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Ceramic Lights

  >>Ceramic lamps, which were introduced by the Arri company in 2006, address several of the shortcomings of quartz (tungsten-halogen) lamps. Ceramic Light

First, they are much more efficient. A 250-watt ceramic spot provides as much light as a conventional 1,000-watt tungsten-halogen light.

This means that for the same amount of light they take one-quarter the power.

Next, they operate at a much cooler temperature. If you touch a quartz lighting fixture while it's on, you would probably get a rather painful burn. Ceramic lights get warm, but not excessively hot.

Third, ceramic lamps last about eight times as long as a quartz or tungsten halogen lamp.

And, finally, since they can operate on standard (low-wattage) 120-volt outlets, no special wiring, high-wattage dimmer equipment, or specially-trained studio safety people are required.

These lamps use a ceramic material to coat the inside of the lamp (hence the name).

An arc with a continuous spark travels from one part of the lamp to the other and provides a relatively cool but intense 3,200K illumination.

What's the catch?

Ceramic lamps cost about eight times more than quartz lamps.  However, because of their cost-saving advantages, they can pay for themselves in the long run.

HMI Lights

>>HMI lights have several advantages over standard quartz or incandescent lights.  HMI vs. Quartz Fresnel Lights

First, compared to standard incandescent lights they deliver five times the light output per watt.

This means that they generate less heat, which is an important consideration when shooting inside in a confined space. (Incidentally, HMI stands for Hydrargyrum Medium Arc-length Iodide.)

The light on the left side of this picture is a HMI light; the one on the right a standard quartz light.

Despite the difference in size, both put out the same amount of light.

The color temperature of HMI lights is the same as average sunlight -- 5,600K. This makes them an ideal fill light for on-location outside.

The standard quartz (incandescent)  light must use a blue filter to bring it up to the color temperature of sunlight. Note the blue filter below the quartz light on the right in the photo above. This significantly reduces the light output when this light is used outside.

The main disadvantage of the HMI light is the bulky and heavy, high-voltage power supply that's needed.

Note the power supply for the HMI light at the bottom left of the photo above.)

Interior of HML Fresnel


>>The back of an opened HMI Fresnel light is shown here.




Cycs (large, seamless, neutral backgrounds) can be lit from the top and bottom with cyc lights.

The one here sits on the studio floor and is directed up at the background.

A six-section unit is shown; but, depending on the area that needs to be covered, ground cyc lights can have from one to 12 sections.

The cyc light on the right is attached to the grid and is directed down along background. A large background area may require a number of these lights.



The lamps in Fresnels have been known to explode, breaking the large Fresnel lens in the front.

Since these glass lenses are heavy and they are positioned ten or more feet (3 or more meters) above the talent, this constitutes a  yellow square major safety hazard.

The large Fresnel on the right has a wire screen in front of the Fresnel lens that is designed to keep broken glass from falling.

The use of safety cables or chains that loop from the light to the lighting grid are also important to safety.

Softlights are similar to scoops in their effect. However, instead of a large amount of direct light from the lamp hitting subjects, the illumination from this type of softlight is all indirect.

Light from the concealed lamps is all reflected from the large reflective area. Housings can accept one or more lamps from 300 to 1,000 watts.


Open face lighting instruments are typically mounted on floor stand and used in on-location lighting. The front of these lights accepts scrims and diffusers.

These are just a few of the lighting instruments that are available for studios and on-location production. The. B&H Photo lighting catalog, for example, is almost 1,000 pages long.

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