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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old April 18th, 2008, 06:48 PM   #1
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Camera light for wedding -- need suggestions

Hello, I am looking for a good camera light that will help me in dim-lit situations for receptions and the like. I will be using two GL2's or DVX100's for the wedding, but one good light should do.

To be honest, I've never used a light at a wedding before. This is my first year in the business and so far have done weddings for friends, but now doing weddings for complete strangers, I'm going to need to beef up the quality of my videos to really impress them.

Any recommendations/websites/links? I'm hoping to spend less than $500 if possible. The wedding is in a month so I would like to place an order this weekend!

Thanks to everyone who's able to help me out.

Edit: A little background on me...lighting was one of my weak points in my broadcast TV program so talking to me like I'm a dummy would really help :D
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Old April 18th, 2008, 07:36 PM   #2
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I currently have a Bescor light with 2 20w bulbs. It only runs for 30-60 minutes, depending on if you have both bulbs on or not. It also gets hot, has a heavy battery I have to clip on my belt, and an annoying cord that goes from the battery to the light.

I've been keeping my eye on Litepanels LED lights for quite some time now, and last month I was in Vegas for WPPI and I got to check one out first hand; the Litepanels Micro. I was very impressed. Since then I've done a lot of research on the Micro, and overall it sounds like a winner. I'm going to be purchasing one soon. Why?

The LED lights are color-balanced for outdoor light, and the light has a drop-down filter to immediately correct for indoor (tungsten) light. It also has a drop down diffusion filter to soften the light if desired. The LED's will last 100,000 hours, which is something like 10 years if left on all the time - wow. The light doesn't get hot AT ALL, and is powered by 4 AA batteries, meaning I can use rechargables and have an all-day light instead of a 1-hour light. You can also dim the light from 100% to pretty much 0 without losing any color temperature or getting any flicker. It's a pretty amazing light.

It retails for $300-350, which is within your budget, and sounds like the type of light for the job you want to do. I film weddings also, so we're on the same page. The only knocks against the light are that it's housing is plastic, meaning it could be broken if you're not careful with it. Also, apparently the filters can sometimes fall out because the holder clips don't work all that well. I'm sure I can rig some sort of fix for that though.

Here's the link to their website:

www.litepanels.com

Good luck!
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Old April 18th, 2008, 07:43 PM   #3
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I actually own a Litepanels Micro. I was pretty excited to get it and did based on the good things I've heard about it. It is a great light indeed, but definitely not enough punch to light up a room or dance floor. It'll be great for close ups but I am going to try not to be intrusive at all.

I think a light on a light stand might do the trick too but that requires more time to set up and take down...
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Old April 18th, 2008, 07:46 PM   #4
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What would be the effective range of the Litepanels Micro?
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Old April 18th, 2008, 08:03 PM   #5
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What would be the effective range of the Litepanels Micro?
I'm no expert but I think it'll start to lose it's effectiveness further than about 5-10 feet.

When I asked about lighting at receptions and the Micro came up, here's what Guy Cochran of DVCreators had to say: "Well, if we follow the inverse square rule pertaining to a point light source, we would find that every time we double the distance, we only receive 1/4 the amount of light. In the case with the Litepanels LP Micro LED's, the fall off is even more rapid because it is not a point source, and more of a diffused light. So you'll need something with a lot more kick to hit 20' feet. I don't think even the Spot Mini's do much at 20'. You'd need a 1x1!"
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Old April 18th, 2008, 08:21 PM   #6
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We must be trying to accomplish different things. My goal isn't to properly light someone from 15 or 20 feet away with an on-camera light. My goal is to put some decent light on someone at 5 or 6 feet, without blinding everyone or creating a nasty spotlight look.

Chris, I gotta say I'm glad someone with a Micro finally posted on here. Other than not being able to light a scene beyond 10 feet, do you have any other gripes with the light? How do you feel it performs in the 5-10 feet range?
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Old April 18th, 2008, 08:23 PM   #7
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Oh, one more thing. Maybe it's a difference in market or region or tradition, but if I tried to light a dance floor with a stand-light I'd be run out of the reception. My experience with people dancing is they like the light to be as low as possible, and then maybe a little lower. Throwing a stand light on the dance floor would effectively kill the dancing (and probably get me killed) at the weddings I film.
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Old April 18th, 2008, 08:38 PM   #8
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Regarding the Micro, it's hard to say how it'll do in the 5-10 feet range. It doesn't make a *huge* impact. The video on dvcreators shows examples in dark/dim situations and the subject is pretty close, like a shot in a car or on a computer or an interview. As for gripes with the light, for what it is, I have no problems with it. Just don't expect a powerhouse. In a wedding situation, unless you're fairly close to the subject and it's an interview, I don't really see *too* much use for the Micro, but then again, like I said in my first post, lighting is my weak point and I could totally be underestimating it, haha. Or maybe I could stick it somewhere closer to the speech-giver while my camera is further away...so much to experiment with...

I, too, was afraid that lighting a dance floor would kill the dance atmosphere. However, the wedding I have coming up is an Indian wedding. I learned that the LOVE to dance and LOVE to have everything recorded, and don't care much for intrusiveness with cameras or lighting, etc. The bottom line for these guys is they want it captured and captured well. About a month ago, I did a solo shoot for a surprise birthday party with a lot of dancing. Wanting to eat but not wanting to leave my camera on the tripod unmanned, I stopped recording, took my camera with me and got a plate of food. On my way to sit down, I was stopped by a relative and really wanted me to keep filming. With a bit of hesitation and continuing hunger, I went back to film the rest of the dance and left my plate of food on the table for the rest of the night...

Sorry, I totally went off topic. WEDDING LIGHTING YAY!
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Old April 18th, 2008, 08:52 PM   #9
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That's cool. I don't expect it to be a powerhouse light. When I tried it out in Vegas I had my wife stand about 6 feet from the camera and I played with the dimmer and saw a noticeable improvement in the lighting, which surprised me considering the trade show floor was lit very well already. I don't shoot much at the reception in the 2-3 feet range, but 5-8 is pretty standard, and I'm really just looking for a enough extra light to give me a better image, not perfection. Sounds like the Micro will still work perfectly for me.

As for Indian weddings, well ... there you go ... huge difference in traditions ...

I had a wedding a couple of years ago where they dropped the house lights down to basically nothing and there were only the DJ's 3 or 4 "party lights" going. I found the house light panel and bumped up the lights to where I could get a better image, and immediately guests were complaining and so the lights went back down to nothing. What can you do? lol
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Old April 18th, 2008, 10:41 PM   #10
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I used to use a Bescor that I used a 35W bulb in with a softbox then went to an AB Ultralight with a 35w bulb and softbox (I could switch it from my full size cameas and with a 'magic' cable I made go from the AB power tap to my Bescor battery in no time.
Now however I've been using the Litepanel Micro and there is no way I would go back to anything else. First I use both the diffusion and 1/4 warming filter indoors at ALL times. 2nd I have found the throw to be quite good at 10 feet, past that it starts to fall off as I would expect. 3rd, it's somewhat dimable which gives me more control than my AB light and 4th, it's liteweight and runs on 4 AAs. No umbilical cord to a heavy battery. I use 2200MaH rechargeables, I have 2 sets and have found the lite will go at full power (with virtually no heat build up YAH!) for almost 4 hours before I need to change out batteries.
Just my opinion but I LOVE IT! It never comes off the camera.

Don
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Old April 18th, 2008, 11:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Bloom View Post
I used to use a Bescor that I used a 35W bulb in with a softbox then went to an AB Ultralight with a 35w bulb and softbox (I could switch it from my full size cameas and with a 'magic' cable I made go from the AB power tap to my Bescor battery in no time.
Now however I've been using the Litepanel Micro and there is no way I would go back to anything else. First I use both the diffusion and 1/4 warming filter indoors at ALL times. 2nd I have found the throw to be quite good at 10 feet, past that it starts to fall off as I would expect. 3rd, it's somewhat dimable which gives me more control than my AB light and 4th, it's liteweight and runs on 4 AAs. No umbilical cord to a heavy battery. I use 2200MaH rechargeables, I have 2 sets and have found the lite will go at full power (with virtually no heat build up YAH!) for almost 4 hours before I need to change out batteries.
Just my opinion but I LOVE IT! It never comes off the camera.

Don
Don, thank you so much for posting. You've resolved all doubt in my mind about purchasing a Micro. 4 hours on a set of batteries? Wow. That's incredible.
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Old April 19th, 2008, 01:01 AM   #12
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Don: When filming the free dance, do you ever get worried of crazy/drunk guests bumping into you and maybe snapping the the light off?

However, given what I said above, I currently use a Plastic Bescor light http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...0_Watt_AC.html

And I've never had a problem or felt the light could easily snap off...

And I'm currently using this huge battery belt for it.. How dumb am I!?

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...e_Battery.html
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Old April 19th, 2008, 02:23 AM   #13
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I don't have much experience but for what is worth I'll tell what I've got.

I got from B&H,

an Impact light stand
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Reflector.html

A Lowel Prolight
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...ood_Light.html
along with barndoors and snoot (check wattage for country). It is both a spot and a flood light.

and a dimmer the equivilent of :
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...r_Control.html

I used this setup at a set of meetings I filmed a few weeks ago and it was great. I had the light right at the back of the room with the snoot on it, illuminating the speakers. I just threw the light in at the last minute as I didn't know what the light would be like, and am so glad it did. I could be used for a dance as well - dimmed to whatever is required.
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Old April 19th, 2008, 05:15 AM   #14
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Thanks guys for the links and suggestions. Both setups look pretty good and I can't decide which one to get yet...maybe I should just get it all! It fits the budget, hehe.

Yang -- Are you happy with the Bescor light? It looks pretty good and with 100w it looks like it can pack quite a punch. Does it require any special bulbs? Are they available at B&H or are they easily found at a local hardware store? What do you wish you used instead of the battery belt? How long does it last? (I might just run it off a super long extension cord) Sorry for all the questions, I just wanna know these things in case I buy it.

Renton -- no flood of questions for you :p But for $200 that seems like a pretty good investment. Looks like it'll do wonders during a reception.
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Old April 19th, 2008, 07:26 AM   #15
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Travis,
Just for the record, when I got the Litepanel I threw a set of fully charged batteries in it, turned it to 100% power and turned it off at 3 hours. On a job I did a couple of weeks ago I went WELL IN EXCESS of 3 hours before I changed batteries-I estimate it was around 4-but it might have been 3 1/2.
just wanted to keep it straight. :-)

Yang,
First I try very hard to stay out of the drunks way ;-)
second, IF I do get bumped it's nowhere near the light and no I don't worry about it. If they DO hit my light then I've got bigger problems than just the light. Not to mention I just don't let that kind of thing happen. I have been bumped many times over the years but never to the point of getting hurt OR damaging gear. I keep my eyes open and watch where people are getting a bit out of hand. I try to be aware of my surroundings so I don't even think about my gear getting busted up.


Chris,
The BEscor will handle bulbs down to 10W and up to 50-the 100w will work only on AC power. At least the one I have is that way. I have been buying my bulbs for both the Bescor and the AB light at Home Depot for a number of years so they are pretty common anywhere you go.
100W would be in my opinion way way too much for a reeption or any other social event. Heck I never used that much even doing news. 75w was the most I ever punched thru my AB. 100w is overkill. I use 35w bulb and a softbox to knock it down and even then it's sometimes a bit much but it covers up to about 10 feet. That's why I like the Micro, I can get up to 10 feet but when I move in closer and I do, I can turn it down so as not to blind anyone. In all my years I have NEVER used a studio type light at a wedding reception even way back in the 80s when low light and video work were 2 words that really didn't go together. Of course then I used an old SUNLIGHT which packed a wallop. You could if it was placed properly, burn out the pupils of the subjects and give them a great tan at the same time. :-)
My how things have gotten better over the years.

Don
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