Cheap Halogen Work Lights vs Expensive Fluorescent for DSLR Video

I am starting my search for lighting gear that is cool and easy to set up.


In this video I compare the quality of Halogen to Fluorescent lighting for video work.

I have been using halogen work lights for lighting my studio videos for many years. I have a project coming up where I need good portable lighting and my halogen’s are really not that portable.

The halogen lights give good results for a small price but they have several issues with them. They use a ton of current, this one set of lights is using about 900 watts. They also are very hot, so hot I never leave them unattended. Needless to say they are also not very professional looking. They don’t mix well with daylight because of their lower color temp.

There are so many types of lights out there, but which is best for portable use? I see HMI’s used on  movie sets, but after looking at the pricing I can take that off my list. I also hear good things about Tungsten lights, but after talking to a Westcott rep, Tungsten bulbs only last about 80 hours, I can take them off the list too.

Comparing CRI Color Rendering Index on different lights

Testing color rendering index cri with diff lights

I am looking for something that runs cool and doesn’t take a ton of power.

So what does that leave me with, LED and Florescent. LED’s are coming down in price and coming up in quality and I will be review them soon, but for this video I want to compare where I started (Halogen) from to where I might be heading (Florescent).

My first question I have is which is better, Halogen or Florescent in terms of quality. My halogen’s have a color temp of about 3,200K while the Westcott softbox that B&H sent me which has Fluorescents is 5,500K. It is easy enough to white balance both sets of lights to make them look similar but I am more interested in the quality of light. I want accurate skin tones.

From what I understand one way to measure the quality is with CRI, color rendering index. From what I understand the higher the CRI the better, for instance daylight has a highest rating of 100. If you have a very low number for instance 20 for mercury-vapor you might see in a parking lot or street light makes colors looks drab and boring. Anything above 90 renders colors very accurately. For those wondering a normal Incandescent and halogen bulbs have a CRI of 100, Tungsten is around 95 for the research that I have done.

The Westcott florescent bulbs CRI is rated 93+. As you can see the quality of light for the Fluorescents are about the same as the halogen.

The Westcott bulbs are dead silent.

I didn’t see any flicker with the lights but I did notice banding happen above 160 shutter. The LED that have banding all over the place except for 60, 30 and 40.

So it looks like the Fluorescents are OK to use if you have a good quality bulb like these from Westcott. In my next video I am going to  do a full review of the Westcott.

Royalty Free Music by, song is “New York Club”.

Thanks to Joel Young for the opening bumper.