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Old March 30th, 2014, 03:50 PM   #1
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LED lighting, what about all the stuff to go with it?

I have three Lowell kits I have used for years. I love them. Just as important as the light kits is a “grip kit” I have assembled over the years. The grip kit is a piece of kit you cannot buy, but we all have one. It is that box of STUFF you cannot live without. It is that box of stuff that I never go on set without. It is that box of stuff that makes my lighting work and refines it. There is too much stuff in that box for me to list here. It is a box of stuff that is always evolving and changing. The box is even a Lowell case I bought empty off of e-bay. Of course the box is way too small now and overstuffed with all of that important stuff.

That box of stuff is part of the reason I have not fully embraced LED lighting yet. I am sick of the heat put out by my tungsten burners, but other than that I love them. The only other advantage LEDs hold for me is weight, and low power consumption. My work is often on the road and shipping the Lowell kits is getting more expensive all the time.

So here is the dilemma. I am a big fan of Lowell engineering. Whoever those guys are they obviously use the stuff. I know that started with Ross Lowell, the film maker who started the company. It never ceases to amaze me how versatile my system is by tweaking it with all of the flags, adapters, mounts, clamps, gels and widgets in my grip kit. I can create damn near any look I want and tweak it to work with the standard Lowell fixtures and my grip kit. I have 2 Riffas, 2 Omnis, 4 Totas, 4 pro lights and a TON of crap to go with them. As you can see I don’t do big set lighting. Also, I found e-bay to be a great place to score stuff for the grip kit on the cheap. There are no circuit boards to worry about buying used when it comes to snoots, clamps, gel holders, barn doors, and widgets. I do not see this kind of stuff available for LED panels. I am not referring to e-bay here, I do not see it anywhere. Have the accessories for LED panels not turned up on the market yet or am I missing something? Even the LED lights made by Lowell are still big square panels.

I know there are barn doors and you can flag them and such. But I want the cool easy stuff you stick into a slot on the fixture with your bendable stick and put the accessory on the other end and all of the other easy stuff I have to tweak and control the light. And I want at least reasonable small set horse power. I cannot see myself lighting a two head interview by placing a couple of square panels full of tiny LEDs and calling it good.

So what are you LED guys doing? Have you gone exclusively LED? Are you using LEDs for key and fill but mixing tungsten in for hair, up, accent and rim? What about horse power? Sometimes I may light a small room the way I want, then throw a Omni or Tota at the ceiling to finish off softening shadows. Not very sophisticated but it can work. Cinefoil is one of the most useful things in my grip kit. I can see it now, by the time I got done directing LED light with cinefoil my set would look like a room in a cheap horror house at Holloween with the lights on. Just add blood, mine.

So….I see the advantage of cool running lights and light weight. But I am far from convinced there would be any other advantage for me. In fact, it would be a temporary setback while I relearned what I already know and adapted my grip kit to work with big square panels. I see it being like many other upgrades or conversions we make. The big item that changes is just the start of it, the rest of the work flow must change as well. I think I might keep on blowing breakers and burning my fingers for a little while longer.

Thoughts, suggestions, resources for accessories?

Steve
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Old March 30th, 2014, 09:12 PM   #2
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Re: LED lighting, what about all the stuff to go with it?

The reason you don't see a lot of accessories for LED lights is because they aren't as necessary. That is one of the benefits of LED lights that is hard for people to grasp until they start working with them for themselves. Having daylight balanced lights with dimmers that don't cause color shifts is very liberating. I've been 100% LED for almost three years and would never go back. The best advice I can give you is not to buy a bunch of identical flat panels because you need a variety lights to do it right. Make sure you budget for a couple of Fresnels in your kit and you will be very happy with the results . . . if used correctly.

How to Set up and Shoot Awesome Interviews with LED Lights
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Old March 30th, 2014, 10:49 PM   #3
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Re: LED lighting, what about all the stuff to go with it?

I'd disagree - the reason you don't see a lot of that stuff for LED fixtures is that until recently there hasn't been much in the way of hard/focused LED lights. LED panels produce a fairly diffused light and the light is difficult to shape - with hundreds of sources in a single light you can't flag them properly, and things like cookies are almost useless as you get multiple overlapping shadow edges.

We're starting to get more in the way of single-source focused LED lights now - zylight's F8, lightpanels Sola & Inca, fotodox's DY-200, etc. These have only really been readily available for a couple of years, and they tend to be fairly expensive compared to panels at this point. There's also some interesting alternatives becoming available based on plasma lighting - stuff like Hive's Hornet & Par - which are even more expensive than LEDs but also put out a lot more light. I'm sure costs and selection of both technologies will improve over the next few years, but at this point it's still difficult/expensive to replace a full incandescent lighting kit with comparable solid-state alternatives.
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Old March 31st, 2014, 03:59 PM   #4
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Re: LED lighting, what about all the stuff to go with it?

You're welcome to disagree if you want to, but I can tell you as a matter of fact that I've reduced my lighting gear by 1/2 the weight and about 75% of the small accessories I carry since going to LED. I just don't need all that stuff anymore.
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Old March 31st, 2014, 08:02 PM   #5
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Re: LED lighting, what about all the stuff to go with it?

Hi Doug

My biggest bug sadly was I simply didn't like the light output! I bought a 21 PowerLED panel and yep, it's convenient (I could run it on a Sony battery too) but compared to 4 x 45W CFL lights on a single fitting the lighting just seemed to be just too stark and hard compared to the soft even light that the CFL's give me.

I was under the assumption that LED's would give me a nice soft light but even with a heavy diffuser, the light is very hard and cold! I have gone back to using CFL's bounced back into a brolly for an even softer light but I do like the fact you can grab an LED head, clip it onto a stand and turn it on!! At weddings for me that's a big plus but sadly I don't like the hard cold look!! My biggest PIA is trying to find power points, using miles of gaffer tape so people don't trip on the cord and crawling along the floor taping it down too!!

Maybe LED panels have changed lately? Is your light still hard compared to the soft lighting that CFL's give?

Chris
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Old April 1st, 2014, 02:12 AM   #6
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Re: LED lighting, what about all the stuff to go with it?

Sadly, I'm convinced that the headlong rush into LED has moved so fast in user acceptance and LED design that everyone seems to have forgotten that apart from lumens and CRI light has aesthetic quality. Real filaments and real glass look different. The lamp type, the reflector, the lens and the size all have impact on the light that emerges. If you are shooting an interview then often the principal requirement is simply illumination. You don't care if the person is lit artistically, you simply need to see them. If you are doing something where the quality of image is critical, then, in my humble opinion, the old lights are still best. Manufacturers are trying to convince us LED is better for everything, and it simply isn't. I was underwhelmed by LED kit at a recent trade show. Bright beams, good control, and light weight and amazing efficiency per Watt, but not pretty. One lighting demo featured a pretty girl being lit by light sources at different heights and types, but the HD big images on the monitors did not flatter her at all. I kept imagining what it would have looked like with an older tungsten source? I'm not a LED Luddite I have plenty of LED kit, but it is not a cure all. For soft light and area flooding it's great, but for picking out strands of hair and that soft side facial hair some people have, it's pretty awful. I suspect it's the lack of a point source of light and real glass compared to big light source and plastic diffuser!
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Old April 1st, 2014, 03:14 AM   #7
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Re: LED lighting, what about all the stuff to go with it?

Hi Paul

Right on the button!! The light just doesn't have the qualities of standard lighting in my view too. Without being nasty it looks terrible ..! I use an on-camera LED light just as a fill at dark receptions which is OK but using a big panel to light people talking from a lectern seemed to be just not what I expected, hence the use of CFL's still .... must be the single point source and the glass that does something???

Despite the brilliant convenience and power usage I still cannot use them!!

Chris
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Old April 1st, 2014, 07:46 AM   #8
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Re: LED lighting, what about all the stuff to go with it?

Obviously LED lights are not appropriate for all applications. But if you're going to drift off into examples of people buying cheap, poor performing lights, or not knowing how to use their equipment properly, then that is a totally different topic that applies to much more than just LED lighting. I stand by my statement that the LEDs that I own (can't speak for other people's gear) require far fewer accessories and allow me to do things I could never do before with tungsten instruments.

As I have said before on this forum, if you don't have the budget to do LED properly with decent instruments, then play it safe and stick with good old cheap tungsten. You'll miss out on all the great advantages that LEDs provide, but you'll probably get better results on screen than if you used bad LEDs or didn't take the time to learn how to adapt your methods for a different type of light.
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Old April 1st, 2014, 10:36 AM   #9
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Re: LED lighting, what about all the stuff to go with it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Jensen View Post
You're welcome to disagree if you want to, but I can tell you as a matter of fact that I've reduced my lighting gear by 1/2 the weight and about 75% of the small accessories I carry since going to LED. I just don't need all that stuff anymore.
I don't doubt you've reduced your kit size & weight - but I'm not clear on what you're suggesting the difference is between LED and incandescent in terms of the tools you need to modify the light. It's just light, after all, and most of the tools for shaping light aren't specific to the source other than in the way they might attach to a particular fixture.

Bi-color lights can reduce the need to gel for matching purposes, but you still need to be able to add gels for specific colors (or buy specialized multi-color LEDs just for that purpose). You need pearls for different levels of diffusion. And you can only diffuse a small light source so much with pearls, so you still need a softbox or silks if you want to create a larger diffuse light source. If you want to add texture or patterns to your light you need a way to mount a cookie in front of it - although as I mentioned that won't work too well with a panel, you need a focused source. You still need barn doors and flags, to shape the light and control spill, and ways to attach either to a fixture, and again neither works well with panels. Scrims & NDs are the only thing I can think of that would be completely eliminated assuming all your LEDs are dimmable.

The biggest difference I've seen in all of these things in terms of using them with LEDs is that since heat isn't a concern you don't need as much standoff from the light. That reduces the need for things like lowel's attachable gel frames, although there are still times where it's useful to be able to position a modifier farther from the source.
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Old April 1st, 2014, 11:17 AM   #10
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Re: LED lighting, what about all the stuff to go with it?

Thanks for the input guys. I will watch and wait a while longer. I don't just throw light on a subject, I control all of it. It sounds like It is what I expected to hear. Control of the broad sources is not there yet or has not been simplified. I own a system that works well, I won't fix what isn't broken yet.

For example: Keeping key light off of backgrounds is important to me so I can do what I want to do with background elements. With my Riffa lights I run 30 degree egg crates on them. That gives me a soft key source with directional control and I quickly move on to background and accent lights. It works and I like it. A broad source like a 60 degree LED panel with lots of spill would not work for me without being able to control it with simple things like egg crates or barn doors. And Chris H, thanks for your comments about LED not being as soft as you expected.

I really did expect someone to post links to accessory's that I thought I must be missing. Like I said in the OP my grip kit is too valuable to give up. It is what makes my lighting work. I can't imagine using a bunch of LEDs or ANY other fixtures without being able to control and tweak them. And I do like the quality look of tungsten. I have never seen a green spike in them yet ;)

Steve
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Old April 1st, 2014, 01:18 PM   #11
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Re: LED lighting, what about all the stuff to go with it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
Maybe LED panels have changed lately? Is your light still hard compared to the soft lighting that CFL's give?
You may want to check out ColorRight's Lumenaires:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/l...duo-led-panels

They are high output, very soft, light & battery powered so it would solve your issue with running miles of cable. The panel is edge-lit, like a lot of LED TVs these days, so diffuse light is emitted from the entire surface of the panel evenly - this should eliminate the harsh 'sparkle' highlights that LED grid panels tend to produce when bare. They are so soft that I wouldn't consider them a good general purpose light because they're tough to shape further, but they might work as an alternative to your CFL/umbrella rig.

Of course softness is also a function of the size of the light source relative to the subject, so if you're lighting from a distance a large umbrella is probably going to result in a softer light than any smaller light source, regardless of the type of light.
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Last edited by Evan Donn; April 1st, 2014 at 03:51 PM.
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Old April 1st, 2014, 03:24 PM   #12
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Re: LED lighting, what about all the stuff to go with it?

I ordered three of the Color Right Lumenaire Duo's. I should get them sometime this month. I also would recommend Mr. Jensen's video. A great resource if you want to learn how to use LED's and what kit to buy.
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Old April 1st, 2014, 04:52 PM   #13
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Re: LED lighting, what about all the stuff to go with it?

Evan, believe it or not I don't disagree with any of your comments. But the gear and techniques that are needed to modify and shape light from cool-running, daylight balanced, battery-powered, light-weight, 100% dimmable LEDs is a fraction of what I used to carry for tungsten and HMI. Do some of those LEDs need to be Fresnels? Yes. Do I still need a few flags, cookies, and other stuff in the kit? Sure. But not as much as before -- and they don't even need to be fireproof. It's almost impossible to convey the liberation you feel with LED lights to someone who has not drank the Kool-aid yet. But give it a sip, it tastes good.
Frank, thanks for the plug!
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Old April 1st, 2014, 09:20 PM   #14
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Re: LED lighting, what about all the stuff to go with it?

Steve - Okay, so you're a lighting perfectionist and that's good. I'm sure I could learn something from an expert. And, I appreciate the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach.

Okay, so a link to an accessory per request .....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Digges View Post
For example: I really did expect someone to post links to accessory's that I thought I must be missing. Like I said in the OP my grip kit is too valuable to give up. It is what makes my lighting work. I can't imagine using a bunch of LEDs or ANY other fixtures without being able to control and tweak them. And I do like the quality look of tungsten. I have never seen a green spike in them yet ;)
... so here goes:

Last year we were making a trip to Europe and I wanted a portable light to take along and started doing a search. Came up with this light and it seemed like it would fill the bill. I wanted something that would really put out some light (not some anemic little thing), be battery powered, and have a nice color - not a cool-white. This is what I settled on:

Comer CM-LBPS1800 On-Camera LED Light (Sony Battery) | L.A. Color Pros)

Disclaimer #1: I'm not in any way associated, nor even know anyone connected with, LA Color. Later I found out that they are a sponsor here but that is neither here nor there.

Onward. This is a little jewel of a light! And, boy, does it ever put out! As an accessory (that's what you hinted for) I think this would work. The color is a flattering not-too-cool and not-too-warm, very nice for skin tones. I think the trick is that it uses six "cool-white" and four "warm" LEDs. With all of them running it has a very nice color balance (at least I think so).

As for something for your tool box, this would be good for your hair light. Light weight, compact, no cables, and it could be mounted on a small light stand: Comer CM-LBPS1800 On-Camera LED Light (Sony Battery) | L.A. Color Pros)

The "spot lens" (it flips down) could be manually focused for even a tighter light by moving it out just a bit (opposite the hinge), probably 1/8-inch or as needed. That would focus the light even more.

Because of it's small size and portability there are a myriad number of situation where it could be used. It is bright and concentrated so sticking it in someone's face is something I wouldn't recommend.

I do have three light panels and one Lowel L Light (no bulb though), but this Comer is really nice. Even used it for looking for stuff in the garage and when we had a power outage.

A guy can't have too many tools.

Oh, and Disclaimer #2: I'm no lighting expert.

Last edited by John Nantz; April 1st, 2014 at 09:22 PM. Reason: Disclaimer #2
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Old April 2nd, 2014, 10:32 AM   #15
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Re: LED lighting, what about all the stuff to go with it?

Hi John,

Am I a perfectionist, maybe. Am I a lighting expert, far from it! I approach lighting just like I do audio. It is never an afterthought. I do the best I can with it, that is far from perfect. I think you have read enough of my posts to know I have been around for a while. Lighting always takes me back to the old days when I studied still photography. Back then, lighting was the focus of all image making. My video work is still influenced by my work in stills in many ways.

If I remember correctly it was some posts I made a while back recommending LA Color that influenced you to check out the lights they offer. I am not affiliated with them ether but I have made a couple of purchases from them. I like doing business with small vendors, especially DVINFO sponsors. Tacky at LA Color not only sells a small line of gear he is a working videographer that uses what he sells. He is always helpful and provides solid advice. I am glad you are pleased with the Comer lights you purchased there. He is on my list of resources as I start my move into LCD lighting.

I have decided that a move to LCD for me will be a gradual process instead of a total conversion with both feet at once. I think I will start with bi-color panels so I can mix them with the Lowell gear I already own. I tend to mount pro-lights all over the place for hair, accent, etc. I will have to withdraw from them slowly to avoid panic attacks and full blown withdrawal symptoms!

Having several of the Comer 1800b lights in my kit would be nice. It looks just like the cheap counterfeits on e-bay. Do you have one? Is it the real deal or a cheepy being sold for a high price? I suspect it is a good light. My impression so of LA Color is that they would not sell junk.

Thank you for the input!

Steve
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