A quick guide to LED lights for shooting video at home

 

The best way to improve your home-made video is by investing in lighting – here are our top picks for LED lights

 

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A simple light can be all you need to turn your home into a workable studio

 

Got the urge to shoot some video at home? The fact that you’re self-isolating doesn’t mean you have to give up on honing your craft and shooting video, whether it’s using the downtime to self-shoot some videos for social media, or even purely to get some practice in for your own benefit and improving your craft.

You may not think it credible that your kitchen or living room could be an interesting or usable location for shooting video at home, but it’s actually a relatively simple matter to transform pretty much any space into a great video shooting location – the key is to get the lighting right.

At Wex, we stock a huge range of inexpensive, high-performance LED lights that you can use to produce professional-looking video without leaving the house. Whether you need to light yourself, light a location or use some lighting in shot to increase the production value of your images.

But which lighting heads to choose? First up, we’ll explain some key terms for those who are new to LED lighting…

 

Styles and types of LED lighting

 

The majority of the heads we stock at Wex will be one of the following:

- Daylight balanced – with colour temperature optimised to appear roughly the same as natural daylight.

- Bi-colour – switchable or blendable between daylight and tungsten (a common form of indoor lighting).

- RGB LED – extremely versatile heads that are capable of displaying millions of different colours, replicating colour gels, creating special effects and more.

 

We’ve biased towards RGB LED heads in our selections below. Not only are these the most cutting-edge and futureproof of LED lights, but they’ll also give you the greatest suite of creative options when it comes to lighting a location at home.

There are several different types of LED fixtures available, all of which function differently and are best suited for different applications and budgets.

 

Here is a quick overview of the types we’ll be including in this guide:

- Top Lights – These are designed to be physically placed on top of a camera, usually via the hotshoe. For power, they usually take either small camcorder batteries or AAs. Top lights can be single colour temperature, bi-colour and RGB.

- Panels – These are the ubiquitous square/rectangular/sometimes-circular heads that are used for all sorts of applications, particularly interviews. They are often mistakenly thought of as being soft lights: while newer models that have a diffused front can be counted as a softlight, many older examples are simply grids of open-face diodes emitting light that is actually quite hard and unflattering. Many fixtures have V-lock plates built into the back so they can be powered by broadcast-camera batteries out in the field. Panels can be single colour temperature, bi-colour and RGB.

- Flexible heads – These are essentially the same open-face diodes from the traditional panel lights, but mounted onto fabric instead of plastic. This makes them super-lightweight and easy to stow; they are, however, relatively low output.

- Open face – Probably the most popular form of LED lighting at the moment, these are the super-powerful fixtures made by such companies as Aputure and NanLite Forza. These are some of the most interesting lighting solutions on the market at the moment as they incorporate Bowens mounts, meaning we can add lots of our accessories. Open Face LED heads are usually single colour temperature (Daylight) but we are seeing some RGB options coming out as well.

- Tubes – These look like fluorescent tubes, but aren’t. They’re actually LED lights that come in different lengths and usually incorporate a battery. LED Tubes can be single colour temperature, bi-colour and RGB.

 

Without further ado, let’s get to the lights!

 

 

Quick, inexpensive Top Light options for shooters on a budget

 

At Wex, we stock a huge range of Top Lights, and many of them are ideal for home shooters who don’t have a huge amount of budget to spend on their lighting. The most up-to-date versions use RGB LED technology, but all can be a great choice for the home shooter looking for a straightforward lighting solution.

 

Aputure MC RGBWW LED Light

 

A super popular, ultra-compact and well-priced comprehensively packaged RGB head, this tiny but powerful light will slot into any home setup without cluttering things up – it literally fits into the palm of your hand.

 

Aputure MC RGBWW LED Light

Best Seller

£112.95 View

 

 

Falcon Eyes Pocketlite F7 RGB LED Light

 

A compact and comprehensive RGB head designed for Top Light use, the Falcon Eyes Pocketlite F7 RGB LED Light boasts extensive creative control, with sophisticated dimming functionality and a wide range of colour temperatures.

 

 

 

Pilotfly AtomCUBE Rx1 LED Light

 

A robustly built, compact RGB head that can be used anywhere, the Pilotfly AtomCUBE Rx1 LED Light also boasts a dedicated app that you can control with your smartphone, which is useful if you're working on your own.

 

 

 

Vibesta Peragos Disk RGBWW LED Light

 

While it isn’t necessarily a Top Light, the Vibesta Peragos Disk RGBWW LED Light is compact and well-priced enough to be considered in the same category as it’s a similar type of user who will likely be tempted. It’s a small circular RGB head that’s available at a great price.

 

 

 

Larger, more professional options for a soft, wraparound key-light

 

If you’re a more serious shooter, or you’re planning projects that’ll involve filming yourself, then you’ll want to invest in a decent key-light.

The best key lights tend to be nice and soft and also offer extensive colour control, allowing you to achieve precise lighting effects with ease. We’ve picked a few of our favourite options below.

 

Astora SF 100 - Bi-Colour Super-Flood Soft LED Panel Light

 

The diffused front panel of this compact Bi-Colour head allows it to create a nice soft light that wraps around its subject well – an excellent choice for self-shooting or interviews.

 

Astora SF 100 - Bi-Colour Super-Flood Soft LED Panel Light

£599.00 View

 

 

NanLite Mixpanel60

 

A cost-effective and flexible RGB LED head, the NanLite Mixpanel60 also has the capacity to switch between hard and soft light modes. If you need a little more power, we’d also recommend the NanLite MixPanel150, a larger version of the same panel that offers an impressive degree of bright, accurate light.

 

NanLite Mixpanel60

£799.00 View

 

NanLite MixPanel150

£1,149.00 View

 

 

Rayzr MC120 Multi Colour RGBWW Soft LED Panel light

 

 

This well-priced 1x1 RGB panel comes equipped with a built-in V-lock plate, expanding your mounting and rigging options, and also has a built-in library of filter effects, allowing you to get stylish and creative.

 

Rayzr MC120 Multi Colour RGBWW Soft LED Panel light

£825.00 View

 

 

Kino Flo Diva-Lite 21 LED DMX Centre Kit with Case

 

 

A solid investment for the professional filmmaker/freelance camera operator/production company, this is the entry-level option from Kino-Flo. Solidly built and reliable, this is deservedly the current industry standard.

 

Kino FLo Diva-Lite 21 LED DMX Centre Kit with Case

£2,322.00 View

 

 

Flexible fixtures to light the location, and more

 

It’s often important to raise the ambient light level in the room that you shoot in, and that’s just as true when you’re shooting at home. The products in this section are predominantly Open Face LED heads, and they kick out lots and lots of light. What you do with that light is down to you.

Most of the products listed below have Bowens mounts, meaning they can easily be turned into soft lights and used as key lights, lanterns, or – to be honest – pretty much any kind of light you want them to be. These are all single colour-temperature (Daylight in this case).

 

Aputure Light Storm C120d II LED Light

 

Massively popular and for good reason, the Aputure Light Storm 120D Mk II kicks out an output comparable to that of an old 1K Tungsten head, but without the heat or bulk associated with older technology. It’s compatible with Bowens softboxes and similar accessories, though also worth checking out is the range of well-priced accessories made by Aputure themselves.

 

Aputure Light Storm C120d II LED Light

£762.00 View

 

 

Aputure Light Storm C300d II LED Light

 

The larger of the two popular Aputure heads, the Light Storm 300D Mk II can kick out the equivalent output of a 575w HMI. Handy for nearly every application, this again uses a Bowens mount. A great soft key light when used with a softbox, it’s also good for replicating daylight when using the Open Face reflector, and its bright enough to be used in a Lantern setup for table-top and round-table applications.

 

Aputure Light Storm C300d II LED Light

£1,079.00 View

 

 

NanLite Forza300

 

Similar in output to the Aputure C300D II, this Open Face LED has squarer ergonomics and is supplied fully kitted with a rigid-soft case and stand-mountable V-lock battery adapter (though be aware that batteries are not included).

 

NanLite Forza300

£1,049.00 View

 

 

NanLite Forza500

 

The most powerful of the Open Face LED heads, the Forza 500 is the ideal replacement for a 2K tungsten head. It’s ideal for replicating actual daylight when shooting interiors.

 

NanLite Forza500

£1,979.00 View

 

 

Tubes that look good in-shot (as well as lighting it)

 

This is where you have a chance to really get creative. You can use these as key lights, fill lights, back lights – pretty much anything. What’s even better, though, is that they look like lightsabers or neon tubes, so they look great in shot as well. Remember that all of the Top Light options mentioned earlier in this article will also make nice additions to shots that need jazzing up.

Here we recommend a few cost-effective tubes that look as good in the shot as they do lighting it.

 

Nanlite PavoTube 15C

 

Hugely versatile, with a maximum output of 1400 lumens, the Nanlite PavoTube 15C is a short RGB LED Tube with built-in battery. It also has some useful pre-programmed special effects that you can use to get creative and film something a little different.

 

Nanlite PavoTube 15C

£259.00 View

 

 

NanLite PavoTube 30C

 

A longer version of the 15C RGB LED Tube above, the NanLite PavoTube 30C comes equipped with a built-in battery, expanding its versatility for all sorts of different shooting situations.

 

NanLite PavoTube 30C

£359.00 View

 

 

NanGuang RGB88 LED Light

 

You can think of this as a simpler version of the NanLite Pavotube 15c, useful for those on a budget. While it’s an older light, it’ll still work well for most indoor applications and is definitely a handy tool for shooting at home.

 

NanGuang RGB88 LED Light

£209.00 View

 

 

About the Author

Stuart Dennis heads up professional video here at Wex. He has been dealing with the kit requirements of professional filmmakers, camera operators and production companies for 14 years. Find him on Twitter? @Stuart_Dennis

 

 

About the Author

Jon Stapley is a professional journalist with a wealth of experience on a number of photography titles including Amateur Photographer, Digital Camera World and What Digital Camera. See more of his writing at jonstapley.tumblr.com

 

 

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