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#1 Matthew Macar

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 12:07 AM

Hey all

I'm a young cinematographer looking to increase my experience in lighting technique and aesthetic, but I am at the mercy of budget for rentals and productions to actually get the hands on time. Unfortunately, I don't have the $ to equip myself with name-brand (Arri, Mole, Kino, etc) equipment.

Saw some fresnels on ebay that appear very similar to Arri builds and was wondering if anyone had any thoughts or experiences with these "knock-offs." Listed some links below. I'm sure the barndoors and stands will be a little janky, but I'm more concerned about the light quality.

I'm strongly considering it as it would be nice to just be able to throw some cans in the car and go, rather than deal with the whole rental/borrow situation. In terms of a kit, was looking at getting a couple 1ks, 2 650s and 2 300s.

Thanks!

1kw fixture

650s
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#2 robert duke

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 12:10 AM

as learners these are great, but dont expect them to translate in output and beam field.
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#3 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 12:25 AM

as learners these are great, but dont expect them to translate in output and beam field.


Also, keep your eyes peeled for good deals on used gear. I've found some old Mole-Richardson units
on Craigslist and some Strand-Century fresnels too at really good prices. Just keep checking every day.
You can buy a can of Mole-Richardson paint from your rental house too and then your used lights will look
a lot newer.
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#4 Torben Greve

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 01:00 AM

From what I've heard and read.. (not experienced yet...) the chinese knock offs, you get what you pay for. They are close but not close enough and you're likely to end up with broken knobs, faulty wiring besides the beam quality mentioned.

However, it sounds like it is possible to get hold of decent "knockoffs" like the brands Cinelight and Filmgear. You still won't have the indestructability of Arri, but you come closer in regards to the light quality, and they are damn cheap.

And like mentioned... there's always used items. I just got myself an Arri 650 fresnel in excellent condition for no money at all.
Spend some time sifting through the scarse reviews of lamps and so on. Maybe take a chance now and then. The good thing about the cheap brands is that you can buy a lamp relatively cheap and if it turns out to be shite then you can just ditch it (or sell it to some other guy who wants to try it out...)
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#5 David Ross

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 10:29 PM

Stick with the name brands and you can't go wrong. I just picked up two 650 watt mole richardson open face lights with barn doors and full scrim sets for around $100. I then got on the internet and downloaded a drawing and parts list from mole. I then spent around $70 for parts and paint. 5 days later the parts arrived. Now I have two fully refurbished lights that i own. The point is- buy good quality lights from a good well established company and they will be there in the future with parts and support.

I bought the cheap lights once and the gear fell apart on the first week. Never again.

DR
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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 03:18 AM

Sometimes it's necessary to buy really tough gear, sometimes it isn't.

If you're going to rent it out, including renting it as part of a package with your services, or if you can't tolerate it breaking because the shoot is not repeatable or very expensive, or if there's a political need to have brand names, then you probably need to buy decent gear.

If you're a young beginner, or if you're doing solely personal projects or at least projects you're producing in-house, or if you're working for very little money and everyone understands that... then cheap stuff can be fine.

Personally I can't see spending 10n on Arri tungsten gear when 1n does more or less the same thing unless you have a very good reason why.

Used is a great option. I have a friend who scored a 1200W HMI PAR for the cost of remaking one end of the feeder cable. It makes me wonder how good those Arri knockoff HMIs you see on ebay are, but they're not that cheap.

P
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#7 Matt Day

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 07:17 AM

The cheap Chinese made knock off brands you find floating around ebay are hit and miss actually. In terms of the lamp heads sometimes the parts are badly assembled and so you might find the bulbs to be a little lose fitting but they are usually safe enough (use some common sense here).

If your going to be using them for personal projects or just getting started on smaller shoots then by all means go for them, try them out use them to experiment without risk of having a heart attack every time you visit an ATM.

Light quality is not that great but it's more than workable, they do tend to have very rough edges and you get trouble with hotspots but these are easily fixable issues.
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#8 Christopher Sheneman

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 05:26 AM

I'm thinking of buying a few of these Chinese fresnels off eBay. Has anyone had anymore experience with them? They seem to be 50% cheaper than Arri's and many come with barn doors, stands, free shipping included.


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#9 Edward Lawrence Conley III

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 01:16 PM

Where are you located?


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#10 Christopher Sheneman

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 03:51 PM

Seattle.


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#11 Oron Cohen

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 05:33 AM

Hey all

I'm a young cinematographer looking to increase my experience in lighting technique and aesthetic, but I am at the mercy of budget for rentals and productions to actually get the hands on time. Unfortunately, I don't have the $ to equip myself with name-brand (Arri, Mole, Kino, etc) equipment.

Saw some fresnels on ebay that appear very similar to Arri builds and was wondering if anyone had any thoughts or experiences with these "knock-offs." Listed some links below. I'm sure the barndoors and stands will be a little janky, but I'm more concerned about the light quality.

I'm strongly considering it as it would be nice to just be able to throw some cans in the car and go, rather than deal with the whole rental/borrow situation. In terms of a kit, was looking at getting a couple 1ks, 2 650s and 2 300s.

Thanks!

1kw fixture

650s

Hi Matthew, 

 

If you like to buy new, I would recommend Filmgear, a very high quality Chinese maker (not quite the same like Arri of course).

I actually saw plenty of rental houses use Filmgear lights. 

 

The other way is to buy used. Arri lights and Mole Richardson lights last more or less forever :-)  what I usually do is call my local rental house and ask them if they have older lights for sell, as they need to keep everything look in top condition, they usually get rid of some stuff from time to time. if they say yes, I just send an email with the lights I'm interested in and they give me a quote. remember that many rental houses will not publish every piece of equipment they have for sell, they just have to much stuff to handle. 

 

Hope it helps. 


Edited by Oron Cohen, 16 March 2013 - 05:34 AM.

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#12 wojtek slodowsky

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 07:51 AM

Hi Matthew.

 

I've work with brand name and really cheap offbrand depending on the project. I think it depend on the client, often people like to see brand to show off. But in order to learn lightning i really think you don't need brand. Basically, the projector is just a small part off the lightning, his position,  what you will use between the spot and the target, diffusion, chimera, big frame, the nature of the light, tungsten, hmi, fluo, direct or indirect light, distance between source and diffusion, size of the source,... is as if not more important.

I think you can learn alot with simple lights, even with office lights. I have brand used light wich i need to repare also quit often. I have chinese offbrand that i used with the same lamp inside and it work very very well on certain project, actually i have certain offbrand light that i prefer like chinese ledpanel or some fluo that i have adapt a little bit. I think "flimgear" is done by an old arri employe altought i'm not sure, someone correct me if i'm wrong, but they in my opinion very good spot. I'm on a film for wich i rent arri and filmgear hmi, the arri just broke up yesterday night.....the filmgear work like à charm.

I've seen brand light that where so dirty that almost 30% light where lost. I think you should understand what the differences betweem different source are, and how you can work with it. In a proffessionnal world you will often have to find alternativ solution, so to learn crativity you can do it with many lights. I would just say try try try, make yourself exercices, and you will learn, and to do exercice i would rather do more with cheaper lights than one day with brand. A 3 fresnel kit is a bit short to learn lightning. Anyway, to learn i would say is better to rent it so you can try different type of sources, as even a offbrand hmi is not cheap. You'll get the opportunities to work with brand soon.

But i think i've used the one you linked, or a very similare one. They work but they have many fagil part wich you can acually change. And the barndoor you'll find a way to make them old in place......

I've had a really no budget project last year wich was done with lights that weren't even cine lights and it was a fantastic result in my opinion. What is important is creativity and right color temp bulb, and a good reflector and filter.

Good luck


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#13 Alan Rencher

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 11:17 PM

I would definitely agree with going for old Moles or B&M's. They may be harder to find if you're not in LA, but you can get some screaming deals. If they need to be refurbished, Mole sells all the parts to repair them at low cost. It's probably going to be way harder to repair some no-name brand from China.


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#14 Jesse Aragon

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 12:47 AM

I've used some of these off brand lights before, they definitely don't match the arri quality, but if your punching them through a frame or diffusion it doesn't really matter.  They do tend to leak a bit of light though, especially from the sides, compared to the arri's.


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#15 Torben Greve

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 11:01 AM

Funny how you can change your mind over a periode of time, but then again, manufacturers get better and better, including the Chinese and others.

 

I don't know how far the fresnel type lights have moved, but one thing I'm starting to notice is that the new comers in LED panel lights are doing pretty well and off-setting the market with their very much lower prices.

Have a look at the F&V stuff... you get three light for roughly 1 LP light's price. That's a big difference.

 

And otherwise.... heck, even worklights or par cans can look decent through diffusion.


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#16 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 11:20 AM

<3 my VNSP Par 64s. Broad stroke, maybe, but c'mon, simple and cheap way to throw a beam a light through a dirty window.


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#17 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 01:13 PM

I have a 150W MSR that behaves pretty much like a parcan, only more efficient. It's currently well up in the rankings for the title of Most Used Light.


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