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Cool Lights - Tungsten and other

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Rick Wise
Cool Lights - Tungsten and other
on Feb 20, 2011 at 9:21:17 pm

I am writing another online lighting class (...) and am trying to recommend gear that is more "affordable" to students starting out. As much as I'd prefer to recommend Arri or Mole, the costs are generally prohibitive for students. Does anyone have hands-on experience with Cool Light tungsten units, such as their 650? (Durability, repair.)

Example:
Arri 650, $379 body only
Cool Light 650, $265 including barn doors and bulb

Please chime in with other recommendations if you have them and have used them yourself. My impression is that Cool Lights is the best of the alternative units. Others may be cheaper but are considerably more flimsy. I have never worked with any of the alternatives myself.

Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
part-time instructor lighting/camera
Academy of Art University/Film and Video (grad school)
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Dan Brockett
Re: Cool Lights - Tungsten and other
on Feb 20, 2011 at 11:40:30 pm

There are lots of other "tribute" tungsten instruments on the market that pay homage to Arri and Mole lights such as the Image West and a lot of other "no name" stuff on Ebay.

The big advantage of buying the Cool Lights stuff is that Richard Andrewski is actually reachable, responds and gets his clients taken care of when there are fixes and repairs needed, Cool Lights service has been exemplary for me. With many of the other brands, once you have purchased the lights, you are on your own as far as support and follow up.

The Cool Lights tungsten stuff is pretty good for the money and the CDM fixtures offer HMI-like performance for a fraction of the cost of "real" HMIs. I think you would be hitting the sweet spot in recommending the Cool Lights stuff over anything you are going to find on Ebay or at Home Depot for newbies especially.

The next best thing would be used Arri and Mole stuff but as we all know, the challenge of that is that few newbies know what to look out for when buying used gear and there doesn't actually seem to be that much used tungsten lighting available out there overall. People generally buy the Arri and Mole stuff and use it forever, I know I have had my Arri kits and various Mole instruments since the mid 90s and it is all still going strong.

Cheers,

Dan

A Producer Who Is Also A DP? Yep, that's Me.

http://www.danbrockett.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Cool Lights - Tungsten and other
on Feb 21, 2011 at 12:11:02 am

Hey Rick...

Don't you love when people in various forums (not just the COW) who don't know the answers to your questions chime right in anyway with "advice" probably completely unrelated to what you asked? :)

Allow me to do that....

But only because it might be a bit related or helpful...

I don't have (nor have used) any of the Cool Lights tungsten instruments, as you requested... but I do have and use one of their HMI instruments.

I have a 1200w HMI fresnel from Cool Lights, and use it all the time. I mention it because I think it's built in the same housing as one of their larger tungsten heads. I think (I'm not at the studio to measure) about a 7" fresnel instrument... roughly about the same size as an Arri Compact 1200w HMI.

I'd say the build on it (fit, finish, construction, all that jazz) is pretty good. It's not at all a flimsy instrument. I'd say it's not built quite as well as the equivalent Arri... but it was a fraction of the price. It has served us just fine with no worries.

The fore and aft focus knobs are made of not-the-best plastic and the action seems a bit "softer" than I would like, but it's not a big deal. Also, the coupling for the head cable has a sort of non-standard military connection (just on the instrument end, not the ballast end)... which would have been nice were it a more standardized connection, but has never been an issue.

I like the ballast the came with it, but I don't love it. It's a 575/1200 electronic ballast... dimmable down to about 50%, and you can select 24fps or free run. Unfortunately there are no on/off buttons on the instrument head, you must strike (and kill) the instrument from the ballast, but not really a big deal. When we first got it, it tended to blow fuses a bit frequently, but we switched to some better ceramic fuses in the unit and that stopped... Richard was very happy to talk through the fix by phone... how to open the ballast and where to find which of the fuses was problematic on one of the circuit boards inside. As Dan said, he is very helpful and generally pretty easy to reach (although seems to be traveling to China quite a lot). He still readily answers emails though. My biggest issue with the ballast is sound... there's a fan in it. Not a big one, about like a small computer fan. It's usually not problematic and most of the time you can't hear it running at all, but if you are recording sound in a relatively small/quite/live interior we often locate the ballast outside somewhere to avoid the fan noise.

All in all it's a very good unit for the price. I don't believe Cool Lights even carries this model any more, or even much regularly stocked it as a production model (we got it from him when he was just starting to dabble in HMIs).... all of his HMIs of this size now I believe are PAR heads. But if it is representative of the build quality of most of his stuff I can definitely recommend them as far as budget gear goes.

Just from looks alone, I don't like the design of his flo instruments too much... but have been curious to hear if anyone had used the Cool Lights LED instruments, which look pretty good. One issue with Cool Lights in general is that in the past they always seemed to be out of stock of whichever particular instrument I happened to be checking out at the time.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Dan Brockett
Re: Cool Lights - Tungsten and other
on Feb 21, 2011 at 6:10:30 pm

Todd,

I have had two of the LED 600s and one of the LED 256s for about a year and half now. They have been excellent, I have been very happy with the build and performance. They aren't good for everything, I hate the way people look with bare LEDs shining on them but when used with a Chimera or bounced off of a Flexfill, they are excellent.

I used these LEDs to make up my present travel/interview kit, all three lights and stands fit into one Storm case nicely along with some Matthews travel stands and it comes in just under 50lbs. Great stuff.

BTW, Richard lives in China although he is over here periodically so you have to take the time difference into account when e-mailing or calling him. His support people here in the states are excellent as well, the few times I have needed a repair, they have taken excellent care of me.

Take care,

Dan

A Producer Who Is Also A DP? Yep, that's Me.

http://www.danbrockett.com


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Jason Jenkins
Re: Cool Lights - Tungsten and other
on Feb 21, 2011 at 6:16:29 pm

I have one of the Cool Lights CDM instruments (I believe it is the same housing/lens as their tungsten 650) and I have been very happy with it. Quality of the housing is not up to Arri level; but adequate. I would buy it again. As others have mentioned, customer service from Cool Lights is excellent.

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!


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Dennis Size
Re: Cool Lights - Tungsten and other
on Feb 22, 2011 at 7:37:13 am

How about the "old standbys" like STRAND (now Philips Strand-Selecon), or Altman (excellent quality for less cost) and Desisti?

DS



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Dan Brockett
Re: Cool Lights - Tungsten and other
on Feb 22, 2011 at 3:23:17 pm

I could never figure out the Altman marketing angle, the look identical to the Arris, yet they don't cost much less (10 to 20%)? I would always go with the Arris for that price difference.

Desistis are very underrated in my book, I have had a Monet 1k Fresnel for years and it is a great little light, well built, has never given me an ounce of trouble. In the U.S., Desisti just seems regarded as a non-contender but I think that they are a great value.

Strand seem to be solid, but not a particularly popular choice, other than for HMIs.

I think it comes down to Arri, Mole and Lowel because they make the most kits and most newbies want pre-assembled kits. Then you shoot for a few years and discover pre-assembled kits are not really a great solution, they are always lacking exactly what you need and usually give you a bunch of stuff you don't need. I have three pre-assembled kits and I rarely use them as is, I make my own kits for different situations.

Dan

A Producer Who Is Also A DP? Yep, that's Me.

http://www.danbrockett.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Cool Lights - Tungsten and other
on Feb 22, 2011 at 4:08:36 pm

[Dan Brockett] "Strand seem to be solid, but not a particularly popular choice, other than for HMIs."

I've never really thought of that... but it's true. I've always had good luck with Strand 1200w PAR HMIs. Really well built.



[Dan Brockett] "most kits... are always lacking exactly what you need and usually give you a bunch of stuff you don't need."

True, as a general rule. One big exception to me is the line of Pepper fresnel kits from LTM. They've always seemed to put their pre-assembled kits together very thoughtfully and they are really really complete... heads, stands, globes, barn doors, full scrim sets (half and full singles and doubles), case, gloves, plug adapters.... but not a bunch of useless extra stuff. And I think their pricing is excellent.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mark Suszko
Re: Cool Lights - Tungsten and other
on Feb 22, 2011 at 4:56:09 pm

Dan, have to agree Desisti's are under-loved: we have kits from the 80's still going strong. Rugged. Heavy. But reliable.


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Dan Brockett
Re: Cool Lights - Tungsten and other
on Feb 24, 2011 at 1:51:01 am

Hmm...I have used Peppers but never a Pepper kit. Interesting, I didn't know that they did kits. Good little lights.

Yes, I think DeSistis are quite the underground thing, a few people in the know use them but generally, they are relegated to second fiddle. It;s a shame, they are good products.

Dan

A Producer Who Is Also A DP? Yep, that's Me.

http://www.danbrockett.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Cool Lights - Tungsten and other
on Feb 24, 2011 at 3:36:48 am

[Dan Brockett] "have used Peppers but never a Pepper kit. Interesting, I didn't know that they did kits."

Oh yeah, they are among my favs... very well put together, and complete....

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=pepper+pak+kit&N=0&InitialSearch=y...

This is the first one, I ever used, their "Blue" kit, which is one of the smaller and less expensive ones... a little three-head fresnel kit...

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/125489-REG/LTM_PK_BLUE_Blue_Pepper_Pa...

I use it for specials, backlights, etc. When I bought it (10+ years ago) it came with the hard rolling case, not the soft case they put with it now... although the hard-shell case is still available for about $450. The case is roomy enough that I also keep two other open-face heads and a couple of umbrellas in it, too. The stands that come in the kit are quite nice and are real Matthews stands, too... not some no-name or third-party flimsy stands.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Dennis Size
Re: Cool Lights - Tungsten and other
on Feb 24, 2011 at 5:01:58 am

What? Mark are you OK?
Such a big oppportunity to extoll the virtues of LOWEL -- yet you didn't jump all over it!!!??? :-)

DS



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Mark Suszko
Re: Cool Lights - Tungsten and other
on Feb 24, 2011 at 7:46:16 pm

[Dennis Size] "What? Mark are you OK?
Such a big oppportunity to extoll the virtues of LOWEL -- yet you didn't jump all over it!!!??? :-)

DS"



I like to keep you guessing, chief. Also, Ross' check hasn't shown up this month, an oversight, I'm sure, but even so I'm holding out to make a point to him. Nice lighting instrument company you have there, Ross... be a shame if something were to *happen* to it... something "electrical", maybe....

Sorry, I got carried away by our recent Mayoral election process:-)


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Todd Terry
Re: Cool Lights - Tungsten and other
on Feb 24, 2011 at 8:12:09 pm

Thank God Mark is ok...

I too, was worried... I was hoping that his Lowel p.r. contract had simply run out... but, being a worrier, was fearing that he might be in a hospital burn unit somewhere (is there a special Lowel ward for that?).


Kidding, of course.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mark Suszko
Re: Cool Lights - Tungsten and other
on Feb 24, 2011 at 9:13:55 pm

You guys with your fancy budgets and high-end craft services tables, keep on making fun of us low-budget guys... we gots long memories:-)


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Todd Terry
Re: Cool Lights - Tungsten and other
on Feb 24, 2011 at 9:21:28 pm

[Mark Suszko] "You guys with your...high-end craft services tables..."


"Why, yes... those are real Ritz® crackers... thank you for noticing..."

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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