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Lights for DSLR Video

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Adriano Castaldini
Lights for DSLR Video
on Mar 28, 2017 at 3:06:33 pm
Last Edited By Adriano Castaldini on Mar 28, 2017 at 3:07:47 pm

Hi, I'm searching for lights for DSLR videos, but I'm a newbie so I'd need some advices.

I thought a pair of lights w/ stands and soft-box, or simply a pair of dimmable led panels. But I've noticed that LEDs give flickering issue on DSLR videos (I had to buy the flickerfree plugin from Digital Anarchy).

So wich is better for DSLR videos: led + plug-in-post, or tungsten?

Anyway, what is in your opinion the ideal starter-kits?

Thanks you for the help.


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Blaise Douros
Re: Lights for DSLR Video
on Mar 28, 2017 at 5:22:18 pm

LEDs aren't the problem--CHEAP ones are. Cheap LEDs use PWM to modulate brightness instead of voltage, creating the flickering effect. Also, is your shutter speed set high? THat's a common mistake for newbie DSLR shooters. Your shutter speed should be double your framerate: 1/50 for 24fps, 1/60 for 30 fps. You can sometimes get away with 1/60 at 60fps.

Neither LED or tungsten is inherently better or worse for video; however, cheap LEDs don't reproduce color well, and often have the flicker issue. Cheap tungsten reproduces the full range of color; it just takes a lot more power to get enough light out of them to be useful.


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Adriano Castaldini
Re: Lights for DSLR Video
on Mar 28, 2017 at 6:52:06 pm

Thanks for your reply Blaise,
yes my framerate is 1/50 with 24fps.
Please, be so kind to give me same examples of a good LED panels (+ softbox), and same examples of adequate tungsten lights (+ softbox).

I saw a priced Manfrotto Lykos bi-color panel (https://www.manfrotto.us/lykos-bi-color-led-light) + its softbox. Is it a good one? Has it enought power to be the main light of a minimal one-light kit? Let me explain: I have never got a light, up to now I used only natural light, but in the last work I felt the need of adding light. What I have in mind is to begin just with one light to start learning, so I'm searching for a "versatile" light, but also easy to move (I'm a one-man-crew unfortunally).

So, if you can give me some advices about a portable and versatile single-light system kit.

Thanks for the appreciated help.


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Blaise Douros
Re: Lights for DSLR Video
on Mar 29, 2017 at 7:08:48 pm

Unfortunately, lighting is one of those areas where there really, truly, no kidding, is no good cheap solution. Want good LEDs? You're going to pay a lot for something that is bright. Want a 1K tungsten light? Gonna pay for it, too. HMIs? Dolla dolla bills.

That Manfrotto light is going to be fine for a little bit of fill, but will not be enough to be a primary light. You might be better off with something like this: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1030731-REG/bescor_fp500k_dual_color...


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Adriano Castaldini
Re: Lights for DSLR Video
on Mar 30, 2017 at 12:30:45 am

Well, thank you so much! It seems that the price is good.

1. These are a couple, so do I consider to use one as primary and the other as fill, or to obtain a primary adequate strength do I need to use both in couple as primary?
2. Do I need softbox with this kind of lights?
3. You wrote that "cheap tungsten reproduces the full range of color but need more power", well I'd use the light only indoor, and power is not a great problem, so can you also recommend a couple of tungsten lights kit?

Really thanks a lot!


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Blaise Douros
Re: Lights for DSLR Video
on Mar 30, 2017 at 3:19:55 pm

When it comes to tungsten, just get as many watts as you can afford! A 1K is usually a good keylight if you're not trying to illuminate an entire room.


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Adriano Castaldini
Re: Lights for DSLR Video
on Mar 30, 2017 at 5:05:11 pm

I'm still in doubt. My bad: being a newbie, there is the risk that I can't explain exactly for which kind of shot I'm searching lights, and consequentially which kind of light I really need.
In these days I see many video tutorials about lightning a scene, but most of them refer to interview sets or similar, where the lights are the only/main way to illuminate the talent.
In my case, I think something is different. Let me try to describe my scene:
My shots is indoor, but not in a studio, instead in a regular house, with natural light from the windows, and with the light from the
chandelier or the ceiling light. I consider all this as "ambient" light (I don't know if is the right word). In this situation, most of the time the talent is not perfectly lighted (the face is shady, or the face as too much contrast and needs for compensation, or the face is lighted but without "accent", etc.)
So what I'm searching for is a light (or a couple, I can't say) to give compensation or accent or softness (softbox?) to a yet lighted scene.

From this point of view, do you confirm I need a >1K tungsten light or the couple of LED panels? Or my description has changed something?

Thanks again.


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Blaise Douros
Re: Lights for DSLR Video
on Mar 30, 2017 at 11:47:55 pm

You could make do with either. The LEDs will probably need to be placed closer to the subject to make a difference. Conversely, the tungstens, while more powerful, will need to have daylight gel placed over them to match the color temperature of the ambient sunlight coming in the windows...which will reduce their power. It's a trade-off.

Don't mix color temperature unless you really know what you're doing--it can ruin an image really fast. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, you need to study up on light color temperature and white balance so you can be educated enough to make some decisions as to what's going to be more useful to you.

I can't build this kit for you. I just can't. You need to learn about the pros and cons of each type of light, and make the choice yourself. Look up color temperature, 3200K vs 5500K, tungsten vs LED, the effects of gelling, the inverse square law (so you know how close you'll need to place the lights), the types of modifiers you want to use and whether they're compatible with the lights...

You NEED to know all of this. I know what lights and accessories I use for my day-to-day because I know what my day-to-day requires. You need to make decisions based on your needs.

If you don't know how to make these decisions, or even how to research it, then you need to get a mentor--a LOCAL mentor. It sounds like you're too inexperienced to even know what advice to ask for, so you need to find a grip or DP or preditor in your area who can spend half a day teaching you what you need to know before you even start asking questions.

We could spend three weeks going down the rabbit hole as I tell you what you need to know, post by post, but I'm afraid I don't have time for that, and neither do you. It's better for you to educate yourself and get your hands on some lights, and preferably have someone to teach you in person.


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