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While the average camera enthusiast may not be familiar with the name Frezzi, those in the world of electronic news gathering (ENG) and broadcasting most certainly are.  Frezzi lighting products are often spotted atop professional video cameras and their daylight balance HMI products are among the more popular sun gun fixtures available in the market. 

Copyright Byron Atkinson

 With the growth in HDSLRs among broadcasters, Frezzi has taken an integrated approach and offers platforms to its customers that address the need for lighting, power and stabilization.  This integrated approach is not new for Frezzi:  It is consistent with their product offerings for traditional video cameras.  But they are one of the few companies offering this kind of integration solution for HDSLR users, and in doing so, may undoubtedly find their product have appeal to a far broader market.

Kevin Crawford of the New Jersey-based company provides us with an interesting look at the company and its latest products.

Q:  Frezzi is probably best known for its lighting products.  What sets Frezzi apart from the other lighting companies?

KC:  Frezzi has been innovating and designing portable lighting and power packs for television news since the beginnings of terrestrial broadcasting.  My grandfather, James Frezzolini, founded the company while working as the Chief News Reel Cameraman at WPIX Channel 11 here in New York City.  As a skilled machinist and inventor, he developed the world’s first portable lights for use with 16mm Bell and Howell Film cameras used for news at that time.   It all started there and continued for the TV news industry with a broad range industry firsts, including lighting, power packs and Frezzolini 16mm film cameras.

We offer photographers and videographers their choice of lighting products; tungsten, HMIs, and LED replacement lamps.   Frezzi is the only company offering a line of highly portable and lightweight HMIs, from our 15W Micro Sun Gun to the 400W HMI Super Sun Gun.  They all can be DC battery-powered, making them great field lights.  Additionally, Frezzi lighting products are made and serviced here in the USA. 

Q:  What made Frezzi decide to enter the market with HDSLR compatible products?

KC:  It was an easy decision for us.  We have been providing Frezzi Mini-Fill lights as continuous light sources to the still photography market for years.  We actually saw a growing number of still photographers using tungsten fill lighting rather than flash units for some of their glamour and wedding work.  This eliminated harsh flash shock while utilizing continuous lighting for highlighting and accenting. Also, you cannot replicate the warmth and full color spectrum of a good tungsten lamp source. 

Given the fact that our products are designed to be portable, support and improve the handheld camcorder shooting experience, expanding the Frezzi product line to include HDSLRs was a natural.  Since some of the products we offer for HDSLRs are adaptations of products originally used for and proven to work with professional broadcast cameras.

Q;  How important is the lighting component of the HDSLR rig or system?  What advantage does the Frezzi approach offer?

KC:  The lighting is extremely important even though the HDSLR can shoot at low light.  We’ve seen some good available light video, but when a subject properly lit [with a Frezzi,] you’ll see a dramatic improvement in image quality.  The image will be more vivid and the colors will really “pop” as the light will help to separate the subject from the background.  You’ll see that “sparkle in the eyes” and bring your subject to life.  Being low light sensitive is good with the HDSLR because you can gently wash your subject with accent lighting by adjusting the dimmer control just enough to bring up the warm, golden skin tones and fully saturated colors while having the camera’s sensor working in the “sweet spot” for an ideal image.  Our rig has the advantage of the light being powered by a Frezzi battery on the back of the shoulder support which also serves as a counterbalance as well as a power source for those using a monitor and/or other accessories.

Q:  You have two types of rigs available: one which is hand held and the other which is shoulder mounted. Can you tell us about them?

KC:  Customers soon find out HDSLRs are heavy and cumbersome to shoot video, creating painful wrist and arm fatigue over time.  This makes it difficult to acquire smooth, professional-looking video when shooting for extended periods of time.  

The Frezzi Hand Held Rig is a multi-purpose stabilizer and camera support arm.  It mounts the HDSLR to the support arm, on the opposite side; it has a handle with battery mount.  This configuration is well-balanced and easy to handle because the weight of the camera, lens and other accessories is distributed along the support arm.  The Power Block battery on the handle

 

Image courtesy of Frezzi

acts as a counter-balance and power source for the Frezzi light or any other 12V accessory.  As you know, having a balanced rig helps keep the camera steady when doing handheld and roving shots. 

The Stable-Cam Shoulder Rig is a full HDSLR platform for camera, battery, and light with multiple cold shoe mounts for additional accessories like monitors, wireless mics and audio recorders.  One big design concern for us was to create the Stable-Cam as a “tool-less” assembly and also have the ability to fold up small enough to fit in a carry-on.  When deployed, the Stable-Cam is fully adjustable to different body types and every joint articulates.  One of the

 

Image courtesy of Frezzi

advantages the Stable-Cam offers is a lower waist boom which provides an additional point of contact for stabilization and relieves the weight from handholding.  You can easily adjust focus and camera settings using the Stable-Cam as 100% of the weight is balanced on your shoulder and waist.  Many users refer to it as a “Human Tripod” since it offers the ability to shoot for hours without any wrist or arm fatigue while holding the shot smooth and steady.  Again, our high capacity batteries which can power the Frezzi light, monitor or any other 12V accessory are integral to the system. 

Using one of the Frezzi HDSLR Stabilizer rigs results in the camera and accessories being both  balanced and more manageable which makes for smooth and professional looking images and video clips. 

We offer both stabilizers in “kit” configurations which include the Stabilizer, a MINI-Fill and a battery. There are different kit configurations available with MSRPs between $1150 and $1950.

Q:  Your mini “sun gun” can utilize a tungsten or LED bulb.  What factored into your decision to offer both? 

KC:  The Frezzi Mini-Fill Dimmer is an industry standard video light used by tens of thousands of professional broadcasters around the world.  It accepts any standard MR-16 lamp, with a GX5.3 socket base, up to a 100 Watts.  With the wide proliferation and availability of LED MR-16 type replacement lamps, LEDs are a logical choice when lower power consumption and long run time are considerations.  LED MR-16 lamps are “direct” lamp plug-in replacements, suitable for any MR-16 fixture. So it’s a simple evolution of technology that has made this possible.  Being able to switch back and forth between Tungsten and LED has its advantages based on shooting and lighting conditions as well as the photographer’s intent. 

Q:  What kind of run times are you estimating with the batteries that come with the systems?

KC:  Run times depend on the wattage of lamp and accessories being powered, but in general when using our Hand Held Rig and Power Block battery, the Frezzi Mini-Fill Dimmer with 35W Tungsten lamp will run for almost two hours continuously; with an 8W LED replacement lamp, the run time jumps to over eight hours of continuous light at 5500 degrees daylight color temperature.

On our Stable-Cam powered rig which uses a more robust battery, the 35W Tungsten Mini-Fill Dimmer will run almost 2.8 hours With an 8W LED replacement lamp will run for over 12 hours.

But keep in mind, with the addition of a LCD monitor and other accessories that require power, the battery run time will decrease.  

Q:  Can your HMI units be fitted on the HDSLR rigs, and if so are there any advantages to using them over tungsten and LEDs?

Frezzi HMIs can be fitted to the HDSLR rigs with ease.  Frezzi lighting has standardized shoe mounting and power connectors making substitution simple.  The advantage of HMI is their high output at daylight color temperature 5600K.  When shooting outdoors in direct sunlight or when the subject is back lit, HMIs are unequaled among continuous lighting products in their ability to light a subject effectively to eliminate shadows.  Tungsten lamps need to be color-corrected from 3200K to 5600K which will reduce their light by approximately one f-stop.  Most LED sources at this time do not have enough throw and fall off very rapidly to be effective outdoors in direct daylight.

Some of our customers are using our 15W HMIs on HDSLR rigs as a fill-in light, and our 24W HMI stand mounted, as key and back lighting.  Being all battery-powered, small and extremely portable makes them great as HDSLR portable light kits.  While these customers are using the lights as portable lightings kits with “HDSLR for News” crews, documentary work and ENG crews, we believe they will be attractive alternatives for other segments of the HDSLR market.

Frezzi HDSLR support and light products are available now.  For more information on these and other Frezzi products visit: http://www.frezzi.com or call (800) 345-1030.

Thanks to Kevin and James Crawford of Frezzi. 

Disclosure: No consideration has been received in connection with this blog entry, nor has any manufacturer and/or retailer offered any consideration

 All images in this entry and in this blog are copyrighted and used with permission.

What’s in our Sister blogs:

 HDSLRS-n-motion:  HDSLR Cameras: Products to Watch For

Byron Says:  Story Telling

 

Not surprisingly, as more and more people embrace shooting stills and motion with HDSLRs, the interest in lighting products grows at a record pace. And many are discovering—and singing the praises of—LED lighting. While many HDSLR users’ initial exposure to LED lighting is often with the small units which can be seated in the camera hot shoe, those lighting applications are merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of applications for still and motion work. LED lighting, which is short for Light Emitting Diode, has become a staple in the film and broadcasting industry.  I approached A.J.  Wedding of ESS, the worldwide distributor of LEDZ products, to talk about the LED market and their unique product range.

Q: What’s fueling the growth of LED usage for stills and motion?

AW:  There are several factors influencing the growth we are seeing:  As companies increase their online advertising, there is a demand for more multi-media collateral.  Advertisers now have an increasing need for motion.  Right now, many shoots are being done as hybrids…half still photos, half video footage.  And you can’t shoot both at the same time with flash.  The only continuous lights that have been powerful enough to match flash have been HMIs.  As more powerful LED products have become available, they have become viable competitive lighting alternatives for many imaging professionals. While LEDZ lights can currently only take the place of low-end HMIs, this is still an amazing feat.  And the technology continues to develop.

There is also the Green factor:  With the whole world going green, everyone wants to find smarter and more efficient energy solutions, and this trend has tremendous appeal in “Hollywood”. Any time you can create lights that are more energy efficient, create less heat, and still give off the true color spectrum needed for serious cinematography, it’s a no brainer.

Then there are the cost considerations: The upfront cost of the more powerful LED units like our Brute 30 unit tends to cause sticker-shock, but you really have to compare it to all of the costs associated with an equivalent HMI.  Our LEDZ lighting units and their diodes are guaranteed for 40,000 hours of usage; for the same life that our lights are guaranteed for, you will pay $55,000 for new globes for an equivalent HMI product. The savings to a rental house which on average spends $250,000 on globes per year…well, you can do the math. This translates into immediate and long term cost savings. 

 

Q:  What distinguishes the LEDZ line from some of the other LED options in the market?

 AW: LEDZ is definitely a very different type of light from other LED lights.  That is why we compare our products with HMIs, rather than other LED brands.  Most LED brands are very good at offering a nice, soft fill that is great at a distance of three to four feet.  That is not our world.  Our engineers have created a unique product that has the kind of throw and punch equal to the more powerful tungsten alternatives and HMI lighting in the 100 to 400 watt range.  LEDs offer inherently soft light, and getting them to fire long distances is quite a challenge, but we have created that punch and in doing so have distinguished ourselves from other LED product on the market.

Q: Tell us about the LEDZ line.

 AW: The LEDZ Line consists of:  The  Mini Par (a compact light with three interchangeable lenses for spot and flood settings);  the Brute 3 (an amazingly powerful light that can fit in small spaces, be used as a reporter light, or any 1/4″ 20 mount); the Brute 9 (a “sun-gun” alternative which can be fitted with a handle, or used as a soft fill on a stand); the Brute 16 (our workhorse, equivalent to a 200 watt HMI or 1k tungsten source); and the Brute 30 (equivalent to a 400 watt HMI or nearly a 2k tungsten source.)  All of our products are fully dimmable.

Q:  What power options are available?

 AW:  Currently, all of our lighting units come with AC/DC power.  With the exception of the Brute 16, all of our units are 12V compatible, so they can be plugged into many commercially available battery units.  We are, however, in the process of manufacturing a universal battery system that should be available later this year.

Q:  Are LEDZ products only for the “professional” market?

AW: LEDZ lights are distributed by Hollywood Rentals, and in order to cater to our main customers, we had to make sure that the lights we created were durable, powerful, and could withstand the scrutiny of Hollywood’s top cinematographers and gaffers.   Does this mean that non-professionals can’t use them?  No.  Anyone who wants a high quality light for any reason, be it a Web series, home video, or whatever you shoot should consider LEDZ lights. In terms of our product price range, The Brute 3 retails for $450, while the top of the line Brute 30 retails for $4900. 

 Q:  Where can people who are interested in LEDZ products buy them?

 AW:  The best place to go is www.led-z.com, and you can find your nearest dealer.  If you can’t find someone near you, you can contact Manny Barreras at ESS.  His info is on the Website.

Thanks to A.J. Wedding and Manny Barreras of ESS.

I do want to make final point and this is a general observation about the use of smaller LED lighting units. While LEDZ does not offer lights with a hot shoe mount, their smaller lighting units can be used on-camera with third party adapters. While many people are inclined to mount smaller LED lights on their cameras, unless you are using your camera for “ENG” (electronic news gathering) type applications which have very specific lighting objectives, I recommend that you move those units off-camera, and mount them to a stand or on a handle.  “On-camera” continuous lighting, like “on-camera” flash, although usually less powerful, is still direct light and is more often than not, less flattering than other alternatives.

Disclosure: No consideration has been received in connection with this blog entry, nor has any manufacturer and/or retailer offered any consideration.