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Tag Archives: Discounts

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Right now stores are stocked full of Halloween props and one of the favorites among photographers are smoke and fog machines.  If you buy right now, you’ll pay a premium for one. But if you wait until the days after Halloween, the stores will be knocking 50% off the prices to clear out their inventories.  I scored this guy last year at Walmart for $11.  Its on the shelves this year again for $35…. I kinda nice having that extra $24 in my pocket.

Here’s a tip for you… while there will be plenty of fog machines available on November 1st, the supply of fog solution will be nil. That’s because stores only stock one bottle for each machine. So pick-up your fog solution now while there’s plenty, then get the machine after they go on sale.  Otherwise, you’ll be stuck waiting a year like I was.

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A quick review of this particular unit…

Keep in mind the machine is only $35 (even less if you wait till after the holiday), so you get what you pay for.  The Fog Machine was designed for Halloween décor, not big production shoots. If you need perfect smoke/fog, then you need something along the lines of a Rosco 1700 and a coldflow.  So don’t be expecting great things… this little guy shoots out smoke for about three feet that immediately rises.  It has a noticeable smell and will set off smoke alarms.  Its best used outdoors, but if used indoors, by all means have some plan for adequate ventilation.

For low budget imagery, the unit can serve your purpose well once you’ve played around with it.  Using short controlled bursts is the key.  The machine comes with a remote trigger, but its range is horribly inconsistent.  Standing directly in front of the machine I was able to trigger it from 35’… but as I moved around it in different directions, the range dramatically dropped as low as 6’ in some areas.  You’re likely going need an assistant to manually trigger it on a shoot.  I personally did not find the remote to be reliable enough for my needs.

Its solution efficient – meaning a little lasts a while, but it has a slow warm-up (4 mins) and recharge time (2 mins).  The machine can shoot a burst for as long as 40 seconds, but most of that is going to rise up into the air.  After those longer blasts, it has to take time to warm up again.

The captures below  are straight out of the camera and show just how quickly the smoke rises and fills a 22′ x 32′ studio.   My 5’4″ model was standing on an apple box with the machine on the floor three feet behind her.  I hit the remote and gave it about a ten second blast of smoke while I started shooting.  The doors to the studio were open, but no fans were used.

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As you can see, in just five seconds the smoke is rising over her head.  After thirty-five seconds, the smoke has risen and filled the room to the point where one cannot get a usable image.  Now, to be fair, I had only intended on using a one or two second burst, but once the machine started, the remote wouldn’t stop it.  Though I was only 10′ from the machine, the model was between us and blocking the signal.  It took about ten seconds for me to run over and unplug it from the wall.  Like I said earlier… you’re going to need someone to operate it manually  for guaranteed results.

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Even after four minutes has elapsed, the room still has a strong haze and you can see just how thrilled the model is about having to stand there and wait.  In all, it took about 25 minutes with fans blowing to clear out the room… not the kind of time you can afford to burn between frames.  To sum it up, low cost gets you low quality.  But I’m not throwing in the towel just yet… I’ll play it with more to try and find the combination that gives me the results I need for low budget shoots.

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