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  1. #1

    Using CFL's for lighting

    Hi All
    I'm sure you all know that halogen lights get warm enough to cook a steak on after a few minutes so I built a CFL lighting box (compact fluorescent lamps) I basically have a plastic box with 9 sockets on it and a simple cardboard reflector and used domestic 20w lamps from the discount shop ($3 each!!)

    Results are pretty good and the box only gets luke warm too!! I did a test today (dull and rainy) in our living room with curtains drawn so it was pretty dismal inside!! My one MD10000 camera needed a shutter of 1/50th with an open iris and +15db of gain to get a decent picture!!! (Told you it was dark!!!) so I used that as a reference.

    With just 5 of the lamps plugged in and 15' from the subject I got a nice image with the iris open and no gain needed. With 9 lamps plugged in the iris closed down to F2.4 (open is F1.8) and again no gain needed.

    You can buy much bigger lamps from the hardware stores but they cost a bundle ! A 45w lamp was $27 (I paid $27 for all 9 x 20w ones) The supposed ratings are these is 20 w is equivalent to a normal 100W lamp but I think that's a little optimistic!! A closer figure is about 3 X not 5X
    However they DO make a neat and cheap lighting bank and you can get even the cheap ones in 3200K , 5000K and 6500K colour temperatures.
    Anyone else here used CFL's for lighting?????

    Below is a pic of my smaller model with just 4 lamps in it.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  2. #2
    Senior Member SC358's Avatar
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    May 2005
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    Wow - nicely done, Chris!!
    I never thought about using CFL as main lighting only because I didn't think it had the color temperature range I wanted to work in. Of course, these days, some software can compensate for that. However in my case, I'd be shooting stills as oppose to shooting video.

    How soft was the lighting on your subject or how harsh was the shadow (if any)?
    Got any more test jpegs to see your results?
    Relationships are based on compromises - behavior accepted is behavior repeated.

  3. #3
    The light is naturally soft which helps a lot anyway!! There was virtually no difference in shadow detail with direct light and bouncing it into a silver brolly or bouncing off the ceiling.
    The only think to watch is that these units have a lower CRI than they claim. They normally say that a 20w CFL is equal to a standard 100w lamp but a more realistic figure is 3 and not 5 times the wattage!

    My cam handles the color balance comfortably and I actually had one bank rated at 4000K and the other at 5000K. They are very common in the shops at 3200K which is close to indoor lighting but the pros say that the ideal is 5500K

    As you are in the USA, I believe the ones to look for are called Nelson and Home Depot have them! These have a higher CRI so your output in lumens is actually a lot better. If the CRI is stated on the box then around 90 CRI is awesome!! Most CFL lamps seem to be around 82 which doesn't make them very efficient BUT theye are easy to get, work well, have a very long life (around 8000 hours) and are cheap.



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