Lighting For Videography

There is a video covering lighting devices at the end of this post. A lot of people have asked what type of lights I use. The above image shows a before and after shot of a room that I set up for a 2 camera, green screen, interview setup. I've tried a lot of different types of light options and I have some preferences. I started with an incandescent light set up that was made on the cheap. When I started out I needed an option that was low cost and easy to carry since it was normally going to be in the back of my car. I've now moved on to a number of different technologies in terms of lights. This post will outline what I use most. My first kit, I built on the cheap.

I used a set of two of these and an open faced work lights for a few years and got great results. The basic set up her is a $15 500 watt work light, mounted on an $ 16 light / umbrella bracket affixed atop a $25 nine foot light stand. The umbrella was around $25 or so. So for under 100 bucks I had these great lights that looked great. They could heat up a room quickly, and they were incandescent so they didn't match outdoor or window light. They also didn't take gels well, they would melt them quick. They also had no way of directing the light, (i.e. no barn doors or focus). I used these lights for probably 2 years.

My next purchase was a one of these. I'll be honest, I didn't like it at first. The color tone seemed to have a lot of magenta in it. I tried using it with my incandescent as a blueish hair light... and I'm sure other stuff as well. After a few tries, I just shelved it. I thought I had no use for it. At some point I pulled it back out and realized how versatile and easy to use it is. You can see it on Amazon here. Now a lot of snooty people complain about the quality of these but if I'm being totally honest I have been plenty pleased. I've shot with litepanels before and If I had the choice I'd probably use them just because of the brand name. However, after using the one I had for about 6 months I bought another. I use these two light heads the most out of any unit I've got. They are super rugged and small enough to carry around. They make no heat so they are easy to touch. One draw back is that they are basically a flood light. They by nature are diffused which is nice, but they don't offer any light shaping. In my experience I'd say don't worry about the fact that the product is not a known brand, for the price you could buy 4 or 5 of these for the price of one litepanel 1x1. Like I said, I've used litepanels and they are great but I've used these cheap brand ones so much and shot so many great things with them, I just wouldn't be able to justify the price of the litepanels or any of the other upper brands.

After shooting with those LEDs for quite a while I got a set of these. I got two version the four bank and the six bank. If it looks like I'm staring into the fully fusion fueled surface of the sun in the above picture... well that's about right. These are really bright, much brighter than the LEDs. I actually really like these lights. They create a soft but powerful light, and I rarely ever have to run them on full. A few drawbacks are their size. They Are a little big, which is nice for diffusion but not so nice if you're borrowing your mom's car and don't have much room. I have a full production van so the size is no big deal to me but I still wind up getting out the LEDs a lot of the time because these are just a little bit more cumbersome. You need to have a good solid stand to put these on cause they are heavy. One thing I do use these for regularly is lighting green screen. They have such a smooth light they are simply perfect for that. I've used them for key lights on interviews as well and they are beautiful. Again I'd say don't be afraid to buy this brand. In my experience they've been really good. Note, however, that these don't feel as rugged as the LED panels I use. I feel like I need to be a little more careful with these because of the bulbs. These are especially great for studio situations where the light never needs to be moved.

I then bought a litepanels sola eng. I know I know I said I wouldn't go for lightpanels when there is a cheaper option. In this case that is still true and not true. This light is an LED Fresnel which means it can be focused into a spot light, or defocused into a... well a little less of a spot light, not quite a flood light though. There are simply not many LED Fresnels on the market, which is why I went with the brand name.  This light has been amazing. I use it on EVERY shoot now. I mostly use it as a hair or back light. I can't say enough about how valuable this light is. It's very low heat, and it's small but packs a good output. I used it this week on a shoot where I needed to highlight a logo on the wall in the background. Most of the lights I've got would light the whole wall up because they are not shape able. No problem for the Sola ENG, I tightened it down to a small shape and it worked perfect. It also comes with incandescent match gel so that's cool. There have been a lot of complaints about the noise that this light makes. Many people called it fan noise. Others insisted that there is no fan in it. I'm not sure what the noise comes from, I kind of think it's some kind of oscillating circuitry inside but in any case I can hear it when it cranks up. I don't, however, find it to be any big deal. The noise is present but the signal to noise ratio of the average interview is plenty to cover the noise.   

This has been a really valuable piece of equipment as well. It's actually designed to be a bit of stage lighting gear for a live venue. It's just a color LED par can light. You can control it by DMX controller or by little switches on the back of the light. I have two of these lights and I mainly use them for background color to add a little something to a flat image. I have also used these for hair or back lights, but that's pretty rare. One nice thing about these is that they do a spot patter so their throw is actually pretty far. I bought these for under $100 each and they have been good. They are very rugged and cool running. There are brighter versions than the ones I have but these so far have always given me plenty of light.

Here's a video quickly laying out the types of lighting devices with some of their features and drawbacks. Read the article for more in depth descriptions.
So now most of the time I pull out my Sola Eng, and my LED panels. Any questions? I'd love to interact.


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