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Old December 3rd, 2008, 07:19 PM   #1
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Light kit for Canon 5D MkII

The low light capabilities of the Canon 5D MkII open up a new range of possibilities for lighting. I'm curious to know what products people recommend...

SCENARIO 1 - On Location, Night
Search for Vincent Laforet's Reverie video for reference. In this scenario, you use urban lighting for your background. You can use a car's headlights for a key. That leaves the fill. Ideally, this would be a battery-powered LED solution that is somewhat soft. If it's color controllable, that's all the better. Then again, what would one do on the cheap?...

SCENARIO 2 - Indoors, Controlled Light
Here, I want a traditional key/fill/back setup. But since the 5D is so sensitive, I don't need a 500W Fresnel. I want quality and/or low price over lumens.

For the key and back lights, I'd like some low-wattage, controllable point sources. I'd like a nice, soft fill light, but again, I don't need much light, so I can go cheap and/or get more control.

I'd like quality results though. A flashlight has enough power, but is terribly uneven. Stock fluorescents have a terrible color temp.

So... I want what we all want in lighting - good control, color temp and low cost. But because the power requirements are so low, what can I get away with?
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Old December 4th, 2008, 12:08 AM   #2
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Lowell pro-lights
Dedo lights
Flolights.com LED lights
Large 6-bank 330-watt fluorescent u-tube (pl55) lights for back-filling a room with a sunlit window
Flolights and coollights.biz have those in different varieties
Coollights.biz 150Watt CDM fresnel (like an HMI light)
Coollights 600LED lights available at the end of the month
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Old December 4th, 2008, 05:23 PM   #3
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I thought the big deal with this camera was that the giant full frame chip is so sensitive (ISO 3200 or 6400) that you don't need to do very much lighting to make good images? The Dan Chung images from Beijing are all available light and look amazing.

FWIW, we have two of the Flolight LED 500s here, one of them is already going out on us so we are returning it to PrompterPeople for repair.

Dan
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Old December 4th, 2008, 07:26 PM   #4
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Thanks Marcus!

The Coollights products are especially sweet. Given the prices, the small tungsten fresnels are quite attractive for indoor keys/backs.

Right now I have access to an odd collection. At work I have a couple of blazing hot fresnels - 1kW, I think - that I can borrow. My son's at school with a Tota/Umbrella and some odd homebuilts. He can access a 4 piece Lowel kit from school on occasion. And at home we have a green screen surrounded by shop fluorescents.

And Dan, you are right, the 5D MkII doesn't need a lot of light. But you still want to light things to ensure that the talent is visible, and so the image has depth. That's why I wrote about the two scenarios above.

In the night shot, I can use ambient city lighting for the background, but I still want a key and fill on the talent. Vincent Laforet used headlights to a good effect as a key/back light, but you still have to make sure that your talent's face isn't too dark.

And in controlled lighting, I still want to be able to do a classic three light shoot. The difference is that with the 5D MkII, you can get away with smaller, cooler, easier to move/setup lights.

I'm thinking that a couple of 150W tungsten fresnels (hair and fill - bouncing off a sheet or foam core), plus a 300W for the key would give me all the control I need for the indoor case.

On the outdoor scenario, I'm wondering about what color temp to use... I'm thinking that most street lights and headlights are tungsten. Using an HMI would be fine for zombies, but would be too blue for normal shoots. Then again, in a new, upscale neighborhood and using somebody's BMW with halogens, an HMI would be the ticket.

What temp is correct for a fill in the urban night?
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Old December 4th, 2008, 09:29 PM   #5
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John, your ideas on lighting make a lot of sense. Regardless of the light sensitivity of a camera, it still needs light. If the available light is not ideal for your image, you must alter it to achieve your artistic desires.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst View Post
The Coollights products are especially sweet. Given the prices, the small tungsten fresnels are quite attractive for indoor keys/backs.

On the outdoor scenario, I'm wondering about what color temp to use... I'm thinking that most street lights and headlights are tungsten. Using an HMI would be fine for zombies, but would be too blue for normal shoots. Then again, in a new, upscale neighborhood and using somebody's BMW with halogens, an HMI would be the ticket.

What temp is correct for a fill in the urban night?
Most urban scenarios are lit by a combination of sodium vapor streetlights and tungsten storefronts and headlights. Sodium lights are very low in temperature and don't have a complete spectrum. There are also some mercury vapor lights that are close to daylight balance but they are less common. It is possible to tell what type of light is used in streetlights just by looking at them. Sodium looks a bit orange-pink and mercury is more blue-green with no warmth at all. There are even a few fixtures I have found online that use one of each lamp to compliment each of the color spectra but they are rare.

You might want to look into the coollights.biz 150W cdm/hid light since it can use either a daylight balanced or tungsten balanced bulb. It puts out the same lumens as a 650W fresnel for only 150W but it does need a few minutes to warm up to the right color. I'm thinking of getting one of these and an LED light.
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Old December 5th, 2008, 02:02 AM   #6
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Jon,

You are certainly on the right lines. I'm going to go for a combination of Litepanels and the Coolbiz LED's when they come out. I like shooting available light but you need the option to light if necessary.

Dan
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Old December 5th, 2008, 12:15 PM   #7
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I re-read Vincent Laforet's blog and dug out his lighting information.

The iconic shot with the model in the dark red dress on cobblestones was done with available lighting and the modeling lamp from a Profoto 7B system - a 100W halogen bulb. For some of the the car and helicopter shots, he used a Mini LitePanel. Everything was shot with a tungsten color temp - and the sodium vapor streetlamps, of course.

The coollights stuff is really compelling. I've read that they're looking into some low wattage PAR lights that might really do the trick on a budget. Their 150W fresnels are nice for controllability. I'm thinking that we can use a 300W bulb in our Tota and bounce it off a foamcore or sheet when we want soft light.

I'd also like to get some small lights that can spill colored accents here and there. By putting them behind furniture, props and facets, you can make a dull background interesting. The spill should be even, so cheap flashlights are out, but they should also be small and cool, so you can just set it someplace and wrap some gel around it. All ideas are welcome!
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Old December 5th, 2008, 09:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Brockett View Post
I thought the big deal with this camera was that the giant full frame chip is so sensitive (ISO 3200 or 6400) that you don't need to do very much lighting to make good images?
Dan, the 5D2's sensor is amazing, but I don't trust the world to light my scenes. For documentary footage, this cam is a godsend, but I still plan to "sculpt" my dramatic (=fiction) shots and be the lumenmeister. Hence the need for at least a minimal light kit.

As I don't have my 5D2 yet, I'll be very interested to hear what folks settle on for a basic instrument palette. We might pay attention to cost, too & suggest higher- & lower-budget options.
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Old December 5th, 2008, 09:55 PM   #9
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Hi Everyone,

Thanks for the kind words. I think we do indeed have some good options for anyone using this camera or any camera for that matter. We're heavy into production now on the new stuff. Its been a tough year to get things out with labor shortages, olympics, development cycles seem longer than normal, competing schedules between other customers of our contractor factories, etc. Those of you that deal with getting various parts made can sympathize when I tell you about how it goes: send off a design, get back an early sample, make comments and changes, get back another sample, etc. It really takes a lot of time.

The LED panel PCBs are on their way to the assembly factory where they'll be finally put together, tested and boxed. All of you in Asia, Australia, Europe, who are getting things sent directly from China to you, will be the first to get in on the new fun which includes getting our popular portable flos 'P and 'PMD models back, 70w CDM (in 300w fresnel size package), low cost softbox kits/speedrings for the 150w CDM/650w tungsten and 1000w tungsten / 575w HMI models, and of course our LED panel.

Things we wanted to get in this time but didn't for various reasons. We just missed getting a 400w CDM fresnel because of availability of a good lens for it. Didn't like the optical effect of the lens I had so we'll have to throw that away and get a new lens. That delays us into next year for that model.

I also didn't get our T12 external ballast/4 foot portable fixture done this time. Yes, that would use Kino T12 four foot 75w tubes. Too much else going on to get it done for now.

Notable changes in the LED panel based on early feedback after the first introduction some weeks ago.

The LED600 panel will be made in flood and spot versions (3200K spot, 5600K spot and 5600K flood are available for now). I may eventually do a 3200K flood as well if there's enough demand, we'll see how many are interested in limited production we did of the 3200K spot first. Another possible configuration some should open their minds too would be an 8000K flood and spot version. Don't turn your nose up at it! Those 8000K 5mm leds are not only more efficiently brighter but higher CRI too. And, when you're in those odd situations like the desert at night, and that's your only light, 8000K with its extra lumen output will not be noticeable as long as you custom white balance to it. White will look white and not blue in other words (unless you try to balance at 5600K). We didn't produce an 8000K panel yet (other than for my testing purposes--I like it better than 5600K to tell the truth) because I think you aren't ready to hear this yet, but I'll continue to educate on the subject and see if we can get some interest in that version. 8000K only becomes an issue when you're trying to mix with other lights. If you use these panels where they really make sense, in isolated situations or where its inconvenient to have power, its not a big deal.

Lux output of the panels is not bad at all (.6m, 1.1m and 2.1m respectively for each fixture):

Cool Lights 5600K spot 7200L 2610L 740L
Cool Lights 5600K flood 6000L 1900L 600L

For comparison sake here are the specs of an Arri 650w fresnel:
Arri 650 12 degree spot 7694L 2770L 693L
Arri 650 30 degree medium 2542L 915L 229L
Arri 650 52 degree flood 1417L 510L 128L

And a Flolights (Lishuai) 500 LED Panel (50 degree LED):
Lishuai 500 3300L 1400L 360L

(*EDIT--looks like its hard to post tables with proper spacing between columns here).

Next change. Some commented that the input voltage range wasn't big enough so we added a buck/boost (DC DC converter) on the input of all voltage going into the panel either through battery plate or 4 pin XLR. Now, because of this change, the input voltage range is from 10 VDC to 24 VDC. That should give a super wide range of powering options. Thats the good news. The bad news was that change will cost an extra $20 so the new intro price for DVInfo.net is $399 but its worth it to get that capability for only $20 extra and at some point you may be glad you have the ability to power the panel from just about any kind of battery, charger or of course our own 12v supply.

In my tests with my RED V mount 140WH battery, I get 2:45. I also have a 160WH AB Mount battery that gets 3 hours even. So the wattage draw will be just a bit above 50w since we put in the buck/boost converter. Again, an OK cost for that added power conditioning.

Anyway, so as soon as the LED carrying cases and packaging come in and we start getting the first units off the line and tested, we'll be ready to send out to people in other parts of the world besides the USA.

Those in the good old USA will have to wait a bit longer for us to finish all the production cycle, ship everything to states and our warehouse by sea before we can start shipping within North America.

Next year, more and bigger LED fixtures and hopefully a 400w small par are on my hot to do list.
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Old December 6th, 2008, 01:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst View Post
I re-read Vincent Laforet's blog and dug out his lighting information.

The iconic shot with the model in the dark red dress on cobblestones was done with available lighting and the modeling lamp from a Profoto 7B system - a 100W halogen bulb. For some of the the car and helicopter shots, he used a Mini LitePanel. Everything was shot with a tungsten color temp - and the sodium vapor streetlamps, of course.
Yeah, I've wondered if the video only guys picked up that he was using flash units.

The trouble with using sodium vapor or other super high efficiency street light as a key/main light is false ISO readings. There may be enough light energy for ISO 1600, but the camera needs to boost the blue channel much more to get a balanced light. So the noise level may be much higher than real ISO 1600.

As far as there lights 300, 150, 150 for a small interview-type setting will be more than necessary.
Anyone thinking about on camera lighting?
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Old December 6th, 2008, 01:53 PM   #11
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Richard and everyone, what spectrum differences to you see between different light sources? What do we give up with high efficiency lights? Will there be variable temperature LED in the future?
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Old December 6th, 2008, 03:14 PM   #12
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Richard and everyone, what spectrum differences to you see between different light sources? What do we give up with high efficiency lights? Will there be variable temperature LED in the future?
Good question. LEDs right now are the LEAST closest to full spectrum. We have a ways to go to get daylight color small 5mm LEDs to be great without paying super big money. If you want to stay within manageable costs, 5mm LEDs in the range of 3000K to 3500K or 7000K to 8500K and above are the best. 5600K is doable with good color rendering but is best with a really wide beam angle and thus will be weaker than you would hope. Getting 5mm LEDs to play with other light sources well is a real trick though. 5mm LED panels have special uses and shouldn't be mistaken as necessarily better for all uses because they're the new thing.

It's hard to beat LEDs though when you're talking about volume of light output considered by itself. LEDs have an unfair advantage over other types of lighting that goes well beyond what lumen specification comparisons can tell you. Even lumens per watt doesn't tell the full story. On paper, comparing lumen values of various bulbs and LEDs makes it seem an LED can't do much at all. You have to get away from measuring lumens and look at foot candles or lux to get the real story with LEDs due to the fact that each LED is really a miniature fixture (with its own lens), not a bulb. It simply wouldn't be practical to build lenses into most bulbs and when they've tried, it never works out too economically (par lamps for instance--the lens is simply thrown away with the bulb when its exhausted and that's wasteful). Lumen values tell you about how bulbs are and allow for rational comparisons between bulbs, but not really how fixtures are, due to lenses and mirror configurations which magnify the performance of a bulb. And given two different fixture configurations, both using the same bulb, we know one fixture may beat the other one thanks to its mirror and lens. See how lumens were irrelevant in that comparison?

Once you put a bulb in a fixture, that's when a light meter reading is far more appropriate for comparisons. So comparing an LED to a tungsten or metal halide bulb using lumen specs is unfair to the LED since it already is a micro fixture in and of itself. Because each LED is too small to be of much value, we build them into matrices to make a really usable "macro" fixture just as we build displays out of pixels. Once you build such a fixture and compare lux values of real world manifestations of fixtures, you start to see all this more clearly. So, LEDs have the unfair advantage in light output but in color rendering and considering cost to deliver whatever light output each technology can give, fluorescent and metal halide are still way ahead for conventional use.

1w LEDs are where it starts to get interesting to try and do daylight really well, mix with other sources and keep costs down. 3w and above are fine but not as efficient in most cases as a 1w LED. We'll do some 1w projects next year and you'll like those too.

As for variable color temperature, yes I think that will be doable in the future. There's a company now that makes an LED that can switch between 3200K and 5600K but it's super expensive so unusable for practical purposes. Since we can put multiple chips on one LED, that's the key there. But, for practical purposes, I think the RGB mixture method is where we'll be stuck for a while, if you want variable color temperature choices in one fixture. Kind of a simulation of full spectrum. My idea of putting both 3200K and 5600K LEDs in alternating columns is another poor man's way to do it too, each set with its own independent dimmer so you can custom mix color temperatures. It just takes a lot more room to do that and you have a lot of wasted LEDs if you end up not using the mixture feature or one of the two sets of LEDs on the panel.

Other types such as fluorescent and metal halide (CDM and HMI) are the closest to full spectrum and are being used every day of course by many of you with great results. They all have their places and use, but remember that they are measured in "correlated color temperature" not color temperature (which means they produce a simulation of a given color temp). If you have a color temperature meter that only responds well to full spectrum sources (like real daylight and real tungsten), you can use that to tell you the story of how your fixtures are doing. If it's giving you readings that are what you expect, you know you have something that approximates a full spectrum source really well. If it is giving you other readings, differing from what was advertised as the correlated color temperature, you don't necessarily have a source with the wrong color temperature, but rather a source that's not full spectrum. It could be the right correlated color temperature, but just can't be read right by your meter.

Regardless of all that, it will still be a very usable light, given the ability to white balance using digital mediums (which most of you are using today). And that's why many of you are having such good results with high efficiency, ballast-oriented lighting because it is so easy to get rid of any biases there may be in the spectrum thanks to our very advanced cameras.
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Old December 6th, 2008, 05:30 PM   #13
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Good reminder to do a real white balance before shooting with the 5D2. AWB isn't that good with Canon when using artificial light sources. I've found doing a proper white balance makes clean crisp color. Trying to do it later can fix an apparent color cast, but it never looks as good as doing it right.
With Red, of course, you can change WB in post.
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Old December 6th, 2008, 05:39 PM   #14
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Right. My Canon Powershot G9 has an acceptable AWB but not great. IMHO, that probably has to do with the color temperature meter they use in the camera (that would be part of the WB circuitry) and its responsiveness to CCT type light sources. The RED camera on the other hand responds very well to CCT sources and usually always figures out the correct color temp (at least so far). Big difference in price between those two cameras though!
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