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                   Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - 1:54AM

How about a $35,000 spotlight?

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Observing
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I've been doing some comparison shopping for a couple of new lights that I hope to add to my gear in the next few months. I came across this one that I'm pretty sure is not going to be in my kit anytime soon:

Arri Arrimax 18/12 KW HMI

Granted, you're getting an 18,000 watt light - but that's $16,000 for the light alone. They don't even throw in the barn doors or stand for that price. And oh yeah, one other thing - you need the ballast to operate this, which will cost you another $17,000.

Fortunately, at just over $400 (with barndoors), the Arri 650 I have my eye on is just a tad more affordable. Even so it's going to take a few jobs to get there. I could simply go with another Lowel Omni, but a good fresnel light like an Arri would be more ideal. As for the softbox quest, Chimera makes an adapter that will make a softbox fit on my Tota lights, but an entire Rifa fixture is much less than a Chimera/Tota setup.

The Lowel kit I have now was more of a stopgap to get through this first batch of shoots, but it is lacking in a controllable key and fill with the Totas/umbrellas. I'm going to run into problems with the Totas the first time I have to shoot in a small room, as there will be no way to keep the light from spilling all over everything. I may keep one Tota as a backup, but eventually would like to have a pair of softboxes or a softbox/fresnel combo to replace them. It's all going to come down to what I can afford and if business can keep up its current pace. The initial downside to buying lights is that they tend to hold their value well, so you don't get much of a deal on used ones. This is good if I ever have to sell them, but it makes the initial acquisition more painful on the wallet.

So why all the talk about lights? Many veterans in the business consider lights to be just as important, if not more, that the camera you use. Unfortunately a good lighting setup can cost more than a camera, and many freelancers end up having more invested in lights than cameras.

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