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View Full Version : What is the toughest most economical lighting kit money can buy?



snuck
8-Jun-2008, 11:36
This topic doesn't get covered as much as others...

I'm purchasing for my school, and I am wondering what lighting kits are the most universally bombproof and economical to get. Why bombproof? Well because they're going to get used by teenagers of course. They don't have to be good, just functional. Any other lighting tips would be appreciated as well.

Cheers

Dan Schmidt
8-Jun-2008, 11:39
if you are talking strobes, then the alienbees might be the way to go

Frank Petronio
8-Jun-2008, 11:44
Lowels

Robert A. Zeichner
8-Jun-2008, 11:51
If hot lights are what you're after, Lowel DP's and Omni's might work for you. I would shy away from the Tota light as they tend to fry themselves in careless hands or the Pro and V-lights which are more fragile. From Arri you can get both open face quartz halogen fixtures as well as focusing Fresnels. Both companies offer kits and lightweight stands. Arri offers kits with Chimera boxes if soft light is also required. Lowel's solution to soft light is their Rifa system which is a bit easier to handle. Both companies offer a comprehensive supply of repair parts as well.

snuck
8-Jun-2008, 12:05
Thanks for the responses so far. I think that lowell wins it. I was in Vistek the other day, and did like their construction. I'll most likely get them from some place cheaper however...

What about a strobe kit?

snuck
8-Jun-2008, 12:20
oops alienbees...any seconds?

vinny
8-Jun-2008, 12:29
Having used just about every hot light out there i can say this:
The lowels are durable, cheap, and they operate as such. They do put out a fair amount of light though. We had some of them at my school and many videots i worked with in the past owned those kits as well.
Also try chinese lanterns and some 500watt ECT light bulbs with a socket that'll handle the heat. Great soft source and they're cheap as well as disposable.

Par Cans with par 64 globes- available in several globe patterns and wattages from 500 to 1200w. Indestructable and cheap cheap cheap, that's why every concert ever lit uses a ton of them. Check ebay. 8 for about $220+bail blocks to attach to stands+globes.

Mole Richardson makes open faced units similar to the lowel tota which use the same lamps but are much more durable and safer to operate. Type 2921 Nooklite. Barn doors are additional.

vinny

lenser
8-Jun-2008, 12:50
Can't speak for the Alien bees as I've not used them, but I've got several old White Lightning Ultras and two of my friends have Ultra Zaps that I have used with no sign of failures in tens of thousands of exposures. I have had a couple of mine upgraded, and replaced one flash tube that I broke.

Not only are they incredibly reliable, Paul C. Buff makes them in Nashville and has both extremely fast turnaround for repairs (less than a week including shipping) and a warranty that is more than generous (three years I think).

Ron Marshall
8-Jun-2008, 14:30
oops alienbees...any seconds?

If they are going to see hard use I would recommend White Lightnings instead of the Alien bees.

I have WL, and bought an AB to make a comparison, then returned it.

The rear rim of the WL protrudes to protect the controls, the sync cord plug is much heavier duty on the WL and the switches are better built.

Nothing wrong with the AB, but the WL will stand up to abuse much better.

Greg Lockrey
8-Jun-2008, 15:25
2nd Lowels.

Frank Petronio
8-Jun-2008, 15:32
If they are annoying and there are too many of them, get some Normans and let Darwin sort them out ;-)

Walter Calahan
8-Jun-2008, 15:39
For hot lights, Lowels.

For strobes, White Lightning and Alien Bees fall apart from heavy use. They are inexpensive, but you have to buy them over and over again.

For a little more money, but will take a LOT more punishment, I say Dyna-Lites.

http://www.dynalite.com/index2.shtml

I've been using Dyna-Lites since 1982. They last and last.

Dave Wooten
8-Jun-2008, 15:43
I have an alien bee. I like it, students would get a kick out of the color choices...a pretty good "kick" for the money and you can just call Paul on the phone for questions etc. Easy service access, you are dealing direct. Also have the white lightning set up

snuck
8-Jun-2008, 16:06
If they are annoying and there are too many of them, get some Normans and let Darwin sort them out ;-)

That would be an awesome and spectacular way of losing my license.

jnanian
8-Jun-2008, 16:34
Lowels

i agree,
and make sure
you get all your bulbs
at http://www.topbulb.com/

Tzabcan
8-Jun-2008, 18:22
I would avoid Alien Bees as they are not designed for professional, or worse, student use.
I second the suggestion for Dyna-Lites. They have an excellent educational purchase program with huge discounts. They even bump the warranty from one year to three.. Cant beat that!
If you are into hot lights, then I think the only way to go is Mole Richardson, they TRULY last forever. Brooks Institute uses them almost exclusively in their studios and they stand up to constant severe abuse with flying colors. It's remarkable how badly they are treated and how much use they get, and they just keep on truckin'.

Mark Sawyer
9-Jun-2008, 13:05
If your purchasing system will allow you to go the used route, an old set of Novatrons might be a good way to go. They're simple, deliver lots of light with a fast recycle, vary the intensity easily, and are pretty bullet-proof, even in the hands of high school students.

SAShruby
9-Jun-2008, 13:16
Norman's of course....you need a flashy firepower if you use 8x10....

Brian K
10-Jun-2008, 04:13
I second the Normans. I used Normans everyday for 25 years and they rarely had issues. The only problem and this is common to all power pack type strobes is if the assistants don't plug the heads in all the way leaving you with an arc at the plug. And even that was rare in my studio.

They provide consistent output and a pretty fair amount of it.

Scott Davis
10-Jun-2008, 05:35
For inexpensive but durable strobes, I'd say Novatrons. For hotlights, Smith Victors. The S/V lights are really cheap, but they're basically indestructible. We had bunches of them at Maryland Institute College of Art, and some were 20+ years old. Lots of dents and scratches in the paint, but they still worked like a charm. MICA had Balcar strobes for high-power strobe units, and they're excellent, but they're far from value priced.

jnanian
10-Jun-2008, 06:14
For inexpensive but durable strobes, I'd say Novatrons. For hotlights, Smith Victors. The S/V lights are really cheap, but they're basically indestructible. We had bunches of them at Maryland Institute College of Art, and some were 20+ years old. Lots of dents and scratches in the paint, but they still worked like a charm. MICA had Balcar strobes for high-power strobe units, and they're excellent, but they're far from value priced.

i've a pair of 300ws novatron mono-lights.
they are 15 years old and work like a charm.
and they sell re-furbs direct from the factory.

Aahx
10-Jun-2008, 12:10
I have used White Lightning Ultra units for 20 years of location proffesional use (both older and newer units) and they are built to take abuse. I have had kids at weddings clip the power cord while the lights are up at 8feet and have them drop on concrete and only have to replace the flash tube and modeling lights and they were good to go. That and having them independant of a single power source has saved them from much grief of tripping over additional cords, etc. So I would not say they are fragile by any means at all. And you cannot beat Paul C. Buffs repair service.

As for single power pack designs I would also second Novatron's as inexpensive and fairly durable units. Dynalights are great, but not near as inexpensive.

It all comes down to how they are going to be used. In a single studio setting? Or are they going to be designed as mobile units to be used on location? Or both? Do they need to be adjustable in power output? For mobile fast set up, tear down I personaly prefer mono units like the white lighting ultra's which also have a 5 stop power adjustment on them. This is a very convenient feature of them. Though this could also make it "too easy" for students. Where a fixed power supply would force them to learn more about distance placement of the light source (i.e. how the power of light drops off exponentialy the further the subject is from light source). And if you want that, then a more basic setup might be more prudent. As power adjustments can be a blessing for those of us who know the basics.. but a curse for someone trying to learn them. As it is just too easy to run a slider switch.. than move the light source entirely.