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Canon XL H Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XL H1S (with SDI), Canon XL H1A (without SDI). Also XL H1.


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Old January 31st, 2007, 02:10 PM   #1
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Are there any good camera lights?

What's a good "on-camera" light to go with the XL H1? What do you guys use as a light when you're filming with this camcorder at night time? Let me know something. Sorry for this question, but I'm trying to make sure this camera is good enough to spend $9,000 on.
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Old January 31st, 2007, 04:32 PM   #2
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Good Camera Lights

Onboard camera lights don't have a good reputation among filmmakers and are mostly used for newsy situations. Depending on what battery system you adopt for the XLH1 you will find some decent choices. External power for the light is a must as the camera does not have a built in power tap. If you go with Anton Bauer battery system you get a power tap for the light. I am not sure what other battery systems people have adapted for the XLH1. I have used sunguns on both my Canon XLH1 and my DVX-100a and I can tell you the Canon was a better platform for the light than the Panasonic. However if the onboard light is what is going to make you buy the Canon then it sounds like the tail is wagging the dog.
As for the lights themselves the Litepanel LED lights are the rage right now and they will set you back a pretty penny (Over $1000). Some manufacturers have daylight color tempurature units as well as tungsten. (Ie Frezzi) and the cost is up there as well.If you shoot alot outside in the shade, dawn or dusk this is worth checking out.
The $200 units from Anton Bauer are not great but you can soften them up if you are not expecting much light from them.
It is hard to tighten the shoe enough for a heavy load to stay put on the XLH1 so smaller units tends to be more solid.
My personal feeling is if you have to use an onboard lite then the softest one you can get away with is the best. If you only need it every few weeks then don't waste too much money on one. If you are using it all the time then get the best one you can afford.
HTH

Last edited by Daniel Epstein; January 31st, 2007 at 06:11 PM.
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Old January 31st, 2007, 05:23 PM   #3
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LitePanels.. they're cool (meaning not warm), don't draw much power, and have a dimmer so you can dial'em down to work as just an eye lite (and avoid the "news-at-6-on-camera-lite" look).. you can get them with adapters to use your camera batteries, or run them off of a variety of other sources..

Yeah, they're expensive but, personally, I love them... I have a 1x1 LitePanel that I won't go anywhere without, and one of the small DV lights (although, admittedly, I never actually mount it on my camera) that I use for a fill. I can run them both off of old Sony V-Lock batteries that I have left over from my DSR300 so I never have to hassle about finding power... And I can run them off of the cigarette lighter in a car... very cool (meaning cool)...

Check with Christine at ZGC (one of this site's sponsors).. they often have good deals on them...
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Old January 31st, 2007, 05:26 PM   #4
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NRG Varalux

Michael,

I really like the NRG Varalux (not the NRG Versalite) for event and run and gun shooting. It has a dimmer that lets you dial in as much light as you need 20w -100w. Of course lights really run down your battery - so don't use more than you need. You can run it from your Anton Bauer battery plate or from a battery belt. The Varalux runs about $200.

If you go with the Anton Bauer batteries you can go with any on camera light that uses a Power Tap connecter. That way you don't need to use a battery belt. I use Anton Bauer Hytron 120s. They are heavy, but last forever. When shooting events like weddings 2 batteries get me through the wedding and the reception.

The Varalux does not have an AB Power Tap connecter - so you'll need a 4-pin or a cigarette to Power Tap adapter (you can get an B&H). The bulbs are cheap - less than $20.
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Old January 31st, 2007, 06:44 PM   #5
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A good light is a variable answer as you have seen. I use an AB Ultralight with a 35W bulb and for social events I use a softbox. But I might also use a 50W or even a 75W bulb with a dichroic filter for outdoor daylight stuff (if I need a fill) I might use a Bescor off a battery belt if I'm using the small camera again bulb might be 20W or up to 75W.

What do you plan on using it for? If you think you'll light up outdoors at night you won't EXCEPT for an narrow area CLOSE to whatever subject you're shooting-close meaning 8 to about 10 feet and thats it. Nighttime sucks the light right up.
With my full size camera I use the AB light and AB batteries so I'm self contained-small cam equal battery belt with wires hanging off me. Just depends on the job.

How much do you want to invest?

I agree with one of the above posters-don't judge the camera by the on-camera light you might be buying. On camera lighting is EXTRA and only when it's needed-it isn't for artys crafty stuff and again it's limited in its usefullness.

Don
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Old February 1st, 2007, 02:41 AM   #6
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I've been using a frezzi 50 watt mini fill with a softbox, and am happy with it. I'd like to check out the lite panels, but don't have the money now.
I power the Frezzi with an Anton Bauer on the gold mount, and use my Canon batteries for the camera only.
Bruce S. Yarock
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Old February 1st, 2007, 08:13 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Epstein
Onboard camera lights don't have a good reputation among filmmakers and are mostly used for newsy situations. Depending on what battery system you adopt for the XLH1 you will find some decent choices. External power for the light is a must as the camera does not have a built in power tap. If you go with Anton Bauer battery system you get a power tap for the light. I am not sure what other battery systems people have adapted for the XLH1. I have used sunguns on both my Canon XLH1 and my DVX-100a and I can tell you the Canon was a better platform for the light than the Panasonic. However if the onboard light is what is going to make you buy the Canon then it sounds like the tail is wagging the dog.
As for the lights themselves the Litepanel LED lights are the rage right now and they will set you back a pretty penny (Over $1000). Some manufacturers have daylight color tempurature units as well as tungsten. (Ie Frezzi) and the cost is up there as well.If you shoot alot outside in the shade, dawn or dusk this is worth checking out.
The $200 units from Anton Bauer are not great but you can soften them up if you are not expecting much light from them.
It is hard to tighten the shoe enough for a heavy load to stay put on the XLH1 so smaller units tends to be more solid.
My personal feeling is if you have to use an onboard lite then the softest one you can get away with is the best. If you only need it every few weeks then don't waste too much money on one. If you are using it all the time then get the best one you can afford.
HTH
Thanks for the answer guys. When I said on board lights, I meant lights that I could buy to put on the camcorder. Believe me, I know that built in lights on any camcorder sucks. My Mini DV Canon ZR70mc is a prime example.

Once again I'm glad for the answers. I know sooner or later I'm going to want to film at night.
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Old February 1st, 2007, 09:53 AM   #8
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It's pricey but the litepanels are about the most useful thing in the world, i've been using one for about a year and it is very rare that it doesn't come in handy.
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