Using an LED light with a Steadicam Merlin at
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Old June 15th, 2010, 01:36 AM   #1
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Using an LED light with a Steadicam Merlin

I have a shoot coming up that would benefit from my Steadicam Merlin (using either my HV20 or my 7D). In a nutshell, I'd like to be able to rove through crowds of mingling people. But the venue is likely to be dimly lit (a gym), so I might need to mount some sort of multi LED panel or light fixture to the hotshoe. Is there an LED light with a decent amount of reach and spread (at least 6 feet with diffusion filter), and one that weighs as little as possible? (I don't think the 7D/WideAngle/Merlin combo will stand much more added weight, but the HV20 probably would... but the HV20 isn't as good in low light. It's a conundrum.) If the on-camera LED proves too unwieldy and tiring to carry using the Merlin, I suppose I could just hire someone to follow behind me with a big LED light mounted on a pole. That would give me an added benefit: the light wouldn't be shining directly in people's eyes.

Anyone have any suggestions? I take it that wedding videographers have to deal with this all the time.
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Old June 15th, 2010, 04:42 PM   #2
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I vote for the light-on-the-pole idea... unless you have the vest for the Merlin.
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Old June 15th, 2010, 06:02 PM   #3
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You can opt for the MicroBeam 128 which should be OK on the camera or on a pole hoisted by an assistant. With a 3.2 amp-hour battery it'll run for at least 3 hours on full power. A lot longer if you're dialed down.

As a small light source it will provide a rather hard-edged light.

A CoolLights 600 LED would be a bit softer, especially if a diffuser is added. But it is about a foot square and will be more work for an assistant to hold aloft. Maybe the assistant can wear a harness like those used by people carrying flags in a parade. The base of the pole goes into the harness near the assistant's belt line, and holds almost all of the weight.

Then there's a compromise: A CoolLights 256.

All of these lights can be battery powered. The CoolLights 600's run time will be about 1/5 as long as the MicroBeam 128.
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Old June 15th, 2010, 07:36 PM   #4
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I'm intrigued with the looks and capability of the Microbeam 256. I just need to do the math to see if the weight exceeds the Merlin weight limit. Then of course I need to hit the gym (not the one I'm recording in... the one that I'll need to use to get buff enough to carry all this weighty gear.)
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Old June 16th, 2010, 01:28 AM   #5
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Pushing through crowds is probably the worst scenario for on-camera lighting--in fact, any time your distance to subject is constantly changing is part of that scenario. Having foreground subjects blow out while background falls off is not a good look.

Indeed, having an assistant work the light separately is good, but I'd have them slightly off to the side to give things a bit more modeling and a less sourcey feel, it will feel much more natural.

I used to use a china ball on a mike boom--very lightweight and easy to fly way off axis as needed. Is there an LED equivalent of this (i.e. quite soft, lightweight source, preferably remotely dimmable)? Haven't looked for it so I don't know if it's out there.
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Old June 17th, 2010, 12:58 AM   #6
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I think Merlin can handle heavier equipment. However, adding a heavy light on top will make the center of gravity higher thus making the setup sway a lot more.

I always have my assistant hold a Comer 900 light follow me and have the light 90 degrees from where I was at. The video looks great! There was once I don't an assistant at a wedding. I asked one of the guests to help me. It works well too.
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