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Old August 26th, 2008, 02:41 PM   #1
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litepanel micro with steadycam merlin

I have a Steadycam Merlin and am wondering if anyone has tried balancing the following on the merlin

Sony z1 (stock cam only)
Sony NP-F970( 6 hour Battery )
Rode Ntg-1

At the minute thats what im using with the Merlin and its working great.
I want to add a Litepanel Micro.

Anybody used a similar setup???
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Old August 26th, 2008, 05:23 PM   #2
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I used to use a Canon GL2 with the Merlin and a Litepanels light. I stopped just because it was harder to balance, and there were times where I didn't need the light, and that would require a total rebalance. My suggestion is to set up your Merlin to have the camera with the light on it all the time or off all the time, so you don't have to do such drastic rebalances.

Keep in mind that the light will also make working in windy/breezy conditions more difficult (it acts like a sail).
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Old August 26th, 2008, 06:08 PM   #3
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Hi Travis

Thanks for the reply. Yeah I thought it would be very hard with the litepanel. Im only going to be using it for the reception only. I fly around with the Merlin when people are dancing and love the look it gives. I donít want to stop the way im doing it but I just need a bit more light, not much, just a bit. Any other suggestions on ways of lighting a reception rooms without affecting the mood would be great.

I know you werenít completely happy with the litepanel when you first got it. How do you feel about it now, Good points?? Bad points??

Was going to buy it this week.

Cheers
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Old August 26th, 2008, 06:49 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Niall Megahey View Post
Hi Travis

Thanks for the reply. Yeah I thought it would be very hard with the litepanel. Im only going to be using it for the reception only. I fly around with the Merlin when people are dancing and love the look it gives. I donít want to stop the way im doing it but I just need a bit more light, not much, just a bit. Any other suggestions on ways of lighting a reception rooms without affecting the mood would be great.

I know you werenít completely happy with the litepanel when you first got it. How do you feel about it now, Good points?? Bad points??

Was going to buy it this week.

Cheers
Sure. Indoors you shouldn't have any problems flying the Merlin while using the LP Micro. However, if you plan to shoot with the light and without the light, just keep in mind that you can't just do a quick adjustment to the Merlin rig when you add or take away the light. It requires some time to rebalance as you'll be adjusting the weights, the arm extension, the sled, etc.

I still think that for $300 the LP Micro could be built better, but I'm happy with my new unit and would still buy the Micro over any other light I had researched. My original unit was apparently just defective, as it put out barely any light. The new unit is quite bright. You will love the fact that it uses AA batteries, doesn't require a cord, doesn't get hot ... and you might even like the dimmability feature.
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Old August 26th, 2008, 08:43 PM   #5
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Travis....I think we may have talked about this before but have you considered a light kit? We are now using some off camera lighting, especially during the first dances. It all depends on how practical it is for you and each situation. I like using light with barn doors to squelch the light as needed. I have the litepanel micro also and agree, it needs to be beefed up. I just bought a Canon light and difused the light with dryer sheets material...so far its my favorite light. I call it my redneck setup. At times I will just hold it with my left hand and hold cam and mono pod with the other and light the subject as needed.
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Old August 26th, 2008, 08:54 PM   #6
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Travis....I think we may have talked about this before but have you considered a light kit? We are now using some off camera lighting, especially during the first dances. It all depends on how practical it is for you and each situation. I like using light with barn doors to squelch the light as needed. I have the litepanel micro also and agree, it needs to be beefed up. I just bought a Canon light and difused the light with dryer sheets material...so far its my favorite light. I call it my redneck setup. At times I will just hold it with my left hand and hold cam and mono pod with the other and light the subject as needed.
I'm trying to head that direction. So far I've just experimented with using the LP on a light stand and my Bescor on the 2nd cam. I'd love to set up a more powerful light and really give the first dance some mood and highlight, but I'm also wary because using stand-alone lighting isn't common at all in my area (in fact, it's just not done). I'm also concerned because the barn doors on my stand-alone lights cause a strange light pattern on ceilings and walls due to the fact that the barn door mount isn't flush with the light (about a half inch or so gap that leaks lots of light).

Do have these issues?
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Old August 26th, 2008, 09:10 PM   #7
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I'm curious folks--do you (and/or the majority of wedding and event shooters) work as one-man bands or do you have an assistant? I know the photographers I've seen at various weddings usually have someone with them holding an off-axis flash--is this something you can emulate? Having a high, soft source (like a small Chimera) that can travel 45 to 90 degrees off axis from the Steadicam would seem to be an elegant solution for a pretty natural effect. I'd go as far to suggest a China ball on a boom pole but I have a sense that might be a bit disruptive to the festivities!
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Old August 26th, 2008, 09:25 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
I'm curious folks--do you (and/or the majority of wedding and event shooters) work as one-man bands or do you have an assistant? I know the photographers I've seen at various weddings usually have someone with them holding an off-axis flash--is this something you can emulate? Having a high, soft source (like a small Chimera) that can travel 45 to 90 degrees off axis from the Steadicam would seem to be an elegant solution for a pretty natural effect. I'd go as far to suggest a China ball on a boom pole but I have a sense that might be a bit disruptive to the festivities!
I always have an assistant, but they are always running the 2nd cam. The Merlin makes for some great shots, but isn't ideal for filming the entire first dance (since you'll want closeups, angles, floor shots, etc.). As such, a 2nd cam is vital for me. I've toyed with the idea of using the 2nd cam unmanned, but it's pretty risky.

The real problem with lighting for wedding videographers is that the light must be constant. Photographers can get away with their flashes because the effect is momentary, and people are very used to camera flashes. People aren't so used to a 500w light constantly beaming their way. The other issue with constant light is that it can kill the "mood". Mood is relative, and what I think will create an excellent spotlight for the B&G can easily be viewed by them as killing the ambience because of the amount of light. There is this notion that a dark room is a romantic room. It's true to some extent, but many B&G's, and even more so their parents, will want a room to be quite dark so that the little table candles can have their effect. Too bad those little candles basically produce zero light.

I like your idea of a "travelling" light to move with the steadicam, but for me it just probably isn't practical. I can't afford to pay for a 3rd person, and it gets crowded enough on the dance floor with the photographer and THEIR assistant moving around. Cool idea, though, and worth some additional thought.
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Old August 27th, 2008, 02:35 AM   #9
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I have a Lowel Pro light. It is a combination spot/flood:

Lowel | Pro-Light Focus Flood Light (120-230VAC/12-30VDC)

You can attach barndoors or a snoot.

Lowel | Snoot for Pro and i-Light | IP-53 | B&H Photo Video

The snoot doesn't leak light at all. If you put a dimmer on the pro light as I have done (below for USA)

Impact | Dimmer Control | D600 | B&H Photo Video

you can control the intensity of the light from nothing to full power.

Shove it on a stand:

Impact | Multiboom Light Stand/Reflector Holder - 13' (4m)

with this one you can put the light up to 13 feet.

One trick to save bulbs a friend told me was to have the dimmer set low when turning the light on then turn it up. Bulbs are quite pricey.
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Old August 27th, 2008, 07:39 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
I'm trying to head that direction. So far I've just experimented with using the LP on a light stand and my Bescor on the 2nd cam. I'd love to set up a more powerful light and really give the first dance some mood and highlight, but I'm also wary because using stand-alone lighting isn't common at all in my area (in fact, it's just not done). I'm also concerned because the barn doors on my stand-alone lights cause a strange light pattern on ceilings and walls due to the fact that the barn door mount isn't flush with the light (about a half inch or so gap that leaks lots of light).

Do have these issues?
Be the first to do it in your area. The more we all do it the more it is expected to some degree. I haven't had any issues with our lighting casting odd patterns. I guess even then its better than no light. Many times this year we have been in a situation where the lighting really was poor and had to set up some discreet lighting and the photographers love it. Even though photogs have a flash it is still a problem to get a good focus when it is too dark. Plus they like to use the light to add a dramatic effect. I usually talk to the Bride and Groom and explain to them why we need the light and then get their blessing so to speak. We most always kill the light after the first dances.
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Old August 27th, 2008, 08:45 AM   #11
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Travis, we now use off camera lighting for our receptions, and love it.
I am not a fan of running cables so I went the route of self powered lights.
They are out of the line of sight from people (being 11 feet up) and enable me to get needed light, without the need to always run onboard lighting on our FX1's. Lights are still on our cameras if needed, which is generally for shooting away from the dancefloor.

We did this by going the Reception Light route.
The Wireless RECEPTION LIGHT by Darrell Boeck

We built the light kit ourselves form this list on B&H
https://secure.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/...&li=24793931C4

We did purchase two remotes from Reception light. This way I can turn on the lights remotely when needed. They are generally running for all dancing, and are usually turned off during dinner.

I am happy with running these lights with only 50 watt bulbs, we can go brighter, but don't find it necessary to run brighter than two f these light setups. I already had a Varalux light, so I only added the Bescor light.

The long running Bescor battery belts can run for over 5+ hours (more than enough for a reception) and the weight of the belt wrapped around the light stand base, keeps the stands very solid.

I'll park these next to the DJ or bands stage on the edge of the dance floor, and people think that it's the DJ's setup. The lights themselves give just enough pump to give some very nice even lighting to the floor, without overpowering the DJ's lights. Setup time is only about 15 minutes for both lights.

If needed, onboard lighting is still used, in the form of Sony HVL-LBP LED lights. They are usually dimmed down pretty good. The light is really just needed for some fill lighting on the subject and the off camera lights give some nice needed depth to the image.
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Old August 27th, 2008, 01:02 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Moon View Post
Be the first to do it in your area. The more we all do it the more it is expected to some degree. I haven't had any issues with our lighting casting odd patterns. I guess even then its better than no light. Many times this year we have been in a situation where the lighting really was poor and had to set up some discreet lighting and the photographers love it. Even though photogs have a flash it is still a problem to get a good focus when it is too dark. Plus they like to use the light to add a dramatic effect. I usually talk to the Bride and Groom and explain to them why we need the light and then get their blessing so to speak. We most always kill the light after the first dances.
Well, that's the idea, but I'm trying to step into the water slowly and test the reaction. The last thing I want to do is do this completely the wrong way. Like I said, I've already been experimenting with the LP Micro and another camera light on light stands. I think the main issue so far is that my light stands aren't quite tall enough (8' I think). I think 10-13ft would be ideal, so you can really angle the light down and out of the eyes of guests.

I do agree that photogs have a hard time focusing in the dark. My wife is a photog and I've assisted her probably a dozen or so times, and have experienced that problem. It's no worse than the same problem with video, though.

And I've only used lighting for important dances, toasts and cake cutting. I agree you have to kill it for the "fun" dancing or you risk killing the dance floor (depending on the crowd of course).
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Old August 27th, 2008, 01:04 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Michael Liebergot View Post
Travis, we now use off camera lighting for our receptions, and love it.
I am not a fan of running cables so I went the route of self powered lights.
They are out of the line of sight from people (being 11 feet up) and enable me to get needed light, without the need to always run onboard lighting on our FX1's. Lights are still on our cameras if needed, which is generally for shooting away from the dancefloor.

We did this by going the Reception Light route.
The Wireless RECEPTION LIGHT by Darrell Boeck

We built the light kit ourselves form this list on B&H
https://secure.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/...&li=24793931C4

We did purchase two remotes from Reception light. This way I can turn on the lights remotely when needed. They are generally running for all dancing, and are usually turned off during dinner.

I am happy with running these lights with only 50 watt bulbs, we can go brighter, but don't find it necessary to run brighter than two f these light setups. I already had a Varalux light, so I only added the Bescor light.

The long running Bescor battery belts can run for over 5+ hours (more than enough for a reception) and the weight of the belt wrapped around the light stand base, keeps the stands very solid.

I'll park these next to the DJ or bands stage on the edge of the dance floor, and people think that it's the DJ's setup. The lights themselves give just enough pump to give some very nice even lighting to the floor, without overpowering the DJ's lights. Setup time is only about 15 minutes for both lights.

If needed, onboard lighting is still used, in the form of Sony HVL-LBP LED lights. They are usually dimmed down pretty good. The light is really just needed for some fill lighting on the subject and the off camera lights give some nice needed depth to the image.
Thanks for the links. You are pretty much doing what I've been doing. On-camera lights on light stands versus on the actual camera. I bought some ankle weights to weigh down the light stands. I used to haul in 40lb sandbags, but that gets old fast, and is more weight than necessary anyways.
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Old August 27th, 2008, 02:02 PM   #14
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Light

I only do a few weddings a year, but I have found a solution that works for me.

I have a battery powered Lowell i-Light. The i-light has a handle accessory. I have my assistant put the battery pack over his shoulder and aim the light. I find it is much more attractive than a straight on camera light. I have had still photographers comment that it is much more pleasing for them too. In fact, one thought she might look into it for her work.
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Old August 27th, 2008, 02:25 PM   #15
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I only do a few weddings a year, but I have found a solution that works for me.

I have a battery powered Lowell i-Light. The i-light has a handle accessory. I have my assistant put the battery pack over his shoulder and aim the light. I find it is much more attractive than a straight on camera light. I have had still photographers comment that it is much more pleasing for them too. In fact, one thought she might look into it for her work.
Well, while this has always been a good solution, some like me who shoot alone don't have the luxury of a lighting gaffer.

Also, for the times when I do have a second camera person, I have them shooting other happenings that are going on. We usually split up the venue into halves and shoot accordingly to cover more area.

With off camera lighting, especially up high, it doesn't interfere with guests or photographers. And of course the photographers love it because they can see what they are shooting at. I shot a reception a few weeks back where the dancing and main events were in the tent. The tent only had two strings of light ropes on both ends of the tent and a few votive candles on the ledge of the fountain in the middle of the tent.

The DJ didn't have any lights with him, so if it wasn't for my off camera lighting, the guests wouldn't have been able to see who they were dancing with. And the photographer wouldn't have been able to get proper focus on anything.
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