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Old December 26th, 2008, 11:02 AM   #1
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On Camera LED Fill Lites

Looking for an on camera LED fill lite for use in both low and high ambient light situations where big lites, power, crew, etc are not part of the plan. Just need to slightly fill a persons face / cut shadow contrast a bit / see a little pop in their eyes. Similar to on camera flash on a still camera, dialed back a stop or two. I fully believe in high production values but that being said there are occasions when i can see just needing only a little fill. And yes, i am a photographer :)

Anyway, I see B&H has a few Litepanels, Calumet sells them too plus a Zylight brand which looks very cool. Neither are cheap and neither have output specs listed for comparison so i am in the dark here...

What are you guys using in this niche?

thanks in advance,

Greg Kiger
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Old December 26th, 2008, 11:28 AM   #2
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The little Sima "ultra brite" battery powered rechargeable LED unit. Goes in the hot shoe and does exactly what you desribed for under $50. (Model SL-20X)
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Old December 26th, 2008, 12:29 PM   #3
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Second on the little Sima, which we have bought for run-n-gun photogs who also shoot compact video cameras or Canon s5is point-n-shoots on news situations. Cheap in price but nicely bright, nicely made, a steal for the $$. They do, however, have a rather narrow beam.

Our XHa1's are equipped with the IDX led video light, dimmable, with available accessory barndoors, diffuser and 3200degreeK filters, etc. Use with external battery pack, we bought the smallest Bescor xlr-plug pack B&H sells and have never run one down. pulls 11 watts, equivalent light is 30 watts, and while absurdly overpriced for led lighting they have been highly satisfactory. The LitePanel minilights are also way overpriced imho, but our sister publication has bought some and they love them, although they are criticized as being somewhat flimsy. //Battle Vaughan/miamiherald.com video team
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Old December 26th, 2008, 02:58 PM   #4
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I have the older Litepanel mini in the flood version. I use it as a fill light in run and gun doc situations all the time and it works great for this. I have been doing this for years, practically since it came out. I dropped a full size Panasonic camera one time and it flipped over and landed directly on the Litepanel from about three feet. All that happened was a bent post. I wouldn't call them flimsy.

I have never measured their output but I would say they are the equivalent to a 35 watt Frezzi in a softbox. The newer ones put out more light.
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Old December 26th, 2008, 04:36 PM   #5
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Thanks, Bradley, that's reassuring. Let's just say they LOOK flimsy. So far, our collegues have not broken one, and if that group can't break it, it's probably indestructable. The stories I could tell about company-owned gear...aargh! :) /Battle Vaughan/miamiherald.com video team
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Old December 27th, 2008, 09:14 PM   #6
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Right on, tracked down the little Sima at Video guys, a whopping $39, just a tad less than the close to a grand Litpanels or Zylites want for theres. Plenty of reason to at least test it so i will pick one up for sure and give it a go :)

thanks guys,

greg kiger
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Old December 28th, 2008, 02:59 AM   #7
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I think from what you described you will find it fits the bill nicely, for little $$. Let us know. Frankly I think these are about the best bang for the buck little lighting device to come along in quite a while.


Chris

ps. Their IR units are equally stellar.
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Old December 28th, 2008, 07:41 AM   #8
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The SWIT 2000 family of on camera lights are somewhere in the middle price wise, and are well made. Here is one of the reviews. DV - Reviews - VariZoom S-2010F On-Camera LED Light Kit
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Old December 28th, 2008, 09:11 PM   #9
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I have the lite panel micro and love it for run and gun situations
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Old December 29th, 2008, 02:47 AM   #10
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Greg -
Keep in mind the Sima last around 45-55 minutes on a charge, and take a while (3-4x the use time from my rough tests...) to recharge, just in case time is a factor. They are a bargain, and you can buy a few and stack them together as well, by design.

So far I find that using two put on a camera bracket rig, outboard on each side of the cam, provides a pretty good wide field of light, and seems to add a bit on a single light. Adding a 3rd didn't seem to increase things as much as the second, but you could build these little buggers into quite an array if you were so inclined.

I've been very happy with them for "fill", and am fiddling with a diffuser to add on and soften them up a bit if needed.
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Old December 29th, 2008, 08:54 AM   #11
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If you've got the $$$, in my book the Zylight wins hands down.

I've had wonderful results with the Litepanels Micro for run and gun interviews shot close. Doesn't have a lot of throw but with the diffusion filter and dialed down a bit, adds excellent fill.

Currently on the UPS truck enroute to me is the Prompter People Mike Lite which fits around mike (or I suppose you could adapt a toilet paper roll) and seems to be quite bright. At $149 it could be quite the bargain. Not dimmable and no gels available. Some users have just cut gel sheets to fit.

Meanwhile, if a deadbeat client pays up I can buy a Zylight ;)

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Old December 30th, 2008, 02:06 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ned Soltz View Post
If you've got the $$$, in my book the Zylight wins hands down.
I did have $$, now it's gone, Zylight on the way. Geez I hope I'm not disappointed, I need it to be bright, that's a ton of coin.

- Ordered the Z90 Eng kit that includes the accessory adapter for barn doors, coiled cord, and articulating arm.

- Also went for the Zylight Li-Ion battery with charger, 16 ounces, includes charger and said to run the light for 2 hours at full power, 56 watt/hr. Seemed like a fair deal for $172.

- Barndoors, and a hot shoe ball mount to round out the package.

************************************

It's not like me to purchase sight unseen, but the technology seems good. The Zylight LED is said to not be the usual array of LEDs, but a single monolithic block 1 inch square. I spent so much time pouring over literature for PAG Lights, Frezzi, Lowel, others. Some (like those 3) seemed really good and innovative, others (unmentioned) seemed more like grossly overpriced lampholders. All get expensive by the time you add in all the accessories. I can't believe how expensive softboxes are in this range. The dimmable halogens and HMI sun guns have a lot of merit.

With on-camera lighting, the best will never be good enough...(sigh)...

There are few short reviews about the Zylight, but not really much. Not really a lot of reviews on any of them really. I guess I'll know soon, is what it is.
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Old December 30th, 2008, 02:19 PM   #13
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Btw, the Swit that Alex is offering looks excellent, when you factor value and quality into the equation, and a competitive low price for what that includes. Paul Kellet (if you search) gave an excellent review for the Swit as well.
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Old December 30th, 2008, 07:00 PM   #14
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The Zylight Li-On battery is the Tekkeon 3400, which will power a whole range of accessories. You will get great value from this.

I found a barely-used Z90 which I should have in a couple of days.

You will not be disappointed. I've used them before and have been impressed.

Enjoy your purchase.

Just got the PrompterPeople on-mike light today. For $149 it is a great deal. Very bright.. in fact perhaps a bit too bright. Haven't actually shot anything yet using it but this is a nice bargain-basement device for run and gun.

Ned
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Old December 30th, 2008, 08:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ned Soltz View Post
The Zylight Li-On battery is the Tekkeon 3400, which will power a whole range of accessories. You will get great value from this.

I found a barely-used Z90 which I should have in a couple of days.

You will not be disappointed. I've used them before and have been impressed.

Enjoy your purchase.

Just got the PrompterPeople on-mike light today. For $149 it is a great deal. Very bright.. in fact perhaps a bit too bright. Haven't actually shot anything yet using it but this is a nice bargain-basement device for run and gun.

Ned
Ned,

I found a review of the mic-light from about a year ago that mentioned they were going to offer filters for diffusion and to convert to 3200k in the future but I see nothing about that at their website and they have not responded to my email inquiry. Did it come with any filters / diffusion? If not for about the same price the Bescor LED 35 seems like a good choice as it has the filters (no dimming though)
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