Gear update…lights (on-camera)

I’ve been compiling lists of gear and today seems like a good time to go over some of it. Most of what I’m checking out below is meant for the smaller (handheld) cameras. So I’m not looking at bulky gear that I attach the camera to – I want gear I can attach to the camera. Some of the information is from my own research and some I picked up cruising around the Internet. Since I’m currently using a Canon HV20 and older JVC GY-DV300u, my preference is lights that can run on their own power with as few cables entangling me as possible. Remember…some of this equipment I have and use…and other stuff I’m daydreaming about because it looks so neat. If you have stuff you’re in love with, let me know.

Lights
You have your choice – on camera or off camera. Tungston or LED. Or even flourescent (none of these for on-camera use though).

On camera lights serve two purposes – fill light when doing an interview and you want to eliminate shadows and main light source on breakers at dark (or in dark areas).
Off camera lights allow you to avoid the “deer in the headlights” look that a straight-on camera light gives subjects.

Tungston on-cam lights
Tungston – The original electronic light source. Warm temperature can be altered with filters or gels. Light head can get hot if left on for long. A real battery drainer if you go for high power. Fortunately with today’s sensitive cameras you don’t need a ton of power.
Sunpak RL-20 Readylite 15 Watt Video Light – Charger Included for around $35. And yep, I have used one of these for several years. Quick recharge, head is not too hot to handhold and puts out a decent light. Disadvantage – no filters to adjust for color temperature changes.
Sony HVL-20DW2K2 20-watt Video Light Kit with Battery and Adapter/runs on Sony NP batteries and can be switched from 10 to 10 watts for around $160. I have an older model of this light and it allows me to make good use of some old batteries I have lying around that i no longer have a camera for. Nice thing is that it doesn’t really seem to heat up that much.

LED on-camera lights
LED – Light Emitting Diodes. Very low energy consumption and cool to the touch/no heat problems. Can run from affordable to ouch.
Litepanels LPMICRO Micro LED on Camera Light/filters included to change from 5600 to 3400/runs on AA batteries/dimmable/around $300
Bescor LED-10K1 10-watt LED On Camera Light Kit/runs on AA batteries/around $65.00
CameraBright X1-ER+ Extended Range Plus – Digital/Video Camera Light (Black)/a lower level LED light and battery all in one for about $38. I’ve ordered a couple for my school. Kinda weird mounting – on the bottom of the camera using a tripod screw. Nice feature is it will automatically turn itself off if you forget. CameraBright makes several cheaper versions without the range of this one (20 feet).
So why pony up the $300 for the Litepanel? Two reasons: you can turn it up down/brighter & dimmer and the filter set allows you to be ready for whatever situation you find yourself in.

Now how to you get that nifty Rennaisance-light look with a simple on-camera light? Grab yourself a low-end light stand (Impact Light Stand – Black, 6′ for about $6) and tape or bracket your on-camera light to it; raise it and place to one side and there you have it.

One of the simple facts of gear is that cameras will come and go…but usually there are few changes in your accessories. Yes, LEDs have moved in as another choice for on-camera lighting in recent times…but if you buy good quality lights, tripods, and mikes, you can keep them through several changes of cameras.

Stay tuned for the next gear update on mikes and tripods. And light kits. Or whatever else strikes my fancy.

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