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Old October 23rd, 2010, 08:42 AM   #1
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5DII Lighting: Still and Video

Greetings,

I recently purchased a Canon 5DII (in July) with the intention of exploring both still photography and videography. I've been taking some photography classes and workshops and have learned a little about lighting for studio still portrait photography (key light with a beauty dish or soft octabox; reflector panel for fill; kicker lights with grids for edge/hair lighting, etc.).

I'm contemplating getting lighting for BOTH still photography AND videography for intimate studio and small room lighting. I am wondering which of the following options makes the most sense to minimize costs and to keep gear volume / redundancy down:

OPTION 1: Photography strobes with continuous modeling lights. I know several companies (White Lightning, Einstein, etc.) make reasonably affordable strobes with 250W modeling lights. These would certainly work for still photography, and I'm imagining that their modeling lights could work for video with the 5DII as this camera is so light-sensitive. Advantages: all of the lights and stands/grids/softboxes/dishes/etc. would be dual-purpose. Disadvantages: 250W modeling lights are much hotter than LEDs; if they are not bright enough (?); if there are noise issues with the lights (?).

OPTION 2: LED continuous lighting. From what I've been able to ascertain, LED lighting can work pretty well for video, but I'm not sure it will give me good results for portraits, etc. Advantages: physically light weight and don't get very hot. Disadvantages: brightness/color may not work as well for still photography; color temperature of LEDs can be kind of weird.

Thoughts on which approach would be best? Has anyone out there come up with a good dual purpose system?

Many thanks,
-Johannes
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Old October 23rd, 2010, 09:52 AM   #2
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Personally I'd go with led lights. Strobes will do you no good shooting video, even with modeling lights. LED can be battery powered, dim able, and some have the abilty to change color temp at the touch of the dial.
Yousef Karsh (Yousuf Karsh / Photographer) did some amazing portraiture with continuous source lighting.
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Old October 24th, 2010, 12:48 PM   #3
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The modeling lights on srobes will be ineffective for video. LEDs are good if you get good ones. They are about 5500K, some a little more, some a little less. Another option would be fluorescents, where you can buy daylight as well as 3200K bulbs. With both LEDs and fluorescents, you're pretty much lighting with softlights, and that's not always appropriate for every shot. Most people use a variety of lights, depending on the situation.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 03:23 AM   #4
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Hello Everyone,

First -- thanks for your input on this topic!

Denis: I appreciate these advantages. LEDs may be a good place to start.

Bill: Will the barndoors on the Cool Lights still give you "soft lights"? Are those "good ones" in your estimation? Any recommendations on LED systems that can work with softboxes, be color adjusted, etc?

Many thanks,
-Johannes
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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:47 AM   #5
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LED technology is developing and changing fast. The flat light panel arrays are all pretty soft although some use some kind of spot led which focuses the beam.
There are fixtures now becoming available that use a fresnel for a focusing spot light, I have no experience with them yet but they look interesting.
You can always mix lights for a particular purpose too, just be careful of the color balance of the light and white balance of the camera - and use gels on the light as necessary.
The lack of heat and ability to run for hours on battery, combined with the low light ability of the dslr camera makes a powerful combination that gives you a lot of flexibility.
A couple of micro light panels and a few good led flashlights from Home Depot fitted with minus green gel can do the same job that a couple cases of gear did just a short while ago.
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Old October 28th, 2010, 01:30 AM   #6
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We have Comer 1800 video lights that is powerful and flexible enough to be used with stills as well as video on DSLR.

Comer 1800 LED Light Photography Kit | L.A. Color Shop

Check out the links on that page, there're photographers send us back their photos shot with the Comer light without using Flash light.
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Old October 31st, 2010, 08:54 PM   #7
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Hello Everyone,

Thanks for your further feedback!

Denis -- thank you for letting me know about these new options that focus the light. Are there any products you'd recommend looking at?

Taky -- thanks for the link, I'll check these out!

Many thanks,
-Johannes
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Old October 31st, 2010, 09:29 PM   #8
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The barn doors on the Flolight and other LEDs are basically worthless except for hanging gels. Some LEDs have as 30 degree beam, meaning each little LED shoots out a beam at 30 degrees, which means it has a bit of a longer throw than the equivalent fluorescents. Some LEDs are wider and softer, closer to the pattern of a fluorescent.

If you take a 2-lamp Lowel Caselight or equivalent Kino-Flo and put it, say about 8 feet from a wall, and do the same for a Flolight 500 watt equivalent LED and the same for a 500 watt fresnel at full flood, you will see that the fresnel will make a clean circular pattern with a fairly sharp edge. The fluorescent will be totally soft and fill the area with no discernible pattern, just a broad soft fill. The LED will look about halfway between the fluorescent and the fresnel, with an oval pattern that is a clear pattern but with softer edges than the fresnel. The fresnel, of course, will put out more light at that distance than the other two, but its beam will be narrower.

With fluorescents, you can move them in very close to the subject and the light is still quite soft. With the fresnels you will need to use diffusion gel on if you get any closer to a person than around 10 feet. I like the LEDs better than fluorescents because it is nice to have that slightly more concentrated beam, which you can diffuse as needed. I shoot most all my interviews and two-shot people shots with LEDs these days.
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Old November 3rd, 2010, 01:29 AM   #9
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Thanks, Bill!

Would some kind of grid help to focus the LED lights for a harder light?

Many thanks,
-Johannes
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Old November 16th, 2010, 02:09 PM   #10
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If you don't mind fans on the flashes I recommend Fomex HD studio flashes. They have 1000w halogen modeling light. Their softboxes and reflectors work fine with the 1kw modeling light at full blast and don't mind the heat. Great control for lighting up your video projects. Excellent for product and music videos. For interviews probably something without fans would be safer bet.
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