Is tungsten (or conventional) lighting equipment (non LED) still worth investing in? (4 replies and 1 comment)

2 months ago
Hans 2 months ago

Hello Roger and forum members. 

I'm thinking of buying used lighting equipment. Roger, you often use conventional tungsten lamps. They render good skin tones and colors. They can be shaped: spot/flood. Can be used to bounce or reflect in mirrors. 

But now we have LED. The main advantages of LED being:
1. high light output per Watt. 
2. low heat 
3. light weight 
4. flicker free (when used without dimming circuit, or battery, and/or good dimmer circuit. 

disadvantage LED:
1. not always good color rendition (but is getting better with use of phosphor intermediate) 
2. flicker when not done right (see above)
3. the physical shape of the lamps are not always suited to shape the light. 
For example: a grid of 4' LED tubes makes a nice soft light. But it can't be turned smaller to make it sharper when desired. 

Please let me know your thoughts. 

Roger Deakins
2 months ago
Roger Deakins 2 months ago

I would say your breakdown hits most of the main points. LED units are becoming so much more practical and economical to use than conventional tungsten lamps in many situations. Power supply verses output is, obviously, the main consideration but the color control one has with some advanced LED systems offers so much more than is practical or even possible with the use of conventional lamps and gels.

I still have reservations with some LED systems. The range of LED fresnel lamps is still not equivalent to conventional units. There is still no real equivalent to a Mole 1K, 2K, 5K etc. Nor is their an equivalent to the larger HMI units such as the 18K Fresnel lamp or an M9. Another thing to consider is the price of an LED unit verse a tungsten lamp. On occasion it is still more economical to use cheap tungsten fixtures when they are required in large numbers but those occasions are rapidly diminishing. 

2 months ago
Brant 2 months ago

I think LED's are very tempting as a substitute for larger, hotter, power-hungry tungsten and HMI units, but unless going for an unusual color output, as Roger mentions, personally I don't care for LED as a substitute for either tungsten or HMI, because they just don't look very good to me in that usage, by comparison.  Even the Arri Skypanels, excellent lights with enough power to act as a bounce source, and as easy to change color and tint as they are, don't have as nice a look in my opinion on skin as tungsten or HMI.  But like all things, as I think Roger is suggesting, it's a balance of more considerations that include budget, time, and manpower.   

2 months ago
Hans 2 months ago

Thank you Roger, thank you Brant, 

Alan Roberts is a retired BBC equipment testing technician. He developed a way to test and rank the quality of light of a lamp. His TLCI method is considered more accurate than CRI. 

He's tested (and is still testing) a wide and growing range of lamps and publishes the results here:»

The closer the rated value gets to 100, the better the color rendition of the light. Conventional tungsten and candle light are rated as 100. 

It's interesting to see that it's not always the most expensive lamps that are rated best. 

He even tested IKEA lamps. Their 11W E27 LED Bulb scores 93 which is not bad. IKEA claims they are dimmable too! But something to be aware of is that LED lamps do not change color temperature when dimmed. 

Roger, would you consider using them in a ring light? 

I'm considering buying a used 2000W Arri fresnel lamp. Because, like Roger says, the LED fresnels are still not that good and they are very expensive. 

I would like to use it to mimic a beam of sunlight entering a room, bouncing it of a mirror to get sharp edges like from a window. Roger, you taught me this technique and advised a 2000W tungsten fresnel 🙂 
I hired one at the time and it worked very well.

But there's always the question for freelance filmmakers like myself. How often will you use this lamp? Is it worth the investment? 

Rick Cook
4 weeks ago
Rick Cook 4 weeks ago

The best way you could spend your money is getting an insurance policy that will allow you to rent the units you need. A 2K Fresnel rents for under $25/Day near me. If you have no access to a rental house then perhaps buying is actually your only option?

I think the question really depends what you shoot and how you like to light. That said, I have a few Arri 1K fresnels and use them quite often as a warm kick from outside windows or as harder sources in conjunction with atmosphere. I did use them as bounced sources but now use Litepanel Astra 3x's in their place.

4 weeks ago

Hello Rick,

I don't understand the 'insurance policy' for renting the units needed. Can you explain a bit more? I did rent lamps in the past. It's cheap. But it's always a bit time consuming and a hassle for the relatively small shoots I'm doing.

I bought an Arri T2 lamp for USD $ 400,- on eBay. I'll most likely won't use it 16 times in a year to break even. But it saves me the drive to the rental house. And it's a thing of value that I could sell or rent to others.

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