Camera balance vs top light and handheld at

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Old December 8th, 2006, 05:17 PM   #1
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Camera balance vs top light and handheld

What been the experience with top lights on cameras like the A1 or GL-2 with regard to the light assembly? Does one style of light fixture assembly seem to work the best and can the camera be handheld reasonably?
What to do?
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Old December 8th, 2006, 09:07 PM   #2
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Like most things in this world, it all depends on your desired outcome. If you want news-style footage, you'll be looking for a powerful unit, and the size of the front of the light probably won't matter much. As for hand-holdability, it all depends on what you consider to be reasonable. I'm often shooting a DVX (same basic size) with 2 wireless receivers, a small shotgun mic, an on-cam light, and a microwave transmitter for video. It's reasonable because it's what I have to do. Would I personally choose to run around with that setup all day? No, there are better platforms to start from, like ENG-style cameras which balance their weight on your body, not your arms. But for the shot, I can, and often do hold that setup. I'm quite sure you can too, or anyone for that matter, but it takes a while before you get used to it enough to go for long takes and long days shooting with that kinda setup.

Back to the lights...
There are myriad manufacturers of on-cam lights, most of which work just fine for their intended purpose. If you're shooting otf interviews, and you don't mind the look, they work quite well. They all basically revolve (with the exception of the Kino Kamio) around some sort of shoe-mount. The simplest, and one of the best is the classic sony on-cam light. It has 2 lamps, and uses standard sony camcorder batteries. With a small piece of opal frost taped to the front, it will put out the same quality of light as any tungsten on-cam. Maybe not the brightness of a frezzi, but you also have to take into account that systems like those from frezzi were designed with eng cameras, and hence they draw their power from a power-tap. With a GL2, you have no such batteries, and using a light like the frezzi means you need to invest in a new system of batteries and chargers, not to mention a way to carry all that around. Plus, all that power is great if you're gelling the light to daylight...but for the most part the on-cam light is used very, very dimly.

My 2c --- buy the simplest, smallest and least complex system out there, something like the sony. It's pretty universal in rental kits for small cameras. Most people don't particularly like the look of on-camera lighting. You'll probably rarely pull it out of the bag, but when you do you want to make sure it's no hassle to use, or it'll end up STILL in the bag, and your investment will certainly not be worth it.

Now, tips for using the light. To lessen the "ugly" look, think of any light that comes from the lens axis as a fill light. Use the ambient or supliment the ambient light to get your basic exposure, and then fill in the shadows with your cam light. It also adds a little sparkle in the eyes, but the eyes are highly reflective, it doesn't take much. One advantage to using a light close to the lens axis is that it doesn't really create any new shadows (if it truly is close to the lens). This is great because you can make a moody lighting scheme, and tape diffusion on your light till you knock the intensity down low enough to just fill in the "muddy" areas of your frame.
And one last note - this fill effect works best when the camera is stationary - because as the camera moves, so does the light...revealing your secret source.
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Old December 8th, 2006, 10:04 PM   #3
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on camera light


thx for your comments. a lot to consider.
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Old December 9th, 2006, 04:26 AM   #4
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At the IBC I tried the Bebob Lux kit. It is very well suited for handhelds.
IMO the major advantage is the dimmer, the filters, the soft power up, the flexible positioning and the battery options for the A1 or Sony cameras.

Have a look at B&H:
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Old December 9th, 2006, 09:28 AM   #5
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Yep! cool setup

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