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$2,000 Lighting Kit advice?


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#1 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 06:47 AM

Hey Guys,

Long-time lurker here. I'm looking to pull together my first lighting kit of my own at the moment (I've always rented in the past) and was hoping I might be able to call on your collective expertise. I currently only own 2 lighting stands, 1 umbrella, and 3 little Z96 LED lights, so I'm basically starting from scratch.

I've been scouring the lighting sub-forum for weeks now and I think I've finally got a bit more of an idea for what I want to do, but I wanted to my thoughts past you guys first.

I was hoping to have $3000 to spend on my lighting gear initially, but camera support gear is eating into my budget further than I'd hoped and it looks like I've now only got $2000 to spend for the moment.

I'll be shooting a range of projects, from basic commercials and marketing/promotional videos, to educational videos, and I hope some more creative narrative productions and music videos as well.

The $2000 will need to cover all of my lighting gear, including stands, clamps, power boards/cords, diffusion, gels, cutters and reflectors. So I really need to plan things effectively to get the most out of the few dollars I have available.

In the past I've always used basic hard lights (generally redheads, blondes and the occasional deed) with scrims and gels for most of my lighting, but I've always found the heat they generate and the time required to scrim and gel them to taste has made things time-consuming when running with small 2-3 men crews on the shoots I normally do (I also tend to prefer softer, more diffused lighting for digital video).

Now a large part of the reason for buying my own gear is to expand my business and the scale of the productions I work on (i.e. shoot with larger crews) But given the small scale of most of my productions at the moment, portability and speed are big considerations, so I'm particularly keen on incorporating LED fixtures with V-mount batteries to save on setup times.

Here's the basic setup I was thinking of purchasing:

- 2x Cool Lights Portable 4x55w Flos (with tungsten and daylight lamps for both) $898
- 2x Chinese 700 LED bi-colour lights - $550 (http://www.indiev.org/?p=916)
- 2x Globalmediapro 95WH V-mount batteries + mini-charger - $333 (are these any good? http://www.globalmed...n-Battery-95WH/ )

This leaves me with a couple of hundred dollars to scrape together the gels, scrims, -1/8 greens (for the LEDs), reflectors, diffusers and cutters I'll need (if anyone can recommend good DIY or cheap sources for these bits, it'd be much appreciated). My three existing little Z96 LEDs I plan to use mostly for accenting and highlighting my backgrounds.

At this stage I'm thinking I'll simply rent more powerful hard lights when I really need them, and might grab a couple of basic work lights for blasting the outsides of buildings etc.

What do you think guys? Does this sound like a sensible kit to get started with? Would you change anything up?

Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers
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#2 Matt Read

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 03:26 PM

You're not getting a lot of bang for your buck with those lights and cheaper LEDs tend to have poor CRIs. I understand the need to work quickly, but the fixtures you picked will seriously limit what you can do because they are all small soft sources. If you're mostly shooting talking heads, then what you picked should do just fine, but if you're looking at doing anything more than that, you will need different lights.

I would consider going with several PAR 64s (about $40-80 per fixture) with a variety of different lamps/lens (about $40 each), a few 650w fresnels ($300-400), a couple chinaballs and photofloods ($3-20 for the balls, $5 for lamps) and spend the rest on stands, C-stands, flags, sandbags, scrims and 5-in-1 reflector discs. Boards of foam insulation work work great as bounces (about $10 for a 4'x8' sheet at any home improvement store; get the kind with silver on one side and white on the other).
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