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Hi you all :)

 

I recently bought some cheap Chinese fresnel lights just to see if they are any good or not. I wrote some thoughts to my blog, and there is also lots of images!

 

http://aapolettinen.blogspot.fi/2014/09/chinese-fresnels-are-they-any-good.html

 

 

I'd say it is very risky to order this type of gear directly from China. Luckily I have worked years with professional lights so I dared to try these cheap counterparts just to see if they can be used safely by anybody...

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Somehow the thread I replied to diasappeared, so I'll try again here...

 

I have a set of these that work fantastically. I tried to call about ten electricians in my area to look at them before use, but none of them seemed to know what to do to "check them" for safety. I ended up just buying GFI's and saying a prayer when I flipped the switch, and I still treat them as gingerly as can be, and give lectures about how sensitive they are to people when around them.

 

They do work, and look beautiful, but the problem is, they seem to be completely hit or miss, and there seems to be no quality control or reliability between sets of these. So...in conclusion...if you are a gambling man, and/or have a pair of pliers in your back pocket, you can get a lot out of these. But I'd be the first to say in the same breath that if something goes terribly wrong one day, I do feel a little nervous putting my life in the hands of a GFI from Home Depot though...

 

That said, haven't many people used total garbage solutions like these for many years on projects? I'm talking about all kinds of "consumer" lights...very likely "Chinese made" halogen worklights....things like that. It makes me curious about how real a threat there is. And on the subject...if this thing does shoot an electric sharge up my spine....is the GFI going to cut it off in time? Or what's the typical "real world danger" on GFI's anyway when using a 1K?

Edited by Matthew B Clark

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Would there be any reason that I couldn't just take the 'As Arri' light and replace all the wiring inside, and even the lamp and the lens (replacing with genuine Arri lens)? In theory I should then just have a pretty decent and safe Arri light shouldn't I? The only real difference in theory would be the build quality of the outer case, but the light quality has the potential to be pretty much identical? And at a fraction of the cost of a genuine Arri.

 

The only part that I think would be more of a struggle to replace would be the lamp holder. I've been able to find a spare for the 300w and 650w but not for the 150w or 1000w.

 

Please someone correct me if I am wrong!

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"Would there be any reason that I couldn't just take the 'As Arri' light and replace all the wiring inside, and even the lamp and the lens (replacing with genuine Arri lens)? In theory I should then just have a pretty decent and safe Arri light shouldn't I? The only real difference in theory would be the build quality of the outer case, but the light quality has the potential to be pretty much identical? And at a fraction of the cost of a genuine Arri."

 

Considering the poor quality of the lights which Aapo Lettine reviewed above, why bother? Wouldn't it make more sense to get some older, used Arri or Mole-Richardson lighting equipment online and then restore that instead? (There are good sources for quality used lighting equipment on eBay.)

 

-Jerry Murrel

Little Rock, AR

 

 

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I completely agree, and would rather do that if I could afford it. The issue I have is that in the UK it seems to be much harder to find used kit, at least at a budget that I can afford (which is very low!)

 

As much as I would rather buy some genuine kit, I just don't think I can afford it, and these seem like they have the potential to be a good alternative.

 

If there are any UK residents that could point me in the direction of some decent used kit at an affordable price, I would be immensely grateful!

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"Would there be any reason that I couldn't just take the 'As Arri' light and replace all the wiring inside, and even the lamp and the lens (replacing with genuine Arri lens)? In theory I should then just have a pretty decent and safe Arri light shouldn't I? The only real difference in theory would be the build quality of the outer case, but the light quality has the potential to be pretty much identical? And at a fraction of the cost of a genuine Arri."

 

Considering the poor quality of the lights which Aapo Lettine reviewed above, why bother? Wouldn't it make more sense to get some older, used Arri or Mole-Richardson lighting equipment online and then restore that instead? (There are good sources for quality used lighting equipment on eBay.)

 

-Jerry Murrel

Little Rock, AR

 

 

 

The light quality might be somewhat similar, but the mechanics would NOT… with all the inner parts replaced, it might really be cheaper to buy used Arri lights.

If you can do the rewiring then you can try to find a balance between the costs and quality of the fixtures. I think all you can possibly do is to make sure it is safe and maybe fix something small, but no major modifications like changing the complete inner parts including rails etc

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I completely agree, and would rather do that if I could afford it. The issue I have is that in the UK it seems to be much harder to find used kit, at least at a budget that I can afford (which is very low!)

 

 

Do you not have any local online sales in the UK? There is a lot of cheap used good brand lighting gear sold on eBay in the Staes. What about shipping across the Atlantic?

 

Another thing that I'd like to provoke thought about is...why not some sort of co-operative ownership or sharing. Everyone wants to own a camera and call themselves a DoP, and maybe this has spilled over to all the other gear including lights. If you shift from being project oriented rather than gear oriented you will find where to beg, borrow and sometimes rent what you need.

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I completely agree, and would rather do that if I could afford it. The issue I have is that in the UK it seems to be much harder to find used kit, at least at a budget that I can afford (which is very low!)

 

As much as I would rather buy some genuine kit, I just don't think I can afford it, and these seem like they have the potential to be a good alternative.

 

If there are any UK residents that could point me in the direction of some decent used kit at an affordable price, I would be immensely grateful!

http://www.usedlighting.co.uk

http://www.bblist.co.uk

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I completely agree, and would rather do that if I could afford it. The issue I have is that in the UK it seems to be much harder to find used kit,

 

 

My typos are bad. So I'm just re-posting that.

 

Do you not have any local online sales in the UK? There is a lot of cheap used good brand lighting gear sold on eBay in the States. What about shipping across the Atlantic?

 

Another thing that I'd like to provoke thought about is...why not some sort of co-operative ownership or sharing. Everyone wants to own a camera and call themselves a DoP, and maybe this has spilled over to all the other gear including lights. If you shift to being project oriented rather than gear oriented you will find where to beg, borrow and sometimes rent what you need.

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I recently bought some cheap Chinese fresnel lights just to see if they are any good or not. I wrote some thoughts

 

I think even those who dislike the whole idea found this interesting and useful. Someone should say thanks for doing that (blog, photos).

 

So thanks Aapo.

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I think even those who dislike the whole idea found this interesting and useful. Someone should say thanks for doing that (blog, photos).

 

So thanks Aapo.

 

 

I think even those who dislike the whole idea found this interesting and useful. Someone should say thanks for doing that (blog, photos).

So thanks Aapo.

 

Absolutely. Thanks Aapo! Very useful article. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

 

-Jerry Murrel

Little Rock, AR

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Absolutely, massive thank you to Aapo for the blog post, it has been very interesting!

 

Thanks for the links to some used gear places in the UK, really useful places to know about.

 

I think that in the mean time I will just rent or try and borrow stuff from people. Off the back of what people have said here, it sounds like that will be a better option than the cheap stuff.

 

Thanks for all the information!

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It's a strange thing, really. The mistakes made on those lights are not hard to avoid. If I were the manufacturer, I'd be trying hard to make a good impression.

 

P

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The problem with companies like these, they are selling to people who either can't afford or don't know the benefits of higher quality gear. And most of those people will never notice these manufacturing defects until it is too late.

 

For companies like these, I think once they have your money, they don't really care what happens...

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Sure, they're selling to people who can't afford Arri, but there's no reason to assume people in that group are particularly stupid. I mean, I can't afford Arri, and I'm reasonably confident I could have made those lights safe and usable.

 

P

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If you are a fool like me who invested money in his horrible As Arri clones and $30 red heads, how would you advise one in my situation in terms of SAFETY? Please no "throw them out now!" jokes. Not an option for me. But on a real and practical level, what to check for? Like I said before, I have called every electrician and service in the area and nobody knows what the hell I'm asking about when I ask them about checking my film lights for proper wiring and safety. It's as if they forgot how to wire anything suddenly and it's all Greek to them. What I need to know, and actually pretty desperately, is how often I need to assess these for safety so I don't torch myself someday. I don't have a PAT testing center here. I just have lights that work today, might not work tomorrow, or worst of all, might leak some current into my spine one day after a little rough-housing or lax storage. Last time I shot with them was in March, and they are in my basement in a big wooden military box I use for all my grip stuffs. Not particularly moist down there or anything, but you see where this is going. I have a real situation with practical advice needed. Shooting a short film with my first actual crew assembled in early October, and I need to make sure I don't fry anyone or myself. The light appears very nice and usable to me by the way. It's just the reliability I am always getting worked up over inside my head.

 

Thanks for the help as always.

Edited by Matthew B Clark

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PPPPPPPS, I am renting a Kino Flo 4ft 4bank and a Mini Mole (I like little lights for shaping things unobtrusively and without the heft and enormously limiting power draw consideration on super small shoot like this). So I have a couple things covered. But, I really would like to be able to have my own trunk of gear "at my disposal" too. And it just always scares the poop out of me. Like I am staring at a box full of mousetraps I have to delicately wade through.

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The problem with asking people to check stuff over is that you are - or at least you will seem to be - asking them to take responsibility if it all goes wrong.

 

 

If it were me, I'd take them apart to an extent that I could see and touch all the parts that carry current or move around, and I'd ensure that nothing looked too exposed, loose, improperly fixed, corroded, missing, inadequate, underspecified, the wrong colour, or in any other way unsafe. But that's what I'd do. I couldn't possibly recommend what you should do.

 

P

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For those of you thinking about buying used, old equipment -- please do note that some old equipment might not be built according to today's standards.

 

An example: I bought an old broken HMI fixture with the intent of trying to repair it DIY by replacing the ballast, socket and the bulb with a HTI one of CRI 90. Well, I was able to find all necessary parts, but when I opened the fixture I bumped into an obstacle I'm not sure I want to mess with: a concrete-asbestosis board on to which the earlier socket and the reflector are installed (with screws)...

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hi matthew,

 

buy some RESIDUAL CURRENT DEVICES (RCD) (SAFETY SWITCHES) and run your

lights on their own safety switch on set.

 

you can do several basic tests yourself with a multimeter and there are tutorials on youtube for this.

 

most of the items i test fail the visual inspection so check all your

gear for visual damage, loose connections etc and do not use if damaged.

 

cheers

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....most of the items i test fail the visual inspection.....

 

 

Hey Ian, where are you and what regulations or standards do you work within to do the tests/safety checks?

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hi gregg,

 

i am in melbourne australia just across the ditch....

i test to the australian standard AS/NZS 3760:2010 "IN SERVICE SAFETY INSPECTION AND TESTING OF ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT STANDARD"

from memory this standard also applies for new zealand.

this applies to all electrical equipment that can be plugged into a mains power outlet with a voltage above 48v. including RCD'S (SAFETY SWITCH).

 

what i meant in the above post is that most fails during testing are for visual faults before i even put them on the machine.

 

cheers

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