Tungsten vs. fluorescent light kit?

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    • #55277
      Avatarabitofbs
      Participant

      I'm shopping for a three-light kit for field and small studio productions. I can afford three low-priced tungsten lights like this 300-watt focusing flood w/barn doors from B&H and a dimmer unit for one light. (I have light stands.) My other choice would be something like a three-light fluorescent softbox kit from Loadstone Studio (I know it's cheap stuff, but it's all my budget will allow for now.)

       

      Am I better off going with the easier set-up but more heat and less light in the tungstens vs. the fluorescent kit with softboxes and twice the lumens with power switches for each bulb, but more set-up — and hauling around a kit with 15 light bulbs? Is 900 watts total in the tungsten kit enough for a typical interview/room lighting? This is not top-of-the-line build quality either, so I'm wondering how long those softboxes will hold up to multiple set-ups and disassembly. Your advice is welcome to help me "choose wisely." Thanks!

       

       

       

       

    • #301575
      Avatargldnears
      Member

      >  I can afford three low-priced tungsten lights like this 300-watt focusing flood w/barn doors from B&H and a dimmer unit for one light. (I have light stands.) <

       

      Really? " polycarbonate " construction? That seems counter-intuitive . . .

       

      There have been millions of hours of film and video shot with various tungston fixtures. Being sorta " old school " I have a kit of three Fresnels built for 600 watt lamps, but in which I keep 300 watt lamps. That said, I don't think there has been a network interview in the past five years ( 60 Minutes, etc ) which hasn't been shot with large soft box fluroescents. Fluorescents are popular for interviews because they are easier to light with than focusing tungstens. Not to be overlooked is the fact that predominate " practical lights " on set are also fluorescent; and so, color balancing is a snap . . . otherwise gels and diffusors! Obviously, if you're shooting outside, large fluorescent soft boxes migt blow away in a moderate breeze. Focusing tungstan fixtures with dichroic or gel filters do better.

       

      Rick Crampton

    • #301908
      Avatargldnears
      Member

      >  I can afford three low-priced tungsten lights like this 300-watt focusing flood w/barn doors from B&H and a dimmer unit for one light. (I have light stands.) <

       

      Really? " polycarbonate " construction? That seems counter-intuitive . . .

       

      There have been millions of hours of film and video shot with various tungston fixtures. Being sorta " old school " I have a kit of three Fresnels built for 600 watt lamps, but in which I keep 300 watt lamps. That said, I don't think there has been a network interview in the past five years ( 60 Minutes, etc ) which hasn't been shot with large soft box fluroescents. Fluorescents are popular for interviews because they are easier to light with than focusing tungstens. Not to be overlooked is the fact that predominate " practical lights " on set are also fluorescent; and so, color balancing is a snap . . . otherwise gels and diffusors! Obviously, if you're shooting outside, large fluorescent soft boxes migt blow away in a moderate breeze. Focusing tungstan fixtures with dichroic or gel filters do better.

       

      Rick Crampton

    • #302170
      Avatargldnears
      Member

      >  I can afford three low-priced tungsten lights like this 300-watt focusing flood w/barn doors from B&H and a dimmer unit for one light. (I have light stands.) <

       

      Really? " polycarbonate " construction? That seems counter-intuitive . . .

       

      There have been millions of hours of film and video shot with various tungston fixtures. Being sorta " old school " I have a kit of three Fresnels built for 600 watt lamps, but in which I keep 300 watt lamps. That said, I don't think there has been a network interview in the past five years ( 60 Minutes, etc ) which hasn't been shot with large soft box fluroescents. Fluorescents are popular for interviews because they are easier to light with than focusing tungstens. Not to be overlooked is the fact that predominate " practical lights " on set are also fluorescent; and so, color balancing is a snap . . . otherwise gels and diffusors! Obviously, if you're shooting outside, large fluorescent soft boxes migt blow away in a moderate breeze. Focusing tungstan fixtures with dichroic or gel filters do better.

       

      Rick Crampton

    • #302682
      Avatargldnears
      Member

      >  I can afford three low-priced tungsten lights like this 300-watt focusing flood w/barn doors from B&H and a dimmer unit for one light. (I have light stands.) <

       

      Really? " polycarbonate " construction? That seems counter-intuitive . . .

       

      There have been millions of hours of film and video shot with various tungston fixtures. Being sorta " old school " I have a kit of three Fresnels built for 600 watt lamps, but in which I keep 300 watt lamps. That said, I don't think there has been a network interview in the past five years ( 60 Minutes, etc ) which hasn't been shot with large soft box fluroescents. Fluorescents are popular for interviews because they are easier to light with than focusing tungstens. Not to be overlooked is the fact that predominate " practical lights " on set are also fluorescent; and so, color balancing is a snap . . . otherwise gels and diffusors! Obviously, if you're shooting outside, large fluorescent soft boxes migt blow away in a moderate breeze. Focusing tungstan fixtures with dichroic or gel filters do better.

       

      Rick Crampton

    • #206444
      Avatargldnears
      Member

      >  I can afford three low-priced tungsten lights like this 300-watt focusing flood w/barn doors from B&H and a dimmer unit for one light. (I have light stands.) <

       

      Really? " polycarbonate " construction? That seems counter-intuitive . . .

       

      There have been millions of hours of film and video shot with various tungston fixtures. Being sorta " old school " I have a kit of three Fresnels built for 600 watt lamps, but in which I keep 300 watt lamps. That said, I don't think there has been a network interview in the past five years ( 60 Minutes, etc ) which hasn't been shot with large soft box fluroescents. Fluorescents are popular for interviews because they are easier to light with than focusing tungstens. Not to be overlooked is the fact that predominate " practical lights " on set are also fluorescent; and so, color balancing is a snap . . . otherwise gels and diffusors! Obviously, if you're shooting outside, large fluorescent soft boxes migt blow away in a moderate breeze. Focusing tungstan fixtures with dichroic or gel filters do better.

       

      Rick Crampton

    • #301776
      Avatargldnears
      Member

      >  I can afford three low-priced tungsten lights like this 300-watt focusing flood w/barn doors from B&H and a dimmer unit for one light. (I have light stands.) <

       

      Really? " polycarbonate " construction? That seems counter-intuitive . . .

       

      There have been millions of hours of film and video shot with various tungston fixtures. Being sorta " old school " I have a kit of three Fresnels built for 600 watt lamps, but in which I keep 300 watt lamps. That said, I don't think there has been a network interview in the past five years ( 60 Minutes, etc ) which hasn't been shot with large soft box fluroescents. Fluorescents are popular for interviews because they are easier to light with than focusing tungstens. Not to be overlooked is the fact that predominate " practical lights " on set are also fluorescent; and so, color balancing is a snap . . . otherwise gels and diffusors! Obviously, if you're shooting outside, large fluorescent soft boxes migt blow away in a moderate breeze. Focusing tungstan fixtures with dichroic or gel filters do better.

       

      Rick Crampton

    • #302847
      Avatargldnears
      Member

      >  I can afford three low-priced tungsten lights like this 300-watt focusing flood w/barn doors from B&H and a dimmer unit for one light. (I have light stands.) <

       

      Really? " polycarbonate " construction? That seems counter-intuitive . . .

       

      There have been millions of hours of film and video shot with various tungston fixtures. Being sorta " old school " I have a kit of three Fresnels built for 600 watt lamps, but in which I keep 300 watt lamps. That said, I don't think there has been a network interview in the past five years ( 60 Minutes, etc ) which hasn't been shot with large soft box fluroescents. Fluorescents are popular for interviews because they are easier to light with than focusing tungstens. Not to be overlooked is the fact that predominate " practical lights " on set are also fluorescent; and so, color balancing is a snap . . . otherwise gels and diffusors! Obviously, if you're shooting outside, large fluorescent soft boxes migt blow away in a moderate breeze. Focusing tungstan fixtures with dichroic or gel filters do better.

       

      Rick Crampton

    • #206452
      Avatarabitofbs
      Participant

      Thanks for the input Rick. The polycarbonate build on the tungsten floods does seem like it might be a heat risk, but they get good marks from users in the reviews on B&H web site who say it's not a problem (but you can't use a bulb size hotter than 300 watts).

       

      And you're right — the softbox look is great, but I'm not budgeted for the best quality product, so I have to think about durability in the field over time. Still, having five bulbs to adjust my light intensity in each softbox is a tempting benefit. Decisions… decisions!

    • #206453
      AvatarBrian
      Participant

      Hi Bob –

      Are you're in a situation where you absolutely need something now or could you wait a few more months and buy something nicer?  Ebay is a really good resource for used gear.  I've bought c-stands, baby stands, Matthews Road Rags a Mole 650 and baby 1k on ebay.  I even bought a Joker 800 on ebay.  Really good gear is sold on there if you're patient and know what you want.

      It looks like you want to spend about $300 which isn't much when it comes to good production gear but, you might be suprised.  As more people move to soft lights, there really are bargains on NICE Mole fixtures.  The 650 and 1k I bought are probably 15-20 years old but are still durable workhorses that will last 10+ more years.   With true fresnels, you can go hard or soft lighting using the lens controls.  Need more diffusion, get a silk.  I absolutely love the Matthews Road Rags.  They are light, portable and ever so useful.

      Another question is if you REALLY need 3 lights.  Far too often, people get locked into the idea of 3 point lighting.  I've done plenty of jobs where the talent was lit with one or two lights.  If you're in situations where you can plus the practical light rather than totally lighting the talent, you could start with a smaller kit or even one light.  News crews have given a bad name to single point lighting.  Truth is, it can look nice especially if you have a white card or flex to fill with.

       

       

    • #206456
      Avatargldnears
      Member

      Bob, you mention " hauling around . . . "

       

      For sure you'd want to keep your rig as lightweight as possible. Years ago I worked sound for a guy who had a whole van full of " vintage " lighting gear that was a royal pain to shlep! He had 3 Mole 600 Fresnels, a 1K . . .  even had a " Nine-Light " and some of the biggest, heaviest solid reflectors I've ever seen. Not only are the instruments unGodly heavy, but they require heavy-duty stands as well. And then I also worked with another guy who rented an HMI wherever he went to shoot and bounced it off a space blanket!

       

      My three 650-rated Fresnels are Chinese knockoffs from ARRI, are well built and came directly from China with a case with rollers and three nice, medium-duty stands. I have a full kit of scrims and flags and several gels. A lot of folks like to bounce Fresnels off sheets of foamcore to get a really diffuse result. If I really need more than this I'm either not interested or I'd rent additional lights. My two softlites are nice for fairly close work.

       

      Rick Crampton

       

    • #206458
      AvatarAviv Vana
      Participant

      For your tungsten choices make sure you still have a way to make it a soft large source. In other words, it still needs to have some sort of soft box or large diffusion infront of it (or bouncing the light etc).

      A big plus to the tungsten route would be that they can be used as focused spot lights when you want a beam of light as opposed to the flourescent lights which will give you a big spread.

       

      A negative in my opinion with the bulb routes is that color temp is not always accurate between bulbs and since you WILL break them you will be purchasing extras a lot and at some point you will opt for the cheapies which are less color accurate.

       

      One more thing i found to be a huge deciding factor, which you touched upon obviously in your question is setup time. Time is the one thing that "gets" us all. We are rushed constantly, murphy's law shows up and something goes wrong and then we're in a crunch. I would consider highly the advantages of quick setup time regardless of which route you decide. Lugging bulbs and screwing them on has severly slowed me down many times – not to mention did not make me look very pro.

      If budget isn't too tight in the future consider the lowel rifa – tungsten and they snap open likidy split and ready to go.

       

      Just some food for thought. In the end it's all about how you personally work and what works for you. (and we didn't even touch on the "look" of each and which you prefer!)

    • #206463
      AvatarBrian
      Participant

      Bob –

       

      I think we're all sort of saying some of the same things – just maybe saying it differently.  The nice thing about softlights, true fresnels or using a silk or a bounce card is that they allow you to make the light "bigger".  A nice, even and large source is often quite desirable and flattering.  

      My big concern with the little open face tungstens is that they just don't give you much beam control.  By the time you bounce the light or move it back and run it through a silk, how much punch is really left?  Yes, they are big and heavy but there is a reason features use larger fixtures.  Big lamps give more control.  Pain to haul around?  Yeah but that is what we get paid to do.  

      For small spot work, corporate shoots, etc, I feel pretty comfortable that I can handle just about anything.  I've got 4 Kinoflo Diva 400, Joker 800, 2 1k equiv LED panels, 1 650 fresnel and a baby 1k.  I've also got a bunch of stands, clamps, 4×4 frames, flags, etc.  Yeah, it is a bunch of stuff but I never know exactly what I'm going to run into on location.  There really isn't a 1 size fits all light kit so you're always going to be adding new tools.  Start with the best you can afford but think of it as part of a larger set of gear that you will eventually own.  I started with 2 mole fixtures from ebay and kept adding.  For me, the next add will probably be another HMI or an LED-Z Brute 16.  It

      is an expensive game to play but if you build in steps, it's quite doable.  Also, nicer fixtures generates rental income.  I've paid for my Joker and my first set of Divas in rental.  In most towns, the production community is pretty tight.  I got the word out of my freelance friends and they call me when they need any gear.   

       

      As far as the comment on color temperature on lamps, here's my two cents…  Seldom do I shoot where the color temp is consistant.  My preference is to use daylight fixtures but I always mix and match and may or may not fully correct.  The world is full of mixed colors and being color pure thoughout all your lighting is a shortcut to having sterile footage.  Same thing with fixtures and beam shape.  Mix it up and your footage gets far more interesting.  

      In the end, if the fixtures you showed are the limits of your budget – that's cool. I'd lean towards one softlight with tungsten bulbs and two of little open face lamps.  In an interview for instance, I'd key with the softlight, back with an open face and fill with a reflector like a flex fill. The extra lamp would then be used to splash the wall behind the talent or bounce off the ceiling to lift the overall level a bit.  BTW, never point a lamp at a commercial fire sprinkler or you may get wet :).  Definately spend a few bucks to get some diffusion for the open face.  

      Whichever direction you go, be sure post some pix from your first shoot with the new gear. 🙂

    • #206466
      Avatarabitofbs
      Participant

      Thanks Aviv and Brian for the good advice. I really like Brian's idea of a softbox for key, a reflector to fill, and using the open faces for backlight and splash. I already have a reflector with a holder and can get my hands on a used 24×24 softbox with a stand, so all I'll need is a bulb for it and the two-light open face kit along with some diffusion.I'll be sure to post some photos of the new setup in my first shoot.

    • #206489
      Avatarpaulears
      Participant

      Much as I have been anti LED in the past, but now if I needed a soft source, it seems foolish to not consider LED. STill not perfect, but each new one out is better than the last – so the benefit to me of being able to throw stuff in the van without worrying too much about losing lamps, is good!

    • #206490
      AvatarBrian
      Participant

      Durable, power them from virtually any power source and constantly getting cheaper and better.  

    • #206491
      AvatarAviv Vana
      Participant

      I haven't succesfully been able to get gorgeous accurate skin tones with LED. Yes i can do a quality interview where the average  viewer will give me complements, but I know it's just not quite it IMO.

      Bob, I like your overall direction so far. That is how I would go. Choosing your soft keylight is the real question here. Flourescents/Tungsten/LED? I would lean towards flourescent if it fits your workflow and needs. Whichever it is the key point is like you said – large and soft source. I have seen a friend get great results with an LED panel (chinese nothing special) with a small collapsible reflector in front of the light (using of course only the diffusion aspect of it – unzipping the silver cover). It worked to make the LED a large source and softned it. I will be trying it for when I resort to LED as my key.

       

       

    • #206492
      AvatarBrian
      Participant

      LEDs aren't full spectrum so they can look sterile.  That's why I love HMI light when possible. I usually use my LEDs for back or fill but seldom as key.  The beam is also harsh for me so I've usually got diffusion on them.  Skin looks great with wide spectrum light.  HMIs are great if you've got them but that look is expensive.  

       

    • #206493
      AvatarCville
      Participant

      We shot this entire video using 2 inexpensive fluorescent soft boxes from cowboy studio with 5500k bulbs. The color temp worked well with the scene along the windows.   The only scene we did not use them was the short concert scene.  One advantage of the fluorescent as well as led you don't have to worry about over loading circuits and getting enough power. 

       

    • #206495
      Avatarabitofbs
      Participant

      Nice work Tony! What camera/lenses/audio gear were you using?

    • #206523
      AvatarBarry
      Participant

      You have received great advice that I will certainly learn from

       

      I will just add the Qualite 300 watt Focus Flood are of good quality.  I have a smaller budget than you and I recently bought two over 3 months from the used section.  They don't heat up quickly but of course they do get hot. Like tungsten lights do.

       

      The focus helps but doesn't create a spotlight.    Previoulsy I have been making my own Softboxes for Daylight Flourescents.  And recently for tungten 500 watt bulbs.

       

      But they are not easy to drag around in a car.

       

      I have  been learning by myself for a year. And Unfortunately work alone

       

      If you care to see what I did with my Flourescents,  I don't normally do stunts but had an idea that  stuck with me. It's silly and turned out pretty funny.  I used a total of 1800 watts of Daylight Flourescents

       

      Here's a photo of the setup in my low ceiled bathroom followed by the World Record in staying in A Freezing Cold Shower in a Freezing Cold Bathroom.

      I have done no research into this claim

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      At the begginning you can really see the ghostly image on the right.  Not Planned But Cool

       

       

       

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV99GsSfom8

       

      "I DON'T MAKE MOVIES TO MAKE MONEY, I MAKE MOVIES FOR MY PATHETIC NEED FOR ATTENTION" Barry Wilson

       

    • #206469
      Avatargldnears
      Member

       

       

      " A negative in my opinion with the bulb routes is that color temp is not always accurate between bulbs and since you WILL break them you will be purchasing extras a lot and at some point you will opt for the cheapies which are less color accurate. "

       

      Which lamps? You refering to fluorescent or tungstan?

       

      We assume all tungstan lamps will be accurate . . .  maybe not? As for accurate fluorescent color temp lamps, don't buy em if the color temp isn't stated on the base.

    • #206496
      AvatarCville
      Participant

       

      Thanks. I had a great DP working with me on this project and all volunteer actors. On a $0 budget which most of us work on for these types of projects. It probably should have been edited a little tighter but we wanted to give our volunteers screen time at church. 🙂
       
      I already mentioned the soft boxes from Cowboy Studio. 
       
      Canon. 60d with a prime 50mm 1.8 canon lens. 24fps
       
      The shotgun microphones were inexpensive Nady STM-12 from musicians friend. We ran them thru a  zoom audio recorder. 
       
      A cobra crane backpacker crane. 
       
      Tripods were Davis and Sanford Provista_7518
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