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Thread: Making my own studio lights

  1. #1
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    Default Making my own studio lights

    Hi, I've read this article on nikonians.org. This fellow Nikonian used daylight balance fluorescent tubes for his "studio".

    http://www.nikonians.org/dcforum/DCForumID49/225.html

    I'd like to make one myself too. Anybody knows where this kind of tubes are sold in Singapore? I suppose they need to be at least 3' or 4' in length to be suitable for portrait. Think I'll need to get those electronic ballast for constant light output. This project will probably be less than S$100.00 and I'd be willing to give out a try.

    Any help would be appreciated.

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    IMO,dun waste time doing it la,wad F-stop can u get using those lights ?get a 250watt electra strobe from RUBY lor ard $320 only.
    just my personal opinions.

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    Originally posted by kex
    IMO,dun waste time doing it la,wad F-stop can u get using those lights ?get a 250watt electra strobe from RUBY lor ard $320 only.
    just my personal opinions.
    These the ones which screw onto a normal light socket?

    Regards
    CK

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    Actually using AC slave flash will be much more easier, cost only $110 each, mounted to the screw-type household lamp holder. (GN 22 meter/ISO 100). I use two pieces of it for portraiture.

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    Originally posted by tsdh
    Actually using AC slave flash will be much more easier, cost only $110 each, mounted to the screw-type household lamp holder. (GN 22 meter/ISO 100). I use two pieces of it for portraiture.
    How does this work? I suppose it's plug into the mains AC power, and since it's a slave flash, it's triggered by on-camera flash? The bulb used is should be specialized for photography right?

    Hmm...I had that wacky idea because I thought of building my own light box with daylight fluorescent tubes.

  6. #6

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    Originally posted by kex
    IMO,dun waste time doing it la,wad F-stop can u get using those lights ?get a 250watt electra strobe from RUBY lor ard $320 only.
    just my personal opinions.
    not very encouragingleh...u never knows...Foo might be able to invent a better and affordable light business in Singapore!
    DR KOH KHO KING

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    we'll see

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    Originally posted by Nikonian Foo
    How does this work? I suppose it's plug into the mains AC power, and since it's a slave flash, it's triggered by on-camera flash? The bulb used is should be specialized for photography right?
    Hmm...I had that wacky idea because I thought of building my own light box with daylight fluorescent tubes.
    You're right, it is actually a slave flash, but it uses AC power line instead of battery. Triggered by camera-flash (usually I use normal flash attached with cable for better positioning).

    If you're using fluorescent tubes, then the color balance is out (difficult to find a correctly balanced daylight fluorescent tubes). Must use CC filter, otherwise the result will have greenish cast.

  9. #9

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    hi Nikonian Foo,

    I have done something similar to what you have described. I used four 4 foot fluorescent tubes and two electronic ballasts(each can drive two tubes) mounted on my homemade black housing and wooden adjustable light stand. The tubes and ballast can be bought from most shops that sells lighting equipment. I got mine from Sim Lim Tower. The tubes I use are Philips high CRI 5000k daylight fluorescent tube, costs about 6 dollar each and the ballast costs $20 each. So I paid about $60+ for the setup.

    e905591s

  10. #10

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    Originally posted by e905591s
    hi Nikonian Foo,

    I have done something similar to what you have described. I used four 4 foot fluorescent tubes and two electronic ballasts(each can drive two tubes) mounted on my homemade black housing and wooden adjustable light stand. The tubes and ballast can be bought from most shops that sells lighting equipment. I got mine from Sim Lim Tower. The tubes I use are Philips high CRI 5000k daylight fluorescent tube, costs about 6 dollar each and the ballast costs $20 each. So I paid about $60+ for the setup.

    e905591s
    That's very interesting... I was also thinking of making my own lights. The problem is finding the right color temp bulbs/tubes and fitting appropriate softboxes or diffusers to the lamp. Can u tell us more details on how u constructed your setup? I don't know much about electrical stuff though...

  11. #11

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    I am not sure if I could adequately describe my DIY light, but I will give it a try. Basically, if you can follow simple wiring diagram and are confident with a electrical test pen, there shouldn't be any problem with the electrical wiring after obtaining the parts from the shop. It's just typical fluorescent tube afterall.

    For the tubes, you can use high CRI tubes (CRI=Colour Rendition Index, higher CRI, up to 100, means the light produced by the tube is nearer to that from sunlight). I am using Philips TL'D 36W /865, which gives a CRI of only 85 and with a correlated colour temperature of 6.5k Kelvin. If you want higher CRI tube, there are tubes that give CRI95, though the price will be higher.

    I don't need any softboxes or diffusers because fluorescent tubes are diffused source by nature, so the light casted is soft and gentle.

    As for the lamp housing itself, I used black colour corrugated plastic from Popular Bookstore and made a shallow, rectangular tray of about 4'x1.5' to house the 4 tubes. I did put a piece of aluminium foil behind the tubes to reflect more light towards the subject.

    Basically that's my setup, hope it didn't confuse you too much with my vague description.


    e905591s

  12. #12

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    this is interesting. Could you show us some pictures taken via your own home setting, I mean portrait pictures. Thank you.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Making my own studio lights

    Originally posted by Nikonian Foo
    Hi, I've read this article on nikonians.org. This fellow Nikonian used daylight balance fluorescent tubes for his "studio".

    http://www.nikonians.org/dcforum/DCForumID49/225.html

    I'd like to make one myself too. Anybody knows where this kind of tubes are sold in Singapore? I suppose they need to be at least 3' or 4' in length to be suitable for portrait. Think I'll need to get those electronic ballast for constant light output. This project will probably be less than S$100.00 and I'd be willing to give out a try.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    You'd want a tube like the Osram L36W/12-950. It's a 4 feet long fluoro with a CRI of 95. I think the color temp is around 5000K. I use it in my darkroom. Uses the standard ballast that you'd use with any 4 feet tube (i.e., you can install it in the standard HDB fluoro fixture).

    Any good lighting shop that sells Osram should be able to order it for you. (e.g., Chan Huat at Balestier). I bought mine straight from the agent because I bought a lot at one time.

    I think they've an equivalent tube that's 2 feet long. You can use it to make another smaller box which would be easier to control in terms of light direction with flags and egg crates. (Or make a dual purpose slide sorter/shooting light! If you're using it to make a slide sorter/viewer box, check out any Fuji E6 spec sheet for the ISO viewing requirements in terms of light intensity)

    The thing with consumer digital is that the colour of the light source is somewhat not as critical as for film (generally speaking). A CRI of 85-90 should suffice.

    I have a simple still life setup used occasionally for teaching purposes that utilises a screw in compact fluoro that's best described as "cool white". There's enough blue in the spectrum of that bulb for good blue color accuracy (usually very lacking in incandescent type lights).

    As long you just do a manual detect white balance before the shoot the colours are superbly accurate. That's the neat thing about many of the consumer digicams these days - that manual detect WB. Does away with a lot of the light and filter issues of the past..........

    Always warm up the lights for about 5-10 minutes before taking a reading (this short is ok for new tubes/bulbs), longer for older ones.
    Last edited by kahheng; 19th May 2003 at 09:51 PM.

  14. #14
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    The description is excellent! Kewl...Once I get back to Singapore, I'll visit Sim Lim Tower. Making my own studio lights doesn't seems like a bad idea anymore!
    Last edited by Nikonian Foo; 19th May 2003 at 10:26 PM.

  15. #15

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    KahHeng, the Osram specs looks good. 5000-5400K, CRI of 90-100. How much does a tube cost? Are there shorter ones like 2 or 3 feet long?

    I might be fabricating a steel/aluminum fixture with 4 tubes to be mounted on a sturdy tripod using the 3/8" head thread. Swivel up/down and panning ability, with dimmers as well if possible. Doing my research now...

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    e905591s

    can you provide the wiring diagram and a picture of your set up?
    also what balast to use?

    thanx in advance.

    finkster : if i am not wrong, i think the dimmer depends on the balast to be used.

  17. #17

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    Wiring for the setup is very simple since only two components are involved, namely the electronic ballast and the FL tube itself. It's even printed on the ballast, at least on the local made Elbiru electronic ballasts I bought.

    FL tube
    ____----------___________-------------------------------___
    240V |Electronic|--------------------------------------------|
    ____| Ballast |----------------------------------------------|
    ---------------------------------------------------------

    I will try to shoot some pics of it during the weekend.

    I have seen dimmable FL ballast that can dim the tube to about 20% of full output. But I am not sure about whether there's any significant changes to the light output spectrum. And I don't think the dimmable ballast would be cheap as a starter project.

  18. #18

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    Oopssss.... I am sorry. Seems that my ASCII diagram doesn't work here.

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