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Considering buying a used Rifa 55

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Jonathan Frank
Considering buying a used Rifa 55
on Jul 22, 2012 at 5:39:28 pm

I've been renting lights for interviews as I don't do them enough to justify purchasing the set up I want and have been renting (combo of Rifa and Arri). I've been looking at used sources as I am thinking of purchasing lights piecemeal, starting with a Rifa 55 as it would be a good basic workhorse for when I don't need a full 3 light setup (ie: going in for a quick in-office interview and needing something that is consistent, known and easy to set up and strike)

I found one that I'm considering and is a good price. Only thing that makes me pause is that it comes with the 300 watt tungsten source of the 44 instead of the 500w usually used with the 55. As I've only worked with the 55 with the 500 I'm curious how much a difference it makes (I know it will be softer, which is not necessarily a bad thing).

As I'm tempted to use it with fluorescent instead of tungsten to keep things cooler (especially since I will be using it more frequently in smaller spaces) it may be a non-issue (Flo-x3 may be best option but want to know how useful the 300 is in this size of Rifa and what distance limitation it would have)

Thanks!



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Bill Davis
Re: Considering buying a used Rifa 55
on Jul 22, 2012 at 9:31:47 pm

[Jonathan Frank] " As I've only worked with the 55 with the 500 I'm curious how much a difference it makes (I know it will be softer, which is not necessarily a bad thing). "

"Softness" (a pretty iffy, but common term in lighting) has nothing to do with brightness. So there's absolutely no difference in the "softness" of a 300 watt verses a 500watt source - all other things being equal.

"Softness" is a function of geometry. It has to do with the area of the light emitting surface compared to the distance it is located away from the object being lit.

Wattage only effects the quantity of light being emitted from the source - not the quality of that light.

The 500 will only be "softer" if the light emitting surface of the diffusion surface placed in front of the light is larger in area.

Just to keep the confusion down for those trying to learn this stuff.

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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Jonathan Frank
Re: Considering buying a used Rifa 55
on Jul 22, 2012 at 9:39:21 pm

Thanks for the clarification. Somewhere else had mentioned that putting the smaller wattage light from the 44 into the larger 55 resulted in a softer effect, which I assumed would be due to a larger reflective area/smaller amount of light not producing as sharp an 'edge'...



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Mark Suszko
Re: Considering buying a used Rifa 55
on Jul 23, 2012 at 7:06:51 pm

If the Rifa is priced low enough, you could buy it and send it to Lowel for upgrading into the combination head that lets you swap out tungsten for fluorescent in a few seconds, at will. That's handy when available power on location is low.


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Bob Cole
Re: Considering buying a used Rifa 55
on Jul 25, 2012 at 1:38:21 pm

Never have used Rifa lights, but to clarify further what Bill said: The physically-larger Rifa lights will accommodate larger wattage lights; but it is the surface area of the front panel, not the wattage of the light, which results in a "softer" but NOT necessarily "dimmer" quality of light. So if you want the maximum softness, use as high-numbered a Rifa as you can comfortably carry, with whatever wattage required to get the exposure you need for your camera and situation. Keep in mind, also, that the further away from your subject's face is the light source, the "harder" that source will seem. A tiny Chimera, up close, gives a softer effect than a huge Chimera from 20' away.


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Jonathan Frank
Re: Considering buying a used Rifa 55
on Jul 25, 2012 at 1:52:05 pm

Thanks for the lesson - which makes perfect sense and matches (and expands upon) what I had thought. As it ended up being an EX and thus already 'upgraded' (and indeed had fluorescents included) I bit the bullet and will be having fun lighting any and everything in my apartment for practice next week I'm sure...

(and then comes the 'guess I need to bite the bullet and get an egg crate' realization, I'm sure...)



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Bob Cole
Re: Considering buying a used Rifa 55
on Jul 25, 2012 at 2:35:50 pm

[Jonathan Frank] "and then comes the 'guess I need to bite the bullet and get an egg crate' realization, I'm sure...)"

The egg crate will help to keep that soft light from spreading all over the background, esp. in office settings.

And then for another effect, you may want to buy a 4x4 silk, or a Chimera panel frame (or in a pinch, a shower curtain), and hang it in front of the Rifa - talk about soft light!

It's all fun. And endless. And I still say the best light is from the window.

But for your run-and-gun interviews, you'll be enjoying a very big upgrade, just with your Rifa.


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Jonathan Frank
Re: Considering buying a used Rifa 55
on Jul 25, 2012 at 2:55:07 pm

It's never ending, this purchasing of equipment :) And you forgot reflectors...and backdrops...and...and...and...

As I have a series of shoots in a windowless office, this is going to come in handy in a big way



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Mark Suszko
Re: Considering buying a used Rifa 55
on Jul 25, 2012 at 3:57:10 pm

Our ONLY regret with Rifas was not budgeting for eggcrates when we first bought them. The eggcrates are obscenely expenseive for what they are. I make do by hanging foam core flags on stands to block off spill.

My favorite Rifa is the biggest you can find:-) While you can use the square-cube law to regulate the strength of the rifa using distance alone, I've also tried using a "squeezer" (aka an electronic speed control for a router) from Harbor Frieght on one, and it allowed a degree of variable dimming that can come in handy.


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Jonathan Frank
Re: Considering buying a used Rifa 55
on Jul 25, 2012 at 4:29:12 pm

Which Egg Crate angle have you found to be the most useful in a real world interview situation (given the price...and the $50 difference between the 50 and the 30...)



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Bob Cole
Re: Considering buying a used Rifa 55
on Jul 30, 2012 at 6:10:46 pm

[Jonathan Frank] "Which Egg Crate angle have you found to be the most useful"

Good question. I have 40 degree fabric eggcrates for two of my larger Chimeras. I wouldn't go any lower than that for "real world" situations, personally. I assume, though, that the narrower the angle, the less light will hit your subject.

Oh, you said one was $50 more. Whichever one that was, "must be" the better one.


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Jonathan Frank
Re: Considering buying a used Rifa 55
on Jul 30, 2012 at 6:18:00 pm

Ha! Yeah, the pricing on these suckers is interesting..


The 30 is $210
The 40 is $173
The 50 is $151

I guess it makes sense...the 30 has more cells (and blocks more light - and 'focuses' it to a tighter area) but that is a huge price difference (especially between the 30 and 40 as it's twice that of the 40 to 50). Which makes one (well me) wonder if the 30 is so much more expensive due to the amount of material...or if there is a perceived extra value/desire for that specific angle.



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Bill Davis
Re: Considering buying a used Rifa 55
on Jul 30, 2012 at 7:23:58 pm

[Jonathan Frank] "I guess it makes sense...the 30 has more cells (and blocks more light - and 'focuses' it to a tighter area) but that is a huge price difference (especially between the 30 and 40 as it's twice that of the 40 to 50). Which makes one (well me) wonder if the 30 is so much more expensive due to the amount of material...or if there is a perceived extra value/desire for that specific angle."

Pull out one of your egg crates and look at how they're assembled. The internal cels are a simple pattern assembly of pre-cut fabric - but at the point where each row and each column meets the velcro outer fabric, there's a sewn junction. I suspect that this involves someone sitting at a machine and running stitches down each attachment point.

If so, more cels means longer assembly time and more labor cost.

Simple as that.

"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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