Thomas Edison would be proud. Since the invention of the incandescent light bulb in 1879, the number of continuous lighting options and accessories that have entered the market has been truly staggering. Photographers and video professionals can now choose from many different lighting technologies, including Tungsten, HMI, Fluorescent, Carbon, and LED. In this roundup, we focus on a number of continuous lighting products and accessories, and get tips directly from a group of users who rely on them to achieve just the right look and feel.
Throughout the article, the terms daylight and tungsten balanced will be used to denote approximate color temperatures of different lighting products. Tungsten balanced is approximately 3000 degrees Kelvin (similar to a standard light bulb), and daylight balanced is approximately 5500 degrees Kelvin (similar to the light found on a sunny day at about noon). In addition, many of the websites provided include excellent testimonials from pros who use the products on a consistent basis.
Also, refer to our sidebar, "Mixing it Up," to find out how one photographer incorporates Arri, Dedolight, and Kino-Flo lighting into his still-life images.
ARRI Inc. is the world's largest manufacturer of professional motion picture equipment. The company's lighting products include tungsten, daylight, ceramic, and fluorescent models. Its Fresel, Open Face, Par, and Flood lighting systems range from 125 to 18000 watts, in a number of tungsten and HMI configurations. ARRI's tungsten-balanced Junior Plus Fresnels are very popular, and come with a spherical aluminum reflector and a 25-foot cable with an in-line switch.
The ARRI X Ceramic 250 (right) employs the new Ceramic ST 250 HR discharge lamp from Philips, which produces a tungsten-quality light. It is based on the design of the ARRI X Series, but includes a built-in ballast and igniter and can be directly plugged into power. The ARRI X Ceramic 250 provides a very wide spread, and emits less heat at the same output compared with standard tungsten lamps, which makes it ideal for lighting situations in narrow spaces.
Briese produces a wide range of strobe and HMI lighting products and accessories, including 575-, 1,200-and 2,500-Watt flicker-free HMI ballasts with matching heads. Its accessories, which include parabolic umbrellas (known as Focus H/S for Hard/Soft light) range in diameter from 30-130 inches. Two particularly interesting products are its Fresnel Spot HMI and Fresnel Spot Flash units. These simulate the same light quality, but allow for either HMI or flash or to be used.
"I've found all Briese equipment to be solid and dependable. I've taken its equipment on location many times, and I especially like its HMI products. I shot this image with a single Briese Focus 180 H/S with a 1.2K Briese HMI and full-silk diffusion, which is made specifically for the umbrella. The light was placed in the back left corner, about 10 feet behind the model and about five feet above her head. It was aimed toward her right side, and a 4x4 foot sheet of Foamcore was used to provide fill in the front. Some additional light came in through a few small windows." -Kurt Iswarienko (www.iswarienko.com), fashion and beauty photographer
Broncolor's continuous lighting options include the HMI 575 and 1200. They are both daylight-balanced, high-efficiency lights, with a Quartz equivalent of 1500 and 3000 Watts respectively. Their "open-face" design, similar to that of Broncolor strobes, enables the use of multiple Broncolor system reflectors, umbrellas, and other light modifiers, and an electronically-controlled ballast allows you to switch between flicker-free and low-noise mode. Giving off two times the output of a comparable halogen bulb, the lights are the smallest and lightest HMI systems available to date. The lamphead focusing mount provides an additional stop of control along with an adjustable light-angle range of 40 to 100 degrees, while the LCD meter lets you know when to replace the bulb.
"I always try to replicate sunlight with my work, and the quality of the light that comes out of the Brocolor HMI 575 and 1200, especially when mixed with natural daylight, is beautiful. They were designed for print versus motion cameras, and all of my standard Broncolor modifiers also fit on them, which makes for less bulk when traveling with flash and HMI. Other then having a greater light output, the 1200 is less diffused than the 575. I always let the lights "warm up" for about 15 minutes, and we start reading color temps with a Minolta color meter after about 10 minutes. It's important to note that when reading color temps, both color bands should be read to assure accuracy.
The red dessert photo was lit from the left with one Broncolor 575 HMI. There was a small silver reflector on the head and there were large white fill cards above and to the right. Some daylight was also mixed in from light streaming through windows in the studio. The camera was a Hasselblad H1 with 150mm lens, with an Imacon Ixpress 132C digital camera back."– Jeff Kauck (www.jeffkaukphotography.com) is a Chicago-based photographer who owns the Broncolor HMI 575 and 1200.
In addition to its strobe units and accessories, Calumet offers two continuous lighting products, the Trilite and the 9Lite. Both are made up of either three or nine daylight-balanced 30W flicker-free fluorescent lights. The Trilight and 9Lite produce the equivalent of about a 300-Watt and 1000-Watt tungsten lamp, respectively, with an approximate lamp life of 10,000 hours. Both come as shown here, either in a removable 12'' reflector, or in a square intensifier soft box with removable gold insert.
Dedolight offers a number of continuous lighting options that use either tungsten or HMI light sources. The Dedolight system was developed for still and video photographers, and its patented Aspherics2 optical system provides a wide range of creative lighting options. The Dedolight K12M Kit contains four focusable lights and many accessories. Daylight-balancing filters are included and, for more control, projection lens attachments are available.
Dyna-Lite is known for its flash equipment and accessories, though one of the company's products is clearly an accessory for either flash or continuous lighting. The XP 1100 is a 23-lb. portable battery pack, capable of powering any AC device, including strobe packs, computers, and continuous lighting products. The duration of power before a charge is required will vary depending on the type of light used. For extended power, additional batteries are available from Dyna-Lite.
Thanks, in great part, to Kino Flo, high-frequency flicker-free fluorescent lighting is now widely used in the motion picture industry. The company's unique True Match lamps (4" to 8 feet in length) are available in daylight and tungsten-balanced versions, and produce a soft light, with very low energy consumption, and a much longer life (up to 10,000 hours) than many other continuous light sources. The company‘s Diva-Lite 200 and 400, which contain two or four two-foot bulbs, are highly regarded in the location film and still industries because of their soft, bright light output, cool temperature, portability, and ability to be dimmed without changing color temperature.