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Arri Kit vs a-la-carte

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Daniel Schultz
Arri Kit vs a-la-carte
on Dec 27, 2009 at 3:45:57 pm

I know this has been an ongoing discussion on this forum--just spent a few hours reading all the posts about it--Arri vs Lowell, and Kit vs putting something together. Not wanting to open a can of worms, but a few opinions might be helpful.

I'm thinking of getting the Arri kit with two 650 fresnels, one 300 fresnel, and the arri lite 1K w/softbox. Having used fresnels in the lighting class I took, I love the control you can get with them. One of the main reasons for buying a kit is so that I can spend lots of time practicing and learning.

I know the fresnels have been around for ages and are tried and true. I have no experience with LED litepanels, but I'm starting to get that they're great to have, especially when balancing with daylight.

The question is this: Is tungsten soon to be considered the "bad old days" (use tons of electricity, heavy, hot, etc) before long? Or are they (meaning tungston vs LED) considered apples and oranges?

The feeling I'm getting from reading other posts, is that if I get the arri kit, even if I have to occasionally rent other lights, they will be workhorses for years to come, and that I'll not regret it. But I've heard some conflicting opinions on it.

I'll be shooting HD, documentary-style interviews and b-roll, as well as several other scenarios. Some will be run and gun, others will allow more time for lighting setup, and would like to be able to shape the lighting and LCR, color temp, etc.

Thanks for your advice!


Dan S.


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john sharaf
Re: Arri Kit vs a-la-carte
on Dec 27, 2009 at 3:54:02 pm

Dan,

The LED's are really more of an "proximity" light, like a Kino Flo, so they definitely are not as versatile as the 650's and 1K in the Arri kit, which can be used for both hard and soft light and can be aimed near and far. Also, because they are new and emerging technology they are still quite expensive (at least the good ones with accurate color). To be sure, hike yourself down to a pro video showroom and have a good play with all these units before you spend the big bucks, you'll be much more secure that you're making the right decision.

JS



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Daniel Schultz
Re: Arri Kit vs a-la-carte
on Dec 27, 2009 at 4:09:07 pm

Thanks for all your help, John.

Dan S.


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Bill Davis
Re: Arri Kit vs a-la-carte
on Dec 27, 2009 at 7:58:29 pm

Daniel,

My advice would be to amend the Arri Kit to the other standard configuration which is 2 650s and 2 300s.

This gives you two balanced "sides" of fresnel lighting. This will do primary lighting for both interviews and larger venue issues like recording a more formal presentation where you need to set up the camera at the back of a room and cover a speaker or presentation. With suitable bounce cards, you can also cover dual persons 60 minutes style interviews.

You're losing the 1k and the softbox. To replace that buy a 1k Lowel Tota and extra 500 and 750 lamps for the Tota. This with a Chimera Small will replace the 1k with a more flexible soft key at significantly less cost and gives you the option to downlamp it and better balance the light to today's far more sensitive DV cameras. The 1k Arri open face is about the only fixture Arri Makes that I don't really like. Unless they've changed it since I last used one a decade ago, the housing isn't well matched to the heat of that size lamp and the plastic of the fixture is nearly always singed or partially melted in kits I've come across. Plus with today's new light sensitive fixtures, 1k is too strong for most lighting setups smaller than a warehouse. The Tota lets you opt to the 1000 watt open face config if you need to blast light into a big open area more efficiently than the Arri.

I'd expect you can light for a good 5-10 years of an early career with just these basics.

Add as needed as the jobs come up to support further investment.

My 2 cents anyway.



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Daniel Schultz
Re: Arri Kit vs a-la-carte
on Dec 28, 2009 at 1:47:57 pm

Thanks, Bill.

Interesting idea using the Tota as my soft box.. I was thinking along similar lines, because I love the arri fresnels, and I'm not crazy about their open faced lights either, but wanted a quick/easy way to get a soft key without being foreced to cart along c-stands and bounce cards or such.

I just picked up the other kit from B&H (2 650s, 1 300, 1k arri lite). I have 15 days to think about it, return this kit and exchange. Price-wise, it'd be roughly the same getting the 4 fresnels and the tota, because the 4 fresnel kit is about $300 cheaper than the softbox kit. The main issue for me is the idea of adding more weight. The arri kit's so heavy, and I'd love to not have to add to it. Perhaps the tota and chimera could squeeze into the arri case?

Thoughts?

Dan S.


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Bill Davis
Re: Arri Kit vs a-la-carte
on Dec 29, 2009 at 1:56:41 am

Plenty of room in case for extras.



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Daniel Schultz
Re: Arri Kit vs a-la-carte
on Dec 28, 2009 at 1:54:55 pm

One more question for Bill: If I go with the Tota, do I need to use the tota softbox, or should I use the same one that comes with the arri, which is the chimera?
Thanks again.

Dan S.


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Daniel Schultz
Re: Arri Kit vs a-la-carte
on Dec 28, 2009 at 2:02:27 pm

And then to further confuse matters...

What about Lowell's Rifa softbox, compared to the tota as the softbox?

Dan S.


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Daniel Schultz
Re: Arri Kit vs a-la-carte
on Dec 28, 2009 at 2:24:10 pm

Just talked to B&H and turns out they don't make the tota 1000s anymore, because they had problems with heat. So the two Lowel choices are
1. Rifa softbox, a little pricier
2. DP with a chimera softbox, which can be stepped down from 1000 to 700 and 500 lamps.

Would you still recommend the Lowel softbox over the arri lite 1k?

Dan S.


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Peter Rummel
Re: Arri Kit vs a-la-carte
on Dec 28, 2009 at 7:12:41 pm

I bought the Arri kit you got about 12 years ago, and have used it almost every shooting day since. It's been the cornerstone of my lighting package - a great deal. The fixtures, stands, and case are all good quality.

But I found the open face 1k too much for most situations. That is a LOT of light to be throwing at someone in an interview. I took it out of the case, and replaced it in the case with a Tota (500-700 watts, depending) and a 100 Pepper. The Tota works with the Chimera, but needs a dedicated speed ring. The Tota can also be used bounced or even direct if needed, unlike a Rifa. I bring the 1k along in another bag if I suspect I'm going to need it.

In the Arri case I've also put 2 dimmers, 2 extra stingers, grip clips and various clamps, a round foldable reflector, and a large selection of gels and diffusion. Yes, my lighting case if very heavy - but I have confidence I can handle most situations that come up.

In recent years I've added KinoFlos and an HMI to my kit. They do many things beautifully - but the Arri lights are still more useful and versatile



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Daniel Schultz
Re: Arri Kit vs a-la-carte
on Dec 28, 2009 at 8:12:33 pm

Hi Peter,

Thanks for your advice, all the more valuable with your experience.

I guess it comes down to two choices.

1. Keep the kit I have and add a tota with speed ring, and bring the 1k if I need it.

2. Return the kit, and get the one with 4 fresnels (2 300s, 2 650s) and get a lowel light and softbox that can do 1k, 700 or 500. That way I'd have the two matching sets of fresnels AND the softbox.

With your experience with the arri kit, what would you suggest. I like the idea of jamming as much as possible into the arri case, even if it's heavy.

Thanks!

Dan S.


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Peter Rummel
Re: Arri Kit vs a-la-carte
on Dec 29, 2009 at 6:06:43 pm

I think I would get more use out of the 2-300 2-650 option. But I'm thinking interview/small scenes. If you're going to be shooting, say, stage performances or larger spaces then a 1k would be very useful.

A purchase like this is expensive, and you want to get it right, but it's not your "final" lighting kit. If you need more powerful or specialty lights for the occasional shoot, then rent them until it makes sense to buy. Either Arri kit would make a fine start.



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Bill Davis
Re: Arri Kit vs a-la-carte
on Dec 29, 2009 at 2:04:34 am

While soft boxes work with any speed ring, speed rings tend to be instrument specific.

The Tota speed ring mounts very differently than the speed ring for a fresnel.

Also, while you can easily purchase speed rings for the 650 Arri Fresnels in your kit. The fresnel lenses will narrow the light beam such that it fills only a part of a short softbox like the Chimera. If you want to use softboxes with the fresnels, you need the deeper Photoflex boxes - which unfortunately are much more unweildy and much more "nose heavy" than the Chimera boxes. So I'm not fond of them.

The whole point of filling a soft box with a VERY Broad source like a Tota is that it fills the box FULLY. Not even a DP will do so as well. and Tota's are small, light, foldable, use affordable lamps - and are generally useful instruments on their own.

I personally don't like DP lights. They get VERY, VERY hot. (so do the tota's but that's somehow more tolerable to me in something that's so small and easy to carry) DPs start clunky and stay clunky. VMMV.



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Daniel Schultz
Re: Arri Kit vs a-la-carte
on Dec 29, 2009 at 2:22:32 am

Thanks...that helps me rule out the DP, since it seems to have similar problems as the arrilite 1k. Problem with the tota is that it only goes to 700w these days, and it would be good to have the option of having a 1k softlight if I need it--even though I'd likely be lamping down to 700 or 500w most of the time. The makes me thing that perhaps this might be the best solution:

1. Arri kit with two 300s and two 650s fresnels
2. Rifa softbox with 1k lamp and 700 and 500 lamps to take it down.


That would give me two 300 fresnels, which I'm thinking will come in handy. And it'll also give me a more versatile softbox. What do you think.

Dan S.


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Jeffrey Venable
Re: Arri Kit vs a-la-carte
on Dec 29, 2009 at 4:26:49 pm

I have the 5pc Arri Kit: (2)150's, 300, 650, 1k and it has EASILY been the best piece of equipment I have purchased over the past few years. Like a few others have said...the box weighs about as much as a small elephant, but it's well worth it.
Arri's have a solid reputation, which is always a good reason to spend a few more bucks on the front end.

Jeff Venable
-Video + Editing + Photo-


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Daniel Schultz
Re: Arri Kit vs a-la-carte
on Dec 29, 2009 at 10:37:52 pm

Well, for anyone who's interested, I settled on the rifa over the arrilite 1k.

I tested them both in various setups. The Chimera that comes with the arrilite throws a very nice soft light, especially when you add the 2nd diffuser, which it comes with. But to me, the Rifa won for the flexibility and quality. When I lamped down to 500w on the Rifa, the shadows were super soft, and the lighting contrast ratio much lower. It was a really nice quality. Conversly, the 1000k lamp on the Rifa gives a high LCR. It also sets up and folds up super fast--the speed ring on the arri light is a royal pain. With three lamps--the 1000k, the 750 and 500, I was able to get a variety of light, both in terms of quantity, LCR, and soft/hard. Also, the Rifa cools down much faster than the arri.

That will allow me to return the softbank arri kit I have and get the one with two 300 fresnels and two 650 fresnels (which I love), and leave the softbox to Rifa.

Thanks to everyone for your help.

Dan S.


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