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Thread: Lighting for video and stills - advice please

  1. #1
    Adrian's Avatar
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    Lighting for video and stills - advice please

    I know this site is mainly for still photographers (which is what I am usually) but I find myself needing to film regular video interviews and reports in my small (30 or so staff) business for publication to the web. It is painfully evident that we need some lighting as we cannot rely on good daylight at this time of year and our modern overhead office lighting is of course deeply unflattering as it creates deep facial shadows and odd skin tones.

    We are filming one or two videos every week, and so it is worth us buying some simple lights that we can pack away. Ideally I would like whatever we buy to also be useful for taking stills shots of staff, fellow board members etc.

    Obviously we could employ professional photographers, but three attempts with different "professionals" have yielded worse or only marginally better results than we deliver ourselves, and as we often need to do this at very short notice (reacting to market events) an in-house solution is desirable.

    Having looked at the web there are numerous different alternatives, different light types and colour temperatures (with different heat characteristics as a side effect) and my PR colleague and I are a bit unsure what to go for.

    I am happy to spend up to around 500 or 600. This is for whatever lights, diffusers and reflectors we need. We probably don't need a back screen or roller. Everything must pack away easily and neatly and be idiot proof for inexperienced amateurs!

    I would very much welcome specific suggestions and advice, bearing in mind that as we are mainly filming video, flash lights are of no use.

    Adrian

    PS I am using a 5DIII, L glass and external mic feed. I am fine with all of that.

  2. #2
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting for video and stills - advice please

    I have a Bescor shoe light I use for urbex and shooting in crowds, where there's an advantage to using an attention-getting continuous light to get people to look at the camera. Wider, flatter panels are becoming very popular with HDSLR users - this version has a little more "throw" (a tighter beam) than most. The wider and flatter the source, the more flattering the light.

    Bescor LED-60X 60W dimmable LED light

    For finer control, look for dimmable lights that accept warming filters to bring the temperature down from a typical LED's 5600K to a more skin-friendly 4300-4600K. Bescor is definitely not the best manufacturer, and in your budget, you can probably go upmarket to a higher-quality Manfrotto light.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting for video and stills - advice please

    I'm a video shooter, so perhaps I could be of some help here. With a few exceptions, the overlap between companies that produce gear for video and still work is quite limited. I find the same issue with a lot of videographers; often they are photographers that have added video to their portfolio, but ultimately don't understand the difference between shooting video and stills.

    You might want to look at the Lowel line of video lights. http://www.lowel.com/ They have both kits and single lights. One of the kit setups might be suitable for what you are doing, and if you do interviews, the do put out an "interview" kit. I have a couple of their "omni lights" and use their barn doors as well.

    I tend to be a "hot" light shooter; these are really more traditional and high powered, but pump out a lot more light and are less comfortable to work with. I have a couple of their "omni lights" and use their barn doors as well. I find I like using barn doors as I can feather the light hitting the subject. I will drop a diffuser in front of a hot light to soften things up. Many of the studio lighting setups used in photography are somewhat similar to video ones; hot lights don't work well with soft boxes and other standard equipment (they melt and burn) but cool lights do. I use the same stands for my studio flashes and hot boxes. If you decide to go the hot light route; invest in a pair of heavy duty leather work gloves; hot lights get hot and you will burn yourself of you don't use gloves to handle them. Look at getting coloured gels as well, and wooden clothes pins to clip the gels to the video lights. All of the mixed lighting issues we get in photography also occur in videography.

    On camera lights are the equivalent to the tiny built in flashes that come with your DSLR; the only real use I've seen where they make sense is as a fill light (for example wedding videographers that cannot use stationary lighting). I would recommend a stationary lighting setup that includes at least a key light and a fill light.

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    Adrian's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting for video and stills - advice please

    Yes, I came across the Lowel kits on the web, but the UK distributor is effectively charging for $ on them which puts any kind of softbox - 2 light kit from them quite some way out of our planned price range (i.e. double).

    I'm also keen to avoid high heat levels as this will just make our somewhat formal video interviews uncomfortable. The last one we did was a 7 minute and a 4 minute slot (technical Q&As) so this is a fairly long time to endure hot lights.

    I really am at the basic level here of not even knowing what lamp power ratings we should go for.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting for video and stills - advice please

    I do know one photographer in town uses the modeling lights of his studio flashes as make-shift video lights (and uses them with softboxes). I haven't seen any of his videos, so I can't comment on how well this works. I assume that the modeling lights are likely in the 250 - 300W range. My Omni lights have 500W bulbs.

    Once you get away from hot lights, the price of cool lights (whether they are colour balanced fluorescents or LED panels) are astronomically higher than halogen lights. I just looked at the B&H catalogue, and an Omni, with a 500W bulb and a set of barn doors runs at about $270. If you are pay in the same in as the US price in $, you are certainly within your budget to get a 2-light setup.

  6. #6
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    Re: Lighting for video and stills - advice please

    Hi Adrian,

    I have no idea about continuous lighting for video work, but it may be worth getting in touch with these guys:

    Elemental

    Their strobes are excellent, I have a setup from their Trinity range.

    The thing that impressed me most with them was the amount of time they were happy to spend discussing the specifics of what I wanted balanced against what I needed and the budget available. There was no overt pressure to buy and when I did they recommended what they believed to be fit for purpose rather than the most expensive solution. After much use I'd say they were spot on.

    None of this may hold true for continuous lighting for video work but they do have kit that starts at a reasonable price:

    Twin light LED kit @ 649

    I know it's slightly over your stated budget but they may have some suggestions/flexibility, you don't know until you ask.

    The other thing is you can visit them (Stagsden, Bedfordshire) to try out different options to help you decide.

    NOTE: I have no affiliation or interest in Elemental other than being a very happy customer.

    Hope this helps,
    Ady

  7. #7
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting for video and stills - advice please

    Those Elemental LED lights are not terribly bright; only 550 Lux at 2m, but that is why they are so inexpensive. Unfortuantely, LED (and fluorescents) are not competitive with halogens. As stated before, the only upside is that they run relatively cool. For your low budget, I can't see going to anything other than traditional halogen lights.

  8. #8
    Adrian's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting for video and stills - advice please

    Thanks guys and especially Ady: I had not spotted Elemental or a suitably priced LED kit. It looks as though Elemental and 3 Legged Thing are linked as both are in Stagsden. My 3LT tripod is an excellent bit of kit. I will call them and get some advice before ordering. Adrian

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