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Documentary light kit


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#1 Juan Pablo Chapela

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 01:25 PM

Hello everyone...

I'm looking into buying a compact three light kit to use mainly for lighting interviews, so size and portability are important. I've used redheads, arri flood lights with chimeras, fresnels etc. Although lately I'm thinking about a Dedolight kit. It has what I'm looking for: 1 softlight with chimera and two fresnel lights. I know Dedolight are good and expensive. Can anyone think of someother solutions? Mixing different lights into a small portable kit? Performance, budget, ease of use?

It be great to get some feedback from some of you guys.

I'd be working mainly on Digibeta, HDV and eventually HD...

Thanks, and by the way, I love this forum, so many things to learn...
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#2 David Auner aac

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 02:50 AM

Hello everyone...

I'm looking into buying a compact three light kit to use mainly for lighting interviews, so size and portability are important. I've used redheads, arri flood lights with chimeras, fresnels etc. Although lately I'm thinking about a Dedolight kit. It has what I'm looking for: 1 softlight with chimera and two fresnel lights. I know Dedolight are good and expensive. Can anyone think of someother solutions? Mixing different lights into a small portable kit? Performance, budget, ease of use?


Hi Juan,
you should take a look at the Arri kits. There's some nice kits with fresnels and softlights. I'll probably get the Lowel Super Ambi to start with and later expand my to kit to include some Arri fresnels and some DIY fourbanks. I have also used Dedos, I love them, but they are way out of my budget! I guess that the other brands will get you more bang for the buck.

Cheers, Dave
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#3 Juan Pablo Chapela

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 05:10 AM

Thanks Dave...

Just saw the Super Ambi at the Lowel web page, and it looks very complete. Although, the last ocasions that I've used Lowel, especially the Totas I find them difficult to control, and their output is just too much for what I need, I mainly shoot video (digibeta, hdv, hd...) How focusable are the DP lights? Another drawback about Lowel for me is that there is no dealer in Barcelona... only in Madrid. About the Arri kits... Yeah, they are great, but too bulky and heavy. Most of the time I'm working alone (no soundman, no A.C.), and I consider size and weight an important factor in my decision, and could be willing to pay some more just for that...

The Dedo kits seem really good, but I don't know if I'll be using all the accesories, even in the basic kits. What do you think about making your own kit? Buying a couple of dedos, a couple of redheads, accesories and puting it all in a nice pelican case? Is it going to be cheaper?


Cheers,

J.P. Chapela
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#4 David Auner aac

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 08:15 AM

The Dedo kits seem really good, but I don't know if I'll be using all the accesories, even in the basic kits. What do you think about making your own kit? Buying a couple of dedos, a couple of redheads, accesories and puting it all in a nice pelican case? Is it going to be cheaper?


Well, check out the smaller Lowel kits. These are lower wattage and smaller size. Maybe just what you need. Redheads won't be smaller than the bigger Lowel fixtures, maybe even larger. Aside from that I guess if you know precisely what you want there's nothing to be said against making your won kit. AFAIK Lowel and others will let you do that as well.

Cheers, Dave
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#5 Juan Pablo Chapela

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 10:01 AM

Dave... do you own a ambi kit? What do you do with it, I mean what stuff do you usually light with it?
How do you use the Tota's for example?

Maybe I am a fresnel kind of guy, but I'm really afraid of not being able to control the Tota... I'll be lighting mainly interviews so...

I saw the smaller Lowel kits... they do look very good comparing their cost against the dedo kits.

J.P.
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#6 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 10:38 AM

Forget Tota's-difficult to control, heat up like all hell.
Omni's and DP lights are quite good.
Smaller Arri fresnel fixtures are quite handy and flexible as well.
I don't think Lowell stands are very good so I would suggest buying seperate units based on your individual needs.
A couple of magic arms also seem like a good idea.
Dedolights are very nice but super expensive.
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#7 Juan Pablo Chapela

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 11:41 AM

Smaller Arri fresnel fixtures are quite handy and flexible as well.

A couple of magic arms also seem like a good idea.


Hi Dan... By smaller fresnel do you mean 300's and 150's? And what is it exactly a magic arm? I suppose, by the name, they are like the dedo flexible arm that lets you locate a fixture in a certain place without the tripod in frame. Am I right?
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#8 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 12:59 PM

Juan - arri magic arms are basically an arm (with a lockable 'elbow joint') that clamps onto stands, flats, doors and on the other end has a spigot to afix your light. There are other useful grip tools available - most made by Matthews studio Equipment... I've got a heavy-duty rubberised clamp than is great for clamping onto the top of doors or polecats, again it has a spigot for the light mounting... Have a look in the Grip section...
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#9 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 07:42 PM

Yes, 150's and 300's are very good for many things like edge and rim lights, background stuff etc.
They will balance nicely with indirect or diffused light from any open sources you might choose.
Magic arms are handy for lights but also flags, small frames with diffusion or other filters, etc.
These small lights and magic arms will serve you well for fiction and film projects as well.
They will keep their utility and value no matter what support we will be shooting on in the years to come.
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#10 Brian Wells

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 10:24 PM

I'm thinking about a Dedolight kit. It has what I'm looking for: 1 softlight with chimera and two fresnel lights.

hi- i have that exact dedo kit, with the softbox, two dedo's, one projector, large case, stands, barndoors, etc... i am not disappointed.
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#11 Juan Pablo Chapela

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 07:08 AM

hi- i have that exact dedo kit, with the softbox, two dedo's, one projector, large case, stands, barndoors, etc... i am not disappointed.


Hi Brian... And what do you use for mainly? Do you use it combined with other fixtures or just that kit? Do you ever miss having other types of fixtures?

Buying a mix of some omni lights, a couple of fresnels as Dan is suggesting and start from there with a couple of nice accesories (flexfills, magic arms, clamps, etc) sounds like a good start.

Thanks to everybody for posting... I am just trying lo learn a bit from other people's experiences before I spend my hard earned money...

J.P.
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#12 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 08:31 AM

Brian is quite right, Dedo's are very nice fixtures but not the best "bang for your buck".
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#13 Stephen Williams

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 09:33 AM

Brian is quite right, Dedo's are very nice fixtures but not the best "bang for your buck".


Hi Dan,

As it's very difficult to break the bulbs, they will also work underwater without breaking! I maintain they are the cheapest light to personally own.

Stephen
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#14 Juan Pablo Chapela

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 10:43 AM

As it's very difficult to break the bulbs, they will also work underwater without breaking! I maintain they are the cheapest light to personally own.

Stephen


I don't doubt they are the best lights outhere, in a lot of terms. If I had the money I'd buy the best possible dedo kit... but right now I am budget tight. I'd like to get the most out of my investment, using everything I buy. I'd hate to buy a light thinking I'll use it a lot and ending up not even taking it on a shoot because I've realized I can do without it.

You're right Stephen... once you have the lights dedos might be the cheapest light to mantain, and at the end that's cost as well...

Does anybody know how often (hours of usage) does a fresnell light lasts before having to change it? Is it really a lot different from a dedo? Stephen you might help us out here...
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#15 Steve Milligan

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 11:51 AM

I'm surprised no-one has mention the Rifa. Very quick setup, packs small, nice soft quality, easy to gel. If you take off the diffuser, it has pretty good throw. Hardest Lowel to cook yourself on, too. The Rifa Pro kit, with maybe a 650 Fresnel for the third light, would be my minimal kit.
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#16 Stephen Williams

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 01:13 PM

Does anybody know how often (hours of usage) does a fresnell light lasts before having to change it? Is it really a lot different from a dedo? Stephen you might help us out here...


Hi Juan,

A small fresnell will die instantly if you knock it over, and probably last about a week or so used all the time. Dedolights can be dropped hundreds of times and last over 1 year maybe nearer 2. I don't bother having spare bulbs as I loose them! (I have 4 dedo lights). I try to buy the lights exdemo from a dealer after a show.

Stephen
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#17 Ed Scott

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 02:42 PM

Although just my opinion, when lighting for docs, I tend to go with less. No need to try and match a "Dateline" look with 15 instruments. I'd go with KinoFlos Interview kit (one 4 light, 2 - 2 light) I'd probably throw in a few 300w Arri's with dimmers to light anything in the background. Other than that, less is more - go with it!
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#18 David Auner aac

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 03:42 PM

Dave... do you own a ambi kit? What do you do with it, I mean what stuff do you usually light with it?
How do you use the Tota's for example?

Maybe I am a fresnel kind of guy, but I'm really afraid of not being able to control the Tota... I'll be lighting mainly interviews so...


Hi again,

I'll order my Lowel kit as soon as I have all the money :D
I have used Totas and Omnis a lot when we were shooting a TV reality show in peoples' apartments. The lights were really easy to hide since they're so small. I think I'm gonna use the Totas for bounced fill mostly. that's the plan, but I'll see what other uses I can find for them...
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#19 Brian Wells

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 06:39 PM

Hi Brian... And what do you use for mainly?

I mainly use them for edge, fill, and background lighting. Working with dedo's allows you to be a sort of lighting designer for interviews. Can you imagine lighting a theatre performance without dimmers or projected patterns? I can't imagine lighting an interview without them, either.

Do you use it combined with other fixtures or just that kit? Do you ever miss having other types of fixtures?

I also have a soft box with fabric eggcrate, but dedo's are the only small focusable instruments used.

Buying a mix of some omni lights, a couple of fresnels as Dan is suggesting and start from there with a couple of nice accesories (flexfills, magic arms, clamps, etc) sounds like a good start.

A good start is buying any kind of softbox with fabric eggcrate, flexfill, a DLHM4-300, and some small kit stands. When you have the $$, add another light, projection attachment, and soft case. The system is modular; you don't need to buy it all at once.

I'm not sure you can fully appreciate the value of dedo's just by reading a brochure.

A small fresnell will die instantly if you knock it over, and probably last about a week or so used all the time. Dedolights can be dropped hundreds of times and last over 1 year maybe nearer 2.

Eight months into one of my DLHM4-300, the cable between the transformer and light socket became frayed and quit working. It was a wear and tear issue, not warranty. The repair cost me $120.00. :angry: All the stories about the globes are true, tho. I can't find a way to break one.
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#20 JD Hartman

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 10:06 AM

Does anybody know how often (hours of usage) does a fresnell light lasts before having to change it? Is it really a lot different from a dedo? Stephen you might help us out here...


How long a globe lasts can depend on the construction of filament, its size in watts and the design of the fixture. Every manufacturer rates their lamps in average number of hours. I've had 150w ESP/ETC globes in a 3" fresnel, sometimes die after a day or two of shooting. At the other extreme, my 1000w EGT globes (1k fresnel) are still going strong after a year. I'm guessing that the ventilation is better in the 1k fixture and that is attributing to longer globe life.
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