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Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews

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David Turner
Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 8, 2012 at 11:19:29 pm

Hi Guys,

I have done a lot of reading on here with people talking about using some of the Cool lights from "coollights.biz" for their setups.

I need to invest in a small 3 light kit that I can use for interviews, occasional run and gun stuff, and even the occasional documentary situation where a little battery powered light may help.

My favorite light is the Kino Flo Diva 400. I have used this many times (with a company that owned one) and it is a beautiful soft light for interviews & the like. Alas, it is expensive, which is what led me eventually to Cool Lights. I would love to hear more general opinions on Cool Lights, but seeing that I was able to read through a number of threads on this forum about people using them (with no real bad reviews) I figure they are safe (I hope!).

I am thinking of these three lights and would love to have you guys weigh in:

http://www.coollights.biz/cl455p-cool-lights-portable-watt-softlight-p-67.h...
---- This is an imitation Diva lite that goes for almost $500 less than the Diva does at B&H. I was thinking this for my Key.

http://www.coollights.biz/clled600-panel-dimmable-p-114.html
---- This is a dimmable LED light that I was thinking of using for a Background light or Fill light (if I needed it). I was thinking of getting the Spot version in Daylight balanced and with the Battery Pack option so I can use it really on the fly. I was thinking Daylight because maybe I would use it more with natural light from windows or even outdoors at times.
---- Does anyone have an opinion on getting this in the softer option instead of Spot? How about 3200 instead of 5600?

http://www.coollights.biz/clled256-spot-p-126.html
----- This is another LED smaller light. I was thinking of using this for an edge/hair light and if I ever needed to really run around with just a tiny extra light. I was also thinking of getting this in 3200K. I wish this was dimmable, so anyone who knows of something similarly priced that is dimmable, I'd love to hear it! (especially because this is currently out of stock).


Any comments on the following would greatly help"
-- Integrity of Cool Lights as a company.
-- Opinions on these three lights.
-- Opinions on the options: specifically using all 3200L lights/getting some 5600k, Spot v. Flood for the one light, etc.
-- Opinions on my ideas of this three light setup in general.
-- Brilliant ideas that I am too dim to come up with and will blow my mind.


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Bill Davis
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 10, 2012 at 7:08:03 am

Cool lights is a great company and they stand behind what they sell. Their stuff represents a good value for a very fair price.

That said, what you're considering for a "starter: light kit is actually pretty limited.

It's pretty much a "single person interview" kit.

There's nothing with punch for large areas. Nothing with an defined edge that you can cut and shape. And nothing that you can control beyond dimming.

Essentially, you're assembling a light kit that does one thing pretty well. Wash relatively soft light over a limited distance from three directions..

So, the kit you're talking about will be pretty decent for hotel room or office interviews, (presuming you add some kind of bounce fill and use the 600 for a background light) - but not very flexible for much else.

My 2 cents, anyway.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Craig Seeman
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 12, 2012 at 4:11:22 pm

This points to a an issue I still see with Fluorescent and LED lighting. It seems harder to control.
I see some hope with Litpanels Sola series but one has to measure the cost/benefit.
http://www.litepanels.com/language/pages/sola_eng.php

That said, I'm looking at Flolight Fluorescent lights
http://www.flolight.com/

Again the issue is control. Cool Lights seem to have 2 way barn doors with an egg crate option. Flolights seem to have 4 way barn doors with a defuser option.



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David Turner
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 12, 2012 at 4:39:09 pm

Hey Craig,

That Sola light looks great, but I read a few reviews and it seems like there are some fan issues. Namely, the fan is too loud and is not constant, but changing speeds often. I am hoping to find an LED setup that can be pretty directional.


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john sharaf
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 12, 2012 at 4:49:33 pm

I can not recommend the ARRI Locaster LED light more highly.

At first glance they may seam too small in shape, but I find them very useful for interviews and other reality shooting when pressed to use a small box of lights. They are adjustable from 2900-7000K and +1/-1 Green and are fully dimmable, and can be powered by the mains or on-board batteries.

The thing that makes them most unique is the cover glass etched with millions (?) of micro-lenses which both aim and soften the many LED's behind them into a single source.

Like all ARRI products, you'll pay for the privilege!

JS



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Craig Seeman
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 12, 2012 at 4:59:12 pm

I've heard mixed things about the fans. I've only looked at them in person a few times and didn't hear anything that would impact audio on a shoot but obviously that doesn't match day to day use. Alas as things are today, every solution has a drawback but then that's why a diverse light kit is important. They're different tools. There's no "one lighting type fits all" as of yet.



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Bill Davis
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 13, 2012 at 3:42:36 pm

[Craig Seeman] "Again the issue is control. Cool Lights seem to have 2 way barn doors with an egg crate option. Flolights seem to have 4 way barn doors with a defuser option.
"


Craig,

Yes, the barn doors for the Cool Lights are 2-way - but I'd caution you not to think of cutting any LED fixture via barn doors as similar to cutting either an open face or fresnel instrument.

Same with egg crates.

These wonderful tools were designed for the way light was generated in the tungsten era. And while they do have some effect with LED units, they definitely DO NOT work the same.

Each LED lamp is essentially a tiny spotlight. So "cutting" the beam with a solid surface such as a barn door doesn't actually cause the edge of the light beam to be cut off. All you're doing is masking rows of LEDs. The row next to the one you've blocked still emits light across the line of the door.

In practice, barn doors on an LED only function to the extent they block the entire array of LEDs. So setting up a "box" around the light will keep spill somewhat contained, but it's largely an "all or nothing" deal. The moment you allow the light from even one row to be unblocked, you'll see the output of that row of light emitters across your entire scene and the spread of them will be unrestrained.

That's fundamentally different from how lights have traditionally worked.

No "flat panel" LED should be thought of as in any way similar to a single source light. So traditional approaches to light control just don't apply.

We'e starting to see more "pro" LED units coming from companies like Arri, but they use LED arrays to generate light inside a housing that focuses that light through a lens to make them more controllable.

But right now, that much more sophisticated technology is expensive.

So if you want the cost, weight and energy benefits of LED - you have to accept that you'll have to learn to use them properly.

And that means not thinking of them as "the same" as other types of light sources.

FWIW.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Craig Seeman
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 13, 2012 at 4:07:43 pm

[Bill Davis] "Yes, the barn doors for the Cool Lights are 2-way - but I'd caution you not to think of cutting any LED fixture via barn doors as similar to cutting either an open face or fresnel instrument."

I meant their florescent lights, not LEDs. Barn doors don't do much with multipoint sources such as LEDs as per your comments. That's why the Sola series interests me. It's an attempt to make LED as single point light source so apparently barn doors have hard edge cut. It's at least an attempt at Fresnel like control.

Your explanation of LEDs are exactly why I have some reluctance to use them in my shooting situations. LEDs have very little control (of the kind I'd want).



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David Turner
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 13, 2012 at 7:22:14 pm

Hey Bill,

Thanks so much for your 2nd response!

Your comments on the barn doors and LED lights is exactly the info I was looking for. The units I posted from Cool Lights have regular 4 way barn-doors, but as you mentioned, the flat panel units are not easily cut or shaped by barn doors or the like. That's good to know and definitely factors in my decision.

I am set on using the Cool Lights fluorescent as a soft key that I will get a lot of use out of. Your response that they are a legitimate company was good enough for me to save $500 by getting this instead of the Kino Diva.

As for my other two lights, I could use some advice. I am a little bummed about not being able to have any battery powered lights for ultra-portability and super run and gun situations. What two other lights would you suggest to complete my small kit?

They purpose of them would have to be 1 to complete an interview lighting kit and 2 to have some flexibility for other applications. Is an Arri 650 & 150 a good choice (or a cheaper but equivalent lights to these?)

So I was thinking Flo light, 2 others I could use an opinion on, and this http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/358636-REG/Impact_R1642_Collapsible_C... for fill if I need it.


Craig was talking about the fluorescent units, but as a comment to Craig, these are best used for a very soft light with very little control. The Kino Flo Diva has only 2 "barn doors" (if you can call them that on these models) too.


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Craig Seeman
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 13, 2012 at 7:30:57 pm

[David Turner] "Craig was talking about the fluorescent units, but as a comment to Craig, these are best used for a very soft light with very little control."

Which is why I brought up the Litepanels Sola. LED that acts as a single point source. Their Sola ENG looks much like a Lowel ProLight if you're looking for small run and gun portability.



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David Turner
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 13, 2012 at 7:50:51 pm

Hey Craig,

Thanks. Do you think i could use this light as a Hair/Edge light in Spot mode for sit down interview setup? And then diffused a bit and in regular mode for run & gun key?


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Craig Seeman
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 13, 2012 at 8:24:55 pm

[David Turner] "Do you think i could use this light as a Hair/Edge light in Spot mode for sit down interview setup? And then diffused a bit and in regular mode for run & gun key?"

That's very much my interest as well. I did have a look at it up close a number of times but I'd like to see "real world" use. I've heard criticisms of fan noise but I had to put my ear closer than any typical mic would be to hear anything.

I've read various reviews that were good and looked at the B&H reviews as well. Several point to good use as a hair light be I think some note it's still a little on the soft side.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/687491-REG/Litepanels_906_1002_SolaEN...

Review from Bruce Johnson at PVC with pics which show the light characteristics.
http://provideocoalition.com/index.php/bjohnson/story/review_litepanels_sol...
Studio Daily review doesn't really go much into the light characteristics but does speak to its construction (and fan noise).
http://www.studiodaily.com/2012/02/review-litepanels-sola-eng-lighting-kit/

It's not perfect but it looks good. Given Arri's L series I'd wish they'd make a move into smaller fixtures as well.



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Bill Davis
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 13, 2012 at 8:09:26 pm

Here's the deal overall...

An "all led" kit makes perfect sense if the job is suited to it. The last time I had to do interviews in NYC - that's exactly what I took with me. And I got fine interviews with it.

Why?

Because the subject was a single person (limited area to light) the location was contained (hotel room not a factory floor) and the power efficiency of LEDs meant that I could go "all battery" and eliminate packing power cords - which typically weigh more than batteries and are (usually) a much bigger hassle to travel with.

If that's what you do - hotel room interviews - LEDs are great. And you can use them as key, background and rim (hair lights) perfectly well. Add a pop up bounce and you can do an interview in a contained space with no problem.

The problem comes up when you're not doing a single person interview - and you're not in a small hotel room - and you're not shooting constrained to working with battery power.

Then you need a totally different array of tools.

If you want to control light, fresnels with barn doors, ellipsoidal with pattern projectors, and similar tools will do a vastly better job than any LED array of helping you create more visually interesting backgrounds.

And if you need to brighten a big area like a warehouse interior or a street exterior - then LEDs are nearly useless.

An all LED kit is like having a box of crayons with which to do art - and when you open the crayon box, all you have is a dozen shades of red.

Can a great artist do something amazing with that? You bet. But most artists like having a wider array of colors to work with.

Make sense?

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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David Turner
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 13, 2012 at 8:33:27 pm

Hey Bill,

Thanks again! I really appreciate your feedback.

I guess the best thing to do is to describe exactly what I would use my lights for 95% of the time. All of my work is Documentary or "Documentary based". What I mean by Doc-based is docu-advertising things which consist of interviews but also nice looking interior shots of businesses or events, etc (mostly for web content).

Most of the time I would be doing 1 person interviews. Second most, I would be lighting interior stuff (for example the stove or display case at a Cupcake store). Third most, I would be shooting outdoors or even interesting stuff at night where one or two battery powered lights would help. Very occasionally I may do a 2 person interview or something larger.

It would be nice to do interesting background patterns. But if I ever had to light something like a warehouse or large space, I would rent some more lights.

From what it sounds like, it may be a good idea to go with an entirely LED kit. Right?

Would you recommend against mixing Fluorescent lights and LED lights?


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Craig Seeman
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 13, 2012 at 8:36:10 pm

[Bill Davis] "If that's what you do - hotel room interviews - LEDs are great. And you can use them as key, background and rim (hair lights) perfectly well. Add a pop up bounce and you can do an interview in a contained space with no problem."

Bingo! That's my bias err background. Shooting interviews in closets (offices) in NYC.

[Bill Davis] "The problem comes up when you're not doing a single person interview - and you're not in a small hotel room - and you're not shooting constrained to working with battery power.

Then you need a totally different array of tools.

If you want to control light, fresnels with barn doors, ellipsoidal with pattern projectors, and similar tools will do a vastly better job than any LED array of helping you create more visually interesting backgrounds."


And that's when I go back to my tungsten lights. I don't see any "reasonable" cost/control replacement for these yet.



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Bill Davis
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 13, 2012 at 9:47:03 pm

[Craig Seeman] "And that's when I go back to my tungsten lights. I don't see any "reasonable" cost/control replacement for these yet.
"


I completely agree, Craig.

I can make a basic limited area interview scene look good with my LED kit.

If I have my Arri kit- my grip bag, and access to stingers and dependable power - I can usually make the same scene much, much better than just "good."

With the hassle of schlepping lights and grip on a plane cross country to NYC (don't even mention the insane cost of the overweight baggage these days!) an all LED kit is a great tool.

It's just not a particularly good tool if it's your ONLY tool.

That's my position in a nutshell.

David (presuming you're reading this)

This is precisely why I own tungsten, LED and Fluorescent lights.

Each has their place and something they do better than the alternatives.

Tungsten is extremely controllable and lets you "paint" with your light - but it's heavy, sucks power, and generates tons of heat for the light.

Fluorescent is flattering for most human faces without the hassle of a bag over a tungsten fixture and the extra power needed to get the same light through the diffusion - drinks power more politely then tungsten, and you can swap out daylight or tungsten equivalent tubes for different locations.

LED sips hardly ANY power compared to the competition. And the light output per watt efficiency is nothing short of amazing. But it's WAY more difficult to control than tungsten, can be finicky as to spectrum, and takes quite a bit of getting used to, in my experience since you have to toss out most of your grip and control experience since the light generation is so totally different.

And that final one is the big issue.

If you buy nothing but LED - then you'll never LEARN to use the more traditional tools like tungsten fresnels with barn doors or cookies to paint with your lights. So when the new generation of LED fresnels finally gets affordable, you'll likely have a "knowledge defect" to overcome simply because you've never practiced with tools that let you get those kind of results.

My thinking anyway.

YMMV.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Bill Davis
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 14, 2012 at 6:25:38 am

I mentioned "painting" with light in my previous post.

Just to help the folks coming to lighting without a ton of experience visualize what I'm talking about, here's an example from a shoot I did about 3 years back with traditional tungsten lights.

Basically, the set was just a flat wall behind the talent in a room where we could turn the lights out.

The keys were tungsten softboxes. Fresnels (probably 300s) were the back/rim lights on tall stands. The grey back wall was broken up with an Altman ellipsoidal w/ metal gobo for texture. The bright blue loops above Molly are the bottom of a corporate logo projected on the back wall with a standard business projector running a computer file. (had to "greek" the logo with no time to ask permission to use it here)

The real point is that theres absolutely no chance to build these kinds of layers and textures if all you're carrying is 3 LED fixtures.

I happened to see this today when the client wanted to revisit this old program for changes. Looking at it I deeply wish I had already been shooting in high def back then. SD looks so ... well, boring after having spent at the past couple of years working almost exclusively in HD!

But I thought it would be useful for the folks who are coming to lighting in the new era - so that you can see a little bit of why many of us are happy to trade weight and power inefficiency for the control that comes with traditional lighting instruments.

Someday we'll have the best of both worlds in single (hopefully affordable) gear. But right now we don't.

FWIW.



"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Craig Seeman
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 14, 2012 at 4:00:13 pm

This is a very good example of why I'm still using Tungsten lights as well. It's almost as if the difference is between painting with good fine art brushes vs an oversized mop (I hope I'm not arrested by the COW analogy police).

The dilemma I'm facing and maybe David is as well and maybe you saw in your trip to NYC, is that many office shoot spaces are incredibly small (and maybe even limited it available power). I'd almost venture a guess in the "new economy" office space is an area being cut. It seems I'm shooting in offices that are 8'x10' and sometimes smaller. Don't forget there's often desk, credenza and/or file cabinet, shelves, etc and the walls are giant reflectors.



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David Turner
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 12, 2012 at 4:29:24 pm

Hey Bill,

Thanks for your feedback. You still think the LED lights I listed have very soft output even in the "Spot" models? I thought the "spot" model was supposed to imitate more directional lights. I definitely am wary of this setup if it doesn't give me any flexibility.

If you do still think these spot LEDs are way too soft and limited in distance, what would you recommend?

I am pretty keen on the Cool Lights version of the Kino Diva Lite as a great key that will serve me well for interviews & possibly some other stuff.

The reason I chose the other two was to complete the kit and add some more flexibility in the option of being battery powered. And not cooking the room of course. But I am open to going with something like an Arri 150 and 650 if those really made more sense.


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Craig Seeman
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 14, 2012 at 4:14:54 pm

I'm not sure that posting a product ad is COW ethical but the Sola ENG ad I just found is the first I've seen where Litepanels is showing that the ENG is not primarily for on camera use (as the ENG name implies) which their marketing material and the reviews I've seen, focus on.

You can see by the ad they're thinking of back, fill and softbox key use. Of course real world use would reveal real world value and flaws but this is really what I want to see in order for one to "pain with light" in a small office shoot environment. I don't expect "long throw" but that's not what I'm up against in a small office. I need to paint without cooking the subject or blowing the fuses.





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Dennis Size
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Mar 15, 2012 at 5:53:21 am

I've used almost all of the LED's described above ...and then some -- but still prefer tungsten. Old habits die hard.
We're doing many studios now all "green" with dozens and dozens of energy efficient, non-tungsten, fixtures (in one studio we're currently designing -- hundreds of fixtures)..but no dimmers.
It's where the future is (unfortunately).
For those wanting single source LED instrumentation, in addition to the Sola, check out Frezzi's HyLight. It's got quite a lot of "bang for the buck" .... with several beam spread sources, and excellent color rendition, and a very bright beam.

DS



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Bill Davis
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Apr 24, 2012 at 6:34:21 pm

Note that in the ad, they fail to mention that a 3 light rig like that will run one north of $5000.

At some point, LED based fresnels will get realistic pricing as the competition increases and the economies of scale kick in.

Right now, unless you're paying a whole lot for your electricity - it's going to take a while before the ROI makes sense for these.

I was also interested at NAB to see that some manufacturers are using the traditional "deep" lens and movable socket form factor, but others are looking at a flatter fixture that still manages to focus via the lens.

Here's an iPhone snap of one of the flat fixture forms.
4031_ledfresnel.jpg.zip

The times they are a-changing.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Craig Seeman
Re: Thoughts on this fluorescent + LED Light setup for mostly Interviews
on Apr 24, 2012 at 7:48:23 pm

[Bill Davis] "Note that in the ad, they fail to mention that a 3 light rig like that will run one north of $5000."

I'm missing hidden costs? Those are Sola ENGs not Sola 4 or Sola 6. Sola ENGs are $489 each now. I don't know what the full kit costs but with stands and the softbox attachment it can't be too far over $2000. Of course you can get a Lowel Pro Light for $130 each though.



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