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Chet Wesley
cheap ebay fluorescent lights
on Jun 21, 2008 at 8:15:23 am

Hi,
I need to get some cheap lights for someone who can not afford the expensive industry standard lights. A $500+ light kit (which I know is nothing for lights) is simply out of the question, we need to do it CHEAP.

Also, we need them to be fluorescent because we will be shooting in a confined space and can't have all the heat that tungsten bulbs will produce, so my old standby of home depot work lights are out the window as well.

I have been looking around on ebay, and found this:
http://cgi.ebay.com/1200-WATT-TWIN-FLUORESCENT-LIGHT-STUDIO-UMBRELLA-KIT_W0...

I have read up quite a bit on fluorescent lights for video, and know that the color rendering index is the key, but these lights don't list a color rendering index.

Does anyone have experience lighting with these types of cheap compact fluorescent lights or any practical advice on what kind of results I can expect if I use these? We are shooting on DV and HDV.

For that matter, I would be interested to hear about anyone who has shot with plain old consumer compact fluorescent bulbs or others with a low CRI and if you have noticed any tangible difference.

Thanks,

CW


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Rick Wise
Re: cheap ebay fluorescent lights
on Jun 21, 2008 at 7:18:09 pm

Actually, these units DO list color temperature -- daylight. Seems like one heck of a deal. I have no idea how long the bulbs last, where you get replacements, etc. 600 watts bouncing off an umbrella isn't a whole lot of fire power, but maybe you can make it work.

Note that you could also use ordinary fluorescents. They should match any others in the scene. Then white-balance your camera and shoot. You may want to fool the camera a little bit by white balancing through a piece of 1/8 or 1/4 blue, making the camera warm up skin tones a bit. Get a sheet of 1/8th and try it. If you want more warmth, double it to make 1/4. The disadvantage to this method is if there is any daylight in the rooms as well as your lights, the daylight may look a bit magenta because you have, in effect, electronically added magenta to your camera's setting to counter the green spike in the fluorescents. Further, if the ambient fluros are warm whites, then daylight will look very, very blue.

Consequently, it will be easier to use the cheap units you list, provided you are shooting in a daylight environment. If you are shooting in a tungsten one, you need to see if you can find tungsten fluros that fit these fixtures.

Rick Wise
director of photography
Oakland, CA
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Chet Wesley
Re: cheap ebay fluorescent lights
on Jun 23, 2008 at 2:57:30 am

Yes, I see the color temperature in the listing, but they do not list the color rendering index.

What I understood was that lights could be balanced for a certain temperature, but still not evenly represent different areas of spectrum. I was told that the CRI tells you how evenly the spectrum is represented... ie: a CRI of 100 would be completely flat spectrum representation (even lighting across all frequencies), while lower CRIs could have major dips or spikes in certain areas of the spectrum... Sort of like frequency response in a microphone or hifi speakers - flatter is better and results in a more natural, "true" image.

I haven't lit a shoot with low CRI fluorescent bulbs before, so I don't know much about the resulting image in a practical, tangible sense.



[edit] Sorry, after that I forgot to say thanks for the other info you have given, that should help even if these are low CRI.


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Michael Palmer
Re: cheap ebay fluorescent lights
on Jun 21, 2008 at 11:28:28 pm

I would say these lights may be a good solution for your immediate needs. CRI doesn't always need to be at 90%+, depending on how you are using them or if you can correct them. If you light a person using only these lights and no other units are necessary and no other daylight is represented in the frame then white balancing should give you a decent look or you should have no problem correcting the green out later. Even if these lights have a CRI of 80% or below you could wrap them with some minus green color correction gel, (1/4 or 1/2 minus green) and blend in some 1/8 or 1/4 CTO to make them work with Daylight balance situations.

I wouldn't call them a 1200 watt light package, with just 2- 85 watt compact bulbs (in each unit) they are marketed to have 600 watts of lumens, (not really) just don't compare this wattage as you would with a tungsten or HMI unit. I would say it really helps if you have the same source fluorescent lights since there are way to may manufactures using their own blends of phosphor's combining them with various power illumination sources.

The video camera is a wonderful color temperature meter and it will give you a visual reference to help you with your color correction needs, however a color meter would tell you how these tubes/bulbs are preforming. Here is a link to more info http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/47/855957

I must say I'm very picky and I haven't found a compact Flo yet that I really like. I like the T-12 and T-8 tubes the best.





Good Luck
Michael Palmer


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