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Lowel DV Creator 44 Tungsten Four-Light Kit Review

Lowel DV Creator 44 Tungsten Four-Light Kit Review

Lowel DV Creator 44 Tungsten Four-Light Kit

$1,650
Lowel-Light Manufacturing, Inc.
140 58th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11220
(800) 334-3426
www.lowel.com

Long known as a company serving the film and TV industry and professional broadcasters, Lowel proves it has the right stuff for the consumer and prosumer alike. Designed with the digital video shooter in mind, the Lowel DV Creator 44 tungsten four-light kit delivers all the needs the home-based or small video business requires in one complete affordable package.

In reviewing the Lowel DV Creator 44 kit, we had the opportunity to test it with a real world application during a commercial shoot for a local hair salon. As expected, the salon was crowded, cramped and had varied lighting from overhead fluorescents, bright tiny spots and natural outdoor spill from huge uncovered windows and was chock-full of mirrors. Lots of them. Everywhere. A photographer's nightmare. During a previous shoot at this same location, we used a cheaper no-name, less solid light kit, and the comparisons were remarkable. Earlier, we forgot extension cords, and the struggle to find available nearby outlets with the no-name's very short light cords was a real pain. Worse still, the heads and attachments to the no-name kit were flimsy and didn't hold their position very well, dipping to the floor in the most inopportune moments. Not so with the Lowel DV Creator 44 light kit.

Case Study The Lowel DV Creator 44 kit comes with four tungsten lights: a 300W Rifa-light plus soft box, a 750W Tota-light, a 500W Omni-light, and a 250W Pro-light. The kit also includes a gel kit, lobo-arms and flashes, a Tota-brella, barn doors, four interchangeable stands and a hardshell case.

Once fully packed, the carrying case is a heavy one, and when we had to tote it up four flights of stairs, the case seemed to get heavier on that last flight. The case has both handle and a nice strong padded shoulder strap, which helped navigate that last flight of stairs tremendously.

Look into the Light All of the lights except the 250W Pro-Light have on/off switches attached to their cords. All of the cords were more than 16 feet long and when fully extended, the stands can reach a height of 7-1/2 to 8-1/2 feet. Add nearly three feet of attached lamp cord, and you have room to roam.

The Pro-Light 250 switch is on the lamp itself, so the user needs to set the light stand where she wants it and turn it on before extending the light-head out of reach. The lamp is focusable, and removing or adding the barn doors was quite easy. By using the Pro-Light spotlight at its smallest beam, we were able to highlight a very small background subject with ease. The small lamp doesn't have a handle to fine-tune the light's position, but touching just the right spot on the back of the light found it wasn't too hot to handle. The other three lights in the kit all had good solid handles to grab a hot light with confidence.

Omni: Solid as a Rock The focusable 500W Omni-Light is surely the workhorse in this kit. This is the one you use and abuse the most. The Lowel Omni-Light is solid, easy to assemble, and the barn-doors attach on and off in a snap. Attaching and engaging the Tota-brella umbrella is easy and it firmly holds its placement, unlike the no-name kit whose umbrella usually ended up pointed at the floor more than anywhere else. For run-and-gun shooters, it's easy to replace the bulb in a flash, losing very little time in the process.

Totally Tota

The 750W Tota-light was a bit difficult to operate, and was our least favorite of the kit. The tota-brella space was small and awkward, and attaching the protective screen wasn't very intuitive. Frayed edges of the screen can poke an unaware user and if you blow a bulb, you may struggle to get the screen back on. With a 750-watt bulb, you'll want to keep it covered. The Tota has a switch on the cord, and this is a big plus because this light gets hot! Unlike the Omni, the Tota-light doesn't have a grip handle, but it does have a large knob for positioning the lamp. The Tota-light is a powerful light and can effortlessly light up even the darkest background.

The 300W Rifa-Light and soft box was clearly the most fun light to play with. If the user could take only one light to a shoot, this would be the one. The soft box diffuser cover was easy to attach, either with the light fully open or not. The Rifa-light opens and collapses with no trouble at all, and packs tight in its own cloth sack.

The kit comes with two sizes of polyester gels for the Omni- and Pro-lights. Along with the blue gels to match the tungsten light with daylight, and gray, called frost, to soften and diffuse highlights or shadows, there are also a few translucent mat/diffusion sheets. The gel holders attach effortlessly to the lamp barndoors and have easy-to-operate clips to attach the gels. Finally, the kit has a couple strong, flexible lobo-arms and a large metal flag to further extend the reach so you can precisely control the light spill even more.

Large Hands Make Busy Work

One odd problem I discovered in the kit was when loosening a thumbscrew on the small Pro-light. I'm left-handed, and I always loosen when I mean to tighten a screw. So while attaching the lamp to a light stand, I twisted the light's thumbscrew open too far, and the screw fell off, and the enclosed nut fell out of the lamp head casing. The opening was so small, that I had a heck of a time trying to get the nut back inside to re-tighten the thumbscrew. Luckily, I had my handy-dandy makeup kit with a couple photographer's dream tools: bobby-pins and tweezers. I lost nearly half an hour of shoot time trying to fix the lamp. I noticed that the Tota-light has this same design, but the nuts and bolts of the Omni and Rifa lights are within easy reach.

Conclusion

C-clamps would be a very nice addition to this kit, and would round it out to the point where it would be hard to imagine what else a typical videographer might need. But this is being very nit-picky, since the Lowel DV Creator 44 tungsten four-light kit is a very full-featured kit. As a former run-and-gun news photographer, I wish I had this kit during many of the awkward lighting situations I came across. The Lowel DV Creator 44 kit helped make our commercial shoot at the salon a huge success, and every bit as good as the Big Time Pros, and that's what really counts.

TECH SPECS
Number of Lights in Kit 4
Watts per Light 750 Tota, 500 Omni, 250 Rifa, 250 Pro
Carrying Case Lowel GO-85 case
Accessory Mount no
Handles on Lamps yes
Spot/Flood Adjustable yes (Omni and Pro)
Barndoors yes
Scrims yes
Gels yes
Softbox yes
Umbrella Tota-brella
Maximum Tripod Height 8.5 feet

STRENGTHS

  • Solid handles on lamps
  • Barn doors snap off/on easily
  • Very high stands
  • Switches on cords
  • Long cords

    WEAKNESSES

  • Wobbly legs
  • Screen for tota-light not a smooth fit
  • Hard to replace nuts in the smaller thumbscrews
  • No C-clamps

    SUMMARY

    The Lowel DV Creator 44 Tungsten Four- Light Kit is rugged and dependable, and comes packed with all you would need in one light kit.

    Jennifer O'Rourke is Videomaker's Managing Editor.

  • Tags:  March 2005
    Jennifer
    O'Rourke
    Tue, 03/01/2005 - 12:00am