REVIEW: Chinese As Arri Fresnels

Back in 2010, I purchased these knockoff arri fresnels off eBay.  I got: 2x 650w, 2x 1000w and 1x 300w fresnels.  These all came with barndoors and the bulbs too.

$(KGrHqVHJDUE+Onb0rzvBP4rhD35rg~~60_12 72020

It’s now 2013 and the I’m having problems with my 650w and my 300w is completely gone.  I’ve since purchased REAL Arri fresnels, but before I comment on why, I’ll review these items.

These are a great bang for your buck.  The type of bulbs you would use are the same as the ones you would use in a real Arri fresnel.  If you don’t care for appearances (which sadly in this industry is a huge thing); I’d say these are a great starting point.
However, there are quite a few problems with these (granted mine are 3 years old now, and I can already see improvements in pictures of the designs)

PROS:

  1. Arri bulb compatible.
  2. Extremely low cost.
  3. Does the job!
  4. Arri Scrim compatible – takes the same sizes.

CONS (at least in my versions):

  1. No ground wire in the cables – the ground in the plug leads nowhere.
  2. spot and flood feature eventually get stuck in it’s position – maybe if you lube it on a regular basis it wouldn’t happen.
  3. Construction seems to be a lower grade aluminium – no real problems with this yet.
  4. Barndoors are also lower grade aluminium, and needs to be tightened occasionally.
  5. Cables are only about 2m in length (compared to real arri fresnels which are much longer)
  6. Gauge of cables seems to be much smaller than that of a real Arri fresnel – and much lower quality.
  7. Spigot is not an actual 750 size, I had to dremmel the hole to add a few millimetres to make it fit on the end of a C-Stand grip arm. (but the new designs seem better)
  8. Spigot only mounts bottom up, where as in real arri fresnels you can mount sideways too (but new design seems better)
  9. Yolk bar sometimes came loose from the fixture, had to buy new bolts and nuts to fix it.
  10. No logos

Now even with all these cons.  It’s about a third of the price of a real arri fresnel.  And I’ve had mine for over 3 years now.  One of my 650w fresnels now have an issue with the cabling, where it would sometimes flicker (even when i’ve fixed all the connection points), and my 300w is completely useless now.  I’ve since purchased a real 150w and 300w.

Reason I’ve decided to get these real ones are because I make more money now, quality is significantly better and because in our industry sadly, appearances matter.  I’ll write an article on that as well.

Here are some stills of my work using these fresnels.

A001_C001_07157H

Knockoff 1k fresnel through a 4×4  LEE 250 skinned frame as a key, 575 HMI backlit through window, practicals, diva 401 fill light | Red Scarlet | Canon 24-70 | F/4

A009_C048_0622WT

Lit with one knockoff 1000w fresnel and a ton of flags | Red One MX | 800ISO | Red Pro Zoom 18-85mm | T/4

CONCLUSION:

If you’re just starting out, these are a means to an end.  They’ll do the job and if you know what you’re doing with lighting, it’s the person, not the tools.

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About thedavelam.com

I'm Cinematographer in Toronto, Canada - just trying to learn as much as I can and share it all. Also the owner of Spectacle Media Inc.
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4 Responses to REVIEW: Chinese As Arri Fresnels

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  3. nickbeef says:

    Why is the 300w “completely useless”? Poor cabling can be fixed with a little effort, but faulty components is another issue. I’m just trying to understand the quality of these lights before I consider purchasing.

    • I’m not sure exactly what’s wrong with it. I thought it was the cables, so I bought new higher gauge cables and replaced them, but it didn’t do the trick. It might be the socket for the bulb, but i’ve yet to test that theory. I’ve bought a real ARRI 300w fresnel since then, so I haven’t had a reason to revisit repairing this one. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great light, but repairing these gets pretty frustrating – the insides are not built like an Arri Fresnel.

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