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Where can I purchase a focusable softlight?


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#1 Christopher Budnick

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 11:38 AM

I've seen a few of these lights used on beauty shoots, such as a briese light or one of these clones. Do these go by any other names? I can only seem to find them for rent, and not for sale. The closest thing I can find (in effect, not construction) might be a parabeam.

This is my first post, so I hope I haven't trampled over some hidden forum rule that forbids asking this question, because as much as I searched, I couldn't quite find an answer. Also hoping I put this in the right place. Thanks all!
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#2 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 12:50 PM

Try looking at the Photoflex Starlite
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#3 Christopher Budnick

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 03:26 PM

Thanks Stuart, but I think I might be looking for something a little different. The Briese lights are able to move the globe forward and back within the parabolic umbrella, between spot and flood. The best I've been able to find so far is that they're probably out of my price range and can only be ordered from the manufacturer ($8k+). If anyone knows if a cheaper alternative, I'd be very interested!
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#4 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 03:29 PM

The Starlites are not exactly alike to a Briese light, but as you can see, they are a whole lot cheaper and are capable of nice soft light with a fair bit of throw. I believe that Photoflex make octodomes for them up to 5' across.
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#5 Christopher Budnick

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 03:41 PM

Great to know! The next time I'm at the local lighting/grip shop I'll ask to take a look at them, thanks again for the help.
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#6 Jaron Berman

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 02:32 PM

What's interesting about the briese is that it's not really a "softlight," it's more of a massive source hard light, something akin to a massive fresnel. Even while film stocks and digital cams get more light sensitive, there's still a lot of 10k fresnels and sometimes "big eye tenners" used because they're very controllable and focusable but by virtue of the massive relative aperture, the light still wraps.

SO, to get that same effect, briese puts a relatively tiny source inside a massive parabola - reflective optics. A big-eye 10k will throw roughly the same looking light opts the smallest briese, but weigh about 100lb more because of the massive glass lens to achieve the same, relatively large surface and parallel light rays. On the market now is k5600's "bigeye" which is a giant acrylic fresnel lens to get that effect as an accessory - very very cool... And with a joker inside it looks to be VERY bright. And jokers are quite common and durable, so after sale service isn't a big ? Like briese in the USA.

OR, something like the aforementioned starlite or Westcott equivalent in a silver soft box without front diffusion but WITH eggcrate grids. Not as easily adjustable but similar light character, as the light is bouncing off all the inner surface of the box making a large apparent source (still hard) and being "focused" by the front grid choice. Not as efficient as the briese but I think cost-wise it would be magnitudes cheaper. Don't forget that with briese you aren't just buying the modifier you're buying the lamp head with striker, ballast etc- all proprietary. B2pro has made some excellent improvements to the briese system but they don't sell, and I'm not sure many people would buy such a specialty light anyways at the prices they cost - ballpark 18,000 for the smallest complete system. That'll get you 3 jokers and a bunch of modifiers that'll pay for themselves very quickly. Not to say the briese isn't a cool and amazing light- the b2pro "walk n talk" is AWESOME- being able to match or overpower daylight with batteries handheld..... But it's really a specialty item and if the "wrapping specular light" look is what you're after it's probably worth trying with more conventional modifiers- even a massive silver lame bounce, if cut correctly, may give the look you're after. Or one of the cheap giant silver photographic umbrellas with a conventional lamp in it- why not? Mess around and build 100 prototypes. I've thought about making a little aluminum bracket with 2 x hpl sockets that clamps to the umbrella stalk on a conventional still photo umbrella to do the same thing- and I'm sure it would work and be easily focusable by clamping it closer or farther from the umbrella.

Edited by Jaron Berman, 30 December 2011 - 02:35 PM.

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#7 Tom Guiney

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 11:31 AM

@jaron- what's the story on the walk n talk? It looks like just a handheld bracket for a briese? Sounds heavy to carry, no?

@original post- joker(or a tungsten triolet back) in a chimera octaplus? I have those and use them all the time. Not too focusable, really, though. The soft fabric eggcrates are ok, but not amazing.

Far more effective for directing the light from softboxes than the soft fabric eggcrates are the hard metal honeycombs, like the ones you can get to go on a parabeam or a vistabeam. advantages- very effective at directing light, and don't sag. drawbacks- heavy, expensive, fragile, only fit on standard rectangular chimera, only up to a certain size.


As far as tungsten backs to go inside a softbox/octaplus, you can make your own that's a little more versatile than the chimera triolet. You can buy a cheap photoflex speedring, screw a 5/8" stud into it for mounting, and rig one, two, or three mogul base sockets into it. I did that by spanning the center of the speedring with little metal lamp parts from the hardware store. You can use the 1k mogul base bulbs, or screw a bipin adapter into it and use 750w HPLs. You might want to do that because the big filaments on the 1k "dildo" bulbs sing loudly when you dim them. Remember though that if you're using 1k bulbs each one needs its own line and plug so your cable doesn't fry. If you're interested I can dig it out and take a picture of it.


good luck

Tom Guiney
airboxlights.com inflatable softboxes
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