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Old October 22nd, 2010, 02:22 AM   #1
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5DII: Dual-Purpose Still/Video lights???

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 22nd, 2010, 04:02 AM   #2
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Two points worth mentioning. Electronic flash is a huge amount of light for an incredibly short space of time whereas other continuous lighting (LEDs, say) are not much light at all (relatively) for as long as you power them.
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Old October 22nd, 2010, 06:22 AM   #3
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For me it would depend on your priority. Stills or video? If stills then I would go with strobes, if video then LEDs are a great source, especially the Litepanel 1X1s but they are anything but inexpensive. Anyway, when I was doing stills back in the 70s and early 80s I used both strobes for people and the old tried and true tungeten lighting for product work.
So it boils down to; what you're primarily going to be shooting, do you need portability, budget and BTW the LEDs aren't wierd. The good ones are either 56 or 5800k with the ability to goto 32 or 3400K. Some will do 4800 which I never understood but anyway, you can gell them some are adjustable it depends on which you get.
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Old October 22nd, 2010, 03:01 PM   #4
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I am a video guy, but recently I've worked with a few photographers, all of them over 10 years of experience, who used flashes only when it's real dark, otherwise LED lights for indoor photography.
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Old October 23rd, 2010, 06:36 PM   #5
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Couple of Alien Bees 800s strobes for studio stills and a LED600 and a LED256 for movies and you're good. The burst of light and adjustability you'll want the strobes for.
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Old October 23rd, 2010, 07:56 PM   #6
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Another option would be to move to compact flourescent lights (CFL). You might want to check out the following threads:

My Home-built CFL light

D.I.Y. 900-watt CF Lighting Units

These get used for both video and still photography. With daylight lamps (5000K to 6500K) they mix well with natural light, have none of the heat issues of tungsten or HMI lights, and are relatively economical to make and use.

Martin
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Old October 24th, 2010, 07:28 AM   #7
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A lot will depend of what type of photography you intend to do. Eventually if you take both video and still seriously you will end up with both, strobe and continuos lights.

If you didn't learn yet you soon will that you can control contrasty scenes very effectively by using HDR software, providing that there's nothing moving in the picture, but you can't do that with people.

If are going to shoot mostly still objects, architectural or scenics and no people, then any of the video lights will do the job well, but the moment that you include people you will need the speed of strobes; especially with today's techniques of shoot a lot and very fast.

Strobe will also help you to control daylight, better known as syncro-sun light, this is a very effective technique to cheat mother nature and it can't be done with continuous lights unless you invest in some very expensive HMIs, and still will not be as effective as a good set of strobes.

I also do both and although I have just about every continuos light that they are making today I also have a full set (6) White Lighting and all the accessories that go with it. They are relatively inexpensive compared to Norman or other of the better systems and they are workhorses.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 03:18 AM   #8
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Hello Everyone,

First -- thanks for your feedback!

Tom: I do understand this difference, but thank you for making sure that I do!

Don: My priority is currently studio lighting on people (for both video and stills). Currently, stills are more important because that's what I'm studying -- but this may change when I start experimenting more with video!

Buba: thanks for that input. Good to know!

Harry: Thanks for the suggestions. I like the Alien Bees 800 and 400 units. I googled the LEDs you mentioned and see that they are made by Cool Lights. I'll look into those! How big are the units you mentioned? What are the rough equivalents in terms of Watts of incandescent lighting? Any thoughts on these vs. the Litepanel 1x1's?

Martin: thank you for these links -- those are interesting solutions but not quite what I think I'd want at this point.

Nino: thank you for your thoughts and experience on this topic. I'm starting to suspect that you and Harry may be more in alignment with my eventual goals. White Lightning look superior to Alien Bees (by same designer) as White Lightning have brighter modeling lights and sturdier hardware. Any further thoughts on these vs. Einsteins or other brands?

Many thanks,
-Johannes
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Old October 26th, 2010, 07:14 AM   #9
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lights

we do video ( both simple "lo-end" and "high-end") as well as stills - shooting in both studio and on location and now use just flouros. daylight balance.... we can run them from a small gen set when we are out bush, and they give a great soft light and are controlable....as well as being inexpensive....
check them out...
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Old October 26th, 2010, 11:38 AM   #10
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I do both video and still work and I would say you need both types of lighting, strobes for stills and continuous for video.

You can not discount the need to freeze motion with still cameras unless you are shooting objects like product photography. For example, a typical portrait shoot would be at ISO 100, shutter at 1/100th and aperature f5.6 or f8. These settings would leave continuous lights ineffective, just not enough light output. I often leave the overhead lights on during location portrait shooting as they do not show up in the mix. Bottom line, studio strobes not only put out a lot of light, they freeze your subject's motion.

For video lighting I am a fan of Richard A's "Cool Lights". I use a 4 bank flo as well as his LEDs. I have found 5600k video lights to be more useful than 3200k lights. In my experience one good key light and plenty of other smaller lights & modifiers is the most useful setup for video.

So hate to say it but you have to get the wallet out and have two different lighting setups!
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Old October 26th, 2010, 10:49 PM   #11
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The lights were made primarily for video production, where a LOT of continuous light is required to cover a large area. Last Sunday, I had every light in my kit (about 3500 KW total) arranged in a two-story entryway to balance out an absolutely wicked backlight from the sun so we could see the actors' faces. I noticed the stills photographer was "free-loading" off my lights, with his flash turned off.

If I'm doing still photography principally, I'll either mount up my Sunpak 544 for single-light bounce work, or set up my trusty Novatron 3-head kit.

Lights are like golf clubs -- you need an assortment in your bag to play the game well.

Martin
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Old October 28th, 2010, 02:52 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
I do both video and still work and I would say you need both types of lighting, strobes for stills and continuous for video.

You can not discount the need to freeze motion with still cameras unless you are shooting objects like product photography. For example, a typical portrait shoot would be at ISO 100, shutter at 1/100th and aperature f5.6 or f8. These settings would leave continuous lights ineffective, just not enough light output. I often leave the overhead lights on during location portrait shooting as they do not show up in the mix. Bottom line, studio strobes not only put out a lot of light, they freeze your subject's motion.

For video lighting I am a fan of Richard A's "Cool Lights". I use a 4 bank flo as well as his LEDs. I have found 5600k video lights to be more useful than 3200k lights. In my experience one good key light and plenty of other smaller lights & modifiers is the most useful setup for video.

So hate to say it but you have to get the wallet out and have two different lighting setups!
I'm a photographer getting into video work and completely agree with Tim. You might need strobes for three main reasons: small apertures (shallow DOF isn't always desirable, and should be a choice, not a forced compromise) / low ISO (sure, you can shoot at ISO3200, but what happens when the job calls for ISO100?), and stopping motion (can't realistically get close to 1/10,000 with consumer continuous lights, or even most cameras).

My studio/still set is four Einsteins (great lights, too bad they've backordered), and several ABs. The modeling lamp output from these is ok, but gets killed pretty quickly with modifiers (i.e. softboxes, grids, etc.), making for compromised video lighting, all while drawing lots of current. For (more) serious video work I ended up buying two Cool Lights sets, consisting of two 455 soft lights, and two CDM 150s; I'd need the modeling lights from four Einsteins to match the output of two 455s or just one CDM 150, and again, drawing much more current. I'll likely get some LEDs to complement my video lighting kit.

Having said all that, unless you're expecting 2/3 or more of your shooting to be stills, get efficient video lights first.



P.S. Einstein, Alien Bees, and White Lightning are all lights made by Paul Buff in Tennessee.
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Old October 31st, 2010, 08:50 PM   #13
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Hello All,

Thanks again for your input!

Greg -- I'll check out the flouros, thank you.

Tim -- I certainly see your point about F/stop, ISO, and shutter speeds / motion. I will check out the Cool Lights. For some reason, I feel an affinity for LED's if they will do the job. Any thoughts on LED's vs. flouros?

Martin -- thanks for the additional clarification. That's impressive coverage!

Michael -- thank you for your informative comments. That gives me a good sense of how the modeling lights compare to the flouros!

Best Regards,
-Johannes
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Old November 1st, 2010, 11:52 AM   #14
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I use both LED and Flo's. The LEDs are very portable and run on batteries which is great for certain jobs. The 256 model is about the perfect hair light as it is lightweight and you can run it from a camcorder battery. Put it up there on a boom and you are done. LEDs have a lot of plusses.

The 4-bank Flo I have is very soft light which is perfect for your key light in a vidoe setup. It does spill a fair amount but I not not found this to be a problem in my use.

Just like yin & yang, a mix of hard and soft light is what creates an interesting look.
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Old November 3rd, 2010, 01:27 AM   #15
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Thanks, Tim! Interesting comment about hard and soft. And any thoughts on LED panels as key lights?

-Johannes
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