# Source 4 vs. SL

## Source 4's vs. Strand SL's

• ### Strand SL

• Total voters
139

#### propmonkey

##### Well-Known Member
Ok I need some help and my school is going to be buying a few new instruments in the next day or so. I need opinions on Source 4 vs SL. i have had experince and have read specs on source 4 but i hardly have heard anything about the strand sl's. we have a strand system so i was maybe wanting to keep strand but source 4 are pretty damn good. we will most likely be getting 2 source 4 15/30 zooms. any advice would be great. i think we'll be making the decision around 4 tomorrow.

#### Sam_

##### Member
ETC is the best company to buy instruments and boards from regarding high school productions. Source 4 is THE industry standard, and ETC boards seem to be very easy to learn on and use. Go for source four.

#### falcon

##### Active Member
my td talked to a few lighting designers in our area about those two brands of lights and most of them agreed that the strand sl's were better, because they have a more versitile gobo slot in them. Other than that, the lights seem to be pretty much the same, only differences may be in weight, i think the source 4's are lighter so its up to you

#### Les

##### Well-Known Member
I'm not sure if the new SL's are any better, but the ones that were in my high school (about 4 years ago) sucked. The light quality was good but the instruments themselves weren't reliable. They were actually the most poorly built fixtures I have ever seen.

#### eamon

##### Member
There is no contest.

The Source 4 wins out over the SL in terms of optics and performance any day. SL's are just crap

Though on saying that the compact size of the SL zoom range is very handy. Your zoom S4 can be just that bit too big.

If you have a proper theatre set-up, Source 4 zooms would be a great acquisition

eamon

#### wolf825

##### Senior Team Emeritus
IMO......if you are looking for good solid fixed degree instruments then the S4 is the best choice hands down for construction, optics, field and lumens. BUT with that said--the S4 ZOOM is just plain awful in its enormous bulky out-of-balance size however. Its like hanging a howitzer cannon--12 birds could build nests in its tube and never bump into each other. Its enormous and WAY out of balance. I had to hang 5 of these side by side in one area, and they took up twice the space of other instruments, twice the weight, and they torqued the pipe downward because of the huge keg-like barrels out of balance with the yoke.

If you are looking specifically for zooms--then I would suggest the SL zoom's over the S4 zooms. For these very reasons is why we have SL zooms in our inventory of normally S4's. The SL zooms are much lighter then the S4 zooms, they have decent optics for a zoom, and they are the size and footprint of a regular S4 style instrument so you have no problem hanging many side by side or over-under or on a side-pipe or other small places etc. My main complaints with the SL zoom's has to do with the composite style construction which is thin and easily breaks and chips, but mostly I can't stand their lame "end-cap twist-wrench lamp base all in one" thingy. Its a poor design and pain in the butt to loosen let alone get out to change lamps, it takes TWO hands to remove the blasted thing usually (especially when its hot and expanded), the locking twist/spring mechanism is not smartly designed, and over all for an end-cap it is not very user-friendly. It bench focuses way easier then a S4 with one knob--however that knob has less adjustment ability then a S4 cap. I love S4 to death--but their S4 zooms completely suck rocks and need major improvement and re-design.....

Also for whatever its worth in your consideration--S4's use the HPL lamps only....Strand SL's use the GLC or GLA lamps preferred, but in a bind the caps have no problem accepting an HX600, FLK or similar just to get you thru a show til the next day...

JMO...good luck...
-w

#### wolf825

##### Senior Team Emeritus

ETC S4 Zooms: 34 pounds (including the C clamp), 40" long (thats just over 3 feet!) x 15.6" Wide x 26.4" H
294 candles at its smallest narrow setting, at 40' distance with a 6.5' beam. Much brighter at farther distances than the SL...

SL Zooms: 15lbs (including the C Clamp), 22" long, x 12"w x 6" H.
379 Candles at a 6'beam, but thats measured at 25', at 40' its 179 candles. Should note--not a long thro instrument--best if under 25' for best lumens...

-w

#### bdesmond

##### Active Member
Another thing for you to consider - which do you have already and/or which do you usually rent/borrow? If you typically rent S4s, then it would be a lot more worthwhile to purchase S4s - now your parts are all interchangeable. If you already own SLs or borrow them, then you don't want two sets of parts to maintain...

#### propmonkey

##### Well-Known Member
thank you everyone. we have some strand instruments already but theyre atleast 10-12 years old. the college in town has all etc, which we borrowed 2 26 degrees earlier this year. for the strands we have now(15.3 degree's, for our foh) we were using FEL's but we're slowing swithcing back to FLK's. i have had a few people tell me that the s4 zooms suck. i just havent had any experience with sl or sl zooms. what im wondering is how much is the sl rated to. i see they say 575w. i like the s4 because its rated to 750. also the thing to consider is the price. we have about $1000. we were able to find s4 15/30 zooms for$489 at one site. i havent seen any good prices for sl's. we would have ordered them today but the district account is out for the day so we'll have to get the purchase order tomorrow. so atleast we have an extra to think.

thanks again everyone.

#### propmonkey

##### Well-Known Member
the main reason for new instruments is so we can use our 2 Rosco Vortex 360 gobo rotators. as of now they do not fit any of our current instruments.

#### ship

##### Senior Team Emeritus
Urr, how many of the people stating the opinions expressed here have used both fixture in direct comparison by way of shoot out when stating stuff like “Hand’s Down?” A shoot out and play test is the best way to judge a fixture and very subjective in what one likes about a fixture over another.

I admit that I have never used the SL zoom, and beyond asking “what’s this piece of crap someone left in front of my work table doing here” about the S-4 fixture, I don’t remember even bench focusing it either.

In general and more on fixed focus fixtures, the Strand SL line is known for it’s optics, and I have had instances where on a fix focus S-4, you can’t get it to bench focus sufficient to save your life beyond slop with a hard edge. Not always but also not unusual given a few hundred in the inventory. On the other hand, if the SL is anything like it’s 1990's predecessor had problems with lenses shooting out of should it’s lens train when gravity slams it into flood position by accident. The SL in quality of materials used on the older line might still be a problem here. Again not having used the more modern fixture, I can’t tell. The S-4 has it’s own maintenance and quality control problems unique and in general similar to all fixtures. All brands have things people like and dislike about them. The S-4 fixture for instance will not take a standard 7.1/2" gel frame the rest of the inventory will be using thus constantly cutting gels and you need extra frames if you want to do a quick change.

In a question of fixture lamps on the other hand, while the HPL lamp is a good and rugged design, for output, much less standardization to what other fixtures already in stock are able to use, you can’t beat a fixture lampped with the more standardized base and HPR lamp. A HPL will be more efficient than HX-600/FLK lamp, but not much more than the HP-600/GLC. This in addition to the 750w #6981P being also a better lamp than the HPL 750w.

Fixture / Max. Lamp Wattage / Weight
SL-Zoom/575w, 15#
S-4 15-30 Zoom/750w, 22#
Shakespeare 15-35 Zoom/750w, 22#
Selcon Pacific 14-35 Zoom / 1Kw, 21.6#
L&E AQ61ZM 20-40 Zoom / 750w, 19#

First there seems to be almost a intended dissimilar nature to what photomatic data is listed by each company so as to make it more difficult to compare and contrast them. In other words, short of doing the math and some Trig given even the info for calculation of the data is not standardized, there is no way to verify one fixture in being brighter than another.

Next, and very important, the SL fixture has a maximum wattage of 575w. This is a serious limitation for a longer throw lighting fixture. Due to this, I would not buy one.

#### lights11964

##### Member
if you need a source four to zoom, but are woried that they are too big. Why dont people get regular s4's and get 50 degree or more lense tubes?

#### Les

##### Well-Known Member
I've used both fixtures side by side. I would easily say that with the new ETC 750's, the SL's would definitely be outperformed. The SL's lamp cap is a pain, and the Source 4 Zoom is way too big, as is the Shakespeare Zoom. If I were going for a zoom model, I would go with an SL, but for fixed focus needs, go with the Source Four or even Shakespeare. They're all comparable in price. Buying extra barrels sounds like an ok idea, but given they're over \$100 each, you would have ended up paying the price of 1 zoom ellipsoidal after you have only 3 degrees to choose from per fixture. Also, sometimes those S4 lens barrels are difficult to get back on. The SL zooms always did me right; for some reason it was the fixed focus models that gave me trouble. I found most of the inventory to have defects such as: barrels that wouldn't lock, lamp caps that wouldn't 'click', or focus knobs that spun on the studs, rather than actually tightening. When it comes down to it, it was usually a factory defect rather than wear, so if you get one that doesn't work perfectly send it back! Usually the ones that worked right the first time continued to work right whenever we needed them.

#### wolf825

##### Senior Team Emeritus
ship said:
Urr, how many of the people stating the opinions expressed here have used both fixture in direct comparison by way of shoot out when stating stuff like “Hand’s Down?”

(snip)

<raising hand> I have I have!! I know--I don't count cause folks like us be older... j/k....

FWIW--with regards to your mention of the old style SL, the current SL doesn't use those pesky "gravity-sensitive" lenses anymore that drop out on movement--they fixed that funny little problem you would think they would have caught in original R&D tests...

I wish my Photometrics handbook would give more detailed information about how its reports were generated or tested or if its just reported data from the individual companies...

-w

#### ship

##### Senior Team Emeritus
wolf825 said:
FWIW--with regards to your mention of the old style SL, the current SL doesn't use those pesky "gravity-sensitive" lenses anymore that drop out on movement--they fixed that funny little problem you would think they would have caught in original R&D tests...

I wish my Photometrics handbook would give more detailed information about how its reports were generated or tested or if its just reported data from the individual companies...

-w
Ah' so it was not just me seeing that problem with the ones in the #2250 line. Glad they got improved, other than that, I had found them to be decent lights - better than a 360Q. And as said, all fixtures have problems, this one was major but there is others in detail. A "Church Key" for instance is my best friend when I'm trying to extract a lamp out of a S-4 leko. On the other hand, I have had TP-22 based lamps in 360Q fixtures that were often just as stuck. Pain in the butt a stuck lamp, but to ETC's advantage, the key like paint can opener will pry the lamp out.

Page xi says it's data from the manufacturer's photometrics along with noting the industry working on a standard presentation format for presenting the photometric data. That part worked, just too much wiggle room in say one company saying the efficiency of the above light at 15 degree, another at 15 and 30, and another at 24 for the same type of light. This in additon to standard practices for measuring the data that might or might not have been improved.

Believe in the first edition he mentioned that were data was not provided, he did his best to calculate it, but I gave away that copy long ago.

By the way, my citing the shoot out by people using them as opposed to opinion as both you and Lester show, this gives much better information. I would urdge anyone buying a fixture to play test it themselves when choosing amongst a few, test a few of them at onece. Short of this the opinion of those who have compared is very important.

This as seperate from the value of those who have one but not both in also being of value. Their notes on the little pain in the but or nice things can be helpful also as long as it's seperat from opinion about what they have not sat right next to each other in compaing. At least that's what I was thinking in pointing it out.

#### Lightingguy32

##### Active Member
One big problem with the Strand SL is that the first generation end cap could not clear the yoke, so if you wanted to change tilt in a significant angle, you would have to take the cap off and reinstall it. Also the "bayonet" mount is a pain in the ass because eventually some part of that assembly will wear down and it will be near impossible to reseat the burner assembly into the fixture.

#### ship

##### Senior Team Emeritus
Same problem a S-4 PAR had in recent generation but good important note.

ETC in general is a current industry standard. Strand.. I wouldn't kick such fixtures out of bed when given the option. Better or worse is subjective - all brands have wee problems.

#### gafftaper

##### Senior Team
Senior Team
Fight Leukemia

It was enough that I'm going to rent a couple of SL's for my next show to give them a shot.

#### Kelite

##### Well-Known Member
<It was enough that I'm going to rent a couple of SL's for my next show to give them a shot.>

That is really the best way to decide which works best for your needs/venue. We have tested so many ellipsoidals here at Apollo, as we are asked which fixtures project our gobos with the best resolution. When a donut is used, the S4 and SL are fairly even, depending upon wattage used (575W vs 750W).

The new Enhanced Lens Tube from ETC places them on top, in my personal opinion.

#### milan

##### Member
Hey just reminding you there are junior versions of S4. The JR Zoom is 14 lbs. I didn't check it's lumen output however.