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Parker Rose

First key light investment- Godox SL-60 or used Mole-Richardson 1k

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Hey everyone,

I'm looking to get my first key light. I have a budget of ~$150. Should I go with a Godox SL-60 or something like a used Mole-Richardson 1K or similar?


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I like to use 300w and 650w tungsten fresnels as a keylight in lots of situations but that depends on what you do and what type of scene it is, what other lighting or natural light there is, how the light is gelled, etc.   I am not familiar with the Godox light, is it possible to control the beam with for example a add-on lens? 

It is useful to have lots of different lights available in your kit so that you can quickly choose the best fitting ones for the scene and shot on hand. For very small stuff (small corporate videos, interviews, etc) I currently use a small battery powered 40w daylight led panel and two tungsten lights which can be for example a 650w fresnel and a 800w redhead or the 300w and 650w fresnels or the 650w and 1000w fresnels. For low budget indie stuff I tend to have the 40w led panel and the 300, 650, 1000w fresnels and a 1000w vnsp par can plus either two 2k tungsten fresnels or a 1.2k hmi par. 

You may want to explain what you would specifically want to shoot and how much light you need, is there any natural light which needs to be controlled or matched, etc. and we can recommend something for your use 🙂

the battery powered lights, if powerful enough, can be very useful because you can save rigging time in fast shooting situations. For example my 40w panel (Amaran HR672S with two NPF970 batteries) is lightweight enough to be rigged to a boompole or handheld at the end of a lightstand so that one can save lots of time because overhead rigging is not needed. Not overly powerful or high quality but gets the job done very very quickly compared to any mains powered wired alternative

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you can never go wrong with a used tungsten fresnel but if your application would benefit from the small led lights (30w - 60w range) they could be very useful additional investment. Personally I think that for low budget stuff the battery powering is the key which makes LED lighting useful and efficient. The prices go rapidly up if you need more output and it becomes very challenging to power them with reasonably priced batteries so you lose both of the benefits of the leds if needing to replace large tungsten lights with them I think and then they are just clumsy very expensive alternatives to cheap tungsten fresnel or a small rented hmi without having any real benefits other than the possible dmx control and less heat output.

the cheaper np-f batteries are very affordable compared to the capacity they have and they are very useful for small lights. I believe the largest lights are about 60w or so which can be powered with these cheaper batteries and if you need more output you would need relatively expensive v-lock batteries which may cost 5 or 6 times more per Wh which may become prohibitively expensive for small indie productions. if powering large led lights you would need special v-lock batteries which can stand the high power draw... and of course you would need more of them because they don't last that long on the large lights. 

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A few people are successfully using the Godox SL-60  because they can't afford the Aputure 120D, and it's working well for some, but I've seen two occasional complaints. One is flickering, the other is a green cast.

I'd still buy it it, but I'm saving up for Aputure 300D.

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Depends on your use. Do you need portability? Daylight? Color accuracy? Will you always be near an outlet?

Tungsten fixtures give great color recreation but are hot, need spare bulbs, and require plug power. They also run at 3200 kelvin. Moles in particular are extremely durable, but are heavy (steel I believe), which means a beefier light stand (cheap aluminum kit stands may not be enough), and their barn doors can fall out because there is no top latch. But this is all great for in studio where power and heavy stands are nearby.

LED, like the godox, is lightweight, can be 5500k (great for location use), and use little power. The godox also has a bowens mount which makes for direct attachment of softboxes. But, being plastic and electronic, it won't survive the beating a Mole can take.

So it depends on your use.

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I love the flexibility of the Mole Richardson fresnels…you can focus the light through the lens or swing the lens open and use the bare bulb to get a nice hard shadow to shoot through glass to simulate light coming through a window at night.  You can dim them down to get really low levels of brightness, and dimming really low gives you that extra warmth and color balance to blend with the warmth of fire and flames.  I personally really love the combination of tungsten inside blending with a little bit of cooler light coming from outside windows in shooting house situations, it just feels natural to me and so adding lights that are already balanced to tungsten is easier to work with.

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