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Old March 26th, 2003, 12:46 PM   #16
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Bulb Update; My Dealer

My dealer, J&K Group (an eBay store), specifies 500W lamps at 3200K. As mentioned, I got 3000K bulbs.

I would have gotten the 3200K bulbs if my kit had shipped from my dealer. Mine was drop-shipped from JTL. My dealer explained this to me and has offered to make any bulb exchange I like.

There is not enough information on the JTL Web site. If buying this kit, be sure to ask your dealer for the exact configuration so there is no misunderstanding.

J&K has been very agreeable through the entire transaction and has responded promptly to all my queries. Given my ignorance, they've been very patient.
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Old April 3rd, 2003, 08:16 PM   #17
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First Shoot

Today I set up my "studio" and spent some time working with the Everlight kit. Here's an update.

Stands
I used the JTL stands side-by-side with my Bosh stands. The JTL stands are not just better, they are superior. Very strong, rigid when locked, and very compact when closed. There are two caveats. First, the legs are on the short side, so care must be exercised to make sure one of the legs faces forward, directly under the softbox. If a leg extends directly behind the softbox, the stand is stable but a feather can tip it over.

Second, the mounting stud is not firmly attached to the upper stand section. My Bosh stands have a good brass stud firmly attached. The steel JTL stud is attached with two screws and rocks if the screws are not fastened tightly. The poor quality of the mount mars an otherwise excellent stand. It's a bad place to cut costs.

Light
I still need to work out details for my setup, but I was very pleased with the tape I shot today. The kit provides more than enough light. In fact, it produces too much. I may end up using the Everlights only for the key and fill lights, with something else for backlight and background effects. My setting is very cramped, so I don't have the luxury of lowering the light level by moving the lights further away. I have to use other forms of control.

I was concerned about the 3000K bulbs, but my GL2's automatic white balance and automatic exposure gave good results. Colors were true. I had thought about getting some 3200K bulbs for comparison, but now I don't think I'll bother.

Case
No question -- the carrying case is the weak link in this kit. Its poor organization makes packing too time consuming. Packing up the softbox fabrics was annoying until I employed a time-honored piece of low technology -- the rubber band.

Because the bulbs can't be stored mounted in the heads, owners of this kit will need a small case for the bulbs. My vendor supplies a case, but it is large enough to hold 9 or 10 bulbs and thus will not fit inside the carrying case.

Will
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Old April 3rd, 2003, 08:59 PM   #18
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Re: First Shoot

<<<-- Originally posted by Will Fastie : "Today I set up my "studio" and spent some time working with the Everlight kit. Here's an update.

Stands
I used the JTL stands side-by-side with my Bosh stands. The JTL stands are not just better, they are superior. Very strong, rigid when locked, and very compact when closed. There are two caveats. First, the legs are on the short side, so care must be exercised to make sure one of the legs faces forward, directly under the softbox. If a leg extends directly behind the softbox, the stand is stable but a feather can tip it over."

This is how you always want to use stands; with the weight directly over one of the legs, whether it is a lamp or a grip flag, or whatever. A sand bag on the stand is a good idea. A unique ability of these "air cushioned" stands is you can unlock them when you are finished and they will slowly and safely lower themselves, unattended.

"Second, the mounting stud is not firmly attached to the upper stand section. My Bosh stands have a good brass stud firmly attached. The steel JTL stud is attached with two screws and rocks if the screws are not fastened tightly. The poor quality of the mount mars an otherwise excellent stand. It's a bad place to cut costs."

I don't find that a serious failing. I am sure they do this so as to use the stands with different size studs.


Light
"I still need to work out details for my setup, but I was very pleased with the tape I shot today. The kit provides more than enough light. In fact, it produces too much. I may end up using the Everlights only for the key and fill lights, with something else for backlight and background effects. My setting is very cramped, so I don't have the luxury of lowering the light level by moving the lights further away. I have to use other forms of control."

Get a dimmer (build one with Home Depot parts) and you can use it to lower the intensity of the fill (or the key). As you dim the light below about eighty percent, it will start to change the Kelvin temperature which will make the output slightly red. This is not a bad thing at all for a fill light. I know DP's who key regularly at 2400Kelvin, to give an overall warmth to their pictures. I will do it on ocassion.

"I was concerned about the 3000K bulbs, but my GL2's automatic white balance and automatic exposure gave good results. Colors were true. I had thought about getting some 3200K bulbs for comparison, but now I don't think I'll bother."

As you can infer from my above comments, it is a non-issue. The difference between 3200 and 3000 Kelvin is undetectable in 90% of shooting conditions.

Case
"No question -- the carrying case is the weak link in this kit. Its poor organization makes packing too time consuming. Packing up the softbox fabrics was annoying until I employed a time-honored piece of low technology -- the rubber band."

Again, I agree, but for the price, it is not that bad. It is a compact, and relatively light weight package that I think you will get accoustomed to in time. I will trade out one of the softlights for a LTM Pepper when I know I am doing a simple interview set up. The combination of two softlights and one fresnel will give me more options. Also add some kind of bounce board to your kit.

"Because the bulbs can't be stored mounted in the heads, owners of this kit will need a small case for the bulbs. My vendor supplies a case, but it is large enough to hold 9 or 10 bulbs and thus will not fit inside the carrying case."

I have a small box that I place the bulbs in in their original boxes. This is part of the extra time I mentioned originally that this kit takes to set up and tear down, versus some of the more expensive soft lights that are available. I also carry a dimmer in the case and spare 10 amp fuses. Also some black duvetyne that I place on top of the stands in the case. There is always a use for black duvetyne on a shoot.

Sounds like Will is on his way. Some 216 diffusion material would be great to knock down the light a stop to allow moving the light in closer to the subject, which helps to soften the image even further. And don't forget that bounce material. Great for fill.

I used the Everlight Kit the other day on a shoot that included everything from short dramatic pieces in different sets, to portrait shots of the actors, to close up product shots. I was very pleased with how quickly I was able to set my lights and shoot, and the producer was very pleased with the results. But remember, it takes practice to get full use out of the gear, so don't expect instant perfect results.
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Old April 11th, 2003, 04:12 PM   #19
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Week 2 Update

The lights are working out very well. In addition to video, I did some still product shots (for eBay) and got good results, easily the equal of a previous still setup I used but with less fuss. I think I might like a bit more light for still work, perhaps one 750W, but I don't do enough to worry about it and I can always adjust the stills with Photoshop.

I'm going to get vulgar here, so please avert your eyes if you are easily offended. The case sucks. Period. It is the main thing that makes repacking so slow. I can break down and ready for packing all three soft boxes in 3 minutes, everything in about 5, so that's not the packing delay.

And I remain annoyed that I have to remove everything on the top level of the case to get to the stands on the bottom, making it a pain if you want to use just one or two lights. I tried to use the partition vertically to store the lights on one side and the stands on the other, but the case isn't quite wide enough and thus bulges. In any case, it isn't the most secure way to store the heads.

But I like the kit and definitely think it's worth the $500 street price. I'd wish for a better case at $600, which is what I paid (when I bought, all the $500 sellers were out of stock).

Will
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Old May 1st, 2003, 04:26 PM   #20
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Could either Wayne or Will somehow email me their instructions for assembling these softboxes. From the instructions that came with the kit, it looks like I need at least 4 arms. :) Thanks in advance.

Joe
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Old May 1st, 2003, 05:34 PM   #21
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Softbox Assembly

Each softbox has a speedring, 4 arms with a spring coil in the middle, a front diffusion panel, and a cover.

Lay a diffusion panel on a flat surface so that the black edge with the wide band of Velcro is facing up.

Identify the ends of the arm. Both ends have plastic studs. The longer one goes in the pocket at the corner of the panel and the shorter one goes in a hole in the speedring.

Choose any corner and insert an arm. Insert the other end of the arm into any of the 8 holes in the speedring. The wider side of the speedring faces the panel and the smaller side faces the light, so keep the small side up.

Wayne and I differ on which panel corner to do next. He recommends an adjacent corner, working around the panel in a circle. I've found it handy to do an opposite corner first. Either way, choose another corner and fit the next arm. Because the speedring has 8 holes, the arms fit into every other hole.

As you begin to put tension on the spring arms, make sure the coil side of the arm is facing in, toward the panel.

Always insert the arm into the panel first and then the speedring.

When you are done, the speedring will be standing on the arms with the panel as a base. Now simply place the cover over the arms so that the seams follow the arms. Leave 1/2" of Velcro showing along the edge of the front panel.

Here's a tip for placing the softbox on the lamphead. Mount the lamphead on a tripod. Tilt it back so the bulb socket is facing directly up. Install the bulb. Loosen the locking screw on the front of the lamphead. Now you can use both hands to carefully lower the softbox so that the speedring mates with the lamphead. Secure the locking screw. Now loosen the two thumbscrews on the outside of the speedring, line up the softbox as desired, and tighten the thumbscrews.

Pointing the lamphead up to install the softbox lets gravity help and provides more control because the weight of the softbox is centered at the bottom rather than being offset to one side.

I hope Wayne approves of these instructions.

Will
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Old May 1st, 2003, 08:54 PM   #22
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"I hope Wayne approves of these instructions."

Will, please. I'm all for whatever works, and your instructions read like a real pro wrote them. Now, the real question is: how do you like the Everlight Kit now that you have had it awhile?

BTW, I just bought a 48x32" soft box by JTL from my local camera store, Reseda Photo. I will use this for situations that require more spread, such as two people sitting next to each other, or, a full figure shot, or whatever. It comes with its own set of rods but uses the speed rings that come with the kit, and yes, it will stuff into the nylon case, but it is pretty well stuffed. The soft box is just under a hundred dollars.
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Old May 2nd, 2003, 08:29 AM   #23
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The lights are working out very well for video. I've been using the same stock setup I mentioned before, so I'm not getting much experience with setting up in different situations. Plenty of light for my needs so far and no white balance problems (and that's letting the GL2 do all the work).

For still shots with my digital camera, I've had a problem with white balance. But all these shots are intended for Web use, they don't hang around long enough to draw criticism, and they can be corrected automatically with PhotoShop (I use PS Elements, not the full version). My camera is an older Kodak consumer model, so this is hardly a criticism.

All things considered (except the case), I'm extremely happy with the kit and wish I'd just done this first rather than wasting all my time experimenting with the DIY worklights.
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Old May 6th, 2003, 01:54 PM   #24
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JTL Everlight Kit for $500

I just noticed that the Everlight Kit is available from Adorama at $499.95. I noticed because I was checking the price of something else and the kit was featured on the home page when I first arrived.

I don't know if it's in stock. It wasn't when I bought mine weeks ago; maybe they've caught up.
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Old May 6th, 2003, 03:20 PM   #25
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That's where I bought mine from last week. They had them in stock when I called.

Joe
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Old May 6th, 2003, 03:27 PM   #26
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Joe, please report back your impression of the JTL kit after you have used it. And let me know if you feel I represented it fairly, or, what made you decide to purchase it. As you probably know, I am giving it a qualified recommendation based on my initial impression of the kit, but I have not used it enough to know how well it will hold up. As I indicated, the softbox material is not as sturdy as those from Chimera or Photoflex, but for the money it seems a good deal. They do have a one year warranty, but please hold on to your receipt in case you have a problem.

Look forward to hearing all comments, positive and negative. You can post here, or e-mail be direct.

Thanks
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Old May 9th, 2003, 05:04 PM   #27
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I've got a question for you guys that have been using the Everlight kit...

I had intented to buy the Lowel DV Creator 55 kit about a month ago. I ended up deciding to piece the kit together instead of buying the actual kit though because the stands that come in the kit are pitiful. So basically I bought all the individual components except the stands and bought sturdier Bogen stands.

The one light that wasn't available (out of stock) was the Rifa 55, which - for those of you who aren't familiar with it - is Lowel's new 500 watt softlight. I've been trying to get it ever since, but it's out of stock everywhere (supply problem apparently).

My question is - should I ditch the Rifa 55 and just buy the JTL Everlight kit instead? The Rifa (with a bulb) is gonna cost me about $450 - and I already paid about $80 for a Bogen stand for the yet-to-arrive Rifa - so for about $30 less I could get 3 softbox lights from JTL instead of the Rifa.

Keep in mind I would keep the Tota, Omni, and Pro from the Lowel kit as well.

My problem is I have no experience with the Rifa or the JTLs, so I have no idea what I'm giving up in terms of quality, light characteristics, lifespan, etc. Three just seems to be better than one to a simpleton like myself. Am I trying to "trade a quarter so I can get three nickels"?

Thanks - sorry it got so long!

Matt
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Old May 9th, 2003, 05:32 PM   #28
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I don't have any experience with the Rifa. Its main claim to fame seems to be the clever way it folds up, which looks very fast.

The Everlight kit that we've been talking about here has three lights, but you can buy kits with 1, 2, or 3 lights. A one light kit will cost you $199 from J&K, the vendor who sold me my kit. This might be a better approach, as you already have other lights. I know of no way to buy the Everlight heads alone, but the JTL stands are at least decent, if not better.

One word of warning -- J&K supplies 3000K lamps even though the JTL site says 3200K bulbs.

J&K can be found at www.stores.ebay.com/jandkgroup. Click on the Continuous Lighting link. Only use J&K if you want one or two lights. If you decide on the full kit, J&K's price isn't good.
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Old May 9th, 2003, 09:38 PM   #29
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Matt
I'd buy a medium Photoflex from B&H( It comes with a few extra goodies ) look at the locked lighting thread that Frank G posted. All of the links are there. Buy the Tota speed ring and use your Tota in the photoflex.

Buy a decent stand as I again outline in that thread. I use a manfrottoo master 004 stand ($75 at B&H)that will hold 22 lbs but the Bogen 3086 for $45 will hold the box ok. (11 lb rating)

i can put up or tear down the photoflex very quickly. You have half of the gear to complete a softbox setup why change course now. The Tota as a broad light would be a top choice for a soft box.

Your Lowel set is good stuff regardless of what some will tell you.

If you have any questions email me at beaser@eudoramail.com
I'm only too happy to help.

Bryan
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Old May 9th, 2003, 09:57 PM   #30
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I'd buy a medium Photoflex from B&H( It comes with a few extra goodies ) look at the locked lighting thread that Frank G posted. All of the links are there. Buy the Tota speed ring and use your Tota in the photoflex.
Bryan's recommendation is exactly what I often use, Matt. In terms of lighting it works very well. But you will need to get some practice at setting-up the Photoflex and speed-ring. The principal advantage of the Rifa is it's compact portability and its ease of set-up and tear-down.
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