Choosing the right fresnel lenses, lights, and attachments can be difficult. So, let’s talk about some affordable options.
Whether you’re a seasoned cinematographer or just getting into videography, learning how your lights work is just as important as learning about what they can do. Today we’re going to talk about what fresnel lenses are, how to maximize their capabilities, and which ones on the market are worth your time and money.
What are fresnel lights used for?
Originally used to focus the beam of light in lighthouses, the fresnel lens is made up of concentric rings of glass that get thicker towards the center, focusing the light as it shines on the plane. So basically, its like a magnifying glass of sorts for light. Fresnel lenses and lights have a focused, magnified beam. So when you use this on tungsten lights, LED attachments, or entire “fresnel lights” you’re getting a focused area of light thats meant for easier control by the crew/operator/DP. So, lets take a look at some of the best fresnel lights and fresnel attachments on the market.
ARRI 650W Fresnel
Sometimes all you need for lighting is an oldie-but-goodie like the ARRI 650W. Image via Felipe Mahecha.
There’s no way to not mention this light. Its a standard, reliable, capable fresnel light that you’re almost guaranteed to see on most sets. While LED fresnel fixtures are obviously more popular right now, you’ll most likely always run into this one at some point.
The ARRI 650W features two options: flood or spotlight. You can expect the shadows to be harsh from this powerful 120 VAC light. If you’re looking for a few ways you can use this light and to have an overall better understanding of how to use light to its full advantage, check out Todd Blankenship’s video “10 Things I Know About Lighting.”
CAME TV Boltzen 55W Focus-able Fresnel Lights
These are solid. There’s not much to say other than you’re paying a low price for something that will consistently perform. They’re durable, they’re powerful, and they’re portable. The size is great and they’re perfect for acting as a backlight. You can also use them for any type of practical bounce in the background or fill light without setting up a big lighting rig.
I talk a little bit about these lights in the video below. I recommend purchasing the pack. I’ve found the more you have access to, the more experimental you can be with your cinematography.
Aputure Mini20d Fresnel Light
Similar to the CAME Boltzen Lights listed above, this smaller light packs a punch without blowing a hole through your wallet. Boasting an impressive 40,000 lux from .5 meters away, these are way more powerful than you might think. Just like a classic fresnel light, you have the option to apply a flood or spotlight setting.
You may have noticed that barn doors are a reoccurring feature on these lights. Barn doors are a great way to shape the already focused light fresnel lenses offer. Fresnels are meant for total control over the illumination occurring in your set. So, not only can you shape the light by using the barn doors, you can also diffuse or change the color temperature by attaching gels and diffusing to the barn doors. Just make sure to mind the temperature of your light so that it isn’t melting the gel or diffusion.
Aputure released a great look at shaping light with barn doors. Check it out below.
Impact Fresnel Spot Attachment
Now the idea here is simple. You attach this to your LED light fixture and it acts as a lens, giving you the fresnel look. I consider this more of a lens than an “attachment.”
You can put filters on it, focus the light, and control it in ways you really can’t control barn doors. This particular model is on the cheap side and some people say it doesn’t give them the acute edges they need from a spotlight effect. But, for a general flood fresnel recreation this will get the job done.
Aputure Fresnel Attachment
If you’re looking for a cheap solution, this Aputure-specific mount is perfect. Now, I know this means you have to own an Aputure light. But I just got my hands one of these and I have to give it a shoutout.
As mentioned above, this light intensifies the power of the light as the fresnel lens focuses the beam harnessing the brightness in the process. If you’re looking to create a spotlight/fresnel effect, this is the best possible setup for creating the effect on the cheap. This mount is only compatible with Aputure’s 120 and 300d lineup.
Learn more about lighting for video with these articles:
Cinematography Tips: How to Use Additive and Reductive LightingTop 10 DIY Lighting Rig Tutorials to Light Up Your SetColor Temperature and 3 Point Lighting BasicsUsing Tungsten Lighting in a Daylight-balanced SceneCinematography Tips: 10 Things Beginners Need to Know About Lighting
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