Philips has expanded its range of single-ended MSRs with a few noteworthy forward steps. First to be announced were improvements to the existing CST 250HR lamp with a gain in output and longer lamp life at 4,000 hours. Second was the introduction of a new 250W MSR to complement the 250W CST but at a daylight color temperature of 6,000°K. Philips calls the two lamps the “Philips 2-pack for CST fixtures, a multifunctional solution for Ceramic ST fixtures,” which is a pretty accurate statement. This new MSR 250HR is fully compatible with the CST system of power supply and lamp holder, thus giving users a selection of color temperature.

While these developments are a step forward, they may not be the leap we are about to see with the introduction of Philips' first single-ended lamp in the Golden MSR range. The team in Turnhout, Belgium, has created an entirely new lamp with never-before-seen performance and an equally clever lamp holder, giving us a new level of usability. The new lamp has a color temperature of 6,200°K, a CRI of 85, and an extremely short arc of 5mm, the shortest ever at 1,200W. Looking at the lamp and holder assembly, it is apparent just how different this Mini-MSR lamp is. The nickname is appropriate, as the overall length of the lamp has been reduced by 25%, making it look tiny next to the existing MSR 1200SA. Right off, this represents 30% higher brightness as compared to currently available light sources — an impressive 95,000 lumens at 1,200W. In keeping with the family, golden lamp pins are designed to ensure best possible current transfer, and with Philips' P3 technology, pinch temperatures of up to 500°C are acceptable. This makes for a robust lamp for manufacturers to design more compact fixtures around — more on that in a moment.

The MSR Gold 1200 SA/SE is technically dubbed a “1,200W lamp,” but I use quotations around that, as it uniquely offers us light on demand. This means that output can be scaled from 800W to 1,400W through the use of an electronic ballast. This is a smooth, fader adjustment in output with no steps or selections along the way. One could set the lamp to be 835W and then instantly turn the lamp to 1,314W with no adverse effects. Color temperature remains consistent throughout the power range, and at the 1,200W benchmark, Philips says a perfectly respectable 750-hour life is achievable.

When it does come time to replace the lamp, the task should be easy, thanks to the new and patented Clickfit lamp holder. Developed by Philips and Bender & Wirth, it allows the lamp to be set, quarter turned, and clicked into or out of the holder. Gone are the typical two-pins, the pushing down or pulling out action, and the inevitable finger crossing that the lamp is truly seated. Now users simply set, turn, and click.

There are several other added benefits to the system. Not only does it contribute to the significant reduction in size, but the holder is much more precise in positioning the lamp within a reflector. Current lamp and lamp holder designs provide for a certain amount of variation. As lamps have become increasingly more compact, this variation in positioning of the lamp within the reflector has presented optical design limitations. Clickfit addresses this with what I think is improved precision and thus allows manufactures to design a more effective optical system.

What does all this mean to us, the end user? First, and quite obviously, we should see a step-up in performance, while also a reduction in the form factor of the fixture. The lamp itself is more efficient; it's one of the smallest arcs yet, and the ability to reliably place the lamp in an optimal position provides the opportunity for improved optical design efficiency. The first application example of this comes to us from Selecon, who included this system in its new range of followspots released at LDI this year.

This is also where the other features of the lamp system begin to come into their own. The ability for light on demand — to pull back on or apply more intensity-is going to be key to the user. In the case of a followspot, a rental shop would only need one followspot with variable output versus the need for several spots with lamps between 1.2kW and 2.5kW. I can foresee the ability to adjust lamp level as something that is done on the fly and as an integral part of a lighting design.

So what can we expect next? Moving light manufactures like Robe and Morpheus Lights are investigating integrating this new mini-MSR technology into their fixtures. Once again, the obvious benefits — compact size, big gain in output, and variable output — should have quite the end result in their lights.

I predict that, once we all get a good look at this new Philips lamp system — end user and manufacturer alike — wide acceptance will soon follow. Philips should be applauded for its strong commitment to improving the breed of the product available to our industry, especially advancements that are so specific to the stage, studio, and TV markets. The efficiency, flexibility, and ease of use all make for a product with potentially revolutionary results for all of us.