Archive for the 'Photography' Category

28
Mar
17

Profoto Air Sync & Air Remote

The Profoto Air Sync and Profoto Air Remote are basically the same as each other with both having 8 channels, 300 m range, 10 to 140 hours battery life transmit mode fast /slow, 30 hours battery life receive mode, 30 min auto power off, and integrated antenna.

The difference is that the Pro Air Sync will only trigger a flash i.e. just fire it like a sync lead but without the lead. Whereas the Pro Air Remote also lets you control the flash so you can change its power setting and modeling light function.

Just to slightly confuse you the Air Remote also comes in a TTL version for Canon and Nikon (TTL = Through the lens). This means that the remote will transmit TTL information to any Profoto flash with TTL Air Support and this will allow for fully automatic point-and-shoot shots. It can also be used in manual mode (without TTL) or Hybrid mode that allows for you to shoot first with TTL and then switch to Manual mode to make adjustments, and that’s good because TTL is often inaccurate.

All Profoto Air Remotes can be used with non Air equipped flash systems by using 2 units, one on camera and one connected to the sync socket of the flash, just like a pocket wizard system. However this will not allow for the control of flash power, modelling light, or TTL operation. It’s worth noting that you can mix Pro Air Sync and Pro Air Remote to achieve this.

Profoto equipment we have that supports Air and or AirTTL operation:

Profoto B1 Air & Air TTL

Profoto B2 Air & Air TTL

Profoto B3 Only the Air

Profoto B4 Only the Air

Profoto D1 Only the Air

Profoto 7A Neither is supported

Profoto 8A Only the Air

Profoto Acute 2  Neither is supported

Profoto Air Synch & Remote

 

Broncolor

 Broncolor used to be simple, they had a RFS (Radio frequency Sender) that controlled power and synced the flash and that was about it. It was a bit fiddly as you had to alter a “trimpot” underneath the unit to change channel and double check that the pack was on the same channel, also the packs (Grafit etc) had a weak aerial that was either missing, forgotten, or broken. The Scorro packs we stock now have this aerial built into the handle.

Broncolor also did a little gizmo called an IRX (Infra Red Sender), an infra red sync trigger that came in surprisingly useful from time to time, particularly in areas with radio restrictions.

Broncolor has now upgraded the RFS to the RFS 2. It operates like the Profoto Air Remote and controls the power & more on any RFS equipped Broncolor Flash, like a Broncolor Scorro for example. An additional RFS 2 Receiver can be used to trigger non Broncolor equipment by attaching to the sync port with a short cable.

The Broncolor RFS 2 has 40 channels compared to the Profoto Air’s 8. I would think this is an advantage once or twice every millennium.

Broncolor

Pocket Wizard

Pocket Wizards are a third party wireless sync trigger and either the Pocket Wizard 2 or Pocket Wizrd 3 system will trigger any flash from any camera provided you have the correct cables to connect.

Connect one pocket wizard on to the hot shoe of your camera (or connect it to the sync socket using a small lead) and attach another one onto the Flash (again connecting to the sync socket with a small lead). Check they are both on the same channel and away you go.

Easy, just be careful that the correct size leads are supplied for the flash.

Historically Profoto used the larger jack and Broncolour used the smaller one but they are both changing this around to keep us on our toes. Here at Pixipixel, we ensure you’re supplied with the correct cabling, even if it means providing both sets for your shoot.

Pocket wizards however also have a few tricks up their sleeves that you don’t find on the brand specific triggers from Broncoor and Profoto.

Firstly, the Pocket Wizard 3 units will automatically switch to transmit or receive depending on what they are being used for, a very clever feature. The Pocket wizard 2’s came as a transmitter, receiver, or a transceiver; they can do both but you need to select which.

The Pocket Wizards claim to have the longest range of 300m and that’s pretty impressive as I can’t even see a camera at that range.  But it gets better, you can also use pocket wizard units as “repeaters” i.e. you could put one at a half way point 300m from the camera (transmitter unit) and a further 300 metres away from the flash (receiving unit) thus extending the range to 600 metres and this can be extended even further.

Based on rough calculations it then follows that, with the circumference of the world being approximately 400 thousand metres it would take approximately 133,333 pocket wizards to transmit a sync signal the long way round the globe from camera to flash, and lots of AA batteries too.

Ok I know that’s silly but I had a customer who used to put flashes up at the top of huge sporting stadiums and the like and use this “Repeater” facility to trigger them from his seat in the stands so it can come in very useful.

The same guy also used to make use of another function available on pocket wizards and that is the ability to be powered via a USB port on the unit. This is great if you have to set up the pocket wizards say 24 hours before you are going to use them, this can happen more often than you would think. During my years living in Melbourne, for “Carols By Candlelight”, lights had to be set up in the rigging and subsequently could not be accessed for a day so the pocket wizards would go flat by the time the sing-song got going. Attaching an external power source via the USB allowed for them to be left on and not go flat.

The other great use for pocket wizards is the ability to use them to remotely trigger a camera rather than a flash. A special cord is required to do this and it’s called a Trigger cable; it comes in Canon or Nikon. Useful when the camera has a high viewpoint up on a boom, for example. Another scenario could be when shooting two cameras at the same time.

A few motor sports guys will have a camera on the opposite side of the track to themselves and trigger it at the same time as the camera they are holding this enables them to shoot both sides of the can and also get some heroic selfies. The test button has a two stage action just like the shutter release button on the camera, so a 1/2 press wakes the camera and starts auto focus and more. A full press will release the shutter.

And don’t forget you can attach one to a light meter for remote triggering of the flash during that initial setup stage. This is particularly useful if you are setting up and doing the pre light on your own.

Pocket Wizard do a range of TTL units specific to Canon or Nikon, but we do not stock these.

Sync Leads

Old school sync leads should not be forgotten. They are still a great way to trigger your flash from camera or light meter. They don’t run out of battery power, and they don’t interfere with the guy in the next studio. They are uncomplicated enough for your average photographer to understand.

In fact the only real problem with a sync lead is that they get trodden on and so get damaged quickly like an iPad lead.

We include sync leads with all flashes hired out to our clients, as they will save many a problem just by being there as a backup. I would hope that most photographers and good assistants would have a spare sync lead in their own kit.

As an aside if you ever want to test a sync lead just power up a flash and plug in the sync then “short out” the other end of the sync lead with a paperclip or your keys etc and if the synch is in good condition it will fire the flash, you won’t blow yourself up as the trigger circuit is separate from the flash circuit in modern flashes. Perhaps best not to do this if you can see “Balcar” written on the flash and you are stood in a puddle.

Synch2

Synch

Also don’t forget that most packs or mono blocks have a slave cell so in a multiple pack shoot often you only need one pair of triggers and then use the slave cell on the other packs to trigger them to fire. As light travels at the speed or er..light, the tiny delay is not likely to cause any problems unless some serious high speed or short flash duration stuff is going on.

Coolness rating of sub zero, ok that’s mean, but lets face it sync systems are never going to be exactly cool are they? In terms of usefulness then the pocket wizard system has to be a high scorer unless you are a die hard Profoto or Broncolor shooter. Now if Pocket wizard would just incorporate the TTL capability for both Nikon and Canon into the Pocket Wizard 3 then I would have to rate them as icebox cool.

 

cheers all

 

Written by Bruce Lindsay

10
Jan
17

Litegear LiteTile 8×8 LED

Welcome to the new year everyone, we hope you had a great Christmas and a relaxing break and are now ready and waiting for the next twelve months of fun and games.

Now the new year seems to have brought with it a bit of a cold snap so with your best interests in mind as always we would like tell you about one of our Christmas presents to ourselves, a rather fetching blanket.

Yes we know that blankets tend to encourage you to stay in bed normally but not this one, in fact this one is definitely worth getting up for.

The brand new Litegear LiteTile is something rather special and we had our first play with it yesterday and we’re very impressed. We already have a good range of LED lights from Litegear and they are proving to be popular with you folks but this one is bigger and better than anything we’ve seen so far.

Imagine a flexible blanket of Bi colour LED’s that’s 8 foot square and what that would allow you to do. Now stop daydreaming because it’s here now waiting for you to enjoy.

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I have to admit that personally I’d like to take it home and use it as a blanket on my 12 year olds bed, I cant help thinking that waking her up in the morning would be easier if I could make her whole bed light up at the flick of a switch!

To get a bit technical for a moment the LiteTile 8×8 actually consists of four 2×8 foot panels that can be configured to form a number of shapes, Velcro covered edges allow for each panel to attach to its neighbor or for that matter anything else that has a Velcro fastener on it. Also equipped with eyelets to allow for attachment to grip or butterfly frames as required.

Being made of hi-grade engineered textile the LiteTile is flexible enough to be configured round curves, folded, scrunched up and so on making them a truly versatile product.

As far as light is concerned the LiteTile is equipped with new CineMitter LED’s which boast a CRI and TLCI* rating of 95+ along and a extended colour temperature range of 2600K – 6000K. All new DMX enabled dimmers are supplied giving full local control of dimming and colour temperature or allowing for connection to a control desk.

Everyone will want to know what the maximum output is so for the record the LiteTile gives out a very useable and impressive 20384 lumens (that’s bright to you and me)

When it comes to powering, it’s not much more difficult than plugging in your electric blanket, granted it uses 16 amp leads but we have plenty of jumpers if you need to use a 13amp domestic outlet. Each of the 4 2ft by 8 ft panels has its own power supply so they can be used independently and we will shortly take delivery of a single power supply to run all four units together. A V-lock battery option is muted in the future and no doubt we will get one as soon as it’s available but this may be a while before it hits the market. The individual panels each have a header lead of 7ft or 2.1m in length, giving you plenty of scope to position the supply out of sight.

So if you’re in the market for a large flexible soft light then this could be what you are looking for and now you know who has it you’re really running out of excuses.

Litegear also make a 4 foot version but as you can fold the 8 foot in half and keep using it I don’t think we will rush to get the smaller one, bigger is better anyway.

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The all important BCR (Brucie coolness rating) for this has got to be at least an 11 out of 10, its portable, powerful and versatile all of which are great attributes, but its also very cool and I rather like it. I can’t help but wonder what LED’s will turn up next, anyone got any suggestions?

You could take it to Glastonbury this year just to make finding your tent easier.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

TLCI means “Television Lighting Consistency Index” it’s calculated using a spectroradiometer and is a measurement of a luminaires spectral power distribution in the context of television. The results can be checked against the table below. Hopefully you all feel as enlightened and excited by this as we do.

 

 

85 – 100 errors are so small that a colourist would not consider correcting them
75 – 85 a colourist would probably want to correct the colour performance, but could  easily get an acceptable result
50 – 75 a colourist would certainly want to correct the errors, and could probably  achieve an acceptable result, but it would take significant time to get there
25 – 50 the colour rendering is poor, and a good colourist would be needed to improve  it, but the results would not be to broadcast standard
0 – 25 the colour rendering is bad, and a colourist would struggle for a long time to  improve it, and even then the results may not be acceptable for broadcast

 

 

15
Dec
16

Chroma Q Space Force

Let’s start this blog with a little question,

What has Britain’s Got Talent, The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Welsh National Opera, Kaiser Chiefs, The Killers, Stereophonics, Michael Buble and The Eurovision Song Contest all got in common?

Some of you folks may have guessed it’s something to do with lighting and you would be correct, no prize however as with this being a blog about lighting it wasn’t really hard to work out, was it?

So yes all the above artists have recently used lights by Chroma Q to add some light to their performances

Chroma Q have been producing high quality lights since the mid 1990’s and launched into the LED market in 2004.  They have a good reputation for producing award winning premium LED lights for concerts and theatre productions, retail and leisure, museum installations, exhibitions and so on.

Today I want to draw your attention to the nicely named “Space Force” soft light.

This latest offering from Chroma Q is a rather nice take on the good old space lights but now in LED form.

It only seems like yesterday when the LED lights made their debut on to our photographic world but we are already getting so used to them and the many advantages they offer us in the production side of things. It’s hardly necessary to explain the cool running reliability of LED’s or the 100% dim-ability and full colour temperature adjustability from 2800 – 6500k, so I won’t, but suffice to say the all new Space Force from Chroma Q has all of this.

Space lights are designed to flood large areas with lots of lovely uniform soft light and to do this they often have to be quite powerful and hence tend to run rather hot.  Historically they also require diffusion, usually in the form of a softbox or lantern.  Also as they tend to be pointed straight down heat can be an issue, only some lights are able to do this without “cooking” themselves. Rather nicely the Space Force produces an output of up to 26,700 lumens roughly comparable to a standard 6k fixture and without any form of extra cooling required they won’t cook themselves even if pointed down and with no fan required they run (almost) silently.

Diffusion is built in as with most LED fixtures so you don’t need to add anything else (we do have an egg crate and a lantern available to fit if you need). In normal operation (without the egg crate) it will give you a 60-degree beam angle.

Best of all (well as far as our drivers are concerned) its only 8kg in weight, so it’s easy to handle for its size, our unit comes with a yoke for mounting but also has options available to hang or stack numerous lights together.

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Full onboard controls are on the rear of the unit allowing for complete stand-alone operation and just in case you need it full DMX control is also catered for.

Other nice functions include a “focus” button that causes the unit to revert to a pre-set intensity for when you need to check your focus (ok I had to look this up as focusing a space light seemed a bit of an oxymoron), 2 useful memory functions are available allowing you to “store” the settings on the light for recalling later.

Don’t be fooled by the name Space force or the term Space light, yes this is a space light but its far more use than that and can be put on a stand and used horizontally as a lovely simple soft light. All of our units are fitted with a yoke to allow for this sort of operation.

pic5

So in summary this is a lightweight, cool running, quiet and yet very powerful space light all of which make it an attractive alternative to the regular units. With impressively high CRI figures (up to 97) and a fraction of the energy consumption of the non-LED equivalent light (331w at 230V) it’s sure to be a winner.

The Space Force has already won an award at the Cine Gear Expo Technical Awards coming in first place however, I bet they are hanging on my BCR score, so here it is, 8 out of 10, that’s one point for each side as it’s an octagon, it’s a polygon too but that’s something to do with a missing parrot so I won’t go there.

Oh and we have forty of them ready and waiting for you so don’t look any further than Pixipixel, no matter how big your lighting needs are.

06
Oct
16

KOTM- Cambo Actus DB2 View Camera

Brucie Blogger is back with Kit of the Month!!

Actus DB eh so what do you think the DB stands for?

cambo actus.jpg

Well, I presume its “Digital Back” and nothing to do with “the canine’s orbs” as I first thought. Having said that the latter would also suffice as a good description, as this really is the DB’s when it comes to modern view camera offerings.

 

The Actus DB2 has evolved from Cambo’s Actus series of view cameras that are designed to be used in conjunction with mirror-less cameras and DSLR’s. The new DB2 can still be used with a DSLR on the back but as it is equipped to take a Phase one IQ3 100 mp back I don’t suppose we will see a DSLR attached very often. In fact,we are not going to rush out and buy an adaptor for DSLR’s unless one of you has a mega hire needing it and then perhaps we could have our arms twisted.

camboa2.jpg

Despite my vintage, I came into photography towards the end of the view camera era, I remember selling off the ones we had in Australia while they still had some decent value and recall being gutted as I wanted to play with one more myself.

Great quality tilt shift lenses by Canon and Nikon and have gone some way to replacing them but can only go so far, nothing can really compete with the ultimate image control that a good view camera can deliver.

 

So Cambo has been clever by coupling a modern take on the view camera with today’s megapixel top end digital backs and they seem to have done a lovely job of it too.

 

 

camboa3.jpg

Small size and a beautiful mover

 

 

 

 

mradams.jpg

Not exactly a compact Mr.Adams is it?

The first thing you notice about the DB2 is its size, far from sticking out like, well like the DB’s it’s rather diminutive, fitting nicely into the palm of your hand. It’s a far cry from the cameras used by Mr. Adams and his counterparts back in the day.

 

But don’t let its size fool you this really is a well-equipped camera featuring.

 

 

360 degrees of front swing

19 degrees of front tilt

27mm of rear shift vertical

40mm of rear shift horizontal

150 mm maximum extension with standard monorail

295mm with long monorail

445mm with macro monorail

Available in a range of colours so long as you want anodized black that is.

 

All very impressive but what does that mean for your photography, well the highlights are below.

 

View camera movements allow for selective sharpness / selective un-sharpness

Rear shift movements for stitching wider angle images.

Focal plane shifts to increase file size

Image centered landscape / portrait selection

Built in macro extension.

camboa4.jpg

So as a view camera you can see that the DB2 really is a great piece of equipment but when you couple it with one of our IQ3 100mp digital backs from Phaseone then it becomes a truly awesome camera system. You now have a medium format, full frame sensor view camera with a resolution of 100 mp (more if you start stitching frames together) coupled with all the versatility that you could ever need.

 

Now one thing I recall about using view cameras in the past was having to check my focus by using a loupe on the rear glass and that was a pain, to say the least. Well, I’m pleased to say that those days are well and truly gone. My very expensive loupe has retired, now only making an occasional appearance to aid in the removal of splinters and the like, thank goodness. Today we have it much easier, by using the live view mode on the IQ3 back and viewing at 100% we can get that focus absolutely perfect.

 

But if that’s not quite easy enough for you how about using the WIFI ability of the IQ3 to give you live view on your iPad making the most of its large screen. Shutter release and full control over the back can also be accessed via this WIFI system thus removing any risk of camera shake spoiling your results, so that’s the cable release gone from your kit bag too.

 

So calling all the photographers who need the versatility of a view camera and the resolution of a modern top end digital back we now have you covered, dust off your Sinar lenses or hire ours and GET SHIFTING.

 

10 out of 10 for the BCR this camera is lovely and with the IQ3 on the back and some sexy glass on the front it’s even lovelier, come in and give it a go and please don’t forget to show us your beautiful moves (and tilts too).

Cheers all BB

 

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20
Jul
16

Volte Face by Oliver Curtis

Volte Face by Oliver Curtis.

 

Oliver Curtis has turned his back on convention and just about everything else with his upcoming exhibition and book titled Volte face, roughly translated as about-face.

 

The expression volte face originally stems from the Italian word “voltafaccia” with volta meaning turn and faccia meaning face. Imagine for a moment what the Mona Lisa must look out at every day from her vantage point on the wall in the Louvre or Lincolin from his giant stone seat in Washington and you will have some idea of what Oliver has been shooting since changing his outlook on a visit to the pyramids of Giza in 2012.

 

Oliver recounts how after walking around the base of the pyramids he found himself stood with his back to the tomb looking out over the city of Giza under a vale of smog on the horizon and a selection of “human detritus” adorning the desert sand immediately in front of him. Now for most of us that would be a cue to turn round and take some pictures of what we flew to Egypt to see in the first place but not for Oliver, instead he saw something else, a new perspective.

 

This is the mark of a great photographer, having the ability to see and to see things the rest of us miss or just overlook it’s a skill that cant be taught in my opinion you either have it or you don’t and that explains why I am sat here writing a blog I guess.

 

The exhibition is taking place at the Royal Geographical Society from the 19th of September until the 14th of October and Pixipixel are proud to be amongst the sponsors and look forward (or even backward) to seeing many of you attend. At this point it can’t hurt to point out that admission is free.

 

Oliver is also producing a rather nice book of this project that I have yet to see, but presumably is best read from the back to the front in the spirit of the whole idea.

 

In reflection on this project Oliver explains that “Volte face is an invitation to turn around and see a new aspect of the over-photographed sites of the world – to send our gaze elsewhere and to favour the incidental over the monumental.

He continues to explain that “despite the landmark not being present in the photograph, the images are still suffused with the aura of the construction, the camera lens effectively acts as a nodal point and by giving the photograph the title of the unseen partner this duality becomes a virtue.”

 

By visiting the exhibition you will see that Oliver has produced some stunning images of familiar places in a way that we have never seen before and that itself is no easy thing, so we would like to congratulate him on his creativity in putting this outstanding body of work together.

Brucie BloggerScreen Shot 2016-07-08 at 18.08.14

 

04
Jul
16

Introducing Genevieve

Now it’s quite an unusual name Genevieve especially in the present day, I don’t think I have ever met one to be honest. I recall an old film about a car race back from Brighton and I happen to know Sainte Genevieve (Saint Geneviève de Loqueffret )is the patron saint of Paris. I didn’t know that she is said to have saved the city from Attila the Hun and an outbreak of ergot poisoning (very nasty) not to mention being appointed as the guardian of the “consecrated virgins of Paris” so the name has some interesting and amusing history but it is still very unusual.

So having said that, I would like to introduce you to the newest Genevieve in London, She hails from Belgium which is very nearly Paris in my book, so it will suffice as a introduction and she is most definitely without any doubt whatsoever UNUSUAL.

 

Now Genevieve is a big girl she is quite heavy, but tall with it and she is delightfully quiet so you can take her home to meet the folks and she won’t embarrass you, but none of that is what makes her unusual. She is unusual, because of her power and she has heaps of it, she puts a 1970’s female Soviet Block weightlifter to shame and without the steroids!

 

Ok, I’ve had my fun and before I put you off Genevive all together, I should point out that she is a truck, a 4 x 4 wheel drive truck and she carries with her a 100kva generator!

 

Yes, Genevieve is our shiny new Mitsubishi Canter generator truck and you won’t find another lady like her in London.

genevieve 1

So lets start with Geneviève’s body, as I said she is a Mitsubishi Canter truck so has constant four wheel drive, high ground clearance, locking hubs, heavy duty axles and off road tires in fact many councils use the Canter as a base for their snow ploughs so she is a tough go anywhere kind of girl. She weighs in at about 6.5 tones so she’s not exactly anorexic and requires a taco (no not as in like a burrito) as in a tachograph! But don’t let that put you off, we can always find a driver if required and a spark (electrician) for that matter.

 

One quick glance inside her shapely rear end reveals the mother of all generators producing 100 Kva at your demand for anything from charging your IPhone to bringing Frankenstein’s monster back to life. With more outlets than Costa Coffee you won’t be short of places to plug into whatever you are using in fact she has:

One each of 125 and 63 amp single phase outlets and a brace of 32 and 16 Amp ones too. If you are after 3 Phase then she is equipped with a power lock and a 125 amp socket. Ok so no USB port but you can plug your phone into the cigarette lighter like everyone else.

genevivepower.jpg

 

A modest amount of storage is available for kit at the very back but if you need 100Kva then I don’t think this will be enough room for everything you are running still it’s better than a poke in the eye!

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But by far the most impressive thing about this lady is how quiet she is, I had Toby start her up for me yesterday and even with the rear service hatch wide open I swear she made less noise than a little Honda 2Kva generator and they are renowned for being quiet.

 

So if you like your women tall well built, adventurous, powerful and silent then Genevieve is the girl for you. Why not give us a call and arrange a date?

genevieve2

The only improvement I would make is a huge set of bull bars and a winch but I’ve spent too long down under so ignore me, she is a perfect 10 as Kevin Bloody Wilson would say (those easily offended should not look up Kevin or his music)

13
May
16

KOTW-Arrimax 12/18 kW High Speed Ballast.

Arrimax 12/18 kW High Speed Ballast

 

So lets face it no matter how much I try to make this sound exciting it not going to be.

This is a fabulous bit of kit but it’s never going to score highly in the wow factor despite it’s cost and weight, I would say that its most popular feature is going to be the wheels!

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I guess in the interest of spicing things up a little I should look into what a ballast actually is. Now although probably heavy enough this is definitely not the sort of ballast used to keep a boat the right way up or a balloon on the ground it’s something else entirely.

 

Put very simply, (to suit me) a ballast is an electronic device designed to limit the amount of current in an electric circuit. It automatically allows for a higher current at start up (striking) to allow for an arc to form between the electrodes in your bulb but then immediately limits that current to an optimum level, thus allowing for the bulb to produce the desired level of luminance whilst retaining its rated lifespan. Interestingly without a ballast a thing called a “negative differential resistance artifact” would cause the current in the bulb to very quickly “RISE TO DESTRUCTIVE LEVELS” and BANG. You get the idea, no more bulb, no more light.

 

So despite my obvious temptation to blow things up I guess that a ballast is a fairly important bit of kit, unless of course your dad owns Osram. So what’s so special about this one then? other than the wheels that is.

 

Well its what’s known as a high-speed ballast and no that’s got nothing to do with the wheels, for a start they would be alloys and have low profile tyres on them if this was some kind of racing machine. No high speed refers to the ability of the ballast to produce a virtually constant output over the entire AC cycle, allowing for flicker free operation and in turn filming at higher frame rates without a problem.

 

Ok so I bet you are itching to know how this is done, well it’s all about the shape of waves. A normal AC power supply has a nice curvy wave pattern, if you care to look at it on your oscilloscope (what do you mean you don’t have an oscilloscope, call yourself a photographer but don’t have an oscilloscope for goodness sake!) it looks something like this.

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Now, a normal “magnetic” ballast does a pretty good job in smoothing this out but if we look at the image below you can see that the light output fluctuates or flickers.

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That flicker plays havoc when we are shooting at high frame rates so is not ideal.

 

A high-speed ballast like the Arri 12/18 kW squares off the wave pattern and in turn produces a far more constant light output see below.

 

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Clever Stuff eh??

c4

 

 

 

 

With this consistent output high frame rate filming becomes possible without issue. Arri says that frame rates up to 3000 fps are possible when using multiple sources due to the ability to use up to 1200Hz lamp operation. With a single source the new 1000Hz ballasts are fine for lighting at frame rates of 1000 fps and in many cases even faster.

 

Happily for us this square wave format should increases the life of the bulb by around 20% and you will be pleased to know it can also increase the light output by 6-8% so it is hip to be square after all.

 

Now with every up side it seems a down side must follow and surprise surprise this is no exception. The issue with square waves (other than being useless to surf) is noise. The square waves can cause the globe and igniter to buzz, the head becomes a resonating chamber and the noise, now amplified is projected out of the front of the light (because it has a big hole at the front) straight towards the set. This is not an issue unless you are recording sound and then it’s a nuisance to say the least. But an answer is at hand and it involves cutting corners!

 

By using a special circuit in the ballast the corners of the square waves can be “rounded off” this prevents the buzz and keeps the sound guys happy. This does have an effect on the Hz that you can run at unfortunately but the Arri unit still can put out a very respectful 50-60Hz for low noise environments.

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So that was exciting wasn’t it I hope we are all now fully trained as far as waving is concerned and I would expect to see a marked increase in oscilloscope sales in the near future.

 

But back to the ballast in question I’ve had a bit of a look at its technical specifications and it has a couple of nice features beyond its wave changing trickery, how about cold striking and hot re striking and dimming from 100 -50% of power, oh and did I mention wheels?

 

This ballast also features DMX remote dimming capabilities (that’s fairly self explanatory) and an Active Line Filter for Power Factor Correction (a what for what?). from what I can understand about this it results in a more efficient power use and also assures a consistent colour output despite dimming or mains voltage fluctuations.

 

Full safety protection for over heating, short circuit and over voltage issues is built into the circuitry making for worry free operation. ABS and a drivers side airbag are not included however so be careful when pushing it around.

 

Well, I got through that without too much brain ache and I hope you did too?  Ballasts are never going to rock your world, but without them we would be in the dark (literally) so I am glad people like Arri are putting so much effort into making them better. I am hesitant to give a BCR Brucie coolness rating as its not going to score high enough on the cool side of things so on this occasion I will use my special BCR Ballast Capability Rating and award a 10 out of 10 to this beast.

 

Oh and it weighs about 49kg so if you have an assistant to punish let us know and we will take the wheels off!!!!

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Cheers BB




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