Red-Head lightning for portrait photography

Started Apr 12, 2013 | Discussions thread
leecamera Senior Member • Posts: 1,052
Re: Red-Head lightning for portrait photography

Red Heads, to those who've not heard of them, are open-face tungsten lamps that have been around for some 30-40 years.  They earned their name because the originals were red.

To be honest they're a very raw light source (although Arri make better versions in a tasteful blue) and they're not bad for lighting objects or filling generic areas - I wouldn't make them 1st choice for faces.

They use a long and delicate bulb which can pop quite easily - hence most people using the all important safety grid in front.  Red Heads come with a useful set of barndoors to control the light.

Although more efficient than an equivalent Fresnel light, for an open face design I've not found them to be as efficient as some other designs.  Because of this you're getting quite a bit of heat from them.

Red Heads are focus-able but because they're open face they have a sweet spot and less sweet spots to the light pattern.  Either way they need a quality softbox (I'd not risk anything less than a Chimera because of the heat) or full diffusion to blend the light into a better quality light source.

These can be quite cheap but they're not the greatest choice of lamps.  I have a couple for my video kit, but of the 16 video lights I carry as standard with my broadcast kit - these are possibly the least used.

It depends what you need them for exactly but it may be worth looking at other options.

Take care though if looking at LED options as the cheaper ones have a distinct green spike in the spectrum that won't mix well with other lights.

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