Arri T1 1000w fresnels?


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Jul 10, 2013
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Just curious to know if anybody has experience with this lighting system from Arri. It's reasonably priced at around 600 dollars, which isn't bad at all if you ask me. How is this light compare to others in the same price range, and is it worth a buy?
Glancing at the product

1) Does it not accept standard speed ring adapters for modifiers? If it only allows barn doors or scrims, that is pretty limiting. Barn doors aren't very good for precision portraiture. They don't feather well at the edges, and you don't have the possibility of nice round edges to your light, for instance. They also can leave weird catchlights.

2) Having a built in fresnel lens will likely cause the light to be quite a bit narrower than one would normally expect from a typical monolight or speedlight. Looks to me like with the distance of the light to the lens and it being 130mm, you probably won't get much more than maybe a 20-30 degrees cone out of this. I don't see an actual angle listed anywhere, but it does say "spot light" and that's of course the whole point of HAVING a lens at all.

Do you want a spot light? Are you intending to use this as a kicker or something narrow? If so, it will probably work fine, and the barn doors wouldn't be a real issue then either. But this by no means seems like an appropriate all purpose basic light.
I've used Fresnels in TV over the years. They're narrow to medium spot lights, adjustable. Typically used to light a specific area at short throw. Like a chair. Not great for wide flood applications. Not really designed to act as a flash. I'd be really concerned how well the halogen bulb would hold its life when used as a flash.
I intend on using it for portraits mostly. I've always liked single light source portraiture shots, so I was hoping this would do the job. I intend on it being continuous, no flash
I don't think it is a very good light for single light dramatic portraiture. As I mentioned above, it won't have very nice-looking edges to the light, so you can't feather the edge softly to separate out part of the subject that is less important, and you can't have a nice looking smooth oval edge to the light falling on a background, for instance.

Nor do you have any good control over the width of the beam. Yes, it is variable, but it's going to vary from "really narrow" to "fairly narrow." If you want to light a person's whole body with a single light source, you would probably have a very difficult time, for instance.

It's just not made to be a workhorse portraiture light. Fresnels are more often used on a grid for theater productions, etc.

If you want a good workhorse portrait key light, get a normal photography monolight, a decent sized softbox, an umbrella, and a beauty dish, with a small variety of honeycomb grids that can go in the beauty dish.
You can buy all of that for well under $400-500 and it will work much better than the fresnel. Plus later on, if you decide you want a more complex lighting setup that will allow you to do other kinds of portraits, a normal monolight will be able to properly adapt to any other role you require of it without any issues.

I suggest alienbees for the budget-conscious:
Paul C. Buff - AlienBees B400 (comes with basically a beauty dish)
Paul C. Buff - Honeycomb Grids (these added onto a beauty dish will give you a very narrow beam if you want it)
Paul C. Buff - Softboxes and Octaboxes (this gives you a big soft, but still directional beam)
Paul C. Buff - Umbrellas (this gives you a big soft, not-very-directional flood of light that bounces all over the place but still won't make overly harsh shadows)
Oh and I know you said you wanted continuous, but I'm not sure why, if you're working in a studio.

A monolight, like the one I linked above, will come with a low-medium power continuous light, called a modeling light. It varies in intensity relative to the strength you have the flash set to. You use this to get a good idea of where the shadows fall and the relative light strengths if youre using more than one light, as you pose the model in real time. Then when you take the photo, the flashes provide the real light, but they flash in exactly the same proportion and direction as the modeling lights, so there are no surprises.

Best of both worlds, unless you have some good reason not to want to do it that way. it lets you see what you are getting as you pose the model, but still benefit from the creative freedom that plenty of flash light allows you.
This was lit by Arri lights

As you probably know, fresnels like the Arri Junior series have been the workhorse lights of the movie industry for decades - and rightly so. They are very versatile lights that can be used direct, diffused or bounced, for narrow or wide use. Very controllable light. They can be used with soft boxes, but they are not ideal for that, because they need longer soft boxes than open lights. If you want a tungsten fresnel type of light and can afford a little more, I would suggest the dedo 650 W tungsten. Lightwise it has about the same output, but has a more controllable beam - because of the different, better, optics. Standard fresnels lose a lot of light to the case when they are spotted. My normal tungsten kit for domestic power supplies was a mixture of dedos (150 W and 650 W) and Arri fresnels (300 W, 600 W, 1 kW and 2 kW) with some Lowel Tota-lights and bare lamps for soft boxes and lanterns etc. A lot depends on your style of lighting.

I'm afraid that there is some misinformation in some of the answers above. Lack of practical experience with fresnels, and ignorance of common practice.
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I worked with fresnels all the time in theater. And the common practice was not at all to use them in place of what a monolight or other still photo light is for. They were used normally as spotlights for monologues, for example, where the barn doors were not necessary and thus it was able to give a non-distracting edge, or in combinations, to overlap with each other for even lighting of a whole scene (where you did flag them, but mainly to avoid lighting the curtains and stuff off to the side). The ones we had would have worked fine for certain kinds of portraiture, but would not have been very flexible in that regard - the edges unmodified are extremely soft to the point of being almost not visible, and if flagged with barn doors, look weird. And although they had a respectable zoom range, even the widest setting was actually still pretty narrow. Coming all the way from the ceiling halfway across a theater it was wide enough to light the whole stage, but doesn't seem like it normally would be enough for full flood lighting in a small portrait studio space.

I do not have experience with Arri's in particular, and this particular series of fresnels might have more capabilities than others. The description of the product doesn't really sound much different than any other run of the mill fresnel in terms of flexibility, but if Helen has used those models extensively for stills, then I trust that they work out. Being able to easily put softboxes and umbrellas on them would certainly help a lot, so if that is indeed possible, that's a major plus.
Gav, there are a few differences between theatre and movie/still lighting: different instruments, different techniques.

The Arri T1 has a maximum beam angle of 54 degrees. Bounce and diffusion can be used more easily in photography than in the theatre. It would be unusual to use barn doors to feather off the light to the eyes, so the imagined problem of catchlight shape rarely occurs in practice - the eyes get the full, evenly illuminated disk of light from the face of the fresnel, the barn doors don't interfere. Fresnels have a very long history in portraiture.
Helen B, I have to say i'm with you on this one. Sure they're not the best lights on the market, but they're not bad for portraits. I don't see much of a problem with using them as a single light source considering they fall under my budget for lights. And Gav, i've never been a fan of strobe lighting, just not my taste, not really sure why but i've always preferred continuous lighting. And from what i've read these fresnels actually don't produce that much heat. I've been in front of these types of lights before and they're usually not that bad

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