New Lighting Options Flourish
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New Lighting Options Flourish

By Tom Kirkman

Changing a light bulb is one thing, but changing the socket? That's exactly what some videographers on location would like to do when it comes to manipulating the quality of their lighting. At NAB, Lowel, an industry leader in location lighting, introduced the Rifa eXchange System (or Rifa eX for short). The exchangeable part is the clever, removable, socket-type rear assembly that enables you to use any light source you wish.

The Rifa eX is a set of four updated Rifa boxes that replace the current models while greatly expanding their versatility. Each new model of Rifa comes with a standard lamphead that uses the same Rifa lamps as always. The twist is literally that the lampheads can quickly swap for accessory heads with a push and a twist. The lampheads take screw-threaded daylight fluorescent lamps, single or in cluster, as well as lower wattage and lower voltage tungsten-halogen and incandescent lamps. Suddenly, you're using fluorescent light or maybe you've got a different wattage tungsten lamp on deck, since the socket's protective cage allows quick change without even touching the bulb.

The Rifa eX is available in the same sizes as the current Rifa line (16- x 16-inches, 21 x 21, 25 x 25, and 32 x 32) and with the same designations plus EX (LC-44EX, 55EX, 66EX, and 88EX). There are four sockets available: two tungsten and two fluorescent, accommodating wattages from 50W to 1000W and voltages of 30-240. They are interchangeable throughout the line with the exception of the TH-X1000 tungsten socket, which is too strong for the smallest Rifa. (The LC-44EX ships with the TH-X300 socket, which handles up to 300 watts.) The universal fluorescent sockets (both household screw-in) include the single FLO-X1 and the beautifully made 3-up FLO-X3. They accept 27- or 65-watt lamps.

The best news: prices will remain the same as the current Rifas. The eX models will ship in July.

Increasingly, large even light sources are being replaced by multiple small and articulate sources, especially in tight shots to achieve a greater intimacy. This, of course, demands a source that is not physically hot, placing greater emphasis on LED and fluorescent technology. In a field populated with tiny sources, notably from Kino and Litepanel, Rosco significantly raised the bar at NAB 2007 by introducing the LitePad LED Panel that's less than 1/3 of an inch (7.6mm) thick and generates almost no heat. That makes it very gel-friendly just tape it on and goes a long way to eliminating the phrase, I can't get a light in there, from a grip's vocabulary.

Available in sizes from 3 x 3 to 12 x 12-inches and rated at approximately 500 - 2800 lux (standard room light is about 500 lux), the LitePads are featherweights that can be easily taped to a surface or boom arm. Their Kelvin temperature is 6000 - 7000 degrees. Locations are seemingly endless: windows and door frames, a podium or lectern, or in an orchestra or backstage. They are perfect as a visor or dashboard light in car shots, and they even have architectural interior applications.

LitePads are sold individually the 6 x 6-" panel is $169.50 & include a simple 12v transformer.

Alternatively, you can get a 12-panel kit featuring two each of all six sizes ($2,698.95).

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