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Good All-Around Zoom?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Sparkinium, Oct 16, 2007.

  1. Sparkinium

    Sparkinium Member

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    Hey all,
    I'm a high school theatre technician, and I'm doing a bit of research work to finally replace the Colortran Zooms in the theatre here. From what I've seen, there are three types of instruments that pop up most frequently in discussion: The S4 Zooms, the Strand SL Zooms, and the Selecon Pacific Zooms.

    I'm perfectly open to other suggestions, but given everyone's experiences, which zoom instrument is most well-suited to be used in a high school theatre? (I can't at this moment recall the throw distance that would be required, but I can say that many of the zooms would go in the 2nd AP or the Balcony Rail, if that's any help at all) My high school does a couple of our own shows a year, and we have outside clients, generally orchestras and dance companies, come in as well.

    From what I've heard, the S4's are decent, but beastly heavy and very hard to work with, while the SLs have endcap problems, but are nearly half the weight of the S4s and are considerably shorter. I have heard less about the Selecon Pacific instruments, except some reluctance to use them due to their odd shape. Correct me if I'm wrong!

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2007
  2. Dillon

    Dillon Active Member

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    I've worked with all three over the years... can't say that I prefer one to any other. The Selecons are very nice -- quite smooth, flat image area. Makes them great for projecting gobos. Take a look at pricing to see if one comes in significantly lower cost than the other two.
     
  3. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Price is definitely an issue here. However, after wrangling older Strand and Century-Strand fixtures in our large music PAC, S4 zooms are not all that heavy. The 25-50's are a very reasonable weight, and the 15-30's are survivable. I also really like their focusing/zooming combined handle/knob. It works great, once you get the feel of it, which takes just a few minutes.
     
  4. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    First of all, Welcome to the booth! You should pop over to the new members forum and say hi. Ask and answer questions, and I am sure you will come to love us...

    As for you zooming issues. As an Source 4 zoom owner, I can tell you that I hate them. I have plenty of designers who hate them also. I personally am not a big fan of the zoom in general, but I do see where it has it's uses (sometimes... through a haze...). I can see where it would be useful in the high school setting anyway.

    What other fixtures do you have? If you are mostly using source 4's the S4 zoom s advantageous because it has many interchangeable parts with the other S4s, plus it uses the same lamp, so it is easy to keep in stock.

    If I were buying new instruments and had the choice and money, I would go with the Selecon Pacific Zoomspots. They are beautiful units. The optical quality is, in my opinion, superior to the S4. They are about the same size and weight, but they have lots of nice features. They sport 360˚ barrel rotation, they take virtually all the heat out of the light so that the temperature at the gate is cool enough that you can print an image on transparency and use it as a gobo. This also means that they almost never melt gel. Unless your positions wouldn't allow this unit to fit (due to it's shape) it would be my top choice out of the units you listed.

    I don't have any experience with the SL Zoom, I have heard both good an bad about it. I would stay away, there are better options.
     
  5. Sparkinium

    Sparkinium Member

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    Haha, whoops, totally missed the new user forums!

    IceWolf: The theatre here uses a lot of Source Fours, and we're tending to move that way, because it reallly does simplify matters when it comes to finding a lamp, or doing maintanence or any of that. However, as you've pointed out, S4 Zooms seem to be a love-it-or-hate-it light.

    I've heard a lot of good things about the Selecons. Other than their odd shape, which can cause problems in some places (I believe there's plenty of room here to use them), and the fact that they're not compatible with S4 stuff, are there any other problems with them I should be aware of?

    I don't think we'd be against getting a different brand of light if the light itself was better. (And, given that the price was right.)
     
  6. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

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    I am biased (I indirectly work for ETC) but I would say that since you already have a great many source 4 instruments, that the S4 zoom would probably be the way to go here.

    The Selecons are nice (from what little I have seen of them), as are the SL's. I do know that the S4's optics are better than the SL, and they are going to be more cost effective than the Selecon's. Couple that with the fact that they are US made (parts are local-ish - in comparison to the Selecon), and the lamp is the same as all your other fixtures, it would seem to make more sense to go with the S4 zoom.

    If you were a professional theater, I might argue for the selecons, but due to the fact that you are a school and will have other issues to deal with (see the thread on the janitor changing lamps in your fixtures for an example) it would probably be best to just go with the S4.
     
  7. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Hey Spark if you are a friend of Tina's as I suspect... and heck even if you aren't... I would be glad to help you guys out... the college owns S4 zooms and I've got some Selecon zooms arriving in late November. You would have to take a drive up to Lynnwood but you could try them out side by side in our the new theater once it's open and I get my load of gear in.

    My personal opinion (based on a demo only) is that Selecons have slightly better optics and some really cool features... but they cost more. S4 is a VERY solid option... and should not be considered a "second choice". The S4 definitely has it's own advantages. You will find people who prefer both so there's no clear cut "winner". Strand on the other hand is a clear 3rd choice in my opinion.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2007
  8. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    You can also do a search on CB as this subject was covered a bit in past posts.

    I happen to love the S4 6" zoom, having used the Colortran 6" zoom as well as S4 Jr's, Altman 4.5" zoom (discontinued) and the Shakespeare zoom.

    Right now our road house has 64 S4 25/50 zooms, 20 Shakespeare 15/35's, a lot of now-retired Altman 4.5" units, with the Colortrans on the retirement list and in use by our Dept. of Theater, who also own 72 S4 Jr. Zooms, which they generally like.

    The S4 is - in my mind, the most cost effective unit I own, very punchy, good lamp design, VERY fast to focus, decent imaging, not too heavy. The Shakespeares are a beast, hard to clean, weak lamp design, heavy and bulky. The Altman 4.5" units were nice and compact but cannot compare to the S4's. Note that I only use the 25/50 S4. The larger 15/30 is much heavier, longer and front heavy and is generally disliked due to it's size.

    Steve Bailey
    Brooklyn College
     
  9. church

    church Active Member

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    I own both S4 and CCT zooms. I have the S4 15 to 30 degree version. I like them, good output the weight is not too bad and at a push I have dropped an iris in and used them as follow spots in the 45 foot throw range in churches and little theatres. The ccts are not bad older generation but with the front reflector good light output but prohibitively expensive in North America. I should mention that I have the balance yoke's fitted onto my S4s transforms them, loosen the clamps and the fixture doesn't move. Without the balance yoke they are a pain. BTW here in Canada even S4s are significantly more expensive than in the USA
     
  10. Sparkinium

    Sparkinium Member

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    Gafftaper: Yes, Tina is my theatre manager, and I'm sure she'd probably be interested in taking a look at both of those.

    I was unaware the various S4 Zooms had significantly different weights. I believe the Colortran Zooms we currently have are 15-30, if that makes any difference. (It was noted the 15-30's were rather front heavy, hence why I noted it.)

    We tend to change our own lamps, and with the number of different instruments we already have, having one different type wouldn't kill us. Admittedly, I do admit being able to just have a lot of HPLs would be awesome.

    In reference to chruch's comment: What is CCT an abbreviation for? I am not familiar with it.
     
  11. Logos

    Logos Well-Known Member

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    I am sure that at some time CCT was an abbreviation for something but I can't remember or find it. They are a UK based lighting co that actually pretty much invented the zoom profile back in the seventies. (I think). They have been around for about 40 odd years.
     
  12. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    S4 25/50 is 17 lbs

    S4 15/30 is 21 lbs

    Pretty much all of the add'l weight on the S4 15/30 is out front, thus the comments from folks that it seemed un-wieldy. ETC used to make a different type of yoke to balance out the front weight, not sure if they still do. FWIW, the Altman Shakespeare 15/35 is also very front heavy, but you get used to focusing them (well, I did).

    The big weight difference between the old Colortrans and the S4 is in the focusing system, with the Colortran having 2 simple lens adjustment handles.

    CCT has been around for 30 years, at least, not sure what it stands for. I seem to remember they were linked to ADB - the Belgium company, for a while, before ADB was brought out by Siemans. I'll post over on the Blue Room and see if anyone remembers

    http://www.cctlighting.com/

    Steve B.
     
  13. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Yeah I've never heard of CCT around here. I bet it's either British or Canadian.

    Spark put on your best bad german accent and tell Tina you got on the internet and some crazy guy who calls himself "Herr Direktor" (that's pronounced "hair" by the way) said he would be glad to help you out. We are old friends from college, I even directed her in two different plays. She'll know who to call and I'll help you out any way I can.

    Our new theater is scheduled to be completed about the first of November and I have an order of lighting gear that will be coming in mid to late November (hopefully). I already own 16 S4 25-50 zooms and I'm adding 8 Selecon 23-50 zooms. So you can try them out side by side and see what you like best. You can also play with a bunch of the other new toys I'll be getting.

    The reason I'm getting the Selecons is to use them as my primary gobo projecting instruments because the optics are so nice. They also run so cool you can print a standard color transparency like you use for overhead projectors from your computer and slide it in the instrument. But they are pricey.
     
  14. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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  15. David Ashton

    David Ashton Active Member

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    CCT is Colin, Colin Terry, and in that vein Jands was John and Steve, from memory.
     
  16. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    In it's final days Kliegl formed a partnership with CCT to sell fixtures in the US, early '80s. The Photometrics Handbook lists many CCT fixtures as Kliegl branded. Through the mid to late '80s, I believe SECOA had an exclusive distributorship in the US for CCT fixtures. My favorite was the Aimslite, which mounted the FEL burn base down to keep the heat away from the pinch seal, ala Selecon Pacific, but without the 45° mirror.

    One CCT product I'm sorry I never got to use, thought it did appear on some West End and Broadway musicals, was a 4-color, solenoid-activated, semaphore-type color changer. The benefit? One could add colors to subtractively mix. Drawbacks were only 4 colors, but how many theatrical productions use all 12, or 24 colors in the scroller string? Of course, back then CMY was unheard of.

    Personally, I've never cared much for zoom ERSs. They're larger, heavier, less efficient, more costly, and take longer to focus than a fixed focus unit.
    I realize they have their applications in certain situtations, but I've never seen one in my building. That may be because rental lighting shops don't stock many, and thus charge a premium for them. Back to what SteveB said: Lighting Shops are in the business of turning a profit, and thus will stock what turns out to be a compromise between what's economically viable and market (Lighting Designers') demand. YMMV.
     
  17. Logos

    Logos Well-Known Member

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    This zoom versus fixed seems to be a very US versus Europe Aus NZ thing. We use zooms in preference. I had a few fixed Source 4's in my rig in the UK which I used for specific purposes largely gobo's (slightly better optics). Other wise I use zooms by preference.
    We've done this to death elsewhere though. I would be interested in hearing from members from outside USA/Europe or Aus/NZ about their preferences though. We've got someone in Brunei, any other takers?
     
  18. church

    church Active Member

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    I notice a few people have commented on how difficult zooms are to focus. I wondered why - the S4 zooms i find take no longer than a fixed focus instrument. The non S4s are are also no more difficult to focus - at least the CCT and Strand ones I have used. There is a trick to it that the S4 mechanisim implements but the principle is straightforward.
     
  19. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    I did a quick and dirty focus this morning for a tour of I Love a Piano. Due to pressed schedule, the ME was in a hurry and wasn't paying as much attention to our FOH focus as most LD's/ME's usually do. Thus, while I was in the JLG bucket focusing our Box Booms, which are all S4 25/50's, I was making a lot of design choices as to size, cuts off walls, etc...

    The S4 zoom is literally is about as quick as: Find the button, release, zoom to appropriate size, adjust hard edge, lock. It literally is that quick, and faster then I can type it.

    One interesting thought occurred that had I been using fixed lens units, I would've occasionally ended up with greater need for shutter cuts due to larger - and a sometimes inappropriate beam size that a zoom was able to deal with. The xtra shutter cuts, not needed if the image is smaller, takes more time to set in place.

    In any event, as church notes, it isn't any slower once you get good at it, though I find the S4 zoom knob to be a huge improvement over the dual lens knobs on an Altman of S4 Jr.

    Steve B.
     
  20. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    The S4 zooms do take some getting used to and it's easy to accidentally change the beam angle instead of changing your focus when you are new to it. I find them harder to teach to students but it's just because you have two things going on at once. Once you get used to them it's quite simple and very fast.
     

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