More than 100 lights, light kits and reflectors you can use to improve the quality of your videos.
Never underestimate the value of lighting. You can use it to enhance the mood of a scene or give the illusion of depth and texture. The difference between good lighting and bad lighting (or no lighting) is the difference between day and night and a major factor in the difference between good and bad looking video. Even the most novice videographer should be aware of the contribution that a single light source can give to a video production.
This buyer's guide will give you information on more than 100 lights and kits that you can use to help improve the quality of your video.
A light kit usually contains two or more lights, a stand and some accessories (see Lighting Accessories Sidebar). Most kits or single stand lights will use incandescent, halogen or fluorescent bulbs.
The least expensive of these are the incandescent, which are basically household-type bulbs. They do not have very high wattage, are less effective in putting out large amounts of light but they're generally less expensive. The Arrilite 600 from Arri comes with a 600-watt incandescent bulb and includes barndoors, an umbrella and a scrim for $325.
Because of their brightness, halogen bulbs are very good for video. Many kits that use halogen bulbs, like Mole-Richardson's 650 Mini Softie for $465, are spot/flood adjustable. This means you can change the focus of the light beam from a bright, directed spot to a wide-open flood. One of the drawbacks of the halogen light is the significant amount of heat that it generates.
Four of the light kits in our buyer's guide feature fluorescent bulbs, which are becoming more popular because of the soft, even light they cast and because they are considerably cooler than halogens. The Basically 3 kit from Lowel-Light comes with three 800-watt fluorescent bulbs, two of which are spot/flood adjustable. It has a retail price of $1,065.
Something To Reflect On
One way to compensate for poor lighting is to use a reflector. A reflector bounces a light source onto a subject. That light source may be a lamp or the sun.
Reflectors come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes. Visual Departures Flexfill Panel is a collapsible 28-by-58-inch rectangular panel that comes in silver/white, gold/white, silver/black, translucent and silk for $100. FJ Westcott has a soft silver, 32-inch round reflector that sells for $26. Most of the reflectors that we listed in this buyer's guide retail for less than $100 and many for under $50. Reflect on that.
With a large selection to choose from and prices to fit just about anyone's pocketbook, good lights and reflectors can go a long way in helping to improve the overall look of your next video production.