Lighting: would like guitar strings & fretboard to be a touch clearer

Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews Forums Specialty Topics Educational Video Lighting: would like guitar strings & fretboard to be a touch clearer

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    • #72029515
      AvatarDom47
      Participant

      I’ve created several instructional guitar videos, but I’m not completely happy with the clarity of the guitar fretboard – it could be a touch clearer. That’s just using 2 house lamps (2x CFL 23W, 1600 Lumens) and a good size window for natural light. I probably don’t need much to take it to the next level. I don’t want to spend more than $150 – $200(us) right now. Can someone recommend which softbox or led light panel(s) would be best. I would prefer to go with led light panels, if possible, since they would take up less space in my office.

    • #72029529
      AvatarJackWolcott
      Participant

      Why do you assume that the “clarity” is a lighting issue? Could be that it’s a depth of field problem, especially if you’re using a macro setting/lens to shoot the keyboard. I’d experiment with focus before acquiring more lights.

    • #72029588
      Avatarbobspez
      Participant

      I don’t know why I keep losing my posts when I edit them but it just happened again. Here’s my reply: I use 22 watt led bulbs (150 watt equivalent) in floor and desk lamps pointed at the ceiling to light up the scene for guitar and keyboard performance videos. You can also get more light by shooting at a lower frame rate. For example, 60 fps requires a 1/120 sec. shutter speed, while 24 fps only requires a 1/50 sec shutter speed, letting in much more light at the same iso. When you raise the iso you also introduce noise, which works against clarity of detail. Use an online depth of field calculator to determine the lowest f-stop (widest aperture) you can use to keep all of the subject in focus. In a pinch you can lower the shutter speed past the norm to get more light (eg. shoot at 1/30 sec shutter speed with 24fps). Also, shooting 4K will bring more detail than 1080P HD, even when seen on a 2K monitor or Youtube.
      Another thing to consider is that you can brighten a dark scene in post by adding brightness and contrast. But as others have said, nailing focus is probably more important than anything else. Getting close with the right camera angle is important. And if you have a dark fretboard, your fingers may show up better than against a light fretboard.

    • #72029674
      AvatarDom47
      Participant

      Sorry it took so long to respond, but I couldn’t access this site and others. Finally figured it out, it was the router.

      Thank you both for your help. I’m a total noob when it comes video recording & lighting. I will try all of your recommendations.

      Thanks again!

      P.S. Is it possible to add a photo to this text?

    • #72029787
      AvatarDom47
      Participant

      Again, thanks for your help.

      Test pic; the one with the red guitar is mine. The other is what I would like it to be lighting-wise.
      https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1ixAaleTmpSgBMyYIVCGpwYt-NGrRTDqE

      • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by AvatarDom47.
      • #72029813
        Avatarbobspez
        Participant

        You didn’t set the my drive link to the pic to public access. You will probably get an email from google requesting you grant me access to view the pic. If you convert the mydrive link to a short link on tinyurl.com there is no problem with access to that pic for anyone.

        • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by Avatarbobspez.
    • #72029822
      AvatarDom47
      Participant

      Hi bobspez, thanks for your help. This is my first attempt at using google drive, hope this works.

      https://drive.google.com/open?id=1wjRvpSvXScCdYL-WFCJ1M_g4lp6aSNad

      • #72029870
        Avatarbobspez
        Participant

        I saw the picture of the red guitar but not the other one. But I can see your problem. Your focus is not good due to poor focus. Nothing in the picture is sharp. Ideally you want to see the fingers, fretboard and knobs all in sharp focus. To get that you can use more lighting, and also shoot at 30fps/1/60th of a second shutter speed, with an aperture small enough to cover the depth of field needed. If you can tell me your focal length, camera model, and distance to the subject, the online DOF calculator will give me/you the correct f stop to use.

      • #72029905
        AvatarDom47
        Participant

        This is a snapshot from my video so fingers, and maybe the rest of it too, may look out of focus – can’t say for sure as I’m a total noob when it comes to videography.

        Here is the other pic which is also a snapshot of a video(not mine) but you can see how much brighter and clearer things are, though again fingers are out of focus. https://drive.google.com/open?id=18lkZbr5ElNHSzL8L2Hoqj4LrdPh6QNR8

        Camera model is Canon HD Vixia HG21 (it’s old). Camera distance to subject is 4 to 4.5ft…and I hope I got this right: Focal lenght is 37mm with a wide-converter WD-H37II 0.7x attached to it.

        Thanks for your help, much appreciated.

        • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by AvatarDom47.
    • #72029919
      Avatarbobspez
      Participant

      Looking at the two pictures I think they are shot at different resolutions, different focus, and different amounts of light.
      For example in the pic with the telecaster you can see the pattern in the knees of the person’s jeans, even the slot in the screws, the definition of the strings. it looks like the pic was taken with daylight illuminating the room. The pic with the red SG is in lower light, but also not in sharp focus, and it appears like a lower resolution. What are your video settings on your Vixia (fps and resolution). I am guessing the Vixia won’t let you set your aperture and shutter speed.

    • #72029921
      Avatarbobspez
      Participant

      I figure a pic is worth a thousand words so I just shot a short video of myself in auto setting in 4K at 30fps on my Lumix FZ80. This camera sells for $325 new and I got mine in new condition a year ago for $230 on ebay. It has continuous center point auto focus and shoots 4K segments up to 8 minutes each. This is a screen shot from the video, no post processing was done. It was just shot (dark outside) with two 75 watt led bulbs (500 watts equiv each) in floor lamps pointed at a white ceiling and one 22 watt led bulb (150 watt equivalent) in a floor lamp pointed just over my head. The equivalent focal length was about 80mm. The camera was 5 ft away.All three led bulbs and e26 adapters for the two 75 watt bulbs ran about $75 total. Lighting and shooting video requires a lot of experimentation to get it right.
      https://tinyurl.com/t4rl7ka

      • #72029989
        AvatarDom47
        Participant

        I can set the shutter speed manually; it was set at 1/30. I’m not sure i can set the aperture manually but there are presets like portrait, night, snow, sunrise etc… The Canon HG21 has auto focus also but I’ve read it’s better to manually set it, especially if your hands are constantly moving. As for FPS it seems the highest it can go is 24fps. I did try shooting another video just to test different shutter speeds and focus…also, removed the wide angle lens, but the outcome was the same, though it was late in the day. I will experiment tomorrow late morning & early afternoon and will post another pic.

    • #72029958
      Avatarbobspez
      Participant

      P.S. Dom47 It occurred to me that you are using a wide angle add on lens, which may be impacting the sharpness of your photos as well as the other items mentioned. I would try again without the wide angle adapter by moving the camera away from you a bit. Also for focusing on myself, if the camera is not set to continuous autofocus, I put a box in my chair and focus on that.

    • #72029992
      AvatarDom47
      Participant

      Sorry, wanted to say the pic of your es-335(?) looks great… great lighting. Btw, I just discovered I can set the aperture manually. I set the shutter speed to 1/60, aperture to F4 and seems to focus better but still grainy.

      • #72030005
        Avatarbobspez
        Participant

        Dom, I have one question and one suggestion. Question is what type of camera was used on the pic you posted of the telecaster? That is an exceptionally clear picture with a great depth of field. I wonder if it is a pro camera. But the pic seems to be taken with a lot of daylight lighting up the room.
        The suggestion is to set up you camera outside in daylight and see what you get. That will tell you if lighting is the issue.
        For 24fps, set the shutter speed to 1/50 (twice the fps). Try an aperture of f8 and set the camera 4 or 5 feet away, and zoom in on your guitar and knee, like the telecaster pic and mine. Camera should be set to full HD 1920×1080 at the highest quality.
        P.S. My guitar is a 335 knockoff made by Hagstrom. Gets a nice smooth overdriven bluesy tone. You can hear it at the :41 second mark on this amateur video.

        • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by Avatarbobspez.
      • #72030087
        AvatarDom47
        Participant

        Hi Bob,

        I have no idea what equipment he’s using but if I were to guess I’d say a pro camera because he’s been doing this for a while – online guitar courses that is. If you look up – TheGuitarLab Steph – on YouTube you’ll notice that the quality of his videos have improved over the years especially if you compare a 10 year old video to the more recent ones.
        Here is the latest pic of my hands & the SG. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1sY1xNMrd_m2kJBGRQb_TiPLTCFxrs_ps/view?usp=sharing
        This is after after exploring different aperture, shutter speed and focus settings outdoors & in. I’m afraid this is the best I can do on a grey day and house lamps.

        As always, thanks for your help.
        P.S. Your Hagstrom does have a nice bluesy tone! What amp are you using?

      • #72030101
        Avatarbobspez
        Participant

        Wow, that’s an enormous improvement and every bit as good if not better than the shot I posted. I’m glad I could help.
        I just plug my guitars, mics and keyboards into the Zoom R16 recorder. I have a fender super sixty tube amp and a crate vc 6210 tube amp but almost never use them, except if I have someone over to play live with. For videos, plugging directly into the recorder isolates the guitar track and drum and keyboard tracks so I can do edits on them without impacting the vocal track. I only use the camera audio to sync the video and recorded audio tracks in the editor.
        Steph’s videos definitely look professionally done. Good camera, studio lighting, good sound.
        I’ve been doing youtube videos for about 9 years, since I retired. They are just amateur efforts but I enjoy the process of learning and recording the songs and editing all the audio and video tracks together. Even if only one or two people like them, I have fun doing them.

    • #72030103
      AvatarDom47
      Participant

      Well, it’s thanks to you. I really appreciate all you help. I still need to get better lighting and have been thinking of getting these https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B06XW3B81V/?coliid=I3SVD8C9NW9OTQ&colid=9MRBAKTR8TK5&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it What do you think?

      I use the camera audio to sync the video as well. I use an audio interface Focusrite 6i6 and Reaper for recording, editing and mixing audio – Reaper supports video as well but have been using Movie Studio for video editing.

      Glad you’re having fun recording & making Youtube videos. I’m retired as well, but hoping to do what Steph and many others are doing these days, so I can supplement my pension.

    • #72030106
      Avatarbobspez
      Participant

      I’ve never used led video lights, just led bulbs in 3 lamps and 2 clamp on bulb holders with bowl shaped plastic shades. I think with that Neweer setup you will need to raise your iso and also use a diffuser of some sort to avoid hot spots on your face or guitar. If I was going to buy video lights I would get the larger one that looks like a posterboard, mounted on an easel type device.

      • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by Avatarbobspez.
      • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by Avatarbobspez.
    • #72030110
      AvatarDom47
      Participant

      It seems a lot of people on Youtube use softboxes but they take up a lot of space. That’s mainly why I was considering the Neweer setup but not sure if it’s enough light. I believe they come with diffusers that slide in into the frame. Not sure which video lights you are referring to but I’ll try searching your description on the interwebs.

    • #72030136
      Avatarbobspez
      Participant

      Probably under the category of flexible lighting. I saw a nice one in a video some time back, but can’t find it. However it probably cost $600 or more. Looking at different youtube videos it seems that most of the lighting in your price range isn’t very bright. If I run across anything that looks good in your price range I’ll post a link.

    • #72030147
      AvatarDom47
      Participant

      Thanks Bob, really appreciate it! If this plan of mine works out I’ll definitely spend more money to upgrade to better equipment in the future, but for now I just want to test the waters.

    • #72030148
      Avatarbobspez
      Participant

      Hi Dom, I was looking on youtube and saw a vlog video with great lighting and so in the comments I asked what lighting he was using. To my surprise he replied and said he was sitting in front of a window being lit by daylight. I decided to try it myself.

      I placed my camera on a tripod about two ft. from a window and sat on a stool about 4ft. in front of the camera and zoomed in on the guitar. Settings were f8, iso-1600, 1/50 sec., 25fps, 1080P on my Coolpix B700 camera. I shot a one minute video.

      As my iso was too high at 1600 and tended to bring too much light into the scene, I did a little color grading and sharpening in Premiere Pro. Here is a single frame from the video after color grading and sharpening.
      https://tinyurl.com/ux9rr8h

      Here’s a single frame of the video with no post processing.
      https://tinyurl.com/sn4oo4b

      Seems like daylight is the best light and it’s free.

    • #72030183
      AvatarDom47
      Participant

      Amazing, your fretboard has that same clarity as Steph’s video.
      I did use natural light, as well, in the pics I sent you, but we have a lot of trees creating quite a bit of shade in the room I work in. So I guess I’m stuck trying to recreate a nice sunny day in my office.

      • #72030185
        Avatarbobspez
        Participant

        I’m in the same boat. The only spot in my office with a relatively uncluttered background is 8 ft. from the window. And a wider angle lens to get my head and body is less clear than a zoomed in one. In this frame from a video I’m working on now, I made the mistake of shooting at 60i instead of 24P which darkened the sequence so much at f7.1 and iso-1600 and 1/60 sec. that I had to lighten it in post, which didn’t come out so well. I think I will spend more time taking test sequences in the future before recording a performance. Anyway, good luck Dom. I think it’s always trial and error with creating videos.
        https://tinyurl.com/r7bu8s7

        • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by Avatarbobspez.
    • #72030267
      AvatarDom47
      Participant

      Thanks Bob! Good luck to you too in all of your musical/video endeavors. Yeah, “trial and error…” very true, but so many options! I guess practice makes perfect. I’ll post again someday in future when I get better lighting equipment & who knows maybe even a newer camera.
      All the best!

      • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by AvatarDom47.
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