Hey all, just wanted to see what how any of you felt about these two fixtures. In my experience, its hard to surpass the quality and simplicity of a Vari-lite, but I wanted to know what you all thought. I'll be renting 4 Mac 700s soon and I'd like to know what to expect. Thanks!
The MAC 700s are bright. Make sure you have it set to 700w mode on the console. Most of the gobos are designed to be used with the animation wheel. CMY is pretty fast. Pan and tilt are faster than the older 500/600 series. I have a bunch in my rental stock and they are bulletproof. If you want to get a little more output from it, remove the frost filter that sits between the CMY module and the effects module. The color will not be even but it will increase the output.
The VL2500 uses a Phillips MSR 700SA lamp which has become refined to the extent that it's very dependable and stable in a working fully or not working at all type of way and not much in between.
4mm arc gap, CRI 80, 5,600̊K, 55,000 Lumen, 750hr. There are other brands that make a similar but less expensive lamp similar to this but in a VL fixture, they either might or might not work depending upon the individual lamp lot number. They also might not be as stable lamp to lamp in fully living out their lamp life. I don't for this specific fixture recommend other lamps. Other fixtures... sure, these at times will have problems striking an arc with a other than Phillips lamp - and than again not at times.
The Mac 700 also uses a very stable lamp it's HTI 700w/D4/75 or HTI 700w/D4/60 which is based upon the very stable Mac 2K lamp design. It's a bit brighter but potentially upon percentage wise won't have quite the lamp life in full output light as the above Phillips lamp. Than again it will cost a bit less per lamp thus balance out in the end.
Arc Gap 4mm, CRI (not listed but should be 90), 6,000̊K or 7,500̊K, 59,000 Lumens, 750hours. Phillips also makes a version of this lamp in 6,500̊K but a CRI of 80 and all other data the same.
Lamp to lamp.. of course it depends upon the fixture optics but the CRI and luminous output of a Mac 700 lamp is better. Again, still dependant upon what that fixture is doing optically and the Mac 700 fixture is using a double ended lamp. That means two holes in the reflector as opposed to only one on the VL2500 - you will probably get some efficiency losses there alone.
The Mac 700 is normally using a much higher color rendering index lamp also which will make it "seem" brighter - about on the level with a xenon followspot. This or you three lamp choices.
In the end, both fixtures have their uses and I don't use moving lights. Lamp to lamp, I see a lot more Mac 700 lamps come back as "bad" but than of course work were well over 100x more Mac 700 fixtures are in stock than VL-2500's. Both types of fixture are constantly out on shows however but most of all the Mac 700 washfixture.
The 2500s are fast as all hell, as Vari-Lites have always been. The 700s are not that fast but they pack a hell of a punch. Gobos, P&T and CMY are pretty fast, noticeably more than a 500. Zoom is OK, not as big as a VL, but pretty decent. Gobos are nice and easy to change.
There's no Vari-Lite agent in this country,so I can't comment on the VL2500, but I did a shootout between the MAC600 and the 700 wash yesterday, and I'd say the 700 is one hell of a mean fixture. I love the little LED on the beam shaper every time the magnet passes the hall sensor- it's a nice touch, although entirely ephemerous.
Either way, the 700 packs a mean punch, both as a profile and a wash. Personally, I don't have any problems with the 700 at all- although I'll only be able to really judge that after doing a few more shows.
Hell, it's basically a 2000 with 10-15% less light output, at a third of the price. You've got to love that!
Yeah, the specs on both the 700, the 2000, and the VL2500 all seem pretty comperable, now its just down to speed, output, and noice, and efficiency. I'm picking up the toys later today, I'll be putting up pictures in not too long.