4.06.2013

Today the VSL Analysis Team is playing around with an interesting florescent light.


When I photographed and video'd Erin for Zach Scott a little while ago the video designer asked if I wanted them to budget the rental of some Kino Flo florescent lights in order to do our motion shots. (Kino Flo's were the first company to commercialize nicely color balanced florescent lighting fixtures for the movie industry on a big scale and they are now the "Kleenex" of florescent lights for the film industry.) I told him that I'd be comfortable in that project to use the existing LED lights we had around the studio. 

Coincidentally a reader sent me a link to some cool looking florescents lights on the web and the photographers at the Boston Museum of Fine Art showed off their set of Alzo florescent lights a few weeks ago when I was there touring the facilities. I guess I got a case come cumulative florescence on the brain because I decided to order one and check it out. Above and below is an three bank, six bulb florescent fixture from Fotodiox. I'm pretty sure it will match the performance of the ones from Alzo since they use the same bulbs....


My light arrived on Thurs. evening, just before I needed to leave for Sylvia Plachy's presentation. I just had time to stick in the tubes and turn the shebang on to make sure it worked. The light is very bright and much softer than my un-modified LEDs. One sheet of one stop RoscoLux will make the feel and look of the light just about perfect. In essence it becomes a fairly small softbox.

I'm sure the same company in China that makes the LED lights for Fotodiox (and about a dozen other resellers...) makes these fixtures. The florescent bulbs themselves are Osram tubes and are made in Italy.

I played with lots of photo lights that used compact florescent bulbs when I was writing my book on Lighting equipment but I never tested the bigger panel style lights like these and the Kinos. But the Kino Diva has always been touted as a beautiful portrait and fashion light source and that sounds right up my alley.

I'm booked on conventional assignments on Tues. and Weds. and I'm waiting for another light fixture from the same company (using the same bulbs) to arrive on Weds. pm and then I plan to do a series of color and black and white portraits with them. The second fixture uses only two bulbs and I intend to use it as a background light. One bigger main light pushed through some tasty diffusion and one smaller source to separate my portrait subject from a dark background.

Why am I curious about these when I already have LED lights? Curiosity. I've explored LEDs pretty thoroughly. This will give me a chance to compare and contrast. It should be interesting. Even more in the next round of videos.
















12 comments:

Michael Matthews said...

Here's an interesting shot on Mike Johnston's TOP blog:

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2012/07/the-olympic-athlete-portraits.html

What is that? LED? Fluorescent?

Please skip past the proximity of urinals to the iPhone. The result made for a nice portrait, above-the-fold, front page, NY Times.

Kirk Tuck said...

Looks like a Kino Flo florescent light with an egg crate grid over the front.

Ivan Singer said...

Not sure what the hubbub is about with these fluorescent lights. Color temp in that article in the link. The whites are clean (any color channel desat will do that), but the light feels harsh and skin tones lack reds, magenta and, yellows (probably channel cut to make the whites clean). Until someone comes up with a color pack, I'll stick with my red hot halogens for the time being. Now LED's, I'm curious about.

Kirk Tuck said...

If you are referring to the color in the image of the baseball player you should know that it's been run through an Instagram "nostalgia" filter that probably pulls out the colors and ramps up others. The Florescents from Kino and the ones I'm playing with are very well behaved, colorwise and tonally with a quick custom white balance.

Frank Grygier said...

The shebang guy is coming out with his own line of LED fixtures. Will be out mid summer.

Robert Barone said...

Be interested in your follow-up. Would like to create a place at home to take portraits, but have very little space or money. I can get these bulbs pretty cheaply and build my own box. LED's offer the same possibility. Still the better choice, I imagine.
Beginner's question: I have two places to put my mini-studio. One has a large floor-to-floor window with a pretty even indirect light(I live in Rome). I was thinking of working that light into my space. Do you see that as difficult? Should I go with my other space, a dark corner. Thanks, Robert

Dave said...

This tickles my brain a bit since I had the opportunity a few years ago to plug in a large one sitting at the edge of a basketball court. I loved the smoothness of the light quality.

I'll be watching closely for your thoughts on these. Thanks for sharing this one.

Dave said...

Out of curiosity couldn't you just use one of the Fotodiox LEDs for the backdrop light?

Kirk Tuck said...

Hey Dave, I want all the color to match exactly. Easier just to use lights that all have the same source. The same bulbs.

Dave said...

I'm very anxious to get your take on these as I'm thinking about adding them for the 2013 senior shooting season. Thanks again for the tips on these things.

Anonymous said...

You have a window full of Italian light and you're asking where to put your studio? Any photographer in the world would kill for that kind of setup. The way you use it is to have filmy white drapes to soften some of the light when you want, plus black roller blinds that you can use to shape it. Buy some white foamcore for bouncing into the shadows and your photos will be magical.

You can try daylight (5500K) fluorescent as fill and to cut contrast but you'll possibly need to gel them to match the color of the light from your window. Kino actually makes compact fluorescents, they're expensive, but if you want to try fluorescent they're the way to go.

Kirk Tuck said...

I'm betting that even the Italian light gets a bit dicey once the sun has set....