Fluorescent Light Kits vrs. Photoflood Kits for Interior Architectural Work - BEST???

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by MMeticulous, Oct 20, 2009.

  1. MMeticulous

    MMeticulous TPF Noob!

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    Hello,

    I need to shoot several small commercial interiors: banks, offices, warehouses, community centers, etc...

    I've never shot commercial interiors before. In the past with residential interiors, I used 2 Smith-Victor 250w ECA Photoflood light stands.

    I need MORE light than those two lights can provide for my commercial shoots, so I'm wondering whether I should buy a couple 500w photoflood stands to add to my collection, or whether I should totally change directions and buy a complete fluorescent kit instead. Smith-Victor seems to offer comparable wattage with Fluorescent Digilight kits.

    My attraction to fluorescent is three fold:

    1. The bulbs don't put off nearly as much heat.
    2. The bulbs last MUCH longer.
    3. I think the color temperature will be closer to what I will find in most commercial environments.
    I often use my speedlight flash in conjunction with the light stands (but maybe that's not good anyway). Which light source is closer in color temp. to my flash?

    Which type of light stands would everyone recommend (between the fluorescent digilights and the photoflood lights) for shooting interiors, as I've described?

    I need to make this decision quickly, so I'm hoping that I can learn from someone elses experience instead of making a purchase that I later regret.

    One concern I have with fluorescent, is whether it will really and truly put off as MUCH light as the photofloods. I need to be able to illuminate large areas. I guess color is a concern too, but I really don't know what is best.

    Any feedback would be appreciated!

    Thanks!
    :confused: Jeff
     
  2. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    By colour temperature being close to what you'd find in a commercial environemnt do you mean sickening differences in colour between lights, and even between frames due to changing temp depending on the phase angle of the voltage they run on, or do you mean horribly flat lightening which can turn the most beautiful person and lovely setup interior into a lifeless colourless and cold stale environment?

    Excuse the negativity but I have never heard of "fluorescent" used in the same sentence as "attractive" when talking about photography. I can't think of a worse commercially available light source.

    Admittedly I don't know about these kits. Are they some kind of magical fluros which don't exhibit the problems that all other fluros present to photography?


    Just a few things:
    Mixing colour temps is bad unless going for the specific different colour effect, and fluros have not only colour temp variations but massive shifts in tint off the standard black body curve. Also as mentioned they typically change slightly depending on which part of the power curve you hit when you push the button which makes white balancing a series of photos a nightmare.

    Bearing in mind that I no nothing about the product I can only recommend do not go with the fluros if colour is a concern. Stick with a product that produces a black body curve which includes all incandescent light sources (halogens, floods, camera flashes).
     
  3. MMeticulous

    MMeticulous TPF Noob!

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    Hmmm.... you don't sound too excited about the prospect of "cool" lights! :mrgreen:

    By color temp being closer to what is in commercial environments, I meant that most commercial environments have existing fluorescent lighting which I will be forced to work with regardless.

    Thanks for the feedback though. Does everyone else agree that fluorescent comes straight from the pit of hell and is to be avoided at all costs? Does anyone have experience with these light kits?

    Thanks again.
    :meh: Jeff
     
  4. MMeticulous

    MMeticulous TPF Noob!

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    Does NO one have experience using these lights???
     
  5. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Can you checkout these lights before you buy?

    Take a DVD along, or a prism, or better yet a colour checker chart, and play with them. A good light source like a flash will make a picture like this:
    [​IMG]
    Source:Tech-news: Latest from the world of gadgetry and technology


    A crap lightsource, I.e. one that comes from the pits of hell to make your colours all around look horrible looks like this:
    [​IMG]
    Source:Fluorescent lamp - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    If you have a colour checker chart go and take some photos of it in natural light, and flash light, and then test it under these lights. Make sure everything is RAW and then perfectly white balance them against the grey squares and note the colour accuracy.

    If primarily your concern is brightness, then I would imagine these are 700watt equivalent lights which sound reasonably bright to me.
     
  6. Don Kondra

    Don Kondra Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Hi Jeff,

    I used a similar system for the better part of a year. Mine had 4 bulbs/head.

    First thing I did was purchase larger bulbs :)

    They worked just fine for in studio product shots but I would be leary of using them for interior shots.

    Although power is an issue I would be more concerned with mixing light temperatures. You would have to shoot in aperture mode and the existing lighting is likely in the 3000-4000k range. The light stands are 5500k. I suppose you could change the bulbs to match....

    I think you should consider studio strobes.

    An example. This is my kitchen, first shot is in aperture mode mid afternoon.

    [​IMG]

    Same thing with one B1600 and 2' x 3' softbox above camera.

    [​IMG]

    Cheers, Don
     
  7. RyanLilly

    RyanLilly No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The fluorescent lights may work for your purpose, and they are probably a lot cheaper than other options. But I think you would be happier with studio strobes.

    You can add whatever modifier you need to Best suit the situation(softbox, umbrella, etc) They have very consistent color temp so you can easily then use gel to match the temp of the strobes to the lighting of the building.

    To match cool white fluorescent get several levels of PlusGreen, for incandescent, get some CTO, for high pressure mercury you may want some cto and plusgreen. Or ballence the strobes to sunlight comming in from the windows, and depending on the weather you might even need some blue. The list goes on.
    Look at rosco.com for some of there color guides, check out LEE filters also, they are big in video and cinema.
     
  8. Don Kondra

    Don Kondra Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Uh, match the light of the strobes to the light of the building???

    If you are shooting with studio strobes, as in Alien Bees, etc., the light in the building doesn't matter...

    Unless you mean "strobes" as in those dinky little speedlight thingees :lmao:

    Cheers, Don
     
  9. Buckster

    Buckster Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Don's right. If you want to flood a room with light in order to produce the lifeless, unappealing image he posted as #2 above, it doesn't matter.

    On the other hand, if you want to produce the kinds of images seen in House Beautiful, study the temperatures of light, and learn how to work your artificial lighting to complement the natural ambient light of a room, rather than overpower it. That would include learning how to use gels on your strobes.

    No, that advice would apply to any kind of strobes used, regardless of size.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2009
  10. RyanLilly

    RyanLilly No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You can also gel the fluorescent, or even entire windows to match the sun to your lights, for that matter, but that eats up quite a bit of gel. ;)

    Unless someone actually designed the architectural lighting, not just picked out light fixtures that matched the decor, most interior lighting looks really Bhahhh...:meh:. I don't know the exact purpose of your photos, but I wouldn't hesitate to put just a hint of artistic thought into lighting. Just because an office building has bland fluorescent, flat, unflattering lighting, doesn't mean you need to mimic that look. Light it to be appealing; a place where you would want to work.
     
  11. Don Kondra

    Don Kondra Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    RyanLilly and Buckster,

    I posted an OOC test shot for demonstration purposes and will gladly take my licks for that :sexywink:

    Would either of you care to post a real world shot and explain how it was achieved?

    Including camera settings? My #2 was in manual at 1/200 - f10.. I think I just set the strobe at 100%.

    Cheers, Don
     
  12. RyanLilly

    RyanLilly No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    No problem Don, and I wasn't trying to be a jerk or anything, just throwing out one way to do it. And certainly, overpowering existing light will work, and sometimes works best when dealing with multiple light sources of different types. Also I do use speedlights with are easy to gel, Studio strobes can be more of a pain to gel, but then again they were typically intended for a controlled environment, like a studio,;) Where you just white balance to the color of the strobes.

    I'll probably be taking some shots of some equipment for work tomorrow, so I'll see If I can shoot some useful examples while I'm doing that.

    Anyway, when there are multiple sources, I usually an inclined to balance to the prevailing source, or to elements that I have no control over. If there is stong sunlight comming through the windows, and I wanted to maintain that look, I would try to eliminate other sources like overhead lighting, then use strobes as fill. Or in a office bulding where I could not control the the flourescent lighting, I could gel green to the florescents and sacrifice the sunny look, Or If I had the extra power to mostly overpower the florescents I could balance to daylight and keep some of the natural sun light. It always a compromise in an uncontroled enviroment, so its nice to have several options to play with.
     

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