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Question about fluorescents
Old 12-21-2005, 05:33 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Hello All!

This is my first post here, even though I have enjoyed this site for years, and now, still a happy newbie, I have decided to join in on the fun...

I all my previous pictures, have been working only with 2 800W Redheads, some umbrellas and reflectors, no flash, and now I would like to start playing with some new types of lightning.

I am going to take a shot at the "poor-man's Kino-flo" / "Home Depot KinoFlo" as discussed in so many threads on this site.

Eg:
poor-man's Kino-flo

One my problems though, is that I am scandinavian, and it seems that US and European light specifications are different.

In the above thread, specifications as this occur:
"GE Chroma 50 lightbulbs. Color temperature 5000K (daylight-balanced), 90 CRI, 2250 initial lumens. "

What I dont get, is how many Watts these tubes should be?
I my local stores, I can only seem to find max 36W tubes, and wonder if 8 of these will be sufficent for the project.

I have another idea about building a sort of fluorescent softbox eg (4*36w tubes), but again, this will only give 144 watts, and that wont do it at all, wont it?

Would love to replace some of these tungsten redheads, with some fluorescent solutions, but I just suspect that its hard for them to supply me with enough light?

Hope you can help me out, am hoping to start building something between christmas and new years eve ;-)

Thank you,
Tim.


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Re: Question about fluorescents
Old 12-21-2005, 09:19 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The "lumens" number is the measure of actual light output, while the "watts" is just a measure of power consumption. Fluorescents are more efficient than tungsten lamps, and put out more light per watt. For example I'm using some 14 watt flourescents that (they claim) put out as much light as a 75 watt tungsten bulb. A tungsten bulb loses a lot of it's wattage to heat.

I've never built one of these setups, but 8 36watt tubes ought to be plenty bright. You want the model to be able to open her eyes, after all. :-)

Does that help?

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Re: Question about fluorescents
Old 12-21-2005, 09:35 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for your answer, Larry.

Sure, it certainly helps.
Now I might just be affraid that it might too much if I use the 8*36 watt tubes?

What do you think about the idea of putting eg 4 rows of 36watt fluorescents in a box and maybe fronting it with something that could diffuse the light a bit...
Kind of a wannabe kinoflo/softbox...

Would that be suffient light for eg. a picture like this:

If the box hang a bit above the model...


Thanks for taking your time with me,
Tim.

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Re: Question about fluorescents
Old 12-21-2005, 10:24 AM   #4 (permalink)
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You could use 8 tubes and just move the rig back if you want less illumination. I think you're going to want lots of light so you can work with fast shutter speeds.

Chip
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Re: Question about fluorescents
Old 12-21-2005, 10:47 AM   #5 (permalink)
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While I'm not sure how many flourecent lights you will need to accomplish your goal, the only concern I would have is the color shift that it would give. I've noticed that it gives off a green tint. That's just me though.

Isaiah Brink
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Re: Question about fluorescents
Old 12-21-2005, 11:42 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Tim,

Having built one of the rigs and used it extensively, perhaps I can {ahem} shed some light [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] on the subject.

As Larry mentioned, the "watts" is not necessarily a measure of how much light comes out of a bulb, it instead measures how much power is used by the device to produce that light.

Eight of your 36 watt daylight-balanced bulbs will be sufficient - my typical metering was usually 1/40 at F4 shooting at ISO 200.

I've had only one subject complain that the light was too bright... it's definitely tripod time with this setup, but then again you're not using it for the very high light output, you're using it to be able to wrap the light around the subject like this:




Taking 4 sets of two (a total of eight tubes) together and using it as a light bank would work - tried that one time by just standing the four sets up on their ends and having the model seated. It's already diffused by the coating of the tubes, but putting another diffusion panel in front of them would work.

I'd worry, though, about supporting the weight of four sets of tubes - it'd be quite heavy to support on a boom or such - I'd think you'd need to build a wooden frame if you wanted to be able to adjust the height of the array - and, of course, if it ever tips over....

So in answer to your final question.. yeah, hanging the array over the model might produce that kind of lighting for you - it'd definitely be diffuse and, by the very nature of four of those light strips hung together, a fairly broad light.

Does that help at all, Tim?

PS - one of the other folks mentioned that the light looks green to him, but that's just him. He's correct - there is a bit of green left over in the light (flourescents that are not daylight balanced are horribly green).. I usually wind up taking a bit of green out in post-production, so plan on checking that when you start shooting even with the best of daylight balanced flourescents.
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Re: Question about fluorescents
Old 12-21-2005, 05:10 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you all for your answer...
And thanks to you, n5wd, that was the kind of answer I was looking for ;-)

And yes, I also was thinking about how to rig such a lightbank securely.
I think I, of course, I have to build as lightweight as possible.

I will certainly post the results, if everything works out well with the project. Just needed a little assurance that it wasent too crazy ;-)


Thanks for your help everybody,
Tim.
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Re: Question about fluorescents
Old 12-21-2005, 05:54 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Just thought I'd throw in that you can build a smaller, lighter fixture by using just some sockets, wire and a ballast instead of buying whole metal fixture housings. I built my lightbox that way.

You may even be able to mount the ballasts remotely which would save you a bunch of mounted weight. I'm pretty sure a ballast is just a high frequency AC transformer so it should be ok on long wires. Interference with other equipment is the only possible issue I can think of. Twisting the wire pairs might reduce that quite a bit.

Chip

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Re: Question about fluorescents
Old 12-21-2005, 08:35 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Some further questions that someone with an Electrician ticket may be able to answer...

1) does each bank (4 of 2 tubes) need it's own ballast?
2) just how safe is it to have ballasts exposed like you are suggesting?

I can definitely see the benefits of moving the ballasts...a good loss of weight.

I also notice that the frame is rectangular...I wonder if going octoganal would be beneficial?
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Re: Question about fluorescents
Old 12-21-2005, 08:56 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The ballasts are typically made to run two tubes. As long as there are no bare wires, open ballasts and sockets are OK, but there is no margin for error. It has been my experience that I can get a decent two tube shop light for around $22.00 and that's cheaper than I can buy the parts. I have had trouble with the ballasts in the dirt cheap shop lights. They go bad before the tubes do and they take the tubes with them when they do. Fluorescent lights don't like cold starts and the better fixtures will say how cold they can be and still start.

Bill
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