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Silly Student question about PARs - what are they?


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#1 James Martin

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 04:08 PM

Hi Everyone,

This is a question from a student (me) but as it concerns lights, I've put it here. I'm currently trying to expand my knowledge of lighting tools and techniques and I have recently become aware of PAR lights. I've looked them up in a few lighting books and things, but I am having a bit of a trouble differentiating between those and relatively ordinary open-face lamps.

Could someone elaborate for me?

Thanks,
James.
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#2 Mike Williamson

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 04:22 PM

PAR lights have lenses, which is the main difference from an open-faced light. Some PAR's have lenses you can switch, like HMI PAR lights and some of the newer big tungsten units, while others have globes with fixed lenses like you would see in a Maxi-Brute or Molepar. Tungsten PAR bulbs come with different lens built into them, which differ in how much they either spread or concentrate the light. On one end is a Very Narrow Spot bulb (VNSP aka Firestarter), all the way to a Wide Flood. In a Maxi-Brute, for example, you can get different amounts of throw or spread depending on what kind of globes you put in them.

http://en.wikipedia....ctor#PAR_lights
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#3 Ralph Keyser

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 05:47 PM

Another common PAR type light that you might be familiar with are those outdoor floodlights that you see on houses (at least in the US). A PAR combines the relector, bulb, and a lens into a single unit, so when you change a PAR, you change all those elements. The fixtures for PAR-type lamps can be very simple and inexpensive, but the down-side is that the lamps are relatively more expensive because they include elements other than just the bulb.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 03:00 AM

Car headlamps are probably the most familiar PAR light that people have seen. Generally it means that the filament, reflector, and lens is all sealed into one unit, though many PAR lamps take additional lens elements in front in order to control spread, etc.
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#5 James Martin

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 05:13 AM

Thankyou guys, this clears things up for me. I think I was getting some sort of confusion from the fact that they aren't "unique", per se, but have elements from different types of lights.

On the basis of what I read, would I be right in thinking that you can get both tungsten and HMI PARs?
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#6 Mike Williamson

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 07:51 PM

On the basis of what I read, would I be right in thinking that you can get both tungsten and HMI PARs?


Yes, you can get both. There are basically two types of PAR lights that you find on set. First would be lights that use smaller tungsten PAR globes where the globe itself has the lens, bulb and reflector all contained in one sealed unit. These would be everything from Rock 'N' Roll par cans to Maxi-Brutes. These globes would be about 1K or smaller.

The second kind of PAR light would have a housing that contained the globe and the reflector (sealed with a clear safety lens on the front), and would then have multiple lenses that you can swap in and out. This would be HMI PAR's or some of the larger tungsten units like the new 5K and 10K Mole-Richardson tungsten PAR's.
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Tai Audio

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

The Slider

CineTape

Glidecam

Rig Wheels Passport

Willys Widgets

rebotnix Technologies

Metropolis Post

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Aerial Filmworks

CineLab

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Ritter Battery

Wooden Camera

FJS International, LLC

Paralinx LLC

Opal