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Any experience with Chinese Fresnels?


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#1 Samuel Berger

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 10:07 PM

I see these kits for sale all the time advertised as "As Arri".

 

https://www.ebay.com...it/252395295749

 

I'm actually beginning to wonder if they're worth it. Has anyone tried them? Thanks.


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#2 Tristan Noelle

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 11:18 PM

I own a kit. Theyre a mixed bag. Although technically better than nothing, after extended use they fall apart pretty quickly and need diy maintenance. You cant use them like you would Arris or Moles.

The fittings that lock the tilt of the lamp are prone to stripping. You cant really have a chimera on them because its so front weighted. Ive had to tap the stripped holes and replace the locking knob on several lights. You need to be gentle with them. Ive had the light stand risers strip as well.

Youll have to buy scrims separately, and the included speed ring awkwardly clamps on the outside of the heads and falls apart eventually. The chimera grid is meerly cosmetic. The built in dimmers arent fused so any short in the lamp like a bulb blowing will burn it out so you need to re-wire it to bypass the dimmer. And Ive had a 150w short several times because the wires get pinched by the spot and flood mechanism. Also, Ive replaced the plugs on them because the ground pin falls off.

At the time I bought them, I couldnt afford the real thing and they do produce usuable light. But theyre not an investment like most lighting gear would be. Thats my experience with them, hope it was informative.

Tristan
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#3 Samuel Berger

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 12:03 AM

Thanks Tristan, it was very informative. Sounds like something to really stay away from!

 

I wonder what today's equivalents are to the Blondes and Redheads from old times. I see a lot of folks turning to LED but they're making video not film. I think I'll read up on that as well.


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#4 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 12:26 AM

I bought open face redhead lights off of Rakuten once and the barndoors were in the proximity of the light and melted onto the floor.

 

Never get knock-off stuff solely for safety reasons.


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#5 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 12:29 AM

Samuel,

Blonds and redheads are still around, I mean the real Italian stuff.  The distribution of old gear varies with geography, which is a factor...

 

It's a bit tough in the states with 110V running tungsten for small productions off the domestic supply...the 240V countries have more possibilities. 

 

Rather than Arri fresnels, one can look at old Mole Richardson, built strong, worth fixing...


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#6 Samuel Berger

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 01:01 AM


It's a bit tough in the states with 110V running tungsten for small productions off the domestic supply...the 240V countries have more possibilities.

 

Hi Gregg,

 

These Italian Redheads I spied earlier: https://www.ebay.com...tc/122262942474

 

From the labels they seem to switch to 120V.

 

As usual I'm torn between pursuing vintage equipment and finding modern equivalents.


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#7 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 02:07 AM

Vintage meaning tungsten? Plenty of people still use tungsten..

If looking at tungsten, the redheads are not dated.  I think the old Ianebeam redheads are better than the later Strand ones...The barn doors are shifted out further, with more room for heat to escape..

 

Look for some old C stands...find or make some frames for those..talk to some busy gaffers/lighting guys to find some free/cheap gels and diffusion.


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#8 Heikki Repo

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 02:22 AM

When buying old light fixtures it's a good idea to make some research first. A few years ago I bought an old broken HMI with the intention to repair/mod it. Suffice to say, when I found inside it an asbestos plate it didn't take long for me to discard my plans and get rid of the light.

Unless you have lots of free space I think it is a better idea to just rent lights. Also: if your camera is broken, you can't make films but if your lights are broken, someone might get killed (!)
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#9 Robert Hart

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 03:09 AM

It may be best to regard the Chinese lights as the "least unaffordable" option. They do work and mostly work well. The lamps I have had for a few years have suffered damage. - This can be managed but you may find yourself spending more time staying on top of the maintenance. If you do not have the hand-eye skills for basic to advanced metalworking your lamps and stands may become "consumer" items, good for a limited number of uses before going in the scrap box.


Typical damage has been plastic knobs on lamphouses falling off or cracking/slumping from heat.

Cracked fresnel lenses. 

Stripped screw threads in plastic in-line switch casework.

Noisy wearing surfaces in flood/spot focus lamp base carriages which can kill globe filaments if it is violent enough.

Loosening of lamphouse assembly screws due to thermal cycles. 

Cam balls in square-cut spiral actuator shafts sometimes fall out.


You need to be gentle with the lightweight stands. The average tarzan on a volunteer or no-low budget crew will crush the columns due to overtightening of the thumbscrews. Extension columns may pull out. The little friction plates then fall inside. When re-assembled in haste on set by folk who have no understanding of the mechanism, no one tips the friction plates back out of the column and correctly reinstalls them. They instead allow the screw-ends to punch holes in the columns which permanently ruins them. 


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#10 aapo lettinen

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 05:24 AM

we have covered the Chinese Fresnels thing before couple of times... 

 

for small jobs they may be ok but THEY ARE NOT ELECTRICALLY SAFE out of the box by my experience and really need to be checked by professional electrician before even tested briefly.

 

the "CE" markings etc. are a total joke (there is probably a huge factory in China which only manufactures those fake CE marking stickers) and the build quality is generally quite lazy which may mean, for example, loose wires inside the casing or too thin insulation or strain reliefs which are not attached correctly or hazardous electrical design with cheap thin wires and no grounding, underrated dimmers which may catch fire, etc. 

 

It may be a good idea to save some money on gear but in this case it may cost you your life (or in the worst case, someone else's life instead of one's own)  :(


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#11 aapo lettinen

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 05:32 AM

couple of years ago I ordered some Chinese fresnels and tested them out, couple of results here:

 

http://aapolettinen....y-any-good.html   

 

 

 

PROS:
+ quite affordable: three lights, 3 stands, dimmers, carrying bag, bulbs and Finnish Customs plus 24% VAT  and shipping to Finland at about the same price than a single Arri 650w Junior Fresnel bought from here
 
+ quite fast shipping
 
+ usable stands though not ideal for 1000w
 
+ carrying bag included
 
+ barn doors were OK
 
CONS:
 
- CAN GET SOMEONE KILLED IF NOT CHECKED BY A PROFESSIONAL BEFORE USE
 
- low quality bulbs, at least the 300w
 
- switches and dimmers not protected against humidity 
 
- serious design fault in the 1000w switch, had to remove it completely
 
- very poor manufacturing quality on 300w
 
- factory-made scratches on stands and lights
 
- 3 lights plus accessories are difficult to fit to the carrying bag, a little too small 
 
- sloppy work on the strain reliefs! dangerous, stupid and completely unnecessary
 
-not as bright and even light as Arri or Filmgear counterparts but OK for most uses
 

Edited by aapo lettinen, 30 October 2017 - 05:37 AM.

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#12 Samuel Berger

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 11:00 AM

aapo, I have just carefully read your entire post about these lights and I'm avoiding the kits. I'm only going to purchase the 650W since at $80 it might be worth the time to open it up and inspect for the issues you have pointed out, but there's  no way I'm buying the kit. Thank you so much for letting us all know what to look out for.

 

I actually have those same stands from Limostudio that I got a few years back for some green screen stuff we shot. They're very flimsy. I used to own Lowel stands and loved them.

 

Still haven't researched LED lighting enough, but doesn't look very affordable. One panel for $700?


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#13 David Ross

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 03:49 PM

You get what you pay for!  If you wish to purchase lights  pick up a few used Arri's or Moles on E- bay.  A lot of people are switching over to LED so now you can get some great lights that will last you a long time for very little money. You will be able to get parts for years to come. A friend of mine bought the cheap knock off's and ended up throwing them away in the end.

Buy quality once !


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#14 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 05:53 PM

I tend toward the position that it's OK to buy cheap stuff if you aren't really sure how much use it's going to get. If you use the cheap stuff often enough to wear it out, fine, spend the money.

 

Of course, that only works when the cheap stuff is massively cheaper than the expensive stuff, which is the case here. 


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#15 aapo lettinen

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Posted 31 October 2017 - 04:24 AM

the main problem with the Chinese stuff is that they don't seem to have any quality control and some of the materials are too low quality. design faults are another problem... 

 

but you need to be able to, for example, change the power cables by yourself if using this type of lights. the originals are low quality and thin material and will break in use after a while (mine lasted less than a year in very light use and had to modify the lights for thicker standard power cable to continue to use them) . and you need to be able to constantly monitor the gear for problems and repair if needed before anything serious happens. 

 

They are not "as arri" in that regard, you can't for example use them in any kind of rain without very heavy protection (compared to some Arri tungstens which can tolerate mild rain pretty well if the angle is right) . Treat them like they would be indoor-use-only without plastic-bag fully-tape rain-cover everything


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#16 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 31 October 2017 - 10:15 AM

While they may be cheaper in the short term ,they are much more expensive long term. I highly recommend looking for good used name brand stuff. You'll still need to know how to fix it up a bit; but at least you can find parts and manuals and call up a company to get an idea how to do it (not that it's all too difficult). And it's cheap these days for tungsten lighting.


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#17 Samuel Berger

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Posted 31 October 2017 - 11:38 AM

Alright. I used to own a Lowel kit called the Sophisti-Kit. I can't find it anymore anywhere but it was an ENG kit, I wouldn't use it for narrative.

 

If I were to put together what the BBC used to call a "One Man Kit", I think I'd look for a variation on that. The One Man Kit consisted of 4 redheads (800W) and a blonde (2000W) back then, plus accessories/stands etc of course.

Since I'd be shooting mostly 50D I think that might be the way to go.


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#18 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 31 October 2017 - 12:04 PM

The one man kit was generally 3 Redheads or similar for the BBC, the Blondes usually came with an electrician as part of the crew.


Edited by Brian Drysdale, 31 October 2017 - 12:05 PM.

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#19 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 31 October 2017 - 12:20 PM

If I were looking at knock-off fresnels, I'd just get knock-off (or even used real) Source Four PARs.

 

Efficient, handy, and you can get them in discharge or tungsten. Somewhat controllable - not as good as fresnels, but better than redheads.

 

P


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#20 aapo lettinen

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Posted 31 October 2017 - 03:46 PM

I would not base a movie lighting kit on 800Redheads unless I would get them for free... they are not good for much else than bouncing or filling up diffusion frames. of course you can light with them if setting them up to the actors face but they are not very useful as multi-purpose lights and are pretty bad for direct lighting (too much spread and falloff, poor shadow quality, not very adjustable) , their main design point is only them being lightweight for ENG use and cheap to manufacture so that they can be sold for huge profit :P

 

I would look for fresnels and par cans and some leds instead. Samuel, did you mean by 50D the Canon camera or the Kodak film? 

 

I think you could use a mixed tungsten +led kit. The leds can be expensive but they are good for daylight use if they are punchy enough (I would choose mainly narrow spot ones and add diffusion if needed instead of having only wide angle ones and not being able to light from distance at all)

 

For example: 

1pc 300 tungsten fresnel 

2pc 650w tungsten fresnel 

2 pcs 1000w vnsp ("firestarter") par64 can with barndoors etc. 

other par cans like source fours can be added as well if you need them.

 

(2pcs of 800w redheads OR a 2k Blonde for diffusion frames and bouncing if you can get them very cheaply or free and really need them) 

 

1pc high power daylight LED panel, SPOT ANGLE (something like 50w minimum, I would have close to 100w if possible. I would prefer daylight balanced instead of adjustable colour temp because of more output, it will be mostly needed for daylight applications anyway) 

1pc lower power LED panel in the 30-50w range if you need it, can be adjustable or daylight balanced. I would prefer spot but can be wider angle if needed 

 

Lots of frames, kapa and styrofoam reflectors, flags. 

 

A small adjustable hazer! you may think you don't need it but you can't live without it when having one :) 

 

One dedolight type very narrow spot tungsten or led light may be handy at times but not absolutely needed.

 

 

 

I personally use lots of 2kw tungsten fresnels (Filmgear, Arri, Desisti) which are handy and can be used to substitute expensive-to-rent HMI lights in some applications but if you want to own the gear I would try to use the par cans instead, you can save on stands and can still make some nice punchy lighting effects on smaller areas.

 

Consider renting if you only need some piece of gear irregularly couple of times a year.


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