I've seen loads of quality HMI's sell for severely cut prices on Craigslist LA. I drive from San Diego for the market sometimes. Some of the best deals I've seen included a 1.2k HMI with ballast for $800, a 2.5k with ballast for $600. The bigger units tend to sell for cheaper while the 15a-capable ones have more demand, you won't find Arri's that cheap though, but stuff like Strand or Desisti/Ianiro are commonly found for thousands less than buying elsewhere.
Thread: Advice purchasing HMI lights
Results 21 to 30 of 53
07-26-2012 03:49 PM
- Join Date
- Feb 2012
07-26-2012 08:08 PM
I own 5 LTM HMIs: 2x 200w, 2x 575w, 1x 1.2kw - all bought used.
I was in the same boat as you at some point looking at all available options and settled on used LTMs because of smaller form factor then Arris and the price difference between used LTMs and new CoolLights. Richard of CoolLights post very frequently so i'm sure if you go that route you will experience great costumer service.
Things that i ran into when buying used:
- stuck spot/flood knobs on 200w lights - had to grease up the screw inside
- worn out knob on one light (the knob that keep it pointed horizontally) - had to replace it
- missing lenses - had to but new ones
- loud fan on the electronic ballast - replaced it with quiet one
- dirt and rust - after cleaning the head looks "like new"
- loud magnetic ballast - bought a used replacement (adding extra $400 to original price)
- significant paint chips on the outside of the ballast - repainted it
- worn out padding on the horizontal position knobs - had to replace those
- partially cut feeder cable to the head - replaced it so that it's not safety hazard
07-27-2012 12:36 AM
- Join Date
- Feb 2005
- Washington, the state.
"But I do agree, Cool lights are terrible and NOT a good investment. You might as well buy a beat up truck painted new from the 80s, because it will only last you (if lucky) a few months.
First time I work with one, ballast decides to flip out and destroy a bulb. Expensive bulb."
I have a selection of different fixtures including Arris, Moles and Cool Lights. I can't speak directly to the Cool Lights HMIs quality, but I have purchased 3 fixtures from Cool Lights and they have delivered value, been of reasonable quality for an owner operator, and have always received SUPERIOR customer service. I have forwarded ideas and comments to Richard, and he always responds promptly, very promptly.
It is a pretty cheap shot to crap on Cool Lights products due to one bad experience, on a non-owned light, when you don't own any HMIs, and you can't supply any details so that the manufacturer who participates here can man up and defend his product in public. Most manufacturers would hide there tails under the circumstances. You may have all the experience in the world, but if you crap on somebody, give enough detail that they can defend themselves.
07-27-2012 01:19 AM
HMIs are really NOT the kind of lighting equipment people with no experience of a range of types should touch. Everything about them is a potential problem. Their one exceptional feature is light output. Probably 4 times that of the equivalent incandescent lamp. Downsides are complexity and reliability, dimming capability (either none or very limited) extreme temperatures and the potential for flicker.
Only yesterday I had one die on me during something important. A pop, then no light. Remove a brand new £80 lamp from it's box, wait ten minutes until it was cool enough to remove the old one with heat proof gloves - which are so thick, delicate re-lamping is pretty tricky. Then I discover the problem wasn't the lamp because the new one didn't ignite. Detailed inspection afterwards revealed rain had at some point entered the ballast and the transformer had been wet. After the water evaporated, probably when it was sitting unused, the copper coils started to corrode, and eventually they shorted, which was the pop heard. A new transformer is a major cost item, if I can actually get one and fit it myself - the option suggested is send it to the manufacturer for repair. Basically, the water damage could be worse than I suspect so the transformer may not be the only damaged part.
HMIs are very useful when you need lots of light from a small number of sources. I've just spent a huge amount of money replacing the dodgy one - I doubt I'll get the expenditure back quickly!
I'm 100% happy to use cheaper Chinese products and have quite a few genuine Arri Fresnels and some of the Chinese similar ones - The build quality difference is not a problem, and they pass a UK PAT test for electrical safety. However, I will not buy any of their HMIs, because the voltages inside the unit to strike the lamp are much higher, and I'm not convinced the standard is good enough. It probably is, but it worries me. Power consumption of discharge sources peaks on start up, so power supplies need to be capable of withstanding the peak. Here in the UK, I can power up 4 discharge 575W fixtures at the same time from a 16A source, but not a 13A source - it trips. Power them up one at a time it's fine. 1200W discharge fixtures take quite a bit more than that on their strike. This means proper power supply planning.
Restrike is dependent on the electronics being able to restart the lamp when the internal pressure is still high - kind of 'cleverer' electronics - or perhaps more expensive would be more accurate. Many of the Chinese fixtures cannot do reliable hot restarts, where the original big name brands can.
So for me - I'd suggest an alternative if you don't have a big budget and a big running budget - if you drop one taking it out of the van, it can be very expensive for a new lamp. You also need to record running time, so you can establish when to change lamps. It is not recommended to let them go on until they fail because they can explode and leave you with glass everywhere!
07-27-2012 04:39 AM
I only bring HMIs in, when I really really have no other option.
I had so much trouble and downtime with them (no mater what brand and age) I can't wait til those new plasma light show up at my rental houses, so I can bury that HMI stuff for ever.
Regarding the - so called - "industry standard", there is no such thing.
Some guys just made that up, it's a myth.
A lot of well respected DPs have no problem to trow gear from Home Depot in the mix, others build their own lighting systems, cause they are not happy, with what the market supplies.
07-27-2012 02:04 PM
(1k bulb in there lasted with constant use a few months, on the Mole... Bought them about 6-7 months ago, still havent changed it)
They would still work well, but some knobs were coming loose, metal bending, etc. But I also did have some other ones that did last a while, I still have them sitting in the garage gathering dust, and I'm sure they would still work. But think of this, you ARE paying a little under half of what you'd pay for a good tungsten kit, so if you can deal with the tradeoff then its fine.
I don't mean to "crap" out on anyone, you just have to imagine this. Should I buy a used brand hmi that will last me maybe another 15 years with good care and could even be rented out, or get a new off-brand HMI that will last under 5 years with minimal use.
Don't get me wrong, Cool Lights make some good stuff, but as he said, its not meant to be rental equipment. I just like my stuff to last me decades if possible.
I say the same thing when people ask me to compare stabilizers. I've pushed people away from Flycams, at first they were skeptical when I say they should consider renting or just saving up for at least a glidecam, but they thank me later for saving them money.
And again, Don't get me wrong. Flycams are alright for students and what not, maybe for hobbyist and youtubers.
Main reason why I say this Is because I really hate stepping on set when theres ALOT of money involved, and seeing off brand equipment, and we're sitting there wasting time while someone is taking ages to balance a flycam, or dealing with an LED light that has a weird color temperature, etc. I can deal with people handing me offbrand lights on set, I mean they're paying me, and its a heck of a lot better than sitting around doing nothing, but I'd never buy one. Just... don't you think its better for me to be helping the other grips set up instead of trying to re-wire lights? In the end, doing it the old school way saves you money if you think about it.
Spending that little extra on brand equipment can save the day. Remember Tiffen did all the scientific research to get a perfect balance, Arri and Mole did all the scientific research to get perfect airflow. 99% of off-brand equipment manufacturers just copied everything.
I can't say the same thing about CoolLights, because maybe they DID do research, as I've seen they make the most offbrand equipment i've seen.
And just see what Paulears says, HMIs aren't toys. Most people who are looking to buy cheap HMIs should just turn around, they are VERY delicate (Very delicate = easy to break). I've had many chances of purchasing HMIs, but for now I just avoid that and let rental houses deal with them. I don't want to buy an electronic ballast to just have it flip out and die the next day, and be out 5 grand!
I'll say it once, I'll say it again. Rent! Rent! Rent!
07-27-2012 02:54 PM
For those of you that have never used HMI's before and are thinking about purchasing used units, be aware that shipping will be fairly expensive and should be factored into the purchase price. You could expect to add anywhere from $200 to $800 in shipping charges. The ballasts are heavy suckers, especially on the larger wattage lights.David W. Jones
07-27-2012 04:07 PM
I have found that we seldom use anything but HMI's and Kinoflo's anymore, either for ourself our in our rental inventory. It seems that most the high end shooters are sensitive to the fact that sensors look better when lit with daylight sources.
For sure day light sources are more expensive and complicated and you would be advised to know how to handle these instruments before using. If you own these sources you should also be on good terms with a quality repair shop. There are a few that I recommend highly GFS lighting and Galaxy lighting. Both are in Southern CA. Both are fair and fast in their repairs.
Remember electronic ballasts are the standard now days but they are very fragil so they do require service often. For this reason we almost always keep a safety backup magnetic ballast for every head. Yeah, it gets expensive.Paul
Camera and Grip Electric Rentals in Dallas and Shreveport
Phoenix Video Productions
07-27-2012 04:46 PM
- Join Date
- Feb 2005
- Washington, the state.
I never implied that there isn't better equipment than Cool Lights. There is. But my point was that if you are going to crap on them, and they are trying to get info on what went wrong or to remedy the situation, you should be willing to supply some details and not deal in innuendo. You are obviously an opinionated person, as many here tend to be; no problem there. I just think you should offer up more specifics and or deal directly with Richard since he is asking you for specific info about your (bad) experiences. I think in a public forum, you owe him that lest you sound like you have a hidden agenda.
Ya, if I was buying rental gear, I'd probably not buy Cool Lights, but I own all my own gear and since I am distant enough from major rental markets renting just doesn't work. Can you imagine shipping cost both directions for a HMI for a small corporate shoot? I buy the best gear I can afford and take care of it, so maybe a step down from top-o-the-line works for me. Moles seem to be the most durable, but my Arris have served me well and when I need it, it is there on no notice. So when I think about major purchases, I do my research, usually spend a little more than I want to, but always have to consider my ROI since my investment in my business is always at risk.