What Lighting Package should I buy?
I am starting a small production company and we have some jobs lined up to make small commercials and skits. Initially I had planned to just rent lights, but costs are adding up and I feel it would just be smarter to purchase them.
After much craigslist and ebay searching, I feel there aren't any good used lighting kits available out there or at least not at this time.
So anyway, I am writing here because initially I was looking to purchase the the Arri Softbank 571984 kit for $2,750.84 (link below)
and I would like your opinion on this kit or any other lighting package you might recommend. We will be shooting a majority of the time with the HVX 200. Are there any lights you guys feel look really good shot on HVX? We are willing to spend between $2,500 - $3,500
Any help is greatly appreciated.
Nothing wrong with this kit. However, be aware that it is entirely a tungsten kit, and if you are shooting in daylight environments you will need to add at least 1/2 CTB (blue) to all your units. You will also find yourself wanting to cut light with C-stands armed with flags and cutters. I don't have time to research a better bang for your buck, but I suspect there is one out there for you. Do plan to add some diffusion (opal and 1/2 grid) as well as some warming gels (1/4 and 1/2 CTO), some cooling gels (1/4 and 1/2 CTB), some minus green ( 1/4 will do) and some plus green (1/4 will do). (If 1/4 strength is not enough, double it up to make 1/2.)
It is probably better to buy a really solid kit, such as the Arri, than a flimsier one that will break sooner. However, it may be that Lowel offers more bang for the buck, and if you are careful with these units they too should last a long time. Lowels are not as robust, however, as Arri or Mole, which is why rental houses rarely offer them. There are also Dedo lights and KinoFlos to consider.
Many options. Take the time now to explore, make a decision, and make that decision work for you, with no regrets.
director of photography
Thanks for the tips Rick.
What are the advantages/disadvantages between kino flows and tungsten? I know kino flows light evenly and the temperature is more constant. Do they make HVX 200 footage look better because of it?
You might want to check out the very similar but often-overlooked kits from LTM Pepper.
I really like Peppers, if you are going for tungsten fresnels. They have several very complete kits in several combinations. I'm an Arri fan, but I definitely prefer Peppers to Arris. They are built like tanks, and are a great bang for the buck.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
As far as Lowel being flimsy, I have a Lowel kit going on 24 years old, still working. Yes, replaced a knob or two over the years, the heavy-duty versions of their stands are better value, but the stuff overall is good. I think it is smart to invest in owning lights, I'd buy lights before buying the camera, in fact. They retain good resale value as well, often better than cameras do.
But think first about the kinds of shots you will do most often, and arrange your light purchases for that, reserving for rental the oddball occasional shoots outside your norms.
Will you shoot mostly outdoors? Then you want to invest in HMIs, maybe like the joker bug.
A lot of indoor, close-up interviews? A softlight like the Lowel Rifa, or the Fluorescent Caselight is good. The flos run cool, and pull less power, good for places where juice is limited.
Then again, you may need to combine a softlight with more traditional 3-point hard lights, or shoot in a lot of different places where you need to throw lumens with abandon. If you want to travel, then open-faced lights are lighter, cheaper, more rugged and easier than fresnels, and this is what I have used most of my career. Lowel Omni's and omni pros are very flexible.
Yeah, I'm an unapologetic Lowel fanboy. Not that there aren't other brands just as good. But I like their mix-and match kits and all their 007-like accessories.
Andrew, it looks like you don't yet understand the terms, tungsten vs daylight. Kinoflos can have either tungsten or daylight tubes (as well as super blues, super greens, and a few other colors.) The big advantage of KinoFlos is that you can tube them with daylight tubes when shooting in daylight, and tube them with tungsten when shooting indoors where there are practical tungsten units such as warm whites etc. The disadvantage to Kinos is that they are always soft light, and they don't put out a whole lot of light. Shooting interiors this isn't usually a big problem, but outside it often is.
Good tungsten units remain the same color temperature for a long, long time.
Various Kinos and other similar fluorescent fixtures can and often do tend toward a green spike, especially if they get hot (as they do when pointed straight down.) Hence it is a good idea to check the color temperature with a color-temperature meter (expensive) and/or a color-critical monitor, and to have on hand 1/8 and 1/4 minus-green gels to correct when needed.
director of photography
My advice would be to look into several kits to see what they include, but let the projects you work on direct your final decisions. As you can tell from the posts here, people tend to use the lights they have become familiar with. I have always preferred renting equipment because each job usually requires different things, and it is hard not to make the stuff you own dictate the limits of what you do. At any rate, until you are familiar with the lighting equipment you will be using most of the time, renting will keep you from buying something you will rarely or never use again, and can help you refine your wish list before buying. Working with a good rental company is a great way to improve the quality of your work.
If you can afford it, Joker kits or other small HMIs often prove far more versatile. Adding CTO to an HMI is a more affordable light loss than adding CTB to a tungsten fixture.
I love kinos, but again, if you buy particular fixtures you'll be trying to use your own when a bigger or smaller version would be the right call. If you find yourself continually using something, then by all means, buy it.
If you're on a shoestring, look for used kits and theatrical lights on e-bay (or even craig's list if you're in major city). Sometimes churches and schools have lights they don't know what to do with collecting dust. Lights designed for the stage aren't as compact or easy to transport, but they are easily modified and usually put out a lot of light per amp draw. Ellipsoidals (like ETC 575 Source Fours)can do some amazing things when you get the hang of using them to bounce light off of cards, walls or ceilings, but don't go buying stuff just because it's cheap unless you want to store dust-covered lights too.