Several years ago, for an hour-long documentary I produced for PBS called Restoration Stories, I visited the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington (WW&F) Railway Museum in Alna, Maine. At that time the museum was beginning the long process of restoring an 1891 steam locomotive. I’ve made regular trips to the museum since then to collect footage of the restoration process for a Restoration Stories follow-up for PBS. Museum officials expect the engine to be operational by the end of this year.
Much of the footage I’ve shot has been in the museum’s machine shop, a visually interesting location filled with historic and authentic machinery. During my most recent shoots, a daylight-balanced Zylight F8-100 LED Fresnel became my main light, and it has quickly become my favorite lighting instrument of all time. It is very bright but only draws about 90 watts, so you can plug it into a standard wall socket without blowing a fuse. It can even be powered by a standard 14.4V camera battery, which has been helpful. The fewer wires running around heavy machinery, the better.
The F8-100 is a great Fresnel, and it happens to be an LED. The light coming out of it is even, beautiful and controllable. I’ve used HMIs for years, but I love that the F8-100 stays cool, and it doesn’t take time to warm up to provide precise color temperature. It’s always the first instrument I grab because it’s so versatile and so good.
Stephen Hussar is a cinematographer and founder of Preservation Media, a Boston area company that specializes in the preservation and restoration of archival motion picture film.