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Investing in Lights?


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#1 Eric Soto

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 04:48 PM

Should aspiring cinematographers that can not go to film school invest in lights? All other camera gear, body, lenses etc. have been bought already. Would this purchase be a smart investment?

Edited by Eric Soto, 13 March 2017 - 04:49 PM.

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#2 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 05:14 PM

I would not recommend investing in a lighting/grip package as a DP.   It's a financial money pit.  You will never have enough lights for every job and after a certain point you'll need a van or truck to put it in.  Then you'll be stuck on set during the wrap.  Wrapping out every piece of equipment at the end of a long day into your van or truck really sucks.   Don't do it.   Get lights from a grip or gaffer or a rental house on a per job basis.  

 

Having said that, I just bought 3 battery powered LED panels for run and gun and corporate interview stuff.  They are awesome. Small and very lightweight.   Those make sense to own.  Way more than HMI's or Kino's.  Put simply, if you can't carry it in a normal car, don't buy it. Rent it.


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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 05:35 PM

Depends on a lot of factors-- mostly what types of jobs you want to do. That said, something like a few LIte-Mat Hybrids are great to have as a subrental.

 

Also try not to double post (post in more than one forum) since it'll causes confusion.

 

Also Lights and grip is a substantially better investment in the long term than are cameras.


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#4 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 12:11 AM

I agree with Adrian. I think lighting and grip are a far better investment than camera gear for a DP these days. And frankly will make far more of a difference to the overall quality of a portfolio you're assembling.

Buy good stuff now, and it'll still be viable 15-20 years from now.

'Good' is the operative word though. Cheap lighting and grip is a money pit, good gear is a sound investment though (and in my experience, much easier to earn a fair rental return on than camera kit).
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#5 Eric Soto

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 06:03 PM

Ok because I was thinking of buying a Arri Kit , 1k, and two 650's. Or a 1k , 650, 350. The main reason is that because I do not go to school for this I can't practice what I want until I rent lights for jobs. And lately I've had a few jobs that I've had to rent pretty frequently, so I am thinking investing in these lights will not only be good for work purposes but to educate myself as well. What do you guys think? Appreciate the feedback!


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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 07:48 PM

It depends what you mean by "invest." If you mean "buy for my own use," that's one thing. If you're setting up to charge someone else for their use, that's naturally a much dicier proposition.

 

If you're in the former scenario, which it sounds somewhat as if you are, then lights and grip equipment, which remain relevant almost indefinitely, are a far better idea than cameras which go out of date in months.

 

P


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#7 Eric Soto

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 08:23 PM

It depends what you mean by "invest." If you mean "buy for my own use," that's one thing. If you're setting up to charge someone else for their use, that's naturally a much dicier proposition.

 

If you're in the former scenario, which it sounds somewhat as if you are, then lights and grip equipment, which remain relevant almost indefinitely, are a far better idea than cameras which go out of date in months.

 

P

Yes I mean to buy for my own use. Thanks for the reply!


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#8 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 09:05 PM

I dont know if I would invest entirely in tungsten lights these days though.. presuming that Arri kit is.. I think so.. 


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#9 Timothy Sewell

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 03:27 AM

I dont know if I would invest entirely in tungsten lights these days though.. presuming that Arri kit is.. I think so.. 

 

Well I'm not in the position of the OP, in that I'm not yet trying to make any money out of cinematography (and may never do so) but I do have a consuming passion for the art of lighting and am happily devoting time and money to learning it. I come from a professional stills photography past, but continuous lighting for moving subjects is - as anyone here knows - a very different kettle of fish.

 

Tungsten may or may not be on its way out as the default way to light for motion pictures - but there's little that one couldn't learn in terms of placement, ratio, colour and motivation etc from a good tungsten kit. Tungsten lights (smaller ones, anyway) also have the advantage of being widely available at very low prices without the inevitable compromises involved in 'affordable' LED.


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#10 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 05:12 AM

Sure.. maybe Im wrong but I presumed the OP wished to use his lights for possible work,rather than just a hobbyist with an interest in lighting.. 

 

Actually that Arri kit quoted wouldn't be cheap at all either..  :).. 

 

Just giving my opinion as a working camera man .. on small shoots.. most likely what the OP would be hoping to break into.. and there is now pretty much no one using tungsten lights..I gave mine away..I probably couldn't have even sold them..  too big.. too hot..  not day light balanced..difficult to power by battery.. have to wait before they can be wrapped .. and in some  buildings  they wont let you use tungsten lights.. I had this in the US.. I hadn't used even a Kino Diva 400 I had for about 2 years.. sold for a very low amount about 2 weeks ago..   Decent LED. Battery power.. only way to go for these type of shoots..  plugging in a light is a pain now :)..


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#11 Jay Young

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 06:10 AM

Oh man, 

 

and there is now pretty much no one using tungsten lights..I gave mine away..I probably couldn't have even sold them..  too big.. too hot..  not day light balanced..difficult to power by battery.. have to wait before they can be wrapped .. and in some  buildings  they wont let you use tungsten lights.. I had this in the US.. I hadn't used even a Kino Diva 400 I had for about 2 years.. sold for a very low amount about 2 weeks ago..   Decent LED. Battery power.. only way to go for these type of shoots..  plugging in a light is a pain now :)..

 

Oh man, I would have a hard time dealing with not using tungsten units.  Cheap LED's look terrible, and I've yet to see a replacement for small fresnels.  Big power is great, but I use the 150w - 300w fresnels all the time!  I could use a Joker 200, or that Arri Pocket Par, but the units are larger, require ballasts, and would take more grip for the same type of control - also no dimmable. 

 

A really nice LED fixture could potentially replace those small fresnels, but then I can rent multiple tungsten units for the same cost.  


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#12 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 08:08 AM

Ok because I was thinking of buying a Arri Kit , 1k, and two 650's. Or a 1k , 650, 350. The main reason is that because I do not go to school for this I can't practice what I want until I rent lights for jobs. And lately I've had a few jobs that I've had to rent pretty frequently, so I am thinking investing in these lights will not only be good for work purposes but to educate myself as well. What do you guys think? Appreciate the feedback!


I don't think a new Arri light kit is money well spent. They're excellent lights, but your money will go SO much further buying the same kinds of fixtures used off ebay and the like.
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#13 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 08:12 AM

A really nice LED fixture could potentially replace those small fresnels, but then I can rent multiple tungsten units for the same cost.  

These got good reviews on Amazon so I tried em out since they were so cheap.  

 

https://www.amazon.c...eywords=viltrox

 

Pros -

One Sony NPF970 will power it for 5 hours

Daylight or Tungsten

No green or magenta issues

Super lightweight

You can easily get a 2.8 when put through diffusion at ISO 800 when about 5 feet away.  

Great eyelights, closeup lights and insert cut away modeling lights.

These do what I used to do with cliplights or small fresnels.  But much better and easier. (You can't spot or flood or throw the light a far distance though)  So not exactly the same.

 

Cons - 

You won't light up a large commercial location or mimic daylight through windows with these units.  Not at 800.  These are just to fill in subjects in a room you've already lit from the outside or to augment available light.

They spill everywhere, they don't come with barndoors so make some out of choroplast or foamboard.

The superwide reach can be a pro at night when you just want to raise the level in a large space.

Nobody knows the brand name so they have no resale value.  But given the price, it's hardly an issue.


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#14 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 08:30 AM

Oh man, 

 

 

Oh man, I would have a hard time dealing with not using tungsten units.  Cheap LED's look terrible, and I've yet to see a replacement for small fresnels.  Big power is great, but I use the 150w - 300w fresnels all the time!  I could use a Joker 200, or that Arri Pocket Par, but the units are larger, require ballasts, and would take more grip for the same type of control - also no dimmable. 

 

A really nice LED fixture could potentially replace those small fresnels, but then I can rent multiple tungsten units for the same cost.  

 

 

 

Yeah Im not recommending buying cheap LED,s.. but the Astra,s , Kino ,Dedo,s and Arri,s have very nice LED lights.. they are all bi color to very precise variations.. well the kino and arri,s you have amazing levels of control and off sets.. .. Im not against, tungsten I used them for many years .. but now they are out dated.. and not eco friendly..and I think they will not allowed in alot of buildings in the near future..they might not even make the bulbs for long..  Im not talking about features film work.. but small shoots like the OP will most likely be aiming for to begin with.. he could buy a 18K HMI.. but would most likely never use it :)


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#15 Freya Black

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 09:38 AM

Don't have a lot of time to write things just now but during my time as a Vagabond in Central Europe I sometimes play with lights to try things out and experiment with thngs. These tend to be the lights that are already in the hostels when I get there and it does depend on people being out but the point is that you don't need fancy lights to start trying thngs out. You could experiement with lamps and houshold bulbs and you could also pick up an old second hand lighting kit scary cheap. I used to have (possibly still have) a set of red heads I paid a scary tiny amount for.

Pick up cheap second hand lights, preferably stuff with barn doors etc and start experimenting and see what you can learn. There will always be newer lighting technology but if you get the hang of working with various kinds of lights it will hold you in good stead.

 

If it's more about having something to work with on low budget stuff outside of LA then you are probably better off getting some cheap LED lights that have a good reputation.

 

Freya


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#16 Freya Black

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 11:47 AM

These got good reviews on Amazon so I tried em out since they were so cheap.  

 

https://www.amazon.c...eywords=viltrox

 

Pros -

One Sony NPF970 will power it for 5 hours

Daylight or Tungsten

No green or magenta issues

Super lightweight

You can easily get a 2.8 when put through diffusion at ISO 800 when about 5 feet away.  

Great eyelights, closeup lights and insert cut away modeling lights.

These do what I used to do with cliplights or small fresnels.  But much better and easier. (You can't spot or flood or throw the light a far distance though)  So not exactly the same.

 

Cons - 

You won't light up a large commercial location or mimic daylight through windows with these units.  Not at 800.  These are just to fill in subjects in a room you've already lit from the outside or to augment available light.

They spill everywhere, they don't come with barndoors so make some out of choroplast or foamboard.

The superwide reach can be a pro at night when you just want to raise the level in a large space.

Nobody knows the brand name so they have no resale value.  But given the price, it's hardly an issue.

 

 

Okay those are interesting. I like the fact they run off 12volt. This may draw me in depending on how things turn out!

 

Freya


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#17 Stuart Allman

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 12:24 PM

Eric,

 

Video Gear, the company I do tutorials for, is getting out of the rental business and selling off most of their inventory.  www.video-gear.com.  You might want to give Nikita a call at their office and see if they have something you could use.

 

Sorry Phil/Freya, they aren't selling the c-stands.

 

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#18 Freya Black

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 12:35 PM

 

Sorry Phil/Freya, they aren't selling the c-stands.

 

 

 

Like gold dust I tell you! ;)

 

Freya


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#19 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 01:13 PM

 but the Astra,s , Kino ,Dedo,s and Arri,s have very nice LED lights.. they are all bi color to very precise variations.. well the kino and arri,s you have amazing levels of control and off sets.. ..

 

They're not all bi-color; some of the Arri skypanels are remote phosphor with interchangeable panels. They're also rather heavy and very expensive.

 

From what I've seen, it's not necessarily the case that the cheap stuff is terrible anymore. In the last year or so, it seems to have become reasonably easy for most manufacturers to do really pretty respectable colour.

 

P


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#20 Eric Soto

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 05:40 PM

Well it seems the main argument everywhere is between tungsten or LED. I have a limited budget to work with and to get my moneys worth I think the Arri kits are what I'm leaning towards. LED's are too expensive, for at least good quality. I've used the Kino Flo Diva kits and they don't make skin look very good. I might look for a used kit as well as was suggested here. What do you all think about red heads or blondes?


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