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View Full Version : Hot lights or strobes?



convergent
07-06-2006, 05:55 PM
This question comes up a lot when folks are looking to get their first set of studio lights. Hot lights are lights that stay on, and are therefore going to generate heat and be hot. Strobes are going to produce a short pulse of light (like your on camera flashes do) and at rest they produce no light. Some strobes have what's called modeling lights to help you see where the light falls, but the modeling lights are much, much less light output than the strobe produces.

Hot lights give immediate visual feedback on the lighting produced. You can see the shadows, you can visually see what light is stronger, you can visually aim them. With strobes, you can't see anything since they are only on for an instant. With digital cameras, this has gotten a little easier since you can take a picture and look, but still its not like hot lights. So why wouldn't everyone just use hot lights? Because they are hot. If you are lighting and photographing a chair, then no problem. If you are lighting and photographing a baby in a chair, then big problem. The lights are hot and the model will be very uncomfortable. If you are lighting things like food, then the lights could melt the food. So, the subject you are photographing can dictate the type of lights you use. In general, strobes are pretty safe for anything, but tend to cost more and are harder to work with since you can't visably observe their effects.

You will see a lot of DIY ideas that involve buying halogen shop lights for $30 at Home Depot, and then fashioning some reflectors and umbrellas from any number of materials available at the craft store. This is a great way to get started for next to nothing, but will ultimately have many limitations.

While an ambient light meter is a good investment for any photographer and is pretty important with hot lights, a flash meter is a necessity with strobes. You have no way to tell what the strobe produces except by a flash meter.

So it comes down to what are you shooting? Things like cars, cellphones, furniture, etc... hot lights are fine. Things like people, animals, food, etc.... then strobes are the best way to go.

FotoTravis
07-06-2006, 06:11 PM
There is now a new "cool" light setup that is a flourescent light that is daylight balanced (meaning the same color tone as outside - around 5500K) and they stay cool. The other advantage to these over the hot lights is they take less power - a 26watt light is the same as a 150watt lamp and a 55watt light is the same as a 250watt lamp PLUS they last longer - they will last 8000 hours compared to around 4 for the regular tungsten hotlights.

Also with some of the newer stobe lights the modeling light are matched to give the same output as the flash would be.

convergent
07-06-2006, 06:12 PM
Thanks for the info... I knew about the cool hot lights, but I've not had any direct experience with them.

FotoTravis
07-06-2006, 06:16 PM
Thanks for the info... I knew about the cool hot lights, but I've not had any direct experience with them.

I haven't yet, but I just ordered some for my older Smith Victor lights. I will let you know when I mess with them.

convergent
07-06-2006, 06:20 PM
I haven't yet, but I just ordered some for my older Smith Victor lights. I will let you know when I mess with them.

Great... I'd love to hear how they work out for you. I have a lot of strobes, but have never really worked with hot lights. I generally am taking pictures of people though.

FotoTravis
07-06-2006, 06:24 PM
I mostly shoot with strobes myself, but before I got them I started out with a set of Smith Victor PL10's that I purchases secondhand from another local photographer. I haven't used them much because of the heat issue, but when I heard SV had the new cool lights I decided to order them because they are more portable. I have a 140Watt power inverter in the car, so I "should" be about to plug in two of the lights into it and have a semi portable light setup. That is my intention anyway.

convergent
07-06-2006, 06:30 PM
I mostly shoot with strobes myself, but before I got them I started out with a set of Smith Victor PL10's that I purchases secondhand from another local photographer. I haven't used them much because of the heat issue, but when I heard SV had the new cool lights I decided to order them because they are more portable. I have a 140Watt power inverter in the car, so I "should" be about to plug in two of the lights into it and have a semi portable light setup. That is my intention anyway.

Very interesting approach to a portable setup. I wonder how long you could make a power cable for it without losing too much.

FotoTravis
07-10-2006, 10:06 PM
(delete Message)

FotoTravis
07-10-2006, 10:23 PM
Today I got the Smith Victor FL55 cool lights. Here is my first impression of them. First they are quite large, in fact they didn't work in my Smith Victor PL10's at first. I had to remove the reflector sheild to be able to put them in because the socket sits to far back on the PL10's. But once I did that they worked fine. They will work in any light fixture that accepts larger bulbs and doesn't have recessed sockets too far as in my case. I even tried them successfully in a clip on work light from Lowes. Worked fine. It will even work on a standard house lamp. They give out the equivalent of a 250Watt bulb but only take 55Watts of power. They are rated at 5000K so they are daylight balanced for use with digital cameras, film, or video. They are also said to last 8000 hours vs. 4 hours on daylight balanced tungsten lights. Even after being on a while, I could still touch the bulbs. Even though I haven't really tested them 100% yet, they do work quite well for product shots using standard umbrellas. Great portable light setup.


http://www.photosbytravis.com/private/IMG_2693.jpg
Smith Victor FL55 Daylight Balanced Flourescent Bulb



http://www.photosbytravis.com/private/IMG_2749.jpg
Mounted Inside My Smith Victor PL10's


http://www.photosbytravis.com/private/IMG_2737.jpg
Sample Product Shot - Hey, it was within reach. LOL

Orgnoi1
07-10-2006, 10:29 PM
Thanks for the quick write up Travis... from seeing them in use inside, how do you feel they would work using at night outside?... do they project as much as a normal hotlight at 250w? (in your opinion?)

FotoTravis
07-10-2006, 10:44 PM
Haven't been able to try them outside yet, its been raining all night since I got out of work. I will have to check that out later.

I would say they do seem to give as much light as the 250watt regular bulbs I have.

convergent
07-10-2006, 11:34 PM
The EXIF says you took a manual White Balance, is that correct? Would you mind taking a shot with it set to a recomended White Balance preset to see how well the light temperature works out. I'm just curious.

FotoTravis
07-10-2006, 11:47 PM
Yes, I had it set at 5000K just to check it. Worked fine.

convergent
07-10-2006, 11:50 PM
Ah, didn't think of that. Duh. The color looks very good, so I think it was spot on. One question though... if you removed the reflector from the head, how did that effect the light being cast on the subject... I would think it would cause it to lose a lot of concentration, no?

FotoTravis
07-11-2006, 12:20 AM
It didn't seem to. I did have it pointed up into the umbrella though. I was wondering about that myself. It seemed to be very diffused almost as if I was using a softbox.

FotoTravis
07-11-2006, 08:32 AM
I found another good advantage with them last night, since they are daylight balanced they are great at checking color on prints. :)

convergent
07-11-2006, 09:24 AM
I found another good advantage with them last night, since they are daylight balanced they are great at checking color on prints. :)

Can you explain what you mean by that?

FotoTravis
07-11-2006, 08:26 PM
Can you explain what you mean by that?

When you view prints under daylight balanced light it shows you the correct color for color correcting. Sometimes viewing prints under tungsten and then trying to correct for that will give a difference appearance than daylight balanced light because of its yellowish appearance. For this reason we totally changed out flourescent lights at work to 5000K bulbs because 1) its brighter and 2) more accurate colors for customers the view their prints.