Shooting with Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs). at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Photon Management

Photon Management
Shine an ever-loving light on you.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old April 4th, 2007, 01:26 PM   #1
Trustee
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Wyomissing, PA
Posts: 1,141
Images: 57
Shooting with Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs).

After reading up on the popularity of CFLs here on the DVInfo forum, and learning about their advantage for providing adequate lighting while keeping the set cool. I decided to head out to Home Depot and see what these new lights were all about, and could they be effective in studio work.

I was mildly surprised to find that the N:vision brand has several lights covering a good range of brightness, and in three popular color temperatures. It was the 5500K models that caught my eye, and I purchased one 13watt (equivalent to a 40watt incandescent bulb) $6, and three 23watt (equivalent to 100watt incandescent bulbs) $8ea.

I also purchased some cheap ($6ea), 8” clamp lights to both house and mount my new CFLs.

I then created a mock one camera interview, and to spice things up, (and for good comparison), I used an example setup similar to what’s found on Nino Gianotti's lighting website, EFPlighting.com (in regards to creating backgrounds and basic interview lighting).

Rather then going into the boring, "preaching-to-the-choir details". I’ll cut to the chase and have you follow the link below to view the results. (Note: We’ll have to use a flickr account until the DV image gallery is back up).

http://www.flickr.com/photos/4537894...7600047456886/

To view a slideshow:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/4537894...47456886/show/

The 23watt CFLs barely cut it for background lighting, gel them and they are barely useful. However, Alzo Digital has some 85watt monsters, equivalent to 300watt tungsten, and putting out a whopping 4800 lumens, thus opening up the possibility of more dramatic lighting. (I’m tempted to spring for one of these and see what’s possible).

http://alzodigital.com/online_store/...20cool%20lites

Hopefully this will be of help to some of you out there. Take care and good shooting.
__________________
Pete Ferling http://ferling.net It's never a mistake if you learn something new from it.
-------------------------------------------
Peter Ferling is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 4th, 2007, 07:49 PM   #2
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Shenzhen, China
Posts: 781
None of this is any surprise to me ;-)

I get people telling me all the time that those Home Depot N:Vision bulbs aren't adequate at 80/82 CRI but yet I use them and don't see any of the sick pallor people talk about with low cri solutions.

Also, on background lighting. There's no question about that these smaller wattage bulbs can easily be overpowered by the frontal lighting. It takes a much more surgical approach to light with all softlight. That's why most people end up using "hard" conventional lighting for the background.

A fresnel cuts a great swatch of light thanks to the focused beam and barn doors. And a cookie becomes more defined also thanks to hard lighting. They also light through a gel more efficiently too.

Ceramic Metal Halide and super hi wattage LED's have the best potential to offer energy efficient hard light instruments.

Here's an example of what's coming down the line for LED's:

http://www.physorg.com/news93198212.html

That one puts out 1000 lumens, but I found another one that I have samples of for my product development that puts out 1800 lumens! Yes, that's from one small LED, not an array of LEDs. I can tell you it is one very bright light.

The pricing is still rather high and even at these high wattages for an LED it's still too small for anything but about the equivalent of a 180 to 200 watt pepper fresnel or spot--but you can see the progression that will happen there. Someday we'll be talking about a 500w LED and they will probably win the war for energy efficiency because they don't emit as much UV as HMI/ceramic metal halide so therefore don't output the same amount of heat--like fluorescent.
__________________
Richard Andrewski - Cool Lights USA - RED #114
http://www.coollights.biz
Richard Andrewski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 4th, 2007, 08:04 PM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Shenzhen, China
Posts: 781
By the way, didn't you notice any 30w or 40w bulbs at Home Depot. I've only bought the 30w ones and a while back I noticed they (or maybe it was Lowe's) started carrying a 40w version. It's just a matter of time until we have higher wattage self-ballasted CFL's commonly available at home improvement stores. As the public catches on to their energy efficiency and the great range of color temps available more people will use them which will be great for us because it will mean more choices.
__________________
Richard Andrewski - Cool Lights USA - RED #114
http://www.coollights.biz
Richard Andrewski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 4th, 2007, 09:20 PM   #4
Trustee
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Wyomissing, PA
Posts: 1,141
Images: 57
Hey Richard, I agree it may take a balance of both hot and cool lights to make it happen. The benefit is that you can have the CFLs directly on the talent and crew, and the backgrounds far enough away and not radiating their heat.

The CFLs being so soft and limited in their range do little to spill over or effect the background, so that's a benefit. Barndoors or a little tape and black foamcore can fix very tight setups.

I get the same look with the lowell kits. The only indication would be the sweat on my forehead and clothes. It's not a pleasant experience. In fact, I've setup early, shut down for hour to allow things to cool before restriking when the talent arrives. By the third take it gets warm again.

Lowes, at least my in area, does not carry the N:vision brand. They have the 2700K and 3200K bright effects. I emagine CRI 80 or less. However, my eyes told me the story when I first struck the N:vision's 5500K's. I knew these were the ones to get. Any minor differences are handled in a custom white balance. Even my HC1 faired well in the test, grainy, but colors were good.

I was pleasant surprised by this little experiment, and didn't do much past $50 at the hardware store. However, It's not really a portable solution yet. The advantage of my lowell kit to having 2000watts of light in four units that will fit into a suitcase will have to be addressed. I may have to modify existing kits to accomate these lights and still have portability. Including having to carry at least one hard light.
__________________
Pete Ferling http://ferling.net It's never a mistake if you learn something new from it.
-------------------------------------------
Peter Ferling is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 4th, 2007, 10:53 PM   #5
Trustee
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 1,961
I have a partial solution for getting a controllable fluorescent light.

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

The Smith-Victor A120 is fairly large and a single 32-40W compact fluorescent can fit in it's socket. I used it on a shoot yesterday as a hair light. I think this is fine for a single person interview, but the strength of one of these bulbs is marginal. I modified the socket mount of a Smith-Victor PL12 so it can accomodate a socket Y-adapter and put two 40W CFLs in it. It needs diffusion to prevent dual shadows, but it is reasonable bright. Of course, I recommend the barn door accessories for these lights. I even made a grid from plastic grid from the hardware store that I painted black.

The interview yesterday was a 3-person interview on a white background. It was lit by a softbox w/200W fluorescent (like one pictured at coollights), the two-bulb PL12 and the single-bulb A120. All bulbs/lamps were 5000K and matched nicely. Oh, I put a kicker on the background with a clamp-lamp and a 32W 5000K bulb.

There was enough light for exposure at F2, but when I zoomed in with my V1 it went to F2.4 and it started to look a bit dim. It isn't outside of color-correction range, but I would rather have more light for a set this size.

If I did my attachment right, there is a picture of the set showing the softbox w/200W, PL12 w/2x32W, and a kicker with aluminum foil attached before I switched the lamp to a 32W 5000K. This is a no-budget shoot, so my lights were much better than nothing and everyone was happy they weren't cooking under tungsten. We were able to leave the door open without worrying about the sunlight spilling in to cast the wrong colors.

One thing that surprised me is the lack of light from the 200W fixture. I think the orientation of the elements in this giant mogul-based fixture is not really the best for a softbox.

The more I experiment, the more I want one of the coollights 6-lamp PL55 banks (CL-655). Those lamps are oriented correctly for best efficiency. I might want a fabric grid, but I would be willing to cannibalize the one from my softbox.

I think a great interview kit would be something like a fresnel with 5500K HID lamp, a coollights CL-455 as fill, and a CL-655 as key. I suppose if the lights were bright enough that a reflector could be substituted as fill. I would like a kit bright enough to use my Brevis35 and my current kit isn't quite there.
Attached Thumbnails
Shooting with Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs).-interview3.jpg  
Marcus Marchesseault is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 5th, 2007, 07:45 AM   #6
Trustee
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Wyomissing, PA
Posts: 1,141
Images: 57
Hey Marcus, I concur with your comments regarding bulb strength and design. Simply swapping in a CFL bulb into a rig not well suited or specifically designed to benefit is no better than just using the bulb itself inside a tin can.

What these bulbs lack in range and throw, their lack of heat makes them well suited for close proximity use on people. They are more pleasing and comfortable than even a 200watt tungsten in a Rifa44. (I got the 44 because it was the smallest and least intense thing for this kind of use. I certainly couldn't use it on a larger set. I have lowel omni's at 700watts for that).

Anyway, I used a 23watt (100watt equiv) CLF without any cover or diffusion, as it's very diffuse nature was a perfect match. I do recommend barn doors for the key, as it can spill into the background for small sets (such your example).

The fill was a 13watt (40watt equiv) and I used some translucent white tracing paper as the diffusion and cut. If lighting more than one person, or a larger area it's limited range won't do.

I'm thinking about one of those 85watt (300watt tungsten equivalent) CFLs, and how it would do in a modified rifa44 soft box. Would it throw enough light so I can use a foldable fabric bounce for the fill? That would be perfect as a portable, close proximity interview light. Small enough to squeeze into a porta-brace bag with the camera, or large backpack for on the go and as carry on when flying.

I do know one thing, I have some shoots scheduled in the OR, and one of those CFL's will clamp nicely to the ceiling, out of the way and should prove interesting as a soft flood.

While on the subject, I wonder what it would take to mount one these on a camera, and how to power it? They are very light and use much less wattage. Possibilities.
__________________
Pete Ferling http://ferling.net It's never a mistake if you learn something new from it.
-------------------------------------------
Peter Ferling is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 5th, 2007, 08:17 AM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Shenzhen, China
Posts: 781
I had a DP in Hollywood that made one of my fluorescent worklight conversions a while back and was going to mount on the top of his camera but he wanted a dimmable and I couldn't find a suitable CRI high enough to not cause problems with actual film use. Yes he was really shooting film. If it had been for video there would have been little or no problem is my guess. Dimmable is something we can't do well in CFL spirals for the time being.

For on camera lights what you would need would be a very small unit with a hot shoe mount on the bottom of it and one of your 13w units is probably about as large as you could handle before the whole thing would be too big. A spiral works best actually with a round parabolic reflector around it so a smaller fixture with the hotshoe would do it and then maybe you could fashion some barn doors on it like I do.

Of course, powering the whole thing with a battery is another problem. You would need an inverter so that the ballast could see AC 110v voltage as it expects. With inverter and light, I can't imagine that the usable time would be very good.

I wonder if another possibility might be modifying a battery powered fluorescent worklight which would have much of the infrastructure ready for portable use. Then you just need to figure out how to mount it to the camera. Find the smallest one you can...
__________________
Richard Andrewski - Cool Lights USA - RED #114
http://www.coollights.biz
Richard Andrewski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 5th, 2007, 08:34 AM   #8
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Shenzhen, China
Posts: 781
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault View Post
One thing that surprised me is the lack of light from the 200W fixture. I think the orientation of the elements in this giant mogul-based fixture is not really the best for a softbox.
Was that the Maxlite unit? I'm surprised you didn't find it adequate. I use mine these days without silk on the front. But to tell you the truth, I end up using the 4x55 more now or just spirals when space is too tight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault View Post
The more I experiment, the more I want one of the coollights 6-lamp PL55 banks (CL-655). Those lamps are oriented correctly for best efficiency. I might want a fabric grid, but I would be willing to cannibalize the one from my softbox.
This brings up a good point. While I have some attention here, we've got eggcrate prototypes now. I enclosed a picture here of one for a 4x55. It's about 12mm thick (7/16") and should be black when finished. The sample was just aluminum unfinished. Simply slide out the barndoor unit and slide in the eggcrate.

You said you prefer fabric grid. Is that for portability sake? Or is it because the apertures are usually larger on a fabric one? Or both...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault View Post
I think a great interview kit would be something like a fresnel with 5500K HID lamp, a coollights CL-455 as fill, and a CL-655 as key. I suppose if the lights were bright enough that a reflector could be substituted as fill. I would like a kit bright enough to use my Brevis35 and my current kit isn't quite there.
Which video camera will you be using that 35mm adapter with? Personally I prefer 255 and 455 but I'm not using any 35mm adapters and those really need a lot of light. In fact, I wonder if this is why you felt the light inadequate from the 200w unit.

My VX2000 in fact works so well that many times the 30w spirals, well placed are all I need. In my last vlog entry I had only 3 30w 5500K lights running. A magenta wash on the wall, a fill and a key--all in fluorescent worklight conversion housings with barn doors. The office I used was too small for the other larger units. As per what we were saying earlier, I had to pay particular attention to not get the fill and the key on the wall or it would wash out the magenta which looks great until some other light spills on it. Hence why you're right, a very small portable HID unit (70 to 150w range) would be a great addition to a portable kit for the guy who doesn't like to heat his talent up.

Or how about this: a 60w LED (yes one single LED) which would be the equivalent of about a 180w light--putting out around 1800 lumens. The nice thing about that is it doesn't emit as much UV as the HID solution--hence not so hot like the metal halide. The catch is that the LED is still pretty pricey so any instrument you make with it will be much higher than a tungsten equivalent. I was thinking about a small pepper type fresnel for this LED and am experimenting with it now. Should have a sample housing in soon to make a very small fresnel unit with it.
Attached Thumbnails
Shooting with Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs).-eggcrate455.jpg  
__________________
Richard Andrewski - Cool Lights USA - RED #114
http://www.coollights.biz
Richard Andrewski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 5th, 2007, 08:51 AM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: NEW JERSEY
Posts: 216
I just bought a pair of the following for $35:

HIGH-OUTPUT COMPACT FLUORESCENT LIGHT BULBS
PART NO. WATTS WATTS VOLTS STYLE LUMENS TEMP. TYPE LENGTH
CFS3065321E26MED 65W 300 120 SPIRAL 4,160 3200K E26 MED. 7
http://www.garvinindustries.com/pdf/18.pdf
The cri is 86

These are the first compact flos that I have had that really put out an honest 3200k. I would rate the light quality as quite good. I would have no problem mixing them with tungsten 3200Ks. Neither my camera or a sheet of diffraction gating showed a difference. They are huge lamps though, about 6" in diameter with a very large ballast. The good news on the ballast is no hum.

I find the tungsten equivalent watts ratings for all compact flos to be much too high. These lamps are 65watts I would rate them at about 150-180 watts equivalent. This is consistent with what I have observed from other manufacturers. Multiply the flo watt rating by no more than 3 to get the tungsten equivalent.
Bill Ball is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 5th, 2007, 09:31 AM   #10
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Shenzhen, China
Posts: 781
Yes that's possible. Even I get lazy and multiply everything by 4 but its the case that those super small self-ballasted units have a less efficient ballast than the separate ballast units. So you're right multiplying by 3 maybe more right on many of the spirals. The spec to watch for is "power factor" and its rarely quoted on spirals and other small wattage self-ballasted. Power factor on ballasts like I use in my pro fixtures is high like .98 and 1.0 is perfect. The small wattage spirals have a power factor of .75 or .8 many times.
__________________
Richard Andrewski - Cool Lights USA - RED #114
http://www.coollights.biz
Richard Andrewski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 5th, 2007, 10:12 AM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: new york city
Posts: 346
Check these out.... 94+ CRI?

Check these out: http://www.fullspectrumsolutions.com...b_412_prd1.htm

They claim these have a 94 + CRI; they'd be great even if the CRI were 90, don't you think? I think the high CRI is due to the fact that they're specially made for "light therapy".
__________________
I will be KING!
Jaadgy Akanni is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 5th, 2007, 01:04 PM   #12
Trustee
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Wyomissing, PA
Posts: 1,141
Images: 57
Those are going more towards the blue end of the spectrum (why they call them "Blue max" : ). I like 5500k as it's dead center of white. You might want to consider Alzo digital's 85watt, 5500K CFLs. A few bucks more for twice the lumen output.

http://alzodigital.com/online_store/...20cool%20lites
__________________
Pete Ferling http://ferling.net It's never a mistake if you learn something new from it.
-------------------------------------------
Peter Ferling is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 5th, 2007, 06:20 PM   #13
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Shenzhen, China
Posts: 781
Yes I agree. FSS changed their manufacturer and only carry 5900K now. Too bad.
__________________
Richard Andrewski - Cool Lights USA - RED #114
http://www.coollights.biz
Richard Andrewski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 6th, 2007, 12:46 AM   #14
Trustee
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 1,961
"You said you prefer fabric grid. Is that for portability sake? Or is it because the apertures are usually larger on a fabric one? Or both..."

I don't necessarily prefer fabric, but it is hard to beat it's portability. I would also like to keep both grids and barn doors working together. For your lights, I would probably just put velcro on the barn doors and attach fabric. That way, I could place it in any position. Close to the bulbs would allow a bit of spill and further out on the barn doors would cause a sort of "snoot" effect. Also, unless the aluminum is very thin, more squares means more light blocked.

"Which video camera will you be using that 35mm adapter with? Personally I prefer 255 and 455 but I'm not using any 35mm adapters and those really need a lot of light. In fact, I wonder if this is why you felt the light inadequate from the 200w unit."

I own the Sony V1 and we also used the Sony A1 CMOS HDV and the Sony Z1 on the shoot. They all were down into the F2.x range, which doesn't leave a lot of room. I have the Brevis35 which doesn't eat a huge amount of light, but just one f-stop of light needs double the light. That brings my desires into the range of the 655.

The actual reason I felt the 200W (I think it's the same fixture pictured on your site) was inadequate is because the 2x32W Smith-Victor PL12 was almost as bright as the 200W softbox. I can only assume that the orientation of the tubes and the fabric eat a lot of light. Perhaps I will go without the fabric next time.

"My VX2000 in fact works so well that many times the 30w spirals, well placed are all I need."

I kinda miss my VX2000, but the V1 normally has a much better image.

"In my last vlog entry I had only 3 30w 5500K lights running. The office I used was too small for the other larger units."

Size does matter. I think my lights were about 6 feet away from their nearest talent, so that means about a quarter of the light is hitting them as opposed to a close interview with the lights 3 feet away. In a one-camera interview, it would be a simple matter to bring the lights in a bit to pick up an f-stop, but the director wanted my camera to do what I would call "effect" work. He wanted the overly tight and roaming composition. This required the two other cameras to ensure coverage. I was the only camera operator, so this couldn't be done with only one stationary camera. More tripods meant that I needed more space to get shots. I guess this particular interview is a special situation, but I would still like to graduate to something more powerful when money is available.

"Hence why you're right, a very small portable HID unit (70 to 150w range) would be a great addition to a portable kit for the guy who doesn't like to heat his talent up. Or how about this: a 60w LED (yes one single LED) which would be the equivalent of about a 180w light--putting out around 1800 lumens. I was thinking about a small pepper type fresnel for this LED and am experimenting with it now."

Fresnel lights are the cornerstone of a lot of light kits for a reason. I think I just learned this reason. Although I prefer soft light, total control is sometimes going to be required. A cool-running daylight-balanced fresnel sort of fixture that doesn't cost $HMI$ money would be quite useful. The little Lowel Pro-light is a nifty fixture and it would be great if it could be 5500K and cool without costing two thousand dollars.
Marcus Marchesseault is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 6th, 2007, 01:18 AM   #15
Trustee
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Sauk Rapids, MN, USA
Posts: 1,675
Mr. Cool lights up there has patterns and instructions on his website for putting barndoors on clamp lights as well ( http://www.coollights.biz/wordpress/archives/21 )...I'm running with GE Softwhite CFL's in ACDelco Clamp lights. The GE's go up to 150watt equiv and the ACDelco's don't have the friction knuckles, they're bolted in place so you wan't have to keep buying them when they fall apart...you can get them online, nice long cables too. :) I'm going to see about getting a couple of those monster CFL's above...very nice.

Make sure you are using a balanced audio system with these lights, they're really buzzy...and soundtrack pro can only remove so much before the voices are destroyed...listen to the audio in my short scare tactics for examples after scrubbing, and I've got all my footage from my latest short online at http://www.yafiunderground.com/bolts.php This is straight out of the camera...you'll be able to hear how much RF these lights through out.
__________________
Web Youtube Facebook
Cole McDonald is offline   Reply
Reply

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

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Photon Management

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:37 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network