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  1. #1
    clay's Avatar
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    Hot lights or strobes?

    I'm thinking about learning the rudiments of artificial lighting this winter. Does anyone actually use hot lights anymore? Or are strobes really the ticket? And if so, who makes the best 2 or 3 light package that won't break the bank? Curious minds..

  2. #2

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    hi clay

    there is a company on ebay called amvona that sells lights + soft boxes & lighting "stuff". i can't really comment on the quality of their goods. comments range from " this stuff is great!" to " should have bought 'xxx brand' this stuff is junk!" , but for cheep continuous light with modifiers they might not be that bad. if i were to do it again, i would buy a bunch of lights from them just to fool around with - again - cheep is the key here


    continous lighting, it is nice because you can actually see what the lights are doing instead of using modeling lights.


    good luck!

    john

  3. #3
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    You can play around with hot lights for an amazingly small amount of money. All you need is some sort of base and a photo flood. Perhaps a couple with some sort of diffuser and a reflector. We have used furnace filters as diffusers and also wood frames with nylon stretched over them. One thing to be careful with is that the bulbs are high wattage. If you do something like use one in a utility light you need to be careful, the heat will get awfully high.

    Strobes have their advantages in that they produce less heat, are very bright, and work with daylight film if you are shooting color. I prefer strobes, but a real strobe setup is a bunch of money. Of course, a "real" hot light set up is as well.

  4. #4
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    You don't mention what subject matter you'll be shooting, and whether in color or B&W. For static subjects in B&W, you can learn a lot with a couple of $10 halogen garage lights from your local hardware store.

    For people work, I think you'll find that the output of hot lights is quite low, meaning wide apertures or long-ish exposure times. By the time you get the light level up to reasonable exposure times/apertures, the lights are so bright as to be uncomfortable for the people. For most folks, that happens somewhere between 300 and 500 watts.

    Oh, and remember that there's a reason they are called hot lights. Due care is required to avoid burns or even starting a fire.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  5. #5
    eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clay
    I'm thinking about learning the rudiments of artificial lighting this winter. Does anyone actually use hot lights anymore? Or are strobes really the ticket? And if so, who makes the best 2 or 3 light package that won't break the bank? Curious minds..
    Everything I learned about lighting I learned wtih hotlights. Mostly Mole Richardsons. I worked with a ton of strobes but only with models. Still life, I like hot lights. I worked for a couple of years with a food photographer that used hot lights. I think there was only a handful of people doing that at the time but it was hard. You had to be real fast and have lots of "stand-ins". I had to be fast on the 8x10 Deardorff too.

    I think to play around, use hot lights so you see what is happening. Strobes are good for color balance.

    You using B&W or color?

  6. #6
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    I spent many years working in commercial product photography studios and, unless I had a specific purpose for using strobes, I would always choose hot lights. Now, when I shoot still lifes, it is nothing but hot lights. Also, hard lights are much more critical but also more controllable than those big self-filling umbrellas or giant idiot boxes that can be moved two feet in any direction without affecting the shot in the slightest.
    If you are looking to gain lighting skills, I'd go with hot lights. You can see your angles and ratios as you work and refine your metering techniques and learn how they record on film, color or B&W.
    If you are specializing in people, strobes are more comfortable for your subject and forgiving of movement but I'd use a small light box so that the light is directional enough to produce the shadows and modeling needed to define shape.
    That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
    =Neal W.=

  7. #7

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    I am with Flotsam - I prefer hot lights over stobes due to that excellent ability of continuous light to be controlled I love to shoot models, for example, in Hollywood style - and it's pretty impossible to do so with a flash, as I can see. Also I prefer tungsten-balanced color film over daylight, using mainly Fuji 64T and NPL160 - the colour these films deliver seems way richer to me, and way way less blue compared to strobe light. The softboxes always irritated me, too - I can't stand square reflections in the eyes, and their overall idiot-proof uncontrollabe light There are umbrellas and reflectors, why do I need a softbox?

    The strobes are quite expensive, give to you less control and, what's quite important, are too powerful for a small studio. You have to black paint the walls and have your ceilings to be at least 4 meter high to avoid complete filling of shadows with typical studio strobe setup. Of course they help in avoiding blurred pictures, but on my practice I found that the model should be prepared very well to shooting - or your super-contrasty modern lens at f/16 (typical aperture with strobes in small studio) would show way too much

    Cheers,
    Zhenya

  8. #8

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    Not to hog the thread but to those of you that prefer hotlights, what is a good brand that offers some light controlling accessories??

  9. #9

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    I personally prefer those lights made by IFF, Manfrotto department - they are full metal, with built-in colling fans, and with good set of accessories like reflectors, barn doors, snoots etc. They are made to last, and utilize standart G6.35 halogen capsule lamps. The maximum constant work time indicated with 1250W (!!) lamp is 4 hours!

    Here's the link: http://www2.iff.it/studio/botfot.html

    Refer there to Q system. I can't recommend the whole kits - buying the lamp separately would be more flexible.

    Zhenya

    Quote Originally Posted by Bighead
    Not to hog the thread but to those of you that prefer hotlights, what is a good brand that offers some light controlling accessories??

  10. #10

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    I'm more or less at the same point. I've decided against hot lights.

    1) They really are hot.

    2) It takes a lot of watts to put out much light. The 1250 watt lights mentioned are more then 10 amps for those of us in North America. Yikes. Two of them would trip most breakers I bet.

    I've got a set of 1000watt work lights plus a couple of 250 watt work lights. They're great for lighting a room when I paint it. Or for heating the house but when I took the light meter to them the 1000watt set produced F/2.5 at 1/60th. 100ISO. Less then 10 feet from the light. Straight on. No bounce. Nothing between the light and the meter. Even using 400 speed film that's not much light. Big problem is that at that level it's too bright to look at. Maybe real photographic lights are more efficent?

    I've considered the kits sold by SP-Systems. But people here who have seen them mention they tend to fall apart. So no good.

    Right now I'm leaning towards the new Sunpak strobes. The problem is they're new enough nobody has seen one. I've tried getting some added info from ToCad [the US importer] but like usual they are taking thier time answering.

    If I was in the US I might just get the Alien lights. More money then the Sunpaks but at least various people have used them.

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