Sunday, 20 November 2011

Fluorescent lighting

For many this means: Fluorescent lighting = "Kinoflo". Problem is that Kinoflo = $$$$$$$.
However, there are much cheaper alternatives available which use the same bulbs. Here are two examples. The light in the middle is a fluorescent photo light widely available on e-bay and also from other outlets. In Germany there are two companies which make reasonably priced fluorescent lights: Walimex and "Fotowerkstatt Mainz". There are also a couple of Chinese manufacturers on ebay. All in all there is not much in these lights except a transformer and that's it. These lights use special striplights from Osram which have a very high colour rendering index of over 90% and daylight balanced colour temperature (Dulux 954 55W tube). The quality of the light is exactly that of daylight and can be mixed with it. It looks very natural and soft. It's time for a lighting example:

Here, a small two-tube fluorescent light (2x55W) was placed underneath the candles the left. The second light source was an overhead fluorescent light fitted with a paper lantern and covered by a black bin-bag at the back to avoid light spill on the wall.
The light inside of the paper lantern is a fluorescent bulb produced in China and has a CRI of over 90%. It's 125W which is about the same light output as one redhead (without the heat of course!). Here is one shop on ebay which sells it but it's widely available now.
The bulb is also available in 150W. Important is that you buy the bulb with an actual power rating of 150W. It's basically a pretty large energy saving bulb with a special coating to achieve the CRI of over 90%. The boom arm is made of aluminium and I've mounted the plug directly on the aluminium with a earth connection to the aluminium. The counterweight is a bag filled with old books. I prefer books because in case the bag bursts it won't cause any damage to the floor. The stand is an Adam Hall loudspeaker stand which is very lightweight and is 3m tall. My second stand is a standard disco lighting stand where I have attached an aluminium arm. Same idea but a bit heavier.
Here is a test film using this overhead light as the only light source. Improvised by Tommy J Brennan and Shanta Roberts. The film WEBCAM CONNECTION uses the overhead light in the two first two scenes. In the first scene it's above Tommy and in the second scene it fakes the ceiling light.


  1. I'm admiring your resourcefulness with home-made lighting rigs. Roger Deakins (Coen bros DoP) has an interesting thread on his web page here

    including a photo of a rig he built to light the synagogue scene in A Serious Man consisiting of 200 plus 75W household bulbs!

  2. Hi Derek,
    well I avoid anything that tungsten and fluorescent Kinos are just massively overpriced. That motivates one to look around. Esp I find the Chinese round shaped fluorescents very versatile.

  3. When it comes to fluorescent lights, you can never go wrong with it because of its quality. It's always a top-notch product to begin with, and you can pretty much use it for any purpose that you desire.

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