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Thread: HMI, HID, other bright continuous sources - deals?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    HMI, HID, other bright continuous sources - deals?

    Any advice on buying a smaller HMI light for outdoor and studio use? I am aiming to photograph full length people @ f/8 ~ 1/60 on ASA 400 film. In other words, approximately the same lighting horsepower as the 800 watt Dynalite strobes that I'm used to. I am not trying to do f/32 still lifes!

    I see several older HMIs on eBay - thinking a 2K is the right size and power - but really I have no idea.

    Also I know there are new light sources out there - HID, full spectrum, etc. - is anyone using them for still photography?

    I really like continuous lighting. But I would like to shoot some digital too, and tungsten is not idea for digital. And it is just too darn hot... unless everybodys nude of course. Thx - Frank

  2. #2
    Big Negs Rock!
    Join Date
    Mar 2000

    HMI, HID, other bright continuous sources - deals?

    Hey Frank,

    For your purposes the HMIs are continuos lights. In film they're in synch at 24fps (1/48 sec). But in stills you can't go "off speed" since you're not shooting multiple frames/sec and projecting the same. I'd suggest a test at the shutter speeds you're thinking of using, but that said, I'd be surprised it you're more than 1/10 th sec off in exposure. BTW, a 2K HMI is roughly equivalent to a 5K tungsten unit. They're much more efficient.

    Love your posts,

    Mark Woods

    Large Format B&W
    Cinematography Mentor at the American Film Institute
    Past President of the Pasadena Society of Artists
    Director of Photography
    Pasadena, CA

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Mar 1998

    HMI, HID, other bright continuous sources - deals?

    HMI lights are nowhere near as efficient at turning electricity into light as electronic flash is. My best guess is that you'll want at least a 4K to start getting the illumination levels of an 800 watt-second Dyna-Light pack and head if you are using reasonably short exposure times. Also Chimera Softboxes for HMI lights are a lot more expensive tha nthe comparable size and quality Chimera products for electronic flash.

    If there is a motion picture & television rental facility near you , go pay a visit and bring along your light meter and your camera to shoot some tests.

    The cool light I saw at PMA 2006 was the balanced and corrected fluorescents from Like Kinoflo but lots more rugged, more portable and less expensive. Incredibly befficient and versatile. Gregory Heisler turned me on to them.

  4. #4

    HMI, HID, other bright continuous sources - deals?

    And it will matter whet you want to do with the light. Diffusion, reflection whatever will cut the f stop just like it does with flash but you have only so much power to use with smaller HMIs. They are hot hot hot and most have long re-strike times that you won't like if you switch them off frequently. Lamps are real expensive. Ellis' idea of renting is good. Otherwise a couple of HMIs will set you back some pretty big money. I have seen some Chinese HMIs advertised that are cheaper but I have no experience with them.

    Big banks of flourescents will get you to f8 but they have to be close to the subject as they don't have much throw. I've made several, rented others and owned Kinoflo and Videssence. Ready mades are expensive. You can by D50 lamps, some electronic ballasts and lamp sockets and screw all this to a sheet of plywood or to make it lighter you could use gatorboard. Clamp it in a light stand on each side and there you go. As long as you like the look of big broad soft lighting you're all set.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Fremantle, Western Australia

    HMI, HID, other bright continuous sources - deals?

    Hi Frank,

    I bought one of these HID lights for use with my mountain bike:

    I haven't tried photography with it yet, but that was the intention - eventually.

    It's very, very bright!


  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2000

    HMI, HID, other bright continuous sources - deals?

    I use old mole-richardson fresnels, lamped down to 1500 watts to avoid blowing household breakers. At 2000 watts you'll need a heavier amp line. I love the quality of light from these old cans. The mole soft lights work well also.If I need a soft box I'll just punch a fresnel through a scrim. I like seeing the light I'm composing with.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jul 2000

    HMI, HID, other bright continuous sources - deals?

    The trick to avoiding the heat is to set up the shot, position your lights, take your meter readings and then shut off the lights until the model is in place. An air conditioned studio also helps but not necessary.

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