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The Strand SL series seems to be a good light. Never tried it but I have never heard complaints about it that I remember - that's given they have improved the little cost cutting things that made the last fixtures about dangerous to hang.

Their forerunner to the "SL" line with the 2215 and 8113 series are fixtures to avoid and watch for in the new fixtures should they have the same problems. If the lens train has been corrected, great. Good optics, and good fixture overall with a long standing history of development behind them.

If not, the problem on the last series that the aluminum making up the lens train was too thin and if the lens train was not locked down when picked up from the floor, or should it tilt from a locked position with loose lens train, that lens train would be just heavy enough to slam into flood position as most fixtures will do.

In this case however, the rivets holding the gel frame bracket onto the lens train would completely rip out and remove the gel frame bracket from the fixture. Because the lenses were spaced by a large spring and retained by that gel frame bracket, once the gel frame bracket went, it would shoot the gel frame bracket, front lens, and spring out the front of the instrument... hmm, seen it happen 3 times, twice with the above description, and one while still in it's shipping box when the box was dinged just right at the lens train to send it out of round and rip that gel frame bracket from the tube. It also had problems with rivet nuts holding in the lens train. These are very hard to repairs to make and Strand is not exactually the easiest company in the world to get parts from, much less to do a warranty on a engineering problem.

Altman 360Q fixtures while they had their own little problems, never had this drastic of a problem, and even with broken or stripped screws, there was always easy ways to keep them functional. The new Shakespeare while it's said to have some discrepencies which I have forgotten about, it might be a good third otion for you also. Overall, it's a good fixture and rated for the same lamps as the SL line. Read yesterday's post about lamps from me to see what is the best lamp for both fixtures because the GLC lamp while a bit more rugged and in theory its filament should take up a smaller area for a more point source, there are better lamps out there in that wattage and output range. The Philips GLA is the best long life version, but the GLC isn't as good unless bought for it's more rugged design than that of a FLK.

As for ETC S-4, if you don't plan on going up to 750w, there should be a lot of the older versions on the market these days with everyone upgrading to the higher wattage. That said, if at some point you need some of your fixtures to have that higher wattage lamp in them, you can simply replace the lamp cap. Some lot numbers of the old version will have a keyway pin that needs to be cut off, but other than that, the fixture is the same, just a different gauge of wire in them. Check the reflectors for cracking on their rear when the cap is removed. That's a somewhat common problem to see if the fixture were abused that will get worse with the crack growing if left in place. Lots of parts on the S-4, glides for the lens train that fall off, lens retainers that wear out, screws that strip, lamp cap assemblies that have their screws sieze up or break, mica behind the lamp base that crumbles etc. A good 1/4-20 End tap will solve a lot of problems with the lamp cap retaining screw becming hard to turn.

In a theater, without the fixtures traveling around the country while in the back of a semi, the problems will be much less common and these fixtures for a theater won't be bad. Check that lens and look for scorching and widening at the lamp base. Lamp base leads for the fixture are over expensive considering all that it is is a set of heat wire with a crimp on it, but it is what it is.

Pull the lamp and put a fresh one in the fixture. Look to see if it is holding in place, tought to get in or is going to fall out. That's a good sign of abuse and some work that will need to be done to a fixture to correct it.

Overall, the S-4 with modern lights is about the most popular and common. I would think that there is a reason for that besides that Altman than Strand came to market later than ETC with their products.


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The source four has my vote. I have used many types of ellipsoidals and the source four and altmans Shakespeares are my favorites. SIUC has working museum of strands, centuries, century strands, strand centuries, Kliegls, and a ton of Altmans in all shapes sizes and eras. The cheapest was to get lights is to buy them from a renting house after the warranty runs out.

look at www.intelligentlighting.com/
or www.fourthphase.com

If you go to homepage http://mike.lotso.info you will find a link to my iFolder. I have the fourth phase pdf price sheet there.


Hello! I'd like to give you some additional considerations, but also, break these into easy categories:

Altman 360Q's - These are the old workhorses. They are excellent "bang for the buck" instruments to use for area lighting. If you saw my other post, we sell them all cleaned up for an awesome price. Although they are great to get lots of light up, and rarely have problems (Maybe a TP22 socket here or there, and a shutter if abused) they are not great for pattern projection. Since these give a warmer quality of light, they will mix well in a smaller space with 6" fresnels and whatnot.

Source Fours - AWESOME pattern projectors and overall instruments. Amazing punch. If you have a space with mostly altman (6" fresnels, 360Q's) and want some fixtures for specials, aka pattern projection, spots, these kick some butt. Many people use them as followspots, and must say, they work very well in this application. These give off a bluish white cool quality of light.

Stand SL's - I don't know much about these, but they compete with S4's.

Gobo Rotators and other special FX accesories that fit source fours, should fit Strand SL's and Selecon Pacific fixtures as well. So if you plan on renting special effects, it shouldn't matter what lights you have. The newer accesories, those within the past few years, have not been made to fit Altman 360Q's.

If you rent fixtures to supplement your inventory for specific shows, source fours may be best. Check on what local rental companies have, because you don't want to be mis-matching instruments. A mix of source fours and altmans doesn't t look good at all when area lighting a stage.

Used equipment is always a good deal. You'll save a nice chunk of money, and in all honestly, not much goes wrong with a light. It's not even like buying a used car, a used light will work forever if properly maintained.

Hope this helps!


Active Member
Altman 360Qs-Good Budget fixture when purchased with super reflector and speed cap
Source 4s/(750)-575watt version is good for everything, especially if purchased with the new EDLT for pattern projection, 750s make good specials, And source fours come in field angle measures of 5,10,14,19,26,36,50,70,and 90 now , making life easy
Strand SL- close to source 4- burns through high saturation gels kind of fast, rusty shutter blades
Shakespeare- copy of the source 4, OK preformance but not as bright and reliable as source 4
Cost wise they all cost around the sam (320 to 410)


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yeah source fours are good, the only thing that i have heard bad about them is their plug has problems after 6 or 7 years.


A mix of source fours and altmans doesn't look good at all when area lighting a stage.
I take it then that you don't reccomend lighting a stage with several different brands of light? I have some old Strand LekoLites (Yes, that is what that model is called), and I was thinking of buying some Source Fours to suppliment them. Most of the time I don't even notice the Strand lekos! Do you think that using a mix of the Strands and some Source Four's would look decent?

Also, how does the light output of a 750 watt Source Four compare to Strand's 8" 2KW Fresnelites?


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2kw! Haven't heard of that many theatrical fixtures which use that high of a wattage bulb!

Related question, if any of you can answer in conjunction: has anyone worked with Source Four Jr's? My catwalk system is pretty awkwardly constructed--there are chickenwire screens acouple feet in front of the bars, making hanging a major pain--so if the Soure Four Jr's aren't much of a trade-off from the real thing, would they be worth it?


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i dont like the jr's i worked with. they had a fixed lens barrel and could not be swapped out and i didnt think they were that much smaller. the s4 is a great fixture. the big issue i had with the sl's was to take the cap off, you needed to change the bench focus, most of the time its not a problem but if its in the middle of a run it can be. that is not an issue with the s4's


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plus you got to admit...... the source four just looks really sexy.

i've heard that the fixed barel of the s4 jrs. are really a pain.

Any opinions of teh selecon pacifica's (spelling?)


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Premium Member
Many have and work with the Junior on the smaller show production market and say they are just as good - even prefer them. I remember at one point servicing some that were part of a trade show booth’s kit and despised them. Break a lamp inside of it and you need to completely disassemble the fixture to get the glass out for instance. Only way to do so is with a stubby screw driver due to awkwardly placed screws holding it together. Not easy to get into, much less maintain. It’s also not really that much smaller.

I believe Strand I believe, Times Square, Altman and L&E all sell a 3.5" lens version of mini-Lekos that while less optically refined, are smaller. Add a HPR lamp to them and they will have about the same punch as a S-4. Older designs especially if bought used thru a reputable source will often be very cost effective in a 2:1 for the same amount of money way.

Still there is lots of options presented for fixture.

I remember a question on the other hand of a difference in light output between old style “Lekolights” and that of more modern lighting. This will be an important thing to consider. Answer is yep!!!

Optically in expecting your older less efficient fixtures while they seem bright now will seem as if amber candles in comparison to the blue/white light coming out of the as it were fourth generation in lighting given you have about second generation Lekos.

On the other hand with new fourth generation or used third generation lights, you can save money and match them by way of lamps you install. For say a S-4 Leko, instead of going with a 575w/115v high output lamp, go for a 575w/120v long life lamp. Your output should be about the same in color temperature and output only slightly more improved. Just going to be more optically pure of a beam of light. Such long life 120v lamps will last a good long time in if the old Leko’s seem bright now, you not adding something to make them seem dim won’t help but you in going long life will in not getting brighter on stage will make the lamps last longer in being more cost effective. You than easily have a way to work up for specials such as if you want a totally bright effect or pattern to stand out. This without changing the wattage.

Again the same with third generation lights such as the 360Q series. The EHD 500w/120v lamp is more efficient than say a EGE on a 500w/120v radial Leko but not by a huge extent. For patterns go with say a GLC or HPR lamp. Don’t go with the high output unless you want to in getting used to something much more bright, make the rest of your lights crappy in output as they suddenly will seem to become. Instead, keep where possible to the intensity you have which has been good enough for the last 40 years. Saves money and gives a lot of head room for effect. This or at very least be ready to make your older fixtures into at best the amber projecting fitures or those only for supplemental lighting.

Getting new modern gear - for the most part no matter the brand above I expect a radal Lekolight, will for the most part instantly make the rest of your inventory obsolete even if they seem bright enough now.


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I asked these same questions when I heard about our new facility. We have both strand SL ellipsoidals and altman 360Q's. I like both fixtures. The strands can do more (like projection... I've found that altman 360-Q's don't project as well), but the Altmans are more within my theater budget range as well. I buy them from Vincent Lighting for a reasonable price.

I do remember an old acquaintence from the Cleveland Ohio area who supplied local schools/businesses with lights... He wrote up a quote that had nothing but altman fixtures. His reason... and I'll never forget the quote to this day...

"The Altman fixture is industry wide and highly serviceable. Why be STRANDed for centuries waiting for parts."

When asked... he told me that Strand was a tad slow with its replacement parts.

This was four years ago and things might have changed since... AND... his business might have been the exception to the rule.


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Actually, I'm kind of embarassed that it's taken me this long to realize this, but I've only worked in one very outdated theater with outdated equipment, so yeah. Only way to learn is to ask, eh?

Anyways, my high school's line of ellipsoidals is actually...all zooms. Not full-feature zooms, as they don't have pattern slots; but each ellipsoidal has a variable field angle/lens angle. I've been cursing the lot for years because I knew how outdated it was. Now that I finally got around to researching the 350Q...I found that regular ellipsoidals can only really focus, not change the beam spread. Huh.

So this brings me to my real question. Is the cool beam, high intensity, and crisp edges/projection the only real difference between the newer S-4's and older fixtures? Because I think I might have been blinded by the onslaught of accolades (big words!) for the S-4's into thinking that they were the coolest things since sliced bread...but is their main step up just intensity, effectiveness, and crispness? (Besides the ease of use that they bring to service/change).

Because if that is...then I think I'm dissapointed. :(

One other question though. I've only worked in one venue; all of our lights are extremely outdated Lekos with no ability to bench focus and a terrible light output, but they're all zooms (not full-featured, they don't have pattern slots). So now that I've been "spoiled" by the ability to change the field angle, I'm curious--is the lack of this ability a big problem in other theaters? Do you just uses irises instead? (Sorry for all of the questions, but I've only now realized this stuff and now I'm confused.)


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Strand.... depends upon how much cash you have, how badly you need it and who is getting the parts for you. In a PR way and they do outreach to help in this, they are attempting to be nice. This much less they stand by their product old and new and produce a in general good product. I don’t have problems in getting Strand parts right away when I need them and cost is not a factor. I have the Strand Bambino line of 5Kw Fresnel in stock along with the 5000L series from Altman. The Bambino is a superior fixture by way of it’s construction. Lamp base alone in comparison... huge in better. Parts for it, I just pre-stock what goes bad and if not leverage my sales people given I don’t have a direct account with Strand, into getting what I need. Being a pain in your sales person’s rear does not help your discount factor with them but does help in getting what you need as a balance to work on. Very few Strand fixtures in stock and it’s a shame given for instance it’s cyc lights are probably worth looking into. Strand is not stocked less out of use than in being hard to associate with in acquiring. On the other hand, before I reinvigorated for us a relationship with Altman, our tech buyers also despised dealing with them. Now it’s just a E-Mail and in Altman having changed sales people a few times over, instant help. Strand is perhaps the same concept with American DJ. Both for a while perhaps have bad sales people in dealing with customers. Once changed that’s easy to solve. Strand is a brand, you will always be able to get parts even if in a rush, just depends upon how much time you have or how much you remind your supplier of your need so they in turn remind the supplier of the need. In theory but not the absolute rule, with a Strand fixture you need parts less from them than from others due to good design. That’s a theory at least to work with for fixtures.
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So ship, when do we get chapter two? was there an index for that, i might have missed it. ;) -sorry-

Etc still makes a zoom but i've heard that its has lots of draw backs, the weight, poorer optics, then again i've never used one.
As far as your (DarSax) dissapoint meant, i thikn you'd grow to love the nice even, cool (as in color) beam. gobos are a snap, focusing is a breeze and servicings not to hard either.

as far a beam angles go, you may have to comprimise a bit on your design but it'll helpo you think out side the box, or let you get friendly with a rental company.
Strand SL Cool Beams:
A Nice improvement over their previous fixtures. Same features as modern day ERS, Pattern slot, I.R. Dichoric coating on reflector, cooler light source. different lenses available. Smaller size fixture.

First the pros:
No Halo (Not the video game) when adjusting to a hard edge, there is not that blue ring plus not a lot of hot or cold spots in the light image.
Second, One hand focus, you can run the lens tube with little effort. Third, 360 degree rotation of barrel.

Now for the Cons:
The way the back just snaps into place, it is very loose and the lamp can get out of whack. Plus, I've had a very hard time removing the back to replace lamps and snapping them back in.
Second, Only 575 watts, that might be on the pro side if you have older 1000 watt cans. light is a little dimmer than compared to Source four. The way the screw on the lens tube works, it can jam and not go in all the way in, securing the lens tube to the barrel. I have had a lens tube fall out.
Third, Cracking Reflectors
Fourth, the lens tube is partly made out of plastic so it ca break
Fifth, cost more than Source four.

ETC Source Four: Pattern Holder, Drop in iris slot, I.R coating on Reflector.
First, uses a 575, 375,or 700 Watt lamp same lamp in the Parnel, and Par.
Second, Fine tune adjustment for bench focus,
Third, Bright Light image
Fourth, Small size compared to older ERS fixtures.
Fifth, all metal construction
Sixth, Cheaper than Strand SL's

First, Older models reflector coating would flake off.
Second, If lamps are not seated tight enough in the back, they could arc and have carbon build up causing the leads to burn out. I think they fix this problem with newer models.
Third, 80 or 90 degree Barrel rotation.
Third Halo effect, a blue ring around the light image.

I hope this helps, Personally I still like the ETC Source Four over the Strand SL Cool Beams.


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One other S-4 Junior I remember tinkering with a lot is the HMI/CDM lamped version. Don’t remember if the halogen/incandescent version is the same but the HIM Junior does not have the ability to bench focus it. After all given an expensive high quality lamp, why would one need to I suppose. Even when fully seated it’s a design flaw on the HMI Junior this lack of ability to bench focus it due to some crappy beams of light at times dependant upon the lamp no doubt - all the lamp mfr’s fault after all. If the halogen version of the Junior does not have a bench focus it would be a problem but it probably does.


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In my opinion a iris is not much of a solution other than for a tight specific beam of round light similar otherwise to a shutter cut. Think of the beam angle as that similar to choosing a PAR lamp. The narrow beam will be more intensive in output but smaller in beam angle. The wide beam will be larger in beam angle but smaller in output. Just as you choose the correct beam position for your throw distance, you choose the correct lens type for that position. In the case of third generation Lekos such as the 360Q, you buy extra fixtures of that beam angle to cover all. In the case of most fourth generation fixtures such as the S-4, Shakespeare and SL, you buy or rent extra lens trains and swap out to what you need.

This or if used to a zoom fixture, and as long as you don’t mind the extra weight, there is still lots of used third generation zooms or fourth generation zoom fixtures on the market that will adjust for your desired throw distance. Such fixtures are cumbersome and given a theater has static locations and throw distances often not needed but certainly will throw out light. They potentially can for a specific throw distance have advantages of over fixtures that have specific lens angles proving a specific angle of light and intensity at that angle. If you can adjust the beam angle to your needs it’s probably more efficient. Such Zooms more supplement and inventory however than are main stays in one due to cost and ease of use. Got some S-4 Zooms in the inventory. Our Leko Manager doesn’t like them I think primarily due to their weight. The designers also rarely request them. Instead they by way of pre-design just figure out what’s the best lens train for a need. Given there is a lot of Lekos and ability to rent more, this might be a different rational for not much using the Zooms. If Zooms is all you have in constantly totally changing hanging positions - such as in a adjustable audience black box theater, and one’s inventory is limited, I would think a Zoom fixture would work well. Also if going into a situation where you have never been there before and don't know exactally what you wil need specifically were, the Zoom would probably be very cost effective.

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