OTech reader, Willie, recently had some questions in regards to a basic lighting kit to build up on. Willie is shooting mainly music videos right now. I’m sure he will expand the usage of the kit for other types of video as well, so what are his best options? Of course, requirements for a basic kit are versatility, cost and quality. Let’s consider a few factors on two common starter kits CFL vs. Halogen.
Red Heads are halogen lights and rated around 3200K (tungsten). They draw more energy than CFLs and therefore produce MUCH more heat. Hot lights get very hot, very quickly so you must handle them with gloves and be certain that any equipment you are using with them, like softboxes, are made to withstand the heat. If you want daylight temperatures, you can color correct with a color temperature blue (CTB) gel. In the image above, we are using a Red Head as a hair light with a CTB to match the temperature of the 5500K CFL lights. Without a soft box, halogen lights are more contrasty and have a more of a spotlight effect, which is sometimes a desired look.
CFL lights are rated around 5500K (daylight). They are cool lights that do not produce very hot heat and require less power. These can also be color corrected with gels to become a warmer light source with color temperature orange (CTO) gels. Although, the nature of the light fixture might make it a bit more complicated than color correcting the Red Heads. With or without Softboxes, CFL lights are more diffused and softer (less contrasty).
Both of these starts kits come with carrying cases and CAN be portable, however, in my experience with both, I’d say the softboxes are a real pain in the ass to break down and set back up. The Red Heads on their own can certainly be transported much easier without the softboxes and don’t require you to remove the bulbs when packing up for travel. The CFL versions have 5 bulbs in each light head and should be removed when transporting the light head. Another alternative is LED light panels like the new popular 600, 900, and 1200 LEDs. These are directional light sources that can run on BATTERY power. These are the most portable, and easiest to transport, but also the most expensive. I did a comparison with the LED 900′s and the CFL Softboxes HERE.
These Red Heads are 800 watts each for a total output of 2400 watts. There is an inline dimmer switch to reduce light output, an adjustment to focus the beam from wide to spot, barn doors, light stands, and include softboxes to make the light diffused.
The CFL lights use 45 watt bulbs (5 bulbs in each head) equivalent to about 2800 watts. CFL bulbs individually are not dimmable, however you can change the intensity on these lights with the 5 independent switches that each light is dedicated to within the fixture. (Each fixture houses 5 bulbs). The CFL lights are used in conjunction with the softboxes they come with so they are a diffused light source.
You get what you pay for. If you are spending upwards of a few thousand dollars, you are generally going to get amazing quality lights with a lot of functionality. I personally can say that I am very familiar with both of these light sets. We use them in the studio and for setups that don’t need to move around a lot, this works for us. The cost is very low considering what you get. I don’t think believe you need to break the bank to get something that works. Just understand how to properly use what you have.
Factor to Consider
Red Head lights don’t produce the flicker or banding that CFLs can create. There are much more expensive versions of CFL lights available that are manufactured specifically for video. These types of CFL lights are flicker free no matter what shutter speed you are set at. HERE is a video example of some I saw at #PMA2012.
If you are shooting at 24fps and have your shutter speed dedicated to 1/50th for the film look, the CFL kit I’m suggesting will work just fine. For the OliviaTech videos we produce, we mostly use our CFL lighting kit and shoot at either 24fps at 1/50th or 30fps at 1/60th. Neither of these settings has caused a flicker in our videos.
For an in-depth look on this banding issue, check out this video from cheesycam.basic lighting kit, beginner's lighting kit, ePhoto, halogen, lighting, lighting kit, red head, softbox, softbox kit, starters kit for lighting, tungsten