Jump to content




Photo

"As Arri" HMIs


  • Please log in to reply
26 replies to this topic

#1 Evan Bourcier

Evan Bourcier

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 5 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Massachusetts

Posted 26 December 2015 - 07:32 PM

Hey guys! Been reading the forums for a while, this is the first topic that made me make an account though. 

I've been watching to add some good daylight punch to my personal kit, and I love jokers but can't currently justify the cost. I found these Chinese knockoff HMIs on eBay and was curious if anyone has any experience with them. Obviously I'm sure they're nothing like high-end HMIs, I'm mainly just worried about safety with them.

http://www.ebay.com/...SAAAMXQhuVRSSDJ

Additionally, are there any other cheaper HMIs that you would recommend instead?

Thanks,

 Evan

 


  • 0




#2 Bill DiPietra

Bill DiPietra
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2267 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • New York City

Posted 26 December 2015 - 07:45 PM

Welcome to the forum, Evan.

 

I personally don't have any experience with the knock-offs, but I know others in this forum have had some safety concerns with them.  I'd avoid them and rent actual ARRI daylight lamps when needed.


  • 0

#3 Mark Kenfield

Mark Kenfield
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 715 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Melbourne, Australia

Posted 26 December 2015 - 09:45 PM

I've had to use a few over the years. Most have run fine on mains power, but I've had some absolute nightmares on night shoots where producers have rented them to save a buck, and the lamps have simply refused to strike from portable gennies.

Build quality can also be an issue with dodgy barndoors and yokes that won't lock in place properly.

I'd strongly suggest sticking to the old reliables when it comes to HMIs.
  • 0

#4 aapo lettinen

aapo lettinen
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 705 posts
  • Other
  • Finland

Posted 27 December 2015 - 03:11 AM

Yeah build quality may be a serious issue and may also cause safety concerns. I bought some as arri tungsten fresnels last year for testing them out and for personal projects and had to repair them all at first to be able to use them. The materials may not necessarily be an issue but the quality control and quality of workmanship is. There was faulty bulb bases, loose strain reliefs, scratches on completely new lights, bad quality bulbs (may be very dangerouas with hmi lights!) , bad quality power cords (the rubber is starting to degrade after one year of very light use and I have to replace them soon). They saved some serious money compared to arri yes but they would have been very dangerous to use out of the box and actually only one of the three lighta even worked out of the box, had to repair them all
  • 0

#5 JD Hartman

JD Hartman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1491 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Edison, N.J. U.S.A.

Posted 27 December 2015 - 08:02 AM

Don't own but have seen first hand the counterfeit ARRI Fresnel lights.  Owner/operators all had similar comments: didn't work; bad wiring; poor fit and finish; literally shocking.  Still a bargain after you put better quality parts and your time into them?  I don't see how. 

 

I don't anyone with a far east HMI, but I would have to view them as disposable.  Who is going to service the ballast when it fails after six months or a year?  Who is going to repair your reputation when the light fails on a paid shoot?


Edited by JD Hartman, 27 December 2015 - 08:02 AM.

  • 0

#6 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11234 posts
  • Other

Posted 27 December 2015 - 08:04 AM

Anything can fail. It's easy to sit back, as someone working on high-budget stuff, and decry anything but the best. If it's that or no HMI, I'll take it.

 

P


  • 0

#7 JD Hartman

JD Hartman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1491 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Edison, N.J. U.S.A.

Posted 27 December 2015 - 08:13 AM

Anything can fail. It's easy to sit back, as someone working on high-budget stuff, and decry anything but the best. If it's that or no HMI, I'll take it.

 

P

 

That's B.S. Phil.  How's that far east ballast you have doing?  The one you were unable to get even the head cable pin-out for??  Maybe you can post 3, 6 and 12 months usage (in hours) and durability reports.  It has nothing to do with high-end shoots, it's safety foremost and reliability. 

   While I'd rather die with my boots on than die in bed, I don't want to be electrocuted on set either.


Edited by JD Hartman, 27 December 2015 - 08:14 AM.

  • 0

#8 Mark Dunn

Mark Dunn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2182 posts
  • Other
  • London

Posted 27 December 2015 - 08:46 AM

I think Phil is referring mainly to his own use. He and I would be happy to handle our own mains wiring but probably wouldn't sell or rent it, and of course we are dealing with the more dangerous 240V.

I know how not to get a shock but it happens when working on a circuit. I wouldn't expect to get one in service, and my cable grips are so tight you can pull the plug out of the socket.


  • 0

#9 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11234 posts
  • Other

Posted 27 December 2015 - 08:51 AM

I'm not here to defend anything, but the ballast I have is actually exactly the same one that GAM supply with their 575 HMI profiles, so I don't think there's any real issue with it beyond its being permanently, in effect, in flicker free mode. This creates acoustic noise problems, and I'm not particularly happy with it. I'm looking to replace it, but that's sort of the problem - there's nothing better for less than ten times the money and get this - UK manufacturers won't even return my phone calls. The Chinese we actually more helpful than the locals. It's genuinely astonishing.

 

The other thing to be aware of is that at least one major manufacturer of LED lighting, a manufacturer perceived as high-end, has been supplying revoltingly-bad power supplies for years and everyone seems to accept it as normal. Paying someone a lot of money to stamp their insignia over the "made in china" logo, sadly, is not a reliable way to keep manufacturers honest.

 

So, for all these reasons, quality is good. Reliability is good. But elitism is idiocy.

 

There is a fine line between insisting on quality and being elitist. That line moves around, depending on the situation. Pretending that the way you do something is the only way to do something is, if nothing else, fundamentally factually incorrect, but also desperately misleading. I maintain that if it's a choice between a Chinese HMI and none, I'll take the light. If it breaks, I'm only back where I started.

 

Oh, and Mark, no, I wouldn't sell it. I occasionally lend it out to people I know and in whose competence I trust. But honestly, who doesn't take that approach?

 

P


  • 0

#10 Mark Dunn

Mark Dunn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2182 posts
  • Other
  • London

Posted 27 December 2015 - 09:34 AM


 

Oh, and Mark, no, I wouldn't sell it. I occasionally lend it out to people I know and in whose competence I trust. But honestly, who doesn't take that approach?

 

P

Probably not a policy you could rely on in the sort of jurisdiction where if you slip off a wet ladder you sue 1) the person who sold you the ladder, 2)the maker of the ladder and probably 3) God, for raining on it.

I've done electrical things to the Steenbeck but nothing you could fry yourself on and if someone lost a finger in the sprocket, well, at least I didn't design it and I don't have to remember to tell them not to stick their fingers in it. I've replaced the fan and dusted it so this won't happen.


  • 0

#11 JD Hartman

JD Hartman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1491 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Edison, N.J. U.S.A.

Posted 27 December 2015 - 09:48 AM

I'm not here to defend anything, but the ballast I have is actually exactly the same one that GAM supply with their 575 HMI profiles, so I don't think there's any real issue with it beyond its being permanently, in effect, in flicker free mode. This creates acoustic noise problems, and I'm not particularly happy with it. I'm looking to replace it, but that's sort of the problem - there's nothing better for less than ten times the money and get this - UK manufacturers won't even return my phone calls. The Chinese we actually more helpful than the locals. It's genuinely astonishing.

 

The other thing to be aware of is that at least one major manufacturer of LED lighting, a manufacturer perceived as high-end, has been supplying revoltingly-bad power supplies for years and everyone seems to accept it as normal. Paying someone a lot of money to stamp their insignia over the "made in china" logo, sadly, is not a reliable way to keep manufacturers honest.

 

So, for all these reasons, quality is good. Reliability is good. But elitism is idiocy.

 

There is a fine line between insisting on quality and being elitist. That line moves around, depending on the situation. Pretending that the way you do something is the only way to do something is, if nothing else, fundamentally factually incorrect, but also desperately misleading. I maintain that if it's a choice between a Chinese HMI and none, I'll take the light. If it breaks, I'm only back where I started.

 

Oh, and Mark, no, I wouldn't sell it. I occasionally lend it out to people I know and in whose competence I trust. But honestly, who doesn't take that approach?

 

P

 

It's a known fact that the Chinese build and export to meet a price point.  So while they may look the same, I refuse to believe that the component selection and build quality are the same for the Fleabay and direct sales HMIs ballasts as those built to be sold under a "name brand" label.  You can observe the same thing in Chinese manufactured portable power tools, those sold by Princess Auto, Canadian Tire, Horrible Freight, Hare and Forbes, etc. may look the same as the ones branded Milwaukee, but the reliability and performance are vastly different.

 

HMI(s)?  Rent them.  Why own and maintain something that is used infrequently?  You're not shooting your own projects daily or even weekly are you?

 

It's not an elitist view, all this counterfeit ARRI (and Strand, Ianario, etc.) equipment should be intercepted and crushed right at the dock.   Last time I looked, ARRI heads and ballasts were still being made in Germany. 

 

When you ballast goes T.U., you can't fix and no one will touch it, your not just back at the beginning, you are xxx pounds or Euros behind the eight ball.


  • 0

#12 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11234 posts
  • Other

Posted 27 December 2015 - 10:41 AM

It's a known fact that the Chinese build and export to meet a price point.  So while they may look the same, I refuse to believe that the component selection and build quality are the same for the Fleabay and direct sales HMIs ballasts as those built to be sold under a "name brand" label.

 

Nobody's arguing.

 

 

 

Why own and maintain something that is used infrequently?

 

This is a really common argument and there are a lot of very good counterpoints. You might not live near a rental facility. You might not often have an easy way to insure a rental. The cost of going to pick it up, in time and transport, can approach or exceed the cost of the rental itself. You may need it at short notice. This is a common suggestion from people who work on big productions, to whom the addition of one 575W HMI to a rental package is pretty trivial. If the 575W HMI is the entire order, it's a bit of a different story.

 

And actually many people do need to be shooting more than weekly!

 

all this counterfeit ARRI (and Strand, Ianario, etc.) equipment should be intercepted and crushed right at the dock.

 

Again, I'm not really arguing. Deliberate copying of other people's products should be enforced a lot better than it is, although really all that would do is force people not to paint it blue. I have written whole articles about genuinely dangerous imports which should certainly be stopped at the border. There are some very dangerous situations arising with poor-quality lithium-ion cells and battery chargers which are causing problems commonly enough to make the mass media.

 

I'm actually rather less confident in the as-Arri fakes than the one I got, which at least is an original design and not deliberately built to imitate someone else's product.

 

 

 

When you ballast goes T.U., you can't fix and no one will touch it, your not just back at the beginning, you are xxx pounds or Euros behind the eight ball.

 

Well, you could say the same about any of those GAM owners, but that's not the point.

 

The point is, do you have any idea how many of these things I can buy for the cost of an Arri 575 ballast? The literal answer is more than nine. Even taking into account the fact that you're actually buying the 575/1200 combo, there's a limit to how bad it can possibly be (the 400/575 is often more expensive, for some reason). I can have two spares sitting in the car, and it's still three times cheaper. There is an LTM ballast that's a bit cheaper, which I suspect is exactly the same guts and you're paying $1k for the Arri logo, but it doesn't make that much odds. That's the problem. I don't particularly like it any more than you do, but the economics of the situation are impossible to ignore if you're the one paying for it.

 

Oh, and - the UK government just awarded a contract to build nuclear power plants to a Chinese company. Yes. I know. I know. Order your lead-lined underwear now.

 

P


  • 0

#13 JD Hartman

JD Hartman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1491 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Edison, N.J. U.S.A.

Posted 27 December 2015 - 10:59 AM

Why own and maintain something that is used infrequently?

 

Phil said, "This is a really common argument and there are a lot of very good counterpoints. You might not live near a rental facility. You might not often have an easy way to insure a rental. The cost of going to pick it up, in time and transport, can approach or exceed the cost of the rental itself. You may need it at short notice."

 

Phil, like it or not, you are the case study here.  Do you live away from civilization,  can you apply for L&D insurance for a one or two day shoot online and get immediate coverage?  Rental house verifies via a phone call.

 

 

 

The real deal:

http://www.ebay.co.u...UMAAOSwhkRWfc-E

 

The counterfeit:

http://www.ebay.co.u...ncAAOSw7aBVJcQ6

 

True both are Fresnels, but they are just an example.

 

Buy quality and it only hurts once.


  • 0

#14 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11234 posts
  • Other

Posted 27 December 2015 - 11:50 AM

Do you live away from civilization,  can you apply for L&D insurance for a one or two day shoot online and get immediate coverage?  Rental house verifies via a phone call.

 

I can and occasionally do, although a basic production insurance package is worth many times what the rental of that 575 would be. That's the problem. It would also be a couple of hours to go pick it up and drop it off, so that's an entire day I can't book either side of the job to collect and return, and many places will, not unreasonably, charge those half days as rental. So, that 575 you had thrown on the truck for a heavily discounted rate well under $100 ends up costing me hundreds.

 

As I say, if you're on a big show and you already have insurance and a truck coming down, and you need one more item - that's one thing. If you need a very limited amount of stuff for one day, as one often does on small shows, that's quite another. You don't have to be very far from a rental facility for it to be impractical to pick up and drop off on the same day it's used. Many productions don't need or have insurance beyond the public and employers' liability that most people have as a matter of course. I no longer own any gear I insure for loss or damage.

 

As to buying quality - again, nobody's arguing with you. At some point, though, it's a business decision. Will someone pay you $100 a day for a 575W HMI, ten days a month? If so, you buy one. If not, you don't. If you still need something anyway, you get something cheaper. It's a very straightforward, economically-motivated business decision. I had exactly this conversation with someone from Fuji about their 19-90 zoom. Could I go out and get a loan to buy one? Of course. But it'd just be a daft thing to do. There is no value judgment intrinsic to this. It's not about what I think of a product. The Cabrio is a beautiful lens. It's about does it makes sense, and if it doesn't, you don't do it. I'm not sure what's controversial here.

 

P


  • 0

#15 Alexandre de Tolan

Alexandre de Tolan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 115 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • Sevilla, Spain

Posted 28 December 2015 - 06:38 AM

 

Last time I looked, ARRI heads and ballasts were still being made in Germany. 

 

Not quite! ARRI signed a contract with Danish Brother Brother and Sons for all their LED ballast fixtures and they are done outside Germany for some time now. Not saying that BBS isn't a high standard company, which it is, but nonetheless made outside Germany and ARRI themselves. 

 

As for the "subject matter" of this thread I have to say that I'm with Phil here. Everything is prone to failure. Yes, some things more than others but just for the sake of an argument, last year I was operating in a feature shot in a remote Guiné Bissau location and all (and I mean all), the Jokers we've had have fried in the first day of shooting. The DP went to light the whole film on cheap Indian LED fixtures, and they worked!


Edited by Alexandre de Tolan, 28 December 2015 - 06:45 AM.

  • 0

#16 JD Hartman

JD Hartman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1491 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Edison, N.J. U.S.A.

Posted 28 December 2015 - 07:24 AM

 

Not quite! ARRI signed a contract with Danish Brother Brother and Sons for all their LED ballast fixtures and they are done outside Germany for some time now. Not saying that BBS isn't a high standard company, which it is, but nonetheless made outside Germany and ARRI themselves. 

 

As for the "subject matter" of this thread I have to say that I'm with Phil here. Everything is prone to failure. Yes, some things more than others but just for the sake of an argument, last year I was operating in a feature shot in a remote Guiné Bissau location and all (and I mean all), the Jokers we've had have fried in the first day of shooting. The DP went to light the whole film on cheap Indian LED fixtures, and they worked!

 

Okay, we're splitting hairs here, I was referring to HMI ballasts....  

LEDs have regulated power supplies, not ballasts.

The Joker ballasts failed because of what?  Poor quality/dirty power supplied by an (insufficiently sized?) generator?


  • 0

#17 Alexandre de Tolan

Alexandre de Tolan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 115 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • Sevilla, Spain

Posted 28 December 2015 - 07:43 AM

 

The Joker ballasts failed because of what?  Poor quality/dirty power supplied by an (insufficiently sized?) generator?

 

Yes. You're right. Nonetheless it was the only one [generator] that the Gaffer could put his hands on at the "end of the world" where populations don't know what the word electricity means. At the end of the day were the cheap knock off lights that have put the film together.


  • 0

#18 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11234 posts
  • Other

Posted 28 December 2015 - 08:40 AM

Not to crow, but I would have to point out that building what's essentially a switching power supply with a sufficiently fragile front end that a bad generator could destroy it is not a particularly good advertisement for the high end. The fact that people continue to supply devices for film and TV use, knowing that they may be used in large numbers, without power factor correction is another problem. The point of paying the big money would ordinarily be that one would expect to get these special features because it's a special purpose device. The fact that we don't is very disappointing.

 

But I digress. Interestingly enough, a modern electronic HMI ballast and the low-voltage power supplies typical of LED lights have more in common than might be obvious at first glance. Both are switching power supplies. Modern HMI ballasts effectively work by rectifying the incoming mains and chopping the DC results into a square wave at a few hundred or a few thousand cycles per second; the main difference is that the HMI is a current-mode or total-wattage regulated device with special provision for a high open-circuit voltage to facilitate starting, whereas the external power supplies for LEDs are just voltage regulators (the current regulators for the LEDs are generally built into the lights).

 

They're both switch-mode power supplies and they both have similar concerns as regards input filtering, power factor, and their reaction to dirty mains.

 

P


  • 0

#19 JD Hartman

JD Hartman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1491 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Edison, N.J. U.S.A.

Posted 28 December 2015 - 08:45 AM

We call them ballasts, because (as much as some will argue otherwise) they (magnetic HMI ballasts) were derived from HID lighting ballasts, metal halide, high pressure sodium, etc.


  • 0

#20 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11234 posts
  • Other

Posted 28 December 2015 - 10:48 AM

The etymology is actually quite interesting. It comes from the idea of putting weight in the bottom of a ship to stabilise it. Strictly speaking, an LED driver is also a ballast, inasmuch as it regulate the otherwise-unstable flow of current.


  • 0


Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

Zylight

Rig Wheels Passport

Willys Widgets

The Slider

CineLab

Ritter Battery

rebotnix Technologies

Abel Cine

Aerial Filmworks

Technodolly

CineTape

Pro 8mm

Tai Audio

Visual Products

Paralinx LLC

Zylight

Tai Audio

CineLab

rebotnix Technologies

Ritter Battery

Visual Products

Rig Wheels Passport

Abel Cine

Pro 8mm

Technodolly

Willys Widgets

The Slider

Paralinx LLC

CineTape

Aerial Filmworks

Glidecam

Broadcast Solutions Inc