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Light Kit for 2K?

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Jerod Chambers
Light Kit for 2K?
on Jul 6, 2010 at 3:49:57 pm

Hello experts!

Could really use some help on picking out a light kit. I've been reading the forums trying to get an idea of what might be the best route for me as a kit, and have decided to just ask. So here is my scenario. Thanks in advance!

I have roughly $2K (maybe $2500 if I push) to spend on a light kit.

I shoot with a Panasonic P2 HPX500 with a fujinon 17x lens.

I work for a church and the majority of my videos are either interviews or creative shorts that are often shot in homes.

I have no need to light a large area and do not have any equipment in which to build from. I have used Arri lighting and Lowel lighting for productions in the past. The Arri's tended to be my main lighting set when I had a lot of time and the lowels for portability and quick set up.

I really appreciate your help and look forward to hearing your opinions!


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Alan Lloyd
Re: Light Kit for 2K?
on Jul 6, 2010 at 4:58:38 pm

the majority of my videos are either interviews or creative shorts that are often shot in homes.



I'd shop carefully, look for used instruments wherever possible, make sure I had at least one softbox, and ideally, have the entire kit be able to run off a single 20-amp circuit. A couple Lowel Omnis, a Rifa perhaps (or a ring and Chimera for one of the Omni heads), maybe a couple Arri 300W Fresnels, and the very useful Lowel L-Lights (take a standard screw base, so you can put a 100W MR-16 or a regular bulb in there) and make sure you don't skimp on modifiers (blackwrap, scrims, color, diffusion, maybe a good - shielded - dimmer or two) and a "shorty" grip arm.

Also, a couple good 20'-50' heavy-duty power cords, a collapsible reflector, at least one suspended ceiling clip, a Cardellini or two, and good stands. Oh, and don't forget spares fro every instrument!

If you buy used, carefully, this is possible. And you'll learn a lot if you piece your kit together too. Like, what you really use and how useful some things can be and what you wind up not using very often.


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Rick Wise
Re: Light Kit for 2K?
on Jul 6, 2010 at 5:24:12 pm

Alan's post is so on the mark. One small note to add: Lowel lights are a lot lighter than Arri. However, Lowel does not make a fresnel light, which is great to have but not absolutely essential. Also, Arri's will last longer, but for a one-man-band who takes care of his own gear, Lowels will last a long, long time. Avoid Chinese knock-offs of any type. Ebay is full of them.

Do you understand the basics of 3-point lighting? Also, color temperature along both the red-blue axis and the green-magenta? And, the formula, Amps = Watts / Volts (round off the volts to 100)? If you do understand all three issues, you can make good smart choices where you find them as used gear. You will want to stick with relatively small units since you want everything to run off a single 20-amp circuit. Note that B&H sometimes has good used gear. I would trust them. (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/browse/Lighting/ci/2876/N/4294246758/BI/6544/...)You can also sometimes buy used gear off a rental house.



Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
and part-time instructor lighting and camera
grad school, SF Academy of Art University/Film and Video
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: Light Kit for 2K?
on Jul 6, 2010 at 7:13:23 pm

Bbb-But... you guys used the "L" word! :-)

BTW, Lowel DOES make a fresnel light. Or DID, in any case; the Fren-L 650. I don't know if they discontinued it or what, but it DID exist.

I third the notion that you can build a good kit from lightly-used gear, whatever pro brand you like.

I would agree that the Rifa exchange with a Fluorescent head would give you a fast-deploying, cool-running, power-thrifty soft light source for interviews. With Rifas, I really like the bigger models more than their smaller ones, they just give me a little more flexibility. The killer expense with the Rifas is the directional grid add-ons; we didn't buy them, so I sometimes have to use an extra stand and foam core to flag off spill light where I don't want it. I would add a Lowel Omni with the folding gel holder and some diffusion, I'm not a huge fan of the Lowel umbrellas but they will work in a pinch. One of their I-series would make a compact adjustable back light/kicker. Add in some foam core board reflectors and a clamp, and a couple extra stands, a pack of Rosco gels (their "jungle book" is a good basic kit) and some black foil and wooden clothespins, and you are on your way.

From there, I would eventually add another Omni, myself, or a second Rifa and i-Light, for shooting couples. OR one of the Rifa grids. A large roll of Daylight-correcting ND gel for gelling large windows is very handy to have if you plan to shoot in places where the window view is an important part of the shot. Alternately, a JokerBug HMI would be awesome to have; one is on my own wish list.


The PAR-based Lowels are an interesting low-budget option. I wonder how they do if you put the twisted high-CRI fluorescent bulbs in them? Shorter range, but cooler running.

A "squeezer" or dimmer box is something I wish I DID have in my kit; I keep meaning to make one up, but never find the time. The choice of dimmer module is important because the wrong, too-cheap kind will drastically change the color temp of your lights, introduce flicker in your lights, and hum in your audio, as well as shorten bulb life.


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Rick Wise
Re: Light Kit for 2K?
on Jul 6, 2010 at 8:07:17 pm

For example, B&H has a used two-bank 4' kinoflo with ballast for $480, while new it costs $700. (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/800711233-USE/Kino_Flo_SYS_4802_S120_...)These older Kino Flo models work great. Having a separate ballast is a bit of a pain (and they are fragile -- I knocked one over once and it cost me) but these bulbs tend to be more true color than the Diva versions. I find them a bit on the hard side for soft-lighting, but some schmutz over the front or better yet flown out in front takes care of that. Add a light stand and you have your soft key with two grand left to spend as mentioned above. (You admitted you could go to $2,500, and I'll bet that's where you will go and a bit more. There's just no way around that....)

Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
and part-time instructor lighting and camera
grad school, SF Academy of Art University/Film and Video
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Jerod Chambers
Re: Light Kit for 2K?
on Jul 7, 2010 at 3:35:39 am

I really appreciate it guys. Let me see what I can find and I will post back on Thursday what I am looking to purchase to see if I should modify anything. Again, thank you for sharing your expertise, it is a valuable resource to those of us still growing in our craft!

Jerod Chambers
Video Director
Preston Trail Community Church
Frisco, TX


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Alan Lloyd
Re: Light Kit for 2K?
on Jul 6, 2010 at 8:11:42 pm

Thanks!

How do you think I built my two kits?



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Jerod Chambers
Re: Light Kit for 2K?
on Jul 28, 2010 at 3:57:43 pm

Ok guys,

I have been scouring craigslist and different venues for used lighting equipment since you all so graciously offered your advice. I have an individual who is willing to sell a Kino Flo 400 kit (1 light with barndoors, gels, case, etc. and 8 Tubes). He is also throwing a C-stand as well. He is asking $900 firm. He also said it is the dmx model.

This would be my first step in building a kit. I know the light is 4 ft long and wonder is it too much to use for interviews? I've never used a fluorescent based light and am extremely appreciative of your time and thoughts!

Jerod Chambers


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