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Thoughts on LED lights for video?

videodx's picture
Last seen: 12 months 4 days ago
Joined: 11/26/2011 - 11:40pm

What do you think about these lights for video? I just discovered them and sure enough there's some reviews on Youtube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsT5-bGOlxI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GC9DKaBmL5w

I'm currently using some clamp lights with some super duper bulbs in them but they get really hot which is not fun. I'm considering buying a couple of these LED lights, they're around $30 delivered from China. I need to light a 10x12 foot room, well, not the whole room, but just a subject in front of a backdrop. Would two of these do the trick?

Just interested to hear everyone's input on these lights..


Anonymous (not verified)

LED's are all the rage, but good ones don't come cheap, and cheap ones have limitations. First and foremost with most cheap LED lights is the non-continuous spectrum, often spiking in green. You might be able to overcome this with filtration and color correction, but it's a crap shoot. If the manufacturer doesn't list the CRI (color rendering index), or its below a 90, then you might get some funky skin tones that don't look healthy.

You might also get some strange banding when you try to snoot or barn-door these lights to a smaller pattern. I've seen some cheap units that exhibit flicker as well.

If you're expecting to make money from your videos, I would invest in better quality LED lights (Flolight makes solid units) or go with fluorescent fixtures (more cost effective than LED's, but with similar benefits).

That being said, I do use a larger version of this LED as a hair light or background light when I need a quick setup or I don't have access to AC power.


Anonymous (not verified)

I like them but I don't think 126 led's is enough. you need a bank of like 1000 or so. do they make 1000? and you need like 6 banks usually 3 for the subject, 1back lightto make them pop, and 2 to light up the background if you intend to do green screen work.

I have an 8 point lighting kit but they are all quartz lights with fresnel lenses and some par can fixtures. Id like t change them all to led.

like anything, when they are new, they ask so much for them. I was at a video expo, they had 1000 led banks - cost like $2500.00 for ONE LIGHT! I forget the manufacturer. this is fine if you are aHollywoodstudio I guess but unrealistic for most. Imagine, if you need like 8 banks of those, then several RED cameras , each with a multitude of lenses with them, tons of batteries, filters etc lots of mics, generators to run everything, lots of talented people to figure out how the to get the most from the RED's, then you need a room full of huge capacitycomputersto be able to handle the files from the cameras and a bunch of talented editors tooanddid i mention trucksanddrivers to cartstuffaroundwith, and Kraft Services, and locations and legals and aaaaaaargh! (pulling my hair out) and wehaven'teven paid for the script or actors yet!!! I would stick to the Chinese leds... or Get a bigger budget!

there are also some DIY LED banks out there that Ive seen. google DIY LED Video Lights and that will start you on your path to enlightenment - LOL :D


paulears's picture
Last seen: 2 weeks 2 days ago
Joined: 11/05/2006 - 8:36am

In Europe there's a big movement to try to get the LED manufacturers to move to using specs that actually mean something. CRI doesn't really say much about how an LED relates to tungsten, or even flu. It can mean your white or grey board looks white or grey, but after shooting you discover some colours just didn't look the same. The problem comes from the cameras splitting off the R,G and B portions - so the camera isn't seeing the whole spectrum at one time - so you get maybe odd unexpected effects. A bit like when you record with sodium street lighting - that can turn a red car into a sludge green one. The same thing happens with LED, just not so radical.

I'm a recent convert after being a sceptic on theatre LED sources, but for video, too many unpredictable things happen to colour. Lee Filter now make a range of LED gel, to recreate their popular colours, and the colour of these gels is weird to the naked eye, but when stuck on an LED source produce the old favourites. Do a google to read and see how it works.

I too wanted to replace a 1K Fresnel with an LED version - the Arri - my God they are expensive!



Moab Man's picture
Last seen: 1 year 11 months ago
Joined: 11/02/2010 - 3:35am

For the price I thought it was worth a try and ordered one. If nothing else I have a really wide beam flashlight. I have a similar size area that I shoot in and if I like the light will order some more.



videodx's picture
Last seen: 12 months 4 days ago
Joined: 11/26/2011 - 11:40pm

Moab, are you implying that you just purchased one after you saw my post on here? Or you had ordered one previously and you're waiting for it to arrive? How many of these, or perhaps the 160 or 183 LED lights do you think I would need to create nice even lighting, perhaps like you see on a newscast, nothing moody or any of that. I just need a nice full, even light.


Moab Man's picture
Last seen: 1 year 11 months ago
Joined: 11/02/2010 - 3:35am

Yes, I went ahead and just purchased online the CN 126 after seeing your post. I figure for the money I would give it a try.


videodx's picture
Last seen: 12 months 4 days ago
Joined: 11/26/2011 - 11:40pm

Oh wow ok,, you took the plunge, although not a deep one, faster than me! These bulbs I have seem to be very bright, but they get so darn hot it's annoying. That's what made me start thinking about LED. I see they have 160 and 183 bulb configurations available too.


Rick Crampton's picture
Last seen: 5 months 4 days ago
Joined: 08/20/2009 - 1:08pm

Okay . . . FWIW . . . which I'm sure is very little to this crowd:

I'm a bit old fashioned, and something of a cheapskate. I ordered a 650 wattQuartz Fresnel ( ARRI knockoff ) directly from China. Carefully looking it over I was suitably impressed that I ordered two more; and I equipped all three with 300 watt lamps. Although not the most " portable " lighting choice, I can achieve a very wide range of lighting effects with scrims and gels.

Rick Crampton


Anonymous (not verified)

I've built up my light kit over the past 10 years. I have fluorescents, LED's, PARs, fresnels and other open-face instruments. While they all do the job of pumping out photons, each one has it's strengths and limitations. For each scenario, I'll take along different lights. I would suggest to the OP that he do a bit more research on the type of 'look' he wants to achieve, and how it is typically created. A bright news-set environment requires much more power than those little LEDs can put out, especially if he's going for a softer look and adds diffusion.

Personally, I'd rather start with a light that is too powerful, and then dial it down rather than add more instruments to bring up the base exposure.



Rick Crampton's picture
Last seen: 5 months 4 days ago
Joined: 08/20/2009 - 1:08pm

" What's the big difference between using the softboxes and the umbrellas? "

My cheap softbox kits came with stands anda diffuser cloth which fits over the business end of the reflector box. Umbrellasoccupy more space on the set.

I can use my Fresnels to bounce off foamcore or a rigged space blanket.

Rick Crampton


Anonymous (not verified)

Umbrellas great in a pinch, but I get better results with softboxes. The spill is easier to control, especially if you add eggcrate grills. The kit that Mike mentioned is value priced, but without an option for grids, you might run into their limitations eventually. For my interviews, I need to control background spill. That is hard to do on large, soft sources unless you want to start adding gobos/flags, and more light stands.

My Photoflex softbox has given me wonderful results, but it's bulky, hot, and not exactly cheap. Here is a typical single-person interview setup with the softbox: http://awesomeshot.net/steal-this-setup/


videodx's picture
Last seen: 12 months 4 days ago
Joined: 11/26/2011 - 11:40pm

Yes, value priced is ok for me at this point. They would be an upgrade to these extremely hot bulbs I'm using now, and diffusing with parchment paper :)