A View From Behind The Meter
Since April of this year when I attended the NAB gathering at Las Vegas I have noticed a pronounced improvement in the quality and design of the new LED fixtures. New companies have exploded into the market place (at least they were new to me) and their products are cheaper and better engineered. It was at NAB that I first saw the Mole-Richardson’s entry into this arena and their emphasis on LED manufacture was obviously evident. At their booth almost 85% of the products displayed were LED based and I was told that their design staff spent the last two years exclusively working on these systems. Mole-Richardson has been the leader in motion picture lighting products since 1927 and I have always seen Mole lights on the set in any country that I’ve worked.
Whenever I was thinking about purchasing a lighting fixture in the past I consistently used the Mole products as the gold standard. I still try to use the Mole standards when I speak about the performance of an LED light because everyone can make that comparison. When I speak about an LED fixture and say that it will perform like a Mole “Tweenie” everyone can understand that comparison. Mole has developed four LED instruments that I believe will follow in that tradition. The four instruments are as follows; The 100 Watt LED Tweenie, the 150 Watt LED “Baby” (which uses a 407 Baby Housing), the 200Watt 8” Junior, and finally the 10” Studio Junior. All of these instruments are Fresnels and they will perform close to 85% of the photometrics of their Tungsten equivalent.
Now the sales pitch here is that a lighting technician can move into the LED world seamlessly. If you’re used to working with a 1K baby the 150Watt LED will perform the same job. As far as cost goes the tungsten 650 Watt light runs w/barndoor & diffusion around $950.00 and the 150 Watt LED runs $1595.00 so we are talking about almost double the price. That being said if you add up one globe a year replacement cost for just ten years and the cost matches that of an LED in that same period. The led light will cost more initially but it will last nearly 50,000 hours and that usually will mean ten to fifteen years of use for the average instrument. Simply put the LED light will be cheaper than the tungsten equivalent in the long run and I haven’t even addressed the main advantages of using LED lights. The main advantage, of course, is the efficiency of the instrument both in amperage draw to light output and the impressive lack of heat generation. Tungsten instruments produce 15% light and 85% heat whereas LED instruments produce 5% heat and 95% light. This is a huge advantage to the average technician. The production can light an entire house without using generators or distribution cable one needs to just plug everything into the 20 amp wall sockets of the locations house. The actors will no longer sweat through their make-up before mid-day and burn outs will be a thing of the past.
Lite Panels introduced their Sola 12, Z light developed the F8, Cineo and BBS manufactured a remote phosphor, Nila re-engineered their entire line and introduced the Zailia. In addition Hexalux, Fiilex, Dra Cast, and Carsu brought into the marketplace new and less expensive models of LED’s that will undoubtedly force the prices down for all the established companies. Almost every month this year I have been contacted by companies with new products and it has been almost impossible to keep up with the new kids on the block. This coming Wednesday I will go over in detail some of these changes in the LED lines at my monthly “Lunch With Mike” sessions. I will be discussing in depth the new Mole products as well as the Lite Panels and Nila innovations and making comparisons with HMI and tungsten light equivalents. I will match color temperatures and CRI values side by side with a new meter that measures these values in moments the UPRtek MK350 (which we also rent and sell). Come on in to Birns & Sawyer and let’s get down to business.
~Michael Rogers, Lighting Consultant, Birns & Sawyer