fluorescent lighting and a comfort with Fresnels.

Okay, I admit it - I'm a DV Director, and should have no place in a discussion about lighting because a DV Director is a henious thing that is neither fish nor fowl, BUT I fight for those in front of the camera, who hate being broiled by lights and really like to see the person they're talking to.

These same people - none of them 'models' - appreciate a little kindness to the effects of age and gravity too. Everyone wants soft.

Tungsten Halogen softboxes seem so much kinder - less heat for the light. Flourescents even more so (though at a heavy price).
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Old October 5th, 2006, 11:30 AM   #10
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Any suggestions for a kit for the budget of about $130?
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Old October 5th, 2006, 02:12 PM   #11
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Marco, if you don't include grip supplies as your lighting budget, then for $130 you can get a lowel tota. Get some white foamcore and gaff tape and you can do a lot of stuff with that one light and board. Bounce the tota off it for soft light, bounce sun off the board for outdoor fill... use the tota pointed mostly up and a bit forward behind your subject to provide fill and backlight, while the bounce board is just above or below your lens bouncing back against the subject. Honestly, it's how you use the light you have not what lights you have. Barry Lyndon (Kubrick) used only candles for certain scenes.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 04:34 PM   #12
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Thanks Jaron! I'll try that out. I just purchased the Impact Tungsten $114 - 3 piece 1500 watt set from B&H. I'll try and use that in combo with what you just told me, I think all that will work for now. The wife is going to kill me, but I have a 4 hour $100 per hour shoot this weekend that should make up for it, lol.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 01:25 AM   #13
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John, any of these suggestions as far as kits go are pretty good. As you gain experience, you will start understanding more and more of what people are talking about and can add the appropriate tools. For instance, if given the space, instead of a Rifa or Kino light, I could use a few open face 500-1,000 lights shooting into a 6' x 6' silk on a frame-very nice wraparound soft light.

I only say this because as you learn you will find your own creative solutions, there is no one answer. However, along with your lighting kit purchase, I would also include C stands, gobo arms, flags, scrims, black wrap, color correcting gels, a roll of ND, etc. A boom stand for backlight is a good investment as well.

Good Luck. In the end, it'll be your efforts in learning and looking more than the instruments you use...
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