A very broad purchasing post.
Alright, so I run a small, very underfunded student TV station. I'm currently looking at upgrading our lighting ability, since we are seriously lacking in this area. We are applying for a $4000 grant from the parents association at our school for this purpose. I am looking for advice as to what to get. These lights need to be durable, and they also need to deal with our extremely low-ceilinged studio (8 ft ceilings).
Here's what we have currently:
3x Lowel FREN-L650
1x Lowel Softlight
We do a combination of live talk shows and interviews, but also on-location short films, interviews, and the occasional event. So, this is obviously a challenge. Up until last year, we also had a set of 3 Lowel Omni lights, but those seem to have "mysteriously walked away". So, here's what I'm thinking.
Lowel Rifa 88,66,55 kit
Lowel Omni 3 light kit
Lowel L-light 3 light kit
I thought the L-light's would be light enough to hang from the godforsaken drop ceiling as back lights so as to avoid putting stands in the shot. Any comments?
If I were running working with students, I'd probably go fluorescent if for no other reason than safety. Tungsten bulbs burn skin rather severely, and the basics of lighting can be taught with either fixture.
It would be nice to have a fresnel or two on hand just for instructional purposes; as you probably know, fluorescent fixtures don't have much punch for out-of-the-studio applications.
Buy some new fluorescent-type fixtures, and pick up some used 1K, 650w, & 300w fresnels.
Just my $.02
Just to clarify, these are college students. I'm a college student too. No little kiddies running around. I've heard that fluorescent lights, especially the ballasts, are kind of finicky. I like the look they create, and I like the no heat aspect, but I wasn't sure about the durability. I did have an alternate idea of getting the two head Kino Flo Diva 400 set though. Oh, and we do have fresnels. The Lowel FREN-L 650's (discontinued) are fresnels.
Fluorescent fixtures have been something of a god-send, at least for me, in that I can roll into a work space, and immediately respond to the light that's there -- be it daylight, or indoor-type light. The bulbs stay cool which is easy on the talent, and the workspace doesn't over-heat. The don't draw much, so overloading circuits isn't an issue, and the light they produce is generally flattering, if a little on the green side. Bulb changes take place quickly, and there are no re-strike issues. They're even slightly dimmable. Reliability hasn't been a problem, at least for me.
Even tho older students are less prone to accidents, in this day and age, other than for teaching the benefits of focusable instruments, I'd stay away from anything that can cause injury. We live in a litigious age, unfortunately.
We have three sizes of Rifa here, I find them invaluable for quick, easy interview lighting setups as well as for lighting a green screen. I wish the eggcrate grids for these were cheaper, but my advice is to get the largest Rifas with the detachable grids. You can get them with the option of interchangeable halogen and flo heads.
The issue with the big Rifas in a low-ceilinged room is getting them up high enough fo the right angles. An alternative could be Videssence flos in a short but wide long-tube fixture, which gets you a permanent soft light source up high against the low ceiling. We have done that for our standing talk show sets. We found Videssence to be a little cheaper than KinoFlos but just as useable.
So, Rifas for field work, Videssence for the "studio" in a place where they are semi-permanently mounted, is my suggestion.
Are you interested in buying two more Lowel Softlight 2s, because I have 2 available. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
RGB Media Services, LLC
Here's an led light that I sell on ebay. http://cgi.ebay.com/Grip-LED-light-DZP-Video-/290497908641?pt=LH_DefaultDom...
It's called Grip-LED and is designed to be used with grip equipment. It is 10 3/4" x 10 3/4" x 1 1/4" and weighs 2lbs and can be easily hung from a drop ceiling with scissor pins. You need a knuckle or elbow to mount the light! I recently sold 2 of these to a high school for use in their tv studio to light their news set! Led lights are durable, don't get hot, are daylight balanced but you can easily add CTO to change the color temperature to tungsten. My lights have slots for clothes pins so you can attach diffusion and or color gels. The light comes with 2 diffusion sheets... so you can easily get various levels of brightness and diffusion. It is a 40W light that puts out about the same amount of light as a 400W tungsten light. You can also see more pictures on my website http://www.dzpvideo.com
Also, I have a 3 light Rifa kit... 750, 500, and 250 watt size with egg crates for each. The Rifa light is a great light for interviews... the egg crates are a must in my opinion because they do a tremendous job in softening the light even more! But, they are kind of expensive. Also, the Rifa's are large and would be kind of tight in a room with 8' ceilings. I have been very happy with the Rifa light and have used them since the 1980's! They are tremendous for interview. They pop open like an umbrella, so they are very quick to setup and strike. Compared to the Chimera... which is like using an erector set... the Rifa is a snap. The only complaint I have about the Rifa is that the reflector may need to be "sewn" occasionally... this has to do with the way it is constructed and attached to the wire frame. After awhile the diffusion will crack or split... depending on how your students will take care of the equipment... you may need to replace the diffusion occasionally. I would not buy the 1000W Rifa... I think it is too big. With the sensitivity of today's cameras I think lower wattage is better! I would also mention that the newer Rifa's can be purchased with an interchangeable socket so you can replace the tungsten bulbs with spiral florescent lights. This can give you a light kit that will be either tungsten or daylight balance.
And generally, I think that Lowel lights tend to be over designed... so small parts fall off or get broken easily! But, they have a huge parts list... and parts can be ordered online and they are not overpriced.
For back lights I would go with the Arri 150W light or an LTM 100 or 200w pepper light. These are small fresnel lights.
In today's video world there is this huge trend towards led lights...which may be the way to go... however your decision should reflect this trend, because 2 or 3 years from now you may have a Rifa kit that no one is using, because they are using the led kit! Which is the case for me... the last 5 or 6 video shoots I have done have been with led lights... and the Rifas I have are just sitting in my equipment storage. I am contemplating getting the lights modified with the edison socket so I can use spiral florescent bulbs or led bulbs... yes they make led bulbs that go into the edison socket!
Hope some of this helps... it is Thanksgiving and my wife and daughter are visiting grad schools out west... so I am home alone with nothing else to do!
Windows 7, 64 Bit, i7 8 Core, 16Gb Ram, GeForce 4800