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I'm interested in being able to work with hard light modified by gobos, and am thus considering purchase of an optical snoot to use with Bowens-mount continuous lights.

As of this writing, the options on the market fall into a limited number of categories:

  • Optical snoots with fixed lenses (which appear to most frequently be somewhere around 85mm).
  • Optical snoots with proprietary lenses (such as the Godox SA-17 with their three 60mm, 85mm and 150mm lens options). This option in particular is presently carried by major US retailers.
  • Optical snoots that support EF-mount lenses (such as those sold under the Pixapro name in the UK; the "Ambitful AL-16" or "OT1 Pro II" units sold through AliExpress, BangGood and similar; etc).

I happen to own a collection of manual-focus EF-mount prime lenses, and have a limited amount of studio space (think "converted guest bedroom"), so there's only so much room to "zoom with my feet".

At present, the US-based vendors I prefer to buy from don't appear to carry any Bowens-mount options with EF-mount lens support, so I'd be working with vendors I don't have a relationship with (and might have more trouble with if returns or exchanges are necessary).

What factors should I take into account in determining whether the ability to use my own lenses is worth dealing with vendors who aren't known quantities?

Are there considerations I haven't mentioned above that are worth considering?

(I'm trying to keep my budget below $250USD. I do video, not only still photography, with LED-based lighting; to be usable for both purposes, equipment needs to be robust enough to handle the heat from a Godox VL300 -- which, compared to tungsten lights of days past, is not that much heat).

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The lighting tool designed specifically for hard light using GOBOs is the ellipsoidal reflector spotlight (also called a Leko for a common brand and JoLeko when an HMI is modified to be used as the source).

Ellipsoidals are commonly used in theaters for plays and concerts because they are focusable, accept gels in addition to gobos, and can be hard cut at the fixture.

The downside is they tend towards the industrial…big, heavy, hot, and not always wired for ordinary household plugs.

There are LED ellipsoidals, however. Mostly it depends on how much light you need, how often you need it, and how critical CRI is required.

Monoprice has a small 3200k zoomable ellipsoidal that I find suitable for small spaces. I mount it on a lollipop using some 1/2” hardware.

monoprice 60 watt ellipsoidal with 1/2” bolt and nut

I print gobos on my phone inkjet using transparency film for the small gobo holder (the light does not get hot).

gobo holder with inkjet printed Venetian blind gobo

The CRI is not great but is suitable for non-color critical work, which is what I do.

[edit] It is worth mentioning chromatic aberration. Unless you throw substantial money around, you will have some simply because projection lenses tend to be simple and because small amounts of fringing cover more area as they are projected.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting, thanks! Since I already own a 300W 5600K light source that matches well with my other lights, adding an optical snoot seems on its face like it would make more sense than purchasing a single-purpose light... but then, I'd need to measure how many stops of light are lost to determine if one really does come out ahead of the 60W dedicated-purpose hardware. (Also, insofar as chromatic aberration is a lens-quality issue, I wonder if using an EF-mount snoot with a lens built for photography would avoid it). \$\endgroup\$ Sep 20, 2021 at 18:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Either way -- while I'm going to leave the question open to see if someone with experience going the optical-snoot route weighs in, this is a valuable answer and I really appreciate it. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 20, 2021 at 18:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @CharlesDuffy My understanding is that in terms of chromatic aberration, photographic lenses suffer when used as projection lenses. But that’s third hand. Anyway, this seems like a try it out cheaply and learn if you would use it if you had the right one. You can always drop a few thousand on Dedolights later. The reason I talked about ellipsoidals is that that’s what you are trying to make by other means. Ellipsoidals are the navigation beacon so to speak even if that’s not how we talk about the problem. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 20, 2021 at 18:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ nod. An additional respect in which this is helpful is that I've been clued in to ask my spouse (a stage actor) to keep an ear to the ground for theaters looking to part ways with their lighting equipment. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 20, 2021 at 20:16
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This should be a comment. Normally this is not a equip recommendation website.

I have not used them. But I have found a couple on Amazon that uses a Yugnuo 50mm lens. My guess is that it is an EF mount.

SN-29 Flash Concentrator

https://www.amazon.com/Andoer-Concentrator-Photographic-Equipment-Accessories/dp/B07Q29ZG1C/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=SN-29+Flash+Concentrator&qid=1632162987&sr=8-1

This is not listed on US website.

Funien SN-29 Flash Concentrator

https://www.amazon.com.mx/dp/B0914XYK6N/?coliid=I2I4KTY7IKJMFL&colid=331E0XZMA5OCF&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

But more than those two specific brands, probably if you add the term Yugnuo 50mm lens to your search you will find some more options.

I am not sure on what to consider. I do not know if you need a pre-diffuser before the gobo shape, or a pre-condenser lens. Those probably are the difference between a cheap product and a quality one.

One thing to consider, is that your lenses will have a lower aperture, so you will have less light than the 1.8 lens.

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