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Review: - Interfit Super Cool-lite 9 Studio Lighting

July 2009

Interfit Super Cool-lite 9 Studio Lighting
interfit - $495.99

Review by Steve Douglas

Whether you were of the black and white generation of the pre- 40's, 50's and early 60's or the completely color generation of the 70's and beyond, proper lighting was what made a movie scary, romantic, or mysterious. Alfred Hitchcock was as aware of his lighting as he was busy creating new camera angles and rack focus. No matter what genre of film we are in or what our aspirations might be, appropriate lighting must take priority in our organization before the first frame is shot. A high end, high quality set of studio lights can cost more than one's mortgage which, in the past, has left many to the dilemma of resorting to work lights bought at Home Depot, regular home lights, backlighting using car lights and whatever one could reasonably afford.

The 19" high contrast reflector, once in place, fits firmly on the light head and produces the uniform light we all hope to use.

Interfit Photographic has put together the Super Cool-lite 9 kit for those who require quality lighting at an economical cost. It arrived at my home in a sturdy, large double box. Within were 2 boxes for the stands and two larger boxes containing the reflector heads, well packaged and protected bulbs, a small nylon bag containing the diffusers, rods and softbox reflector, and yet another box for the light head and power cord. It appeared to me that much care went into safely shipping each kit.

Consisting of twin heads, each loaded with 9x28 watt balanced fluorescent lamps, the Super Cool-lite 9 produces a 5200k flicker free light equivalent to 1000 watts of Tungsten lighting. The light head itself has 5 power switches to control different combinations of lights safely and easily. The 5200k brings it close to daylight. The head feels both heavy and solid providing assurance that your light will last long past the warranty period and they didn't shortchange you by providing a 'too short' power cord.


There is nothing cheap to the feel and heft of either the Super cool-lite head or its variable power switches.

In addition to the lengthy power cord and lightweight but strong light stands, each Interfit Super Cool-lite kit comes with a 19" solid reflector and diffuser for it, as well as a 30" Octobox with rods and diffuser. In use, both produced a nice soft light spread devoid of hot spots. The high contrast reflector attached fairly easily to the head by the use of two small tightening screws that fit into 2 slots on either side of the head. It is lightweight and appears well made though traveling with it without a protective bag could be awkward and risky. The reflectors' diffuser was a bit tricky to get on, as the soft material would sometimes slide off on one side as I was putting it on the other side. Having someone there to hold one end down while you worked the diffuser around made it a simple 10-second chore. By myself, it took just a few tries and, perhaps stronger and tighter elastic to hold the diffuser on would be an improvement. However, once on, it stayed on without slipping off.

After removing the reflector, I pulled the head off the stands to attach the softbox and its 8 rods. This was, initially, most challenging. After placing the head on a table and through the apex of the softbox, you slide each rod into a round slot around the light head. Working at opposite ends, one at a time, each rod is to slide into a sheath on the inside of the softbox. After the first four rods were in place, completing the rod installation then became difficult. They just didn't want to bend enough to accommodate the decreasing room to slide them into their place. I was afraid of bending them too much causing them to snap. This never happened and eventually I was able to bend them enough so as to fit them securely in place. I found them just as difficult to remove, turning the head on its side and bending the softbox eventually allowed for their removal. Once removed, the rods were now permanently bent. Remember that this was the first time that they were installed. When I repeated the process, because the rods were already bent, putting the softbox back on and removing them was considerably easier the second time around though the diffuser was not pulled quite as tight across the octobox as it initially had been. This, however, did not lessen the diffusion of the light nor degrade its' near daylight quality. The Interfit lights, once set up, provided enough light within a medium sized studio to satisfy most any needs.

The 9 fluorescent bulbs within the reflector on the left and the octobox softbox on the right.

The Interfit INT 437 optional bag is made for both the Interfit Super Cool-lite 5 and 9 systems. It arrives with a center divider and has two over the top pads to provide further protection and has two wheels for ease of transportation. The two light heads fit very snuggly inside the case with the round reflectors pushing the sides outward a bit. I placed the light heads in first and the reflectors over them. I was also able to fit the softbox, rods and diffusers in the compartment as well though there is no extra pocket to accommodate them. The stands must be transported separately. The bag is a basic ballistic nylon over what feels like cardboard. It does have an expansion zipper on top should you decide to throw in extra padding. I am unsure and speculative regarding just how long this bag would hold up to many transportations but at a cost of only $89.99, it is not a bad deal. When standing vertical on its legs, the bag tends to lean forward, not backward, so I would refrain from keeping the bag upright if you might have a lot of foot traffic in its vicinity.

While not the sturdiest or most padded bag you can find, the Interfit INT 437 bag provides an economical way of transporting your light system

All in all, this is a very economical light kit that will surpass most expectations and uses for a variety of lighting situations. The multiple power switches for variable power output make it just as beneficial for both photography and video. Even the supplied stands are air cushioned helping to avoid the sudden jolt of an accidental slide when adjusting their length. The Interfit Super cool-lite 9 kits' long lasting fluorescent bulbs produced very little heat bringing a welcome relief to both talent and crew. Most important, not only is the Super cool-lite kit economical and energy efficient, its soft, warm and uniformly diffused light makes it an ideal addition to your studio.

Steve Douglas is a certified Apple Pro for Final Cut Pro 6 and underwater videographer. A winner of the 1999 Pacific Coast Underwater Film Competition, 2003 IVIE competition, 2004 Los Angeles Underwater Photographic competition, and the prestigious 2005 International Beneath the Sea Film Competition, where he also won the Stan Waterman Award for Excellence in Underwater Videography and 'Diver of the Year', Steve was a safety diver on the feature film "The Deep Blue Sea", contributed footage to the Seaworld Park's Atlantis production, and productions for National Geographic and the History channels. Steve is also feature writer for Asian Diver Magazine and is one of the founding organizers of the San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition. He is available for both private and group seminars for Final Cut Pro and leads underwater filming expeditions and African safaris with upcoming excursions to the Red Sea and Egypt for Nov.2009, Feel free to contact him if you are interested in joining Steve on any of these exciting trips.

copyright © Steve Douglas 2009

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