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Lowel Rifa 66

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Charles Mercer
Lowel Rifa 66
on Jan 30, 2010 at 9:25:28 am

A couple of months ago I mentioned I was having trouble with lamps blowing on my Rifa 66. Within days of using the new instrument a lamp blew and then the replacement gave me three hours, so did the next one. The fourth lamp blew on turn on (and tripped the circuit breakers in the studio as you might expect) I use 240v 650Watt lamps, by the way, which never seemed easy to get into the holder. Well, I've found the trouble. Let me say the problem here when you complain to the suppliers is that one will say the instrument must be at fault and the other will say it's the lamps that are substandard. Either way, your profit disappears in replacement lamp costs!
I bought a new bayonet fitting and another lamp, installed them and so far no problems. When I examined the original bayonet fitting, I found the part where the lamp pins go in had a split in it (see the excellent Lowel website part No. 9100/2)With the amps going through the pins, I can only suspect that power was tracking to the metal casing and killing the lamps.
I've now been promised a new bayonet holder, so feel a little vindicated about my complaints. A sweetner to cover the cost of my four blown lamps would also be nice. But I love this instrument and it's perfect for our mobile work, so I hope that's the end of the trouble.
Regards
Charles

Charles Mercer
Pearldrop Video Productions


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Daniel Schultz
Re: Lowel Rifa 66
on Jan 30, 2010 at 4:41:11 pm

I have the Rifa 88 and love it as well. Haven't used it much, so I hope I don't have the same problem.

Has anyone tried the flouresent attachment? Seems like an easy way to get soft daylight.

Dan S.


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Ralph Chaney
Re: Lowel Rifa 66
on Jan 30, 2010 at 6:01:38 pm

Gents,

I'm very interested in this discussion. I've been considering a switch to Rifa, from Photoflex softboxes.

I too am especially interested in how the flourescents work in Rifa's. Enough light output?

  • With egg crate added, are the Rifa's very front-heavy?
  • How quickly can you wrap up the unit, after shooting? I see a cage over the lamp. Does this prevent burning the fabric while the lamp is hot?
  • What negatives do you see in the Rifa's... improvements?
  • Any sources of used Rifa's that you can suggest?
  • If I buy used, anything to look for... typical weak spots?

Thanks much. Hoping to join your "club"...

-> Ralph


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Charles Mercer
Re: Lowel Rifa 66
on Jan 31, 2010 at 10:04:55 am

Responding to Ralph's points, I haven't tried the fluors in the Rifa yet. I see no reason why they shouldn't work but you will lose the abilty to fold up the shell of the instrument as the internal fitting is bigger than the bayonet holder.
In Tungsten mode the Rifa does get hot, as you would expect with 650 watts, and you have to wait for a cool-down period before you can strike. This can be a nuisance if you have a janitor breathing down your neck to clear you out of the location. But I wait for the lamp to cool a bit, and then cover the metal protecting cage with a plumber's mat (bought from B&Q Home Depot equivalent in UK). Use a glove if you decide to do this. I stitched this into a cylinder and it fits perfectly without touching the lamp. Without this shield you would burn the umbrella fabric. A sales opportunity for Lowel here I think?
I'm going to try a small personal fan tied onto the umbrella next time out - a bit Heath Robinson but it should help.
I have the egg-crate attachment and this helps keep light off the background. But the price you pay is 1 1/2 EV stops in light loss, not the end of the world but you have to allow for it on your exposure settings.
All this being said, for mobile work, this is the instrument. You can set up quickly and the light is beautifully soft. It's good enough to use on it's own and I wish I had bought my Rifa as my first instrument. But we live and learn.

Regards

Charles

Charles Mercer
Pearldrop Video Productions


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Ralph Chaney
Re: Lowel Rifa 66
on Feb 2, 2010 at 10:05:04 pm

Thanks for your take on the Rifa. As for egg crate, I own a large photoflex softbox with louvers instead of egg crate. It cuts light on one axis only. It weighs less, cuts out less subject light, and I don't care if light spills onto the floor or ceiling. I think I'll fabricate something like this for whatever Rifas I end up with. At $189 per crate, for just the Rifa55 size, I could come up with something that should work out just fine as an alternative. I hope my "inner-McGyver" is awake.

And thank you much for the bulb-shield solution! Nice.

If you run across anyone selling a Rifa, please let me/us know.

Thanks again,
R.


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Charles Mercer
Re: Lowel Rifa 66
on Feb 3, 2010 at 9:02:49 am

Hi Ralph. I like making things and I'll use anything off camera to achieve the result I want to keep the costs down. I think the advantage of the Rifa egg-crate fitting is that it folds down to a very small package. It's a bit like a magician's piece of kit and goes into a very small bag. This is a consideration for me as most of my work is mobile. I note you quote dollar prices so I can't recommend suppliers as I'm UK based. Actually, we have to pay in UK pounds what you guys are quoted in dollars, so US products are quite expensive for us in the UK. I buy my Rifa gear from Production Gear at Borehamwood, but the stock comes through a distributor to them, so we are hit with a double whammy as the chain adds in profit for each handler.
Regards
Charles

Charles Mercer
Pearldrop Video Productions


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Ralph Chaney
Re: Lowel Rifa 66
on Feb 3, 2010 at 6:27:13 pm

Yes, that's great to be able to magically fold them up. I think I'll try to come up with something that collapses down to the width of the box, say 32" for an 88. I'm assuming, hoping, that it will be shorter than the length of the other collapsed parts of the kit. (Will measure ahead of time, of course.)
If I come up with something I'll surely post it here.

*It may be in March when I can get to it.

Onward,
Ralph


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Mark Suszko
Re: Lowel Rifa 66
on Feb 4, 2010 at 6:33:20 am

I think Lowel should pay me for being the COW's semi-official Rifa fanboy:-)

They are very easy to put up and take down fast. Like opening an umbrella. The fabric used is nomex, same as race car driver's fireproof suits. They will char a little if they touch a very hot bulb, but this is rare. I yank the diffuser off the instrument the second we call a wrap, and I go put away the camera and tripod first: by that time, the Rifa has cooled enough to safely fold: warm, but not burning. The cage does protect the bulb from contacting the sides, as well as keeping skin oils from your hand from touching the cold bulb during deployment. Rifas give a lovely Vermeer-like wrap-around light that is flattering to everyone, and though we use them in more or less ENG fast and furious news interviews in the field, they improve the lighting very much over traditional ENG lighting. And when you have the time to light a nice sit-down interview, well, that looks good too. But we initially got them to get away from the harsh look of "sun gun" news lighting.

We have the Rifa in three sizes, and I much prefer the larger ones. We found the egg crates too expensive to buy up front, and it is impossible to get our money people to pay for one now, so we just flag our lights using extra stands and foam core sheets, if we need to control spill. In the field we generally don't need to do this too often, particularly if using a smaller Rifa in close for one person in medium to tight shots.

One other area where Rifa's could stand improvement is the chrome tips on the ends on the ribs should be stitched on tighter. Also, it is IMPORTANT to always ROLL UP the diffuser, NEVER fold it. Folding makes the diffuser fabric spilt and tear.





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Dennis Size
Re: Lowel Rifa 66
on Feb 4, 2010 at 7:01:04 am

Gee Mark, I thought you WERE on Ross' payroll! I've never heard anyone extoll the virtues of his products as much as you!

I have stopped voicing my opinion about Lowel gear, but I feel compelled to point out that the instrumentation itself is not necessarily what determines the look of the end product. The important thing is how any gear is used -- and the skill of the lighting designer, shooter, DP, using the gear.

DS



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Mark Suszko
Re: Lowel Rifa 66
on Feb 4, 2010 at 3:04:28 pm

See, Dennis, we can always agree on *something* :-)


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Ralph Chaney
Re: Lowel Rifa 66
on Feb 4, 2010 at 4:53:07 pm

Thanks, Mark. More than a fan, you're part of the appendix to whatever Manuals they may include. Your ways of working with the gear and noting points of weakness are a great help.

And Dennis, not sure what Lowell's overall negatives are... from my experience they could use a little more beef. The Rifa's provide time, which is is often the most valuable "piece of equipment" on the set.

I think Rifa is the only quick setup softbox being sold...? I wonder if there are others.

-R.


-> Ralph


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Mark Suszko
Re: Lowel Rifa 66
on Feb 4, 2010 at 9:59:33 pm

I have told this one before, about racing with a guy from a Chicago O&O station to see who could get his softbox up first; him with a chimera, speed ring and Arri light, me with the Rifa. I spotted him already having his components out and in hand, but still beat him by a minute, easy.

Ross, where's my G-D checks, how long does a brother have to wait:-)


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Charles Mercer
Re: Lowel Rifa 66
on Feb 5, 2010 at 9:12:14 am

Wow! This thread seems to be taking on a life of its own regarding the Rifa light. There's obviously a lot of useful information out there circulatiing from people who actually use the gear - priceless. Dipping into the font of wisdom once again (and avoiding too much hagiography) could anyone recommend Ross Lowell's book 'Matters of Light and Depth'? I'm trying to track down a copy in the UK and I've seen one on Amazon, but at an outrageous price (OK, so I'm a skinflint) I like to browse through a book first before handing over large sums of money and you can't really do that on-line.
And I wonder if the great man himself could enlighten us on the spelling of his name - is it one 'L' or two? My UK Tiffen catalogue uses one 'L' followed by a superscript 'L' incorporated into a logo. I think we should be told.

Regards
Charles

Charles Mercer
Pearldrop Video Productions


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Mark Suszko
Re: Lowel Rifa 66
on Feb 5, 2010 at 2:57:39 pm

"Matters of light and Depth" is considered a staple book of the industry by many.

As far as lighting, I also would suggest Bill Holshevni- damn, can never spell his name right - Bill Holshevnikoff's "Power of Lighting".


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Charles Mercer
Re: Lowel Rifa 66
on Feb 6, 2010 at 9:04:04 am

Thanks Mark, I can never get enough to read about the fascinating art of lighting sets so I'll try to track down Holshevnikov's book. I have just found 'Matters of Light and Depth' on ebay. The book was offered as 'acceptable' but at $19 plus $15 postage to the UK, I hope I've got a bargain. Some of the prices I've seen for second-hand copies are eye-popping.
As a by the by, we had our official studio opening yesterday and managed to attract thirty prospects (amazing what the offer of free food does) The main purpose of the day was to show off the green screen and to encourage impromptu performances with a bottle of Champagne for the best offering. We had intended posting the results on Youtube next week but my techy guy (son) immediately processed the footage on Final Cut and we turned the monitor round for an instant replay. This was a big hit and the cause of much hilarity, but, on the serious side gained us four immediate customers. I'll still post on Youtube and send you a link after we get our breath back.
Regards
Charles

Charles Mercer
Pearldrop Video Productions


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Mark Price
Re: Lowel Rifa 66
on Mar 2, 2010 at 1:21:42 pm

Hey all
I am a big fan of the rifa line. I own a 44 55 & a66 each works wonderfully. I own the flo attachments (1 of the three bulbs and two of the single) and find them helpfull in many ways. I have used them the Lowell daylight bulbs which I had 2 major complaints. 1st at $30+ a bulb they are expensive but they are also extremly fragile and last time I ordered them 4 out of the 12 ordered came broken. 2nd when using them with the 3 bulb attachmentthey become a little too heavy for the yoke and sometimes sag. One other thing I noticed about the Lowell daylight bulbs is they tended to have a bit of green in them most notible a +7 on my minolta color meter
With that being said I have usedthem alot in office building super markets to match the color temp of the enviroment using bulbs bought at any local store.
I most recently used them on a job with robert eiswith and he snore by them on that job the gaffer Andy Day had 24 of these lights on the job and were used in every light set up.
In reguards to the eggcrates I find that they are totally worth there high price each one of my Rifas has a 40 degree crate and I always have them on there. I find that it makes them very easy to control


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Charles Mercer
Re: Lowel Rifa 66
on Mar 3, 2010 at 9:39:48 am

Hi Mark. Interesting comments on the Rifa fluors. They did look a bit heavy, but I haven't tried them yet, so I'll reserve judgement. I'm looking for an instrument of about 1000watts which I can use to fire through a Gobo and coloured gel to throw a nice background effect. I'm using an Ianiro redhead 650Watt at the moment but I'm losing light to the gel and it's being overome by the key light a bit (I egg-crate the Rifa 66 off, but it's hard in confined office spaces to get the light completely off the background) Any ideas?

Regards
Charles

Charles Mercer
Pearldrop Video Productions


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Mark Suszko
Re: Lowel Rifa 66
on Mar 3, 2010 at 1:22:56 pm

Other Mark here. Shooting thru a gobo or cookie is not IMO what the Rifa is for, and you would be better served there using a traditional fixture like a fresnel, an ellipsoidal spot like the Source Four Junior, (which will hold an actual gobo pattern insert) or an open-faced light like the Lowel Omni. The soft light off a rifa would be severely attenuated by a cookie/gobo, not to mention the point of those items for casting shadows is somewhat defeated by a softbox which would not cast as hard of a hard shadow. I think you want a hard point source, or at least something harder than a softbox, when trying to cast cookie patterns. But I'm willing to be schooled otherwise.


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Charles Mercer
Re: Lowel Rifa 66
on Mar 3, 2010 at 2:25:55 pm

Hi Mark
Sorry, didn't make myself clear. I wouldn't use the Rifa for the gobo rig, I was looking for a hard source. I actually have some homebrew cuckoloris (funny word) rather than metal gobo inserts which are very expensive in the UK. I am having trouble finding a 1,000 watt instrument as everything seems to be 800 watts or 2000 watts with not much in between. I can use a dimmer on 2,000 watts, but I like to keep the wattage down when on clients' premises for obvious reasons. I'll have a look at the Omni and the soft force junior (if I can find a source in the UK)

Thanks for the info.

Charles

Charles Mercer
Pearldrop Video Productions


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Mark Price
Re: Lowel Rifa 66
on Mar 3, 2010 at 3:35:54 pm

Just as an FYI most 800 watt open face can actually rake a 1000 watt bulb. It's not going to hurt the light and I know the case of mole Richardson they include the lamp types that can be used with units. But if u are looking to keep the watts down I strongly sudgest a source four lecko with a hpl 750 watt 120volt bulb (I am sure they have them in other voltage) these lights provide more control then any fresnel or open face and allow u to create hard shadows or softer shadows depending on the postion of the lens. they also provide more foot candles then a 1k fresnel and I believe a openface but I personally hate openface lights so have never tested ithe two against each other U don't need to use them with metal hobos to create a look a cuckolris will work fine
In regaurds to keeping the Rifa off the back wall I am not sure of ur angle but I usually box in lights with flags. Find a topper works really well. But when a flag is not practical I sometimes have my rifa up high and have a duvatine teaser hanging from the ceiling. It usually goes behind or above the subject and is just out of frame

Atomic Spark Media


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