ARRI, DeSisti and other HMI lighting for still digital photography.

HMI lights are primarily used for motion picture photography, as in, blockbuster films in Hollywood. The HMI lights I used in Malta came from the set of The Gladiator, which was filmed a few kilometers from where I was teaching digital photography at the Malta Centre for Restoration.

HMI lights require a huge transformer. We used two lights to illuminate the National Palace, and on another day we worked in the main cathedral. The lights are very impressive: impressive cost, impressive size, and it required a crew to set them up and take them down (plus to haul the transformer around, which was larger than some small cars).

HMI lighting reviews
HMI lighting.

The spare lamp cost about $3,000. We found this out when the fixture arrived with the lamp broken during transportation.

If you have a budget of a Hollywood movie, and a crew of trained lighting specialists, then HMI lighting is great.

Most museums and most of the professional photographers that I know would unlikely be willing to go to the expense of HMI, especially not when shooting out on location. Unless your clients are Fortune 500 corporations.

If you are frugal and need economical lighting, check out our reviews of Lowel Lights. If you do product photography and don’t want to melt your subjects, link to our reviews of continuous discharge (ceramic discharge) lighting: Altman, Buhl, DeSisti, and North Light.

The nice thing about working with FLAAR is that we get to try out all kinds of photography equipment, for studio and out on location. FLAAR has been in the forefront of museum, art, architecture, and landscape photography for decades. Now you can obtain the benefits of all this experience in the new FLAAR course on digital photography. The previews of these courses is a free download.

All our FLAAR Reports on lighting by Nicholas Hellmuth are now readily available in DP 202, DP 203; some reports on lighting are available from our e-commerce order site,

Most recently updated July 4, 2005.
Previously updated Aug 3, 2001, November 26, 2004.