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Basic Lighting Kit


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#1 axela dardan

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 04:14 AM

I have a Panasonic HVX 200 and I would like to buy a basic lighting kit to use for both documentaries and short fiction films. I will also soon upgrade the camera to a 35mm adapter and nikon lenses, which will cut me out 2 stops.

I am yet a third year cinematography student and haven't worked under anything but natural lighting conditions so have no practical experience with lights. Everybody suggested dedo lights, but I don't know what powers and what type of lamps will be sufficient for my needs.

In this case what lights would you recommend, both tungsten and hmi?

Many thanks,
Diana.
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#2 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 12:03 PM

Dedo's are a bit expensive for someone just starting out, I think. A basic tungsten fresnel kit with a 1K, a couple 650w's and a 300w (or any other combination of the 3) is usually a good start. The first kit I owned was a Photoflex softbox kit which is a great and durable soft source that I use all the time.

You can also build your own chinaball fixtures for under $30 each. There are a few forums here on how to do this.

However, being a 3rd year cine student, you should have access to SOME lighting equipment through your school, right? You should check that stuff out as much as possible and practice with it to see what type of equipment you like and would invest in for yourself.

Edited by Jonathan Bowerbank, 07 September 2007 - 12:04 PM.

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#3 axela dardan

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 01:12 PM

Dedo's are a bit expensive for someone just starting out, I think. A basic tungsten fresnel kit with a 1K, a couple 650w's and a 300w (or any other combination of the 3) is usually a good start. The first kit I owned was a Photoflex softbox kit which is a great and durable soft source that I use all the time.

You can also build your own chinaball fixtures for under $30 each. There are a few forums here on how to do this.

However, being a 3rd year cine student, you should have access to SOME lighting equipment through your school, right? You should check that stuff out as much as possible and practice with it to see what type of equipment you like and would invest in for yourself.



Well, believe it or not, I yet didn't have one single film-lighting course. However I have access to the school's photo-studio, but I imagine a photography lighting kit is quite different than one for film. And this school photo kit Im talking about consists in 1kW, 1 x 500W and 2 x 300W, which means a whole lot of light from what Ive experienced. And this whole lot of light, with tripods and generator necessary I guess, (not to mention ballasts for HMI) means a lot of money and not very much maneuverability. For this I need advice.

This kit I want to buy is mainly to meet my director's plans for setting up a very small studio of his own. He's actually the one with the HVX.

Could you recommend some not very expensive firms to search for their products? I want to buy new lamps, both fix and portable for shooting documentary wise.

Thanks.
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#4 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 05:14 PM

Well, believe it or not, I yet didn't have one single film-lighting course.


I'm confused, how can you be a 3rd year cinematography student, and yet have never had a lighting class?

Are you in your 3rd year of school and JUST NOW getting into cinematography? Because then it might make some sense.

1.2Kw of lighting is not much at all. If the director wants to set up his own studio, he should get the electrics upgraded to accomodate.

There's an array of on-camera lights that you can find. But as far as recommending a store for you, that's something I would direct towards some of the European DP's on this site.
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#5 axela dardan

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Posted 10 September 2007 - 02:01 AM

No kidding. I shot 8 shorts so far, of which 4 were school exams. All shot in natural light. Lighting classes I have attended indeed, but only in theory, pencil and paper, nothing real to set up for my own. I guess, here in Romania, the national film school, has just got a... funny way of taking life seriously. Now you can understand why I through your answers.

But then again, nobody has posted nothing on specific products, or firms.

American popular firms are not a problem for me, cause somebody can order them for me in the US and then have them shipped here. I just got to know what best on the market (new, not SH), at a relative decent price.

Thanks again.
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#6 Ken Minehan

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Posted 10 September 2007 - 02:38 AM

Is the 35mm adapter your talking about getting the red rock? I have been using the redrock with nikon lens quite alot recently and it will eat alot of light. Roughly you will be working with 50ASA. The reason why i rate it at this ASA is because you shouldn't shoot below 2.8 because the focus will get too shallow and it's very easy for you to lose focus. I normally will shoot it at 4 or 2.8. You still get the nice DOF, but the compromise is that you will have to light it more.

So if you want to get lights to meet your needs using the redrock, you may need to get bigger and more powerful lights. 650w will not do very much unless close to the subject. The normal package i get is 1.2kw HMI, 2k blondies, 1k arri, 650w arri, 300w arri, dedo. But once i use the redrock i dont usually use anything under 800w unless the shot is close up.

hope it helps
Ken MInehan
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#7 axela dardan

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Posted 10 September 2007 - 02:53 AM

Is the 35mm adapter your talking about getting the red rock? I have been using the redrock with nikon lens quite alot recently and it will eat alot of light. Roughly you will be working with 50ASA. The reason why i rate it at this ASA is because you shouldn't shoot below 2.8 because the focus will get too shallow and it's very easy for you to lose focus. I normally will shoot it at 4 or 2.8. You still get the nice DOF, but the compromise is that you will have to light it more.

So if you want to get lights to meet your needs using the redrock, you may need to get bigger and more powerful lights. 650w will not do very much unless close to the subject. The normal package i get is 1.2kw HMI, 2k blondies, 1k arri, 650w arri, 300w arri, dedo. But once i use the redrock i dont usually use anything under 800w unless the shot is close up.

hope it helps
Ken MInehan



This is very bad news you give me, Ken. It is the redrock m2 adapter Im talking about, and as it was advertised I was expecting only a 2stop loss, but not such horrific results you're telling.

Thanks very much.
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#8 Bernhard Zitz

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Posted 10 September 2007 - 04:54 AM

It is the redrock m2 adapter Im talking about, and as it was advertised I was expecting only a 2stop loss, but not such horrific results you're telling.


If the hvx200 has a sensibility around 400asa (if one can say asa in video) then 2stops would make 100asa, 50asa would be 3 stops... some people report about 80asa with redrock and hvx200, that's a little more than 2 stops.
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#9 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 10 September 2007 - 07:38 AM

I can vouch that the RR does eat somewhere between 2 and 2.5 stops depending on a lot of factors (seems to me differing HVXs have differing sensitivities to light.) I' put the HVX @320 without the rr if we're talking asas. In a pinch, for lights, I'd look into an Arri 1K open face kit. It's not too expensive, as lights go, and pretty versatile and durable. You should be ok on power too as I think europe is 230V @13A breakers for most interiors? I might be slightly off. Just remember, Watts=Volts*Amps (so Amps=Volts/Watts). Don't overload a breaker, and make sure you know where they are when you shoot. Also, but a pair of Hot Hands gloves, or something similar if you're working with lights. Your finger prints will thank you.
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#10 Stefan Vlad Munteanu

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Posted 10 September 2007 - 05:34 PM

Hello, I'm the director(just a student for now...). So I've been surfing the net, actually just bhphoto... looking for what you've told Diana. Though I study directing I can say, because of the same reason Diana hasn't been studying lightning, I learned pretty much a loat of things that I didn't think I'd need. It started with choosing the camera, the HVX 200, because of no reply from my teachers I had to surf the forums - even yours - about 24(in Romania, Europe 25)P, p2 cards so on and so forth...
So just teoretically I know some stuff. I can only buy things at a time. I bought the camera, now I'll buy shotgun mic, lavalier sys,tripod - does a Bogen / Manfrotto 3190 Tripod Legs with 100mm Half Ball and 519 Fluid Head - Supports 22 lbs (10 kg) do it for the Pannie and the RR?- soon two 32 Gb P2 cards. Thats it the first part. (Dont wanna redirect from lighting)
The second one goes to RR, some Nikon lenses,a rig and afterwards a lighting kit.
Now as far as I'm concerned I know about the RR that loses 2 to 2.5 stops. I found that on net forums.
Right now looking for lights I discovered that arri is extremly expensive. on b&h I couldnt find a 1 kw arri open face kit just a 575 w HMI one.It costs around 5500 $. I've also found one kit De Sisti 1.2 kw HMI that costs 5500 $ also...(so, double the power....)
What I wannt to know is a kit that works for outdoors. Does a 575kw HMI do it on a sunny day as the pricipall light? U see what I'm concerned of is the latitude thing that goes for digitall. If you have to expose on the characters face , an he is ,lets say, in his garden on a sunny day, u have to put additional light in order not to have the superexposed awfull digitall looks...
I also found Arri Softbank IV Tungsten 5 Light Kit - consists of: 2 Fresnel 150, 1 Fresnel 300, 1 Fresnel 650, 1 Arrilite 1000 Open Face Light, Barndoors, Scrims, Filter Frames, Bulbs, 24x32" Softbox, Super Clamp, Light Stands,Accessory Pack, Bulbs, Heavy Duty Case - 2250 Total Watts (220V AC) -2500 $ additional to the first ones. Is it ok?
Sorry for my grammar and mistakes...Hope I didnt bore you tooooo much
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#11 Paul Nordin

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Posted 10 September 2007 - 07:11 PM

What I wannt to know is a kit that works for outdoors. Does a 575kw HMI do it on a sunny day as the pricipall light? U see what I'm concerned of is the latitude thing that goes for digitall.
I also found Arri Softbank IV Tungsten 5 Light Kit - consists of: 2 Fresnel 150, 1 Fresnel 300, 1 Fresnel 650, 1 Arrilite 1000 Open Face Light, Barndoors, Scrims, Filter Frames, Bulbs, 24x32" Softbox, Super Clamp, Light Stands,Accessory Pack, Bulbs, Heavy Duty Case - 2250 Total Watts (220V AC) -2500 $ additional to the first ones. Is it ok?


Hi Stefan,

If you are shooting an exterior in full sunlight, a 575hmi would not do anything as far as fill. Simply not enough lumens to compete with the sun. The best bet would be to use some form of reflector and bounce sunlight into the shadow side. the cheapest bounce is foamcore. You can get a 8'x4' sheet from a hardware store for a couple of dollars US. And one that size would be fine for filling in a two-shot. In my opinion, if you are wanting to match/balance outside, the smallest you will get any help from is a 1.2kHMI, and that is still barely enough to do much with. That said, a 1.2k HMI will help balance interiors with bright exteriors through windows with some creative use of ND on windows.

The Arri Softbank IV is a nice flexible kit. I have one which I purchased several years ago. However, if I were going to spend that kind of money on a light kit, and I was going to use it for dramatic shooting, -and- I was going to stay tungsten. I'd probably do the following.

there are three main things I'd need to get from my first $2000.
1. Lots of raw searing light...as many watts worth as my money can muster.

2. Ability to beam in light to targets across the set/room

3. Ability to light scenes both daylight and tungsten balanced.

I don't care too much about paying a premium for a softlight kit. Those are neat in a studio, but very limited. I can make the world's best softlight with a big openface and either bounce it off a $2.50 foam board, or a 12'x12' grif, or shoot it through a large frame of diffusion.

That said, I LOVE Kinos for their flexibility and low profile. But I don't like the color of their light as much as pure tungsten. But their big cool advantage is they can be globed for daylight or tungsten. All my other lights will have to be gelled blue and loose 1.5 stops in the process. That can take a nice 2k openface and cut it off at the knees when lighting a bigger set.

So what I would get are:

2-2k used Mole Richardsons
2-1k mole babies (fresnels)
2- 4' 4-bank kino
2 - 150w dedos
1- 4'x4' shiny-board

I would buy them all on eBay used (from places like Kaye Lights) and pay 40%-50% of the price of new lights.

Cheers,
Paul
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