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Cheap softbox alternatives, false economy?


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#1 Greg Banfield

Greg Banfield

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 10:29 PM

Hello cinematography.

I'm a newbie here. I write short horror scripts and I'm ready to start shooting them.
I have a Canon 7D, 50mm prime, 18-55mm kit, and 200-300mm zoom lenses, with a Zoom H4 for audio.
I have watched tons of great tutorials on 3 point softbox lighting and now all I need is the lights.
I cannot believe how much these can go for, what is essentially a flimsy case with a bulb in it can be worth a months wages.
Anyway I found this on ebay (I hope I can post links)
http://cgi.ebay.co.u...E:B:BOC:GB:1123
If the link doesn't work just search 2250 continuous lighting kit (£200)
The boxes are large, there is plenty of power and most importantly, there are 5 power settings for each box.
Will this be a good kit for a starter or will it fall apart and set fire to my house?
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#2 Chris Bourke

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 09:42 AM

Hey Greg,

Being CFL's, nothings going to be catching fire anytime soon, so that's a bonus!
Are you wanting CFL's specifically instead of tungsten's?
If so then I'd say that's a decent price for a kit that will last you for a little while.
I've heard somewhat crummy things about the stands that come on the kit you posted, however sand bagging each leg should help.
Don't be too convinced by the 2250 wattage count on that kit however, it won't throw an equivalence to 2250w of tungsten.
If you're willing to spend a little more, and go with tungsten, I'd recommend this kit:
http://www.ebay.com/...#ht_2439wt_1164
It's a 1950w kit which will be plenty, and you can balance to daylight with CTB and diffuse it as well even just by hanging some diffusion paper on the barn doors.
I've heard great things about these wannabe-arri kits, that they're super sturdy on the stand, they are a good build, they're fresnel so you can focus the light, etc...
Remember that with the CFL kit you posted, you'll only get soft light. You can never harden a soft light, but you can always diffuse/soften a hard light.
If you're doing any wide shots, the CFL's won't throw very far, they're really best for close-ups where you can get the lights right up next to your subject.
I hope this helped!
Let us know what you choose!

Chris

Chris Bourke
Bourkeproductions.com
Austin, TX

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#3 Tom Guiney

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 01:18 PM

Second what Chris said- I'd be leery of having compact fluorescents be my only option. #1 I've never seen a compact fluorescent where the color on skintones really looked totally ok. Straight tube fluorescents, yes, kinos are ok, but CFLs, pretty much never.
#2 you're pretty much stuck with soft light like chris said. You can actually make them seem hard, but it's inconvenient and not that great. The farther away a source is, the harder it is because the size of the light source relative to your subject is smaller. If you took a bare cfl bulb and backed it up a ways, you would have a relatively weak but hard source. You would also have to do something to cut the light off of everything but your subject in that case also.

For a cheap light source that you could use to bounce, rock n roll par cans are really cheap to buy, especially used. put a 500w bulb in it so you can still use a cheap household dimmer, bounce it off something white, cut the excess off of your background and you've got a nice source.

Beware- soft sources with no flags and stands to cut the light off of where you don't want it is a recipe for unintentionally bright backgrounds. Get the imitation arri kit but try to find a couple used C-stands and flags. Even duveteen (black fabric) draped off a c-stand arm will serve. Light removal is as important, if not more, than light addition for quality work.

yours
Tom Guiney
Airboxlights.com inflatable softboxes for litepanels
twitter lighting tips @airboxlights.com
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