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Kino Flo FAQs

Kino Flo FAQs

What is the difference Kino Flos and store bought fluorescents?

Kino Flo True Match® lamps are the only High Output (HO) fluorescent lamps designed to correspond to the spectral sensitivity of film and digital imaging. In 1995 Kino Flo was awarded an Academy Award for Technical Achievement for its unique lamp engineering and fixture designs.

Is there a color difference between Kino Flo lamps operating in an architectural fixture vs. a Kino Flo fixture?

Kino Flo’s 4ft and 2ft T12 800ma lamps can be used in architectural fixtures. Due to the lower operating currents of architectural fixtures, the Kino Flo lamps may appear slightly more magenta to the eye than the same lamps in Kino Flo fixtures. However, on film, video or digital the light quality of the two fixture types matches.

What is the difference between single pin lamps and double pin lamps?

Single pin lamps are referred to as Slimline fluorescents. Slimline lamps will not operate on Kino Flo HO ballasts. Most double pin (bi-pin) lamps will operate on Kino Flo ballasts. However, Kino Flo HO ballasts will shorten the life span of store bought bi-pin lamps.

Do Kino Flo lamps operate in architectural High Output (HO) fixtures?

Architectural HO fixtures can range in lengths of 4ft, 6ft and 8ft. They use a lamp that has a double recessed bi-pin end cap. It looks similar to a single pin lamp but the pin is hollow and oval shaped. Kino Flo 6ft and 8ft lamps can be modified with an accessory Double Recessed End Cap that slides over the lamps normal medium bi-pins. However, Kino Flo 4ft lamps cannot be modified this way because architectural 4ft HO lamps are three inches shorter.

Why do some lamps in a fixture seem slightly different?

Slight variations in appearance are common from lamp to lamp. The age of a lamp and the batch number can account for variations. When evaluating color temperature, position the color meter at least 24 inches (.5 meter) from the fixture or lamp. Holding the meter too close may result in inaccurate readings.

What does High Output (HO) mean?

High Output (HO) is the term to describe lamps that are burning at a higher than Standard (Std) lamp current. Normal fluorescent lamp currents operate a lamp at between 280ma to 320ma. HO refers to lamps operating at or above 800ma. Lamps operating at 1500ma are referred to as Very High Output (VHO). Kino Flo Select ballasts can switch between HO/4ft and Std/2ft lamp operation.

Why do my lamps read green on my color meter?

In a fixture with restricted air flow, lamps can heat up and exceed the temperature operating range for good color. Lamps should never be fully enclosed with gel or diffusion. As the temperature of a lamp increases, so does the mercury pressure in the lamp. This increased mercury pressure appears as a blue green light. The higher the temperature the bluer and greener a lamp will appear.

Tip: If a 4ft lamp is operating too hot and the color is shifting green, move the select switch to Std (or 2ft). This will reduce the lamp current and drop the green spike.

Dimming vs. Switching

All fluorescent lamps will drift toward magenta when dimmed. The shift is continual as the lamp physically cools. Kino Flo recommends only dimming one f-stop to ensure good color. The Select Ballast series changes light levels without affecting color balance by switching lamps on and off, and by using the 2ft/4ft select switch, which adjusts the lamps by 1/2 f -stop.

How do color meters read fluorescent lamps?

Unfortunately color meters available to cinematographers are far from being scientifically accurate when reading fluorescents. They act as a great comparative tool to determine differences between two given light sources but are inadequate in providing definitive data. You will rarely find two color meters, even if they are the same make and model, that provide equal data. Results between meters may be similar but not identical.


What is the select switch for?

The select switch is used to optimize lamp perf o rmance and color temperature. Four-foot lamps should operate at the 4ft setting. Two-foot lamps should operate at the 2ft setting. The select switch can also be used to control light output by switching a 4ft lamp from 4ft to 2ft in a 1/8 f-stop increment.

Caution: If a 2ft lamp operates in the 4ft setting the color may turn green and not match the color of a 4ft lamp.

Tip: If a 4ft lamp is operating too hot and the color is shifting green, move the select switch to Std (or 2ft). This will reduce the lamp current and drop the green spike.

Can I shoot at 50Hz?

Kino Flo ballasts can operate at 50Hz, 60Hz and as high as 400Hz. When shooting in a 50Hz country, it will be important to use a 230VAC ballast or use a step down transformer. The Kino Flo ballast is designed to be flicker free in either a 50Hz or 60Hz environment.

Can I use an inverter and battery pack to operate a Kino Flo ballast?

Kino Flo recommends a pure sine wave inverter. Inexpensive saw tooth or near sine wave inverters may not work.

Can I use a Kino Flo Inverter with a car battery?

Kino Flo’s Inverter System is an integrated system. The battery packs and power cables are sized to allow sufficient power to operateas much as 1800 watts. A regular car battery would not have significant power to drive the system.

When should I use an Opto-Isolator?

Opto-Isolators are recommended for DMX runs greater than 250ft.

Can I shoot at any shutter speed and not get flicker?

Kino Flo ballasts are designed to be flicker free at any shutter speed. As with any electronics, failure of certain components within the ballast may result in flicker on a highspeed shot. For this reason it is advisable to run a camera test on any critical high-speed shot.

Can I use Kino Flo ballasts on a dimmer board?

Kino Flo ballasts can operate through a dimmer board. Set the operating channel as a non-dim control. This enables the board to turn the ballast on or off. The lamps will not dim through the dimmer. If the ballast is dimmed on the dimmer the lamps will strobe and go out. A DMX dimmer board can switch individual lamps on and off or dim certain models of fixtures through DMX commands.

How many extensions can I run with Kino ballasts?

Do not exceed 3 x 25ft extensions. Using more extensions may result in lamp instability.

Why is the neutral drawing more than the hot leg?

Kino Flo ballasts are generally not power factor corrected. They will draw double the current on the neutral from what is being drawn on the two hot legs. On large installations it may be necessary to double your neutral run so as not to exceed your cable capacity. The Diva-Lite and ParaBeam series of fixtures are power factor corrected and do not need additional capacity on the neutral.

When should I use the Multi-Flo ballasts over regular Select ballasts?

Multi-Flos are ideally suited for studio installations in which you want DMX control over large numbers of individual lamps that are rigged into the set. Multi-Flos are also well suited for operating 4Bank fixtures for a Blue or Green Screen. The Multi-Flo is a more efficient means of stacking.

Lighting Blue/Green Screens

Bluescreen vs Green Screen?

In film, the determining factor may be the colors of the subject (contrast to screen). In television and video work, the color green has traditionally been used for chromakey work.

Why use Kino Flos to light a blue or green screen?

For the best results the screen needs to be lit evenly and with the best possible color saturation. Evenness is easily achieved using Kino Flos because of the soft quality of the light and the wide beam spread. The best saturation of color is achieved by using blue-spike lamps on blue screens and green-spike lamps on green screens. It’s not as much about how much light is used to light a screen, but rather what produces the best saturation of reflected blue or green light.

Other benefits of using Kino Flos?

Benefits include: ten times more light per watt than tungsten lighting; manual and DMX remote light level control without color shift; fast set-up; low power consumption; low heat; and cost savings from not using color gels.

Which fixtures should I use?

Because lighting screens is about evenness, you generally want to use bigger fixtures with the widest beam spread. For portability and versatility, 4ft/4Bank Systems and Image 45/85 DMX fixtures have been the most popular units for blue and green screen applications.

However, depending on the size of the screen (especially in installations) Double Systems (4ft, 6ft, 8ft) and 4Banks (4ft, 6ft, 8ft) can be used. Sometimes choosing the appropriate fixture is based upon the size of the screen that needs to be lit. Bigger units covering more area become more economical. Diva-Lites with their smaller profile and ParaBeams with their more directional beam can also be used, but the results usually are not as efficient as Image fixtures.

If blue and green spike lamps display the best saturation, why not use them 100 % of the time?

There are times when the subject is very close to the screen or standing on a cyclorama with a floor painted blue or green. In these cases where it is impossible to keep the light from contaminating the subject matter, we recommend using our KF32 (3200K) Lamps. The KF32 Lamps deliver all the benefits of evenness, but they do not have as much contaminating red spectrum as tungsten hot lights.

Where do I place the fixtures?

The general rule: about the height of the screen, half that distance in front at a 45% angle. So if the screen is 20ft (7m) high, the lights would hang 8-10ft (3-3.5m) in front of the screen. Generally, the 4ft fixtures are rigged 2–3ft (1m) apart in a row. On screens lower than 20ft (7m), one row across the top is sufficient. For better evenness and a brighter screen, a row of fixtures may be placed along the bottom as well.

Is there light drop off in the middle of the screen?

Use a spot meter, not an incident meter to get readings. Our experience has been that if the fixtures are properly placed we have not seen more than a 1/10th difference (spot meter) from top to bottom of screen. On screens 40ft (13m), the screen is evenly lit having one row across the top and one row across the bottom. For taller screens 60-80ft (20-26m) an additional row may be placed on the top and angled more towards the center. Sometimes when units are placed on chain hoists, the lights can be moved to light the screen and still be out of camera view.

Do I need to light the subject separately from the screen?

Yes, the screen should be lit first to the light level required. Then the subject should be lit separately.

What is the light level for the subject and the screen?

For best results shoot a density wedge test to determine exposure for the screen. Generally people shoot at key for greenscreen, or underexpose the shot as much as 2/3 f-stop to 1 f-stop under key. Bluescreens are underexposed 11/2 f-stop to 12/3 f-stop below the key light level.

What should I use to light my subject?

You can choose any light for the subject. But once the screen has been lit, try to keep stray light off the screen. In many cases Kino Flos are used to illuminate the foreground subject because the soft quality of fluorescents drops off and doesn’t spill unwanted light onto the screen.