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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 01 May 2012 (Tuesday) 17:47
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Flourescent Lights - Bad Rep?

 
weegee
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May 01, 2012 17:47 |  #1

Quick scan of the search forum has got multiple posts really degrading flourescent lights (other than super expensive Kino of course)

Just watched a couple interesting things on Youtube from Joe Edelman about building a sub $200 hardware style flourescent style set up and I got to admit it looks pretty damn good.

I found some 4 light bays at home depot for about $55. Joe builds 6 light bays using 3 two light bays, but he re-wires them into one socket. So I'm thinking about just using a 4 bay so I can easily return them if I don't like the results. I figure I can grab couple those, some bulbs, etc. and all in I'm at about $150.

My question is has anyone tried Joe's or their own set up? Joe used T12 bulbs which need to synch at 1/120 1/125 shutter speed to minimize the flicker and variation on color and exposure. But I believe with T8 bulbs which have a different balast, you can avoid this problem. Slightly more expensive, but you also get more light from same size bulb. And T8 come in a few different color temperatures. Their "daylight" version is 6500 degrees, but the natural white (IIRC) is 5000.

I might be the guinea pig on this and post results in a couple weeks. Only thing holding me back is whether 2 four light bays, butterfly style is going to be enough light. I'll probably add a clam shell style foam core reflector and use a speedlite or mono light for the background. Debating about getting a 2 light bay for a kick.


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mjww
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May 01, 2012 18:56 |  #2

The way I see it is fluorescent lights go on and off at 120 times per second - too close to 1/125 shutter speed. Whether you use T8 or regular, the flicker is the same. So, compensate via white balance and start shooting.
The debate of 2, 4 or 6 lights all depends on how much light you need. My thought is to make each set of lights in the bank switchable so that you can have as much light as needed.


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bdillon
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May 01, 2012 19:09 |  #3

A new T8 *electronic* ballast flickers somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 - 24,000 times a second.




  
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weegee
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May 01, 2012 20:55 |  #4

bdillon wrote in post #14362996 (external link)
A new T8 *electronic* ballast flickers somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 - 24,000 times a second.

exactly. That's why I'm thinking the T8 won't be as limiting as the T12. At least as far as variance with exposure. As for color, etc. we'll see.

Curious to see if anyone has tried it already though. Real easy to do and it's been on You Tube for about 6 weeks now. The results are very "Peter Hurley" esque for about 1/20th the cost.


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tim
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May 01, 2012 20:59 |  #5

I guess the only reason to consider constant lights is price.


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Curtis ­ N
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May 01, 2012 21:30 |  #6

Fluorescent lights suck.

Maybe there are some good bulbs out there, but I haven't seen any. They all have a discontinuous light spectrum, which means that certain wavelengths of light simply don't exist. The result is they can't replicate all colors accurately. You can do a custom white balance and make grey look grey, but generally the reds will look dull and yellows will be oversaturated.

You don't have to agree or disagree, but you should conduct your own tests. Shoot a GretagMacbeth Colorchecker (external link) under fluorescent light, and again under window light or strobe. Make sure the exposures are equal, and use the white or light grey square to neutralize the white balance of both with your RAW converter. Now crop out individual squares and compare them side-by-side on your monitor. You'll see the difference.


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bdillon
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May 01, 2012 21:37 |  #7

You can easily correct that in post with something like an XRite Passport Color checker.




  
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K.C.
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May 01, 2012 21:44 |  #8

bdillon wrote in post #14363810 (external link)
You can easily correct that in post with something like an XRite Passport Color checker.

Have you ?

I doubt it.

I shoot in some situations using Kinos and Balcar Flux lights that cost more than Kinos.

Correcting can be summed up in one word, it's a ****.

Curtis N wrote in post #14363765 (external link)
They all have a discontinuous light spectrum, which means that certain wavelengths of light simply don't exist. The result is they can't replicate all colors accurately. You can do a custom white balance and make grey look grey, but generally the reds will look dull and yellows will be oversaturated.

And you simply can't put into a skin tone what the sensor never recorded in the first place because the spectrum wasn't there.




  
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bdillon
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May 01, 2012 22:02 |  #9

I have. Does strobes or tungsten look better, yeah. It's quite possible to get a decent portrait using fluorescent......every​thing doesn't have to be pro standard. The guy just wants some lights. Even full spectrum lights with a high CRI don't cost very much.




  
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bdillon
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May 01, 2012 22:15 |  #10

But I see the title of the post is "bad rep", so I see your point. They're are, indeed, bad. A little know-how can make them ok.




  
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weegee
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May 02, 2012 01:26 |  #11

KC, I think you need to speak your mind more... LOL : )

thanks for your feedback. There's definitely a look to flourescent lights, kind of sterile I guess. Whether that look sucks or not, is open to artistic intrepretation to a certain degree. But clearly as you pointed out, you're going to be missing some colors, so in the least from a technical standpoint, then yes, they probably do suck.

Are the Kino Flos just more consistent, or are they color corrected to fill out the spectrum? Those are some damn expensive lights to suck ; )


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K.C.
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May 02, 2012 23:20 |  #12

weegee wrote in post #14364795 (external link)
KC, I think you need to speak your mind more... LOL : )

Yeah I'll work on that.

My point is they put you at a disadvantage before you even click the shutter. Even when working with the best money can buy.

Can you correct the image to something passable, sure. But why bother. A single hot light and a sheet of foam core for bounce fill will be cheap, give you better color and more control.




  
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K.C.
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May 02, 2012 23:30 |  #13

weegee wrote in post #14364795 (external link)
Are the Kino Flos just more consistent, or are they color corrected to fill out the spectrum? Those are some damn expensive lights to suck ; )

Kinos are designed for video, though clearly used for stills by some. They're pricey because they have a high frequency ballast, very good CRI and are easy to transport and set up.

Life Profoto, you'll find Kinos readily and extensively available for rental. Renting the best is cost effective and sales to rental houses is mainstay of Kino's market. Rental houses don't buy 1 Diva, they buy 30.

So Kino builds a very hight quality product that's not cost effective for most individuals but totally equitable when you're getting your investment back 10 fold in a year.




  
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Wilt
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May 04, 2012 13:19 |  #14

Curtis N wrote in post #14363765 (external link)
Fluorescent lights suck.

Maybe there are some good bulbs out there, but I haven't seen any. They all have a discontinuous light spectrum, which means that certain wavelengths of light simply don't exist. The result is they can't replicate all colors accurately. You can do a custom white balance and make grey look grey, but generally the reds will look dull and yellows will be oversaturated.

You don't have to agree or disagree, but you should conduct your own tests. Shoot a GretagMacbeth Colorchecker (external link) under fluorescent light, and again under window light or strobe. Make sure the exposures are equal, and use the white or light grey square to neutralize the white balance of both with your RAW converter. Now crop out individual squares and compare them side-by-side on your monitor. You'll see the difference.

Daylight, bright direct sun...

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: 404 | MIME changed to 'image/gif' | Byte size: ZERO


Kitchen fluorescents...
IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: 404 | MIME changed to 'image/gif' | Byte size: ZERO


I used to feel the same as you about fluorescent spectrum quality. But years ago, I decided that they really are not that bad. One can see differences in color rendition, but it is nowhere as bad as it was 30 years ago.

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Logicus
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May 04, 2012 13:28 as a reply to  @ Wilt's post |  #15

Sylvania Daylight 6500K bulbs. CWB to 6500k and go. I never had a problem with color or the "flickering" issue. I use my 580exii on a stand now, because I have it.

When I used the fluoro's I also did not want to sink a bunch of money into it, so I got 8 2-bulb shop lights at Wally World for $6.99 each, and the bulbs, I think, were a little more than the shop lights, altogether. I liked the light, just hated having so much crap to move around.


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Flourescent Lights - Bad Rep?
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