But what about tungsten and HMI lighting? Tests for six months in the FLAAR test studios demonstrated that fluorescent lighting (such as Videssence and Balcar) had many advantages
over tungsten and other hot lights.

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Use fluorescent lighting for large format professional digital photography?

Fluorescent lighting is cool, and does not melt your subject, does not wilt the photographer and assistants, and does not upset the digital system. CCD scanning cameras are sensitive to heat.

Videssence provided a complete set of studio lights and we tested them for six months in our studio (at that time on location in Guatemala, Central America).

Now we are testing at our studio in Essen, Germany. Videssence lights are available for Europe but are not as common here. At Photokina we did not see a stand for Videssence, but we did find a large and impressive stand for Balcar as well as for another company featuring fluorescent lighting, Fotoleuchten Grigull.

Balcar Studio lights

Of the lights that I inspected at Photokina '98 in Cologne, Balcar and Fotoleuchten Grigull seemed to have a better mirror system. This means that more light reaches your subject. In digital photography, because of the heavy filters on the lens, you need every extra unit of light that you can generate. Video and television cameras don't need much illumination. At Seybold '99 (San Francisco) Balcar lights were used in the booth of Calumet Digital Solutions. North Light fluorescent lights were also used there, for the display of the capabilities of the Better Light digital system.

At DRUPA trade show Balcar lights were used by Creo to demo their digital camera. Balcar lighting was also used at the Sinar booth if I remember correctly. In other words, professional photographers who can afford the best opt for Balcar lighting. In the USA Balcar lights are distributed exclusively by Calumet.

Most of these fluorescent lights were originally made for TV studios, indeed Videssence lights CNN and probably more than half the TV studios across America. This means that the fixtures were originally designed to hang down from the ceiling. If you have a portable studio working on location then you need to be sure to obtain alternative solutions to holding the lights. North Light appears to have developed an outstanding system of holding the fluorescent fixtures in a manner that makes it easy to arrange the lights in a whatever position you desire.

If you want contact Balcar directly, via e-mail: sales@balcar.fr

Rosco color callibration

Rosco color calibration

A nice feature of fluorescent lighting is that (for digital photography) they can be mixed with traditional halogen tungsten lights. This is because your digital camera can balance to a gray card even if sun light is mixed in with all your other lighting types. I am not sure I would try this for a million dollar assignment for a color management ad poster, but for normal photography it is impressive how digital cameras balance for lighting mixtures that would never be possible if using traditional film. Equally obviously, you get better light balance if you stick with one system of lighting.


On the subject of lighting, be sure to use Rosco filters if you need to tweak your color temperature (review on www.maya-art-books.org) 


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