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Dustin

LED light starter kit

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I currently don't own a lighting kit. I sometimes do shorts/interview type shoots and I would like to have some lights for whatever else I shoot. I am looking at buying two led lighting panels in the near future. Would two aputure amaran 528's be get the job done? They are fairly cheap. Perhaps one in the spot version and one in the flood version?

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You are probably better off getting a tungsten light with a medium soft-box. Not only will the full-spectrum tungsten source likely be more flattering to your interview subjects, but the larger soft-box will be softer (and more flattering) than a smaller LED source. A used soft-box and light on Ebay might save you money, to boot.

A soft-box with a separate focusable light fixture is a versatile kit. On the other hand, a soft-box with a built-in light source (such as a Rifa light) is light-weight, compact, quicker to set-up and more efficient per watt.

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Although tungsten produces a better quality of light, I think a LED light powered by mains / cheap batteries will be a much more practical solution for you if you're self-shooter working on a fairly modest budget. 

The Aputure Amaran 528 claims to have a CRI above 95 which, if you're not familiar with it, refers to the accuracy of colour rendition (measured against a hypothetical reference source) and basically anything over 90 is considered pretty good. That's not to say the self-acclaimed ratings shouldn't be taken with a pinch of salt....

Aputure have a good reputation for making budget equipment, the only suggestion I would make would be to go for the 528s rather than 528w as the former has a wider spread and a slighter higher output which might come in useful, especially if you shoot it through a softbox  / diffusion. 

For interviews on a budget I'd personally go for one softbox to use as a key light, a reflector on a arm for fill if necessary, and a tungsten fresnel (rather than the narrow beam version of the LED) to use as a rim / hair / back light or turing it towards the background to create some separation

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Although tungsten produces a better quality of light, I think a LED light powered by mains / cheap batteries will be a much more practical solution for you if you're self-shooter working on a fairly modest budget. 

The Aputure Amaran 528 claims to have a CRI above 95 which, if you're not familiar with it, refers to the accuracy of colour rendition (measured against a hypothetical reference source) and basically anything over 90 is considered pretty good. That's not to say the self-acclaimed ratings shouldn't be taken with a pinch of salt....

Aputure have a good reputation for making budget equipment, the only suggestion I would make would be to go for the 528s rather than 528w as the former has a wider spread and a slighter higher output which might come in useful, especially if you shoot it through a softbox  / diffusion. 

For interviews on a budget I'd personally go for one softbox to use as a key light, a reflector on a arm for fill if necessary, and a tungsten fresnel (rather than the narrow beam version of the LED) to use as a rim / hair / back light or turing it towards the background to create some separation

I see! I've done some research but honestly I'm just a bit overwhelmed by the SELECTION of gear lol. Any particular brand recommendations for the setup you just described? Maybe all under 200-400?

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I have the Aputure Amaran HR672 which is somewhere between the 528 and the Light Storm. I only used it a bunch of times but it is quite nice to use, it comes with a diffusor, a color filter, a wall plug cable and 2 batteries which was a huge surprise to me. Usability is great but I'm not sure they're really robust so try to avoid dropping them.

One little annoyance is that you have to take the batteries out when you don't use it or they'll slowly discharge. But the handy little transport case anyway doesn't allow storage with the batteries installed.

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I looked at the "Impact" kits at B&H, and I think the fixture reflectors are too big for use with umbrellas.  They remind me of the old Smith-Victor units.  Also, there might be a better DIY solution than these Impact/Smith-Victor sets.

 

In regards to the LEDs, the battery power capability can certainly come in handy, and LEDs are better suited to battery power due to their greater efficiency-per-watt.

 

However, if you are shooting sit-down interviews and narrative shorts, I really think that you will be better off in the long run getting a tungsten kit.  The LED panels in question here are too small to use directly for nicely flattering interviews, and they just don't have the punch needed to enlarge them with diffusion/reflectors to a flattering size.  Furthermore, for much of your narrative work, you will probably need light fixtures with a more controllable beam than LEDs.

 

I scanned for a few used kits on Ebay:

This one is certainly a deal for US$300-US$400.

Here is another interesting one.

This kit could work, too.

This deal is interesting (it includes a 1k light focusable light), but you would need to add at least one umbrella, and those old stands probably don't work as smoothly as they used to.

Adorama is offering this bare bones package that needs at least one umbrella and a set of doors for the Omni light.   The stands are no-name, as is the included soft case.

 

For interviews, you might want to eventually add a medium soft-box or a larger umbrella to all of these kits.

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I think I'll try this setup described, a main led light and a reflector plus a smaller light. I'm familiar with lighting setups and have used a regular umbrella light kit, I just don't own one and really want to up my lighting game (considering I'm used to relying on the on-location lighting...)

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Hi!

I've got 3 Aputures (HR672W, HR672S and H198C), all great performers... For new comers: the W at the end of the model name stands for "Wide", S for "Spot", and C for "Color" (You can change the colour temperature). 

I was going to buy a Lightstorm LS 1S, because I wanted something a bit more powerful, but after looking around I finally bought a pair of these... 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Excelvcan®-Brightness-Wireless-Photography-Camcorder/dp/B011HXW2UY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1453004116&sr=8-2&keywords=excelvan+1040

And I can say I'm very pleased...

They're built like a tank, very powerful (nearly twice the power of a HR672S), 95+ cri (great color... tested side by side, as good as my Aputures), they work with V-lock batteries (I get 3 hours of max power with a 177Wh Kayo Maxtar Battery), they've got barn doors, a good small remote control, and they're cheap (you can buy 3 for the price of a Lightstorm) but they don't look cheap.

Cons? A bit on the heavy side, a few plastic parts (but at least they don't feel cheap) and the warm filter doesn't match the aputure warm filters... and to be honest I don't know which one's more accurate (I'll use the transparent filters on both and ad a gel if I have to mix em). 

I totally recommend the Kayo Maxtar Battery too... 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00RN76282/ref=sr_ph?ie=UTF8&qid=1453008964&sr=1&keywords=kayo+maxtar

It comes with a fast charger (chargers in 2/3 hours max! not days like the NP-F batteries). I'm getting a couple more soon (that's if the Ursa Mini 4.6K ever comes out)...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The daylight vs. tungsten suggestions… they're really two different animals and eventually you need both.

I've yet to see an affordable LED panel that will outdo a quad biax fixture. You can get a quad for under 300 bucks these days, sometimes close to $200. As far as delivering the photons, very similar to led, in that you need some diffusion.

If I were flat broke and starting out?
$500: Quad and dual biax;
$60:   A used tungsten fresnel, 6", that can be lamped in the 650-1k range - eBay is full of them;
$30    A dimmer (or "router speed control")
$25    An open-faced tungsten, preferably a rectangular theatrical unit with barn doors that can take 100-1k pencil-shape globes;
$20 - $300: Some sort of frame & diffusion system, from a pop-up diffuser with the zipper sleeves to a scrim jim setup or one of the myriad systems out there;
$70   A 3" 300 watt fresnel if I could find a deal;
$20   A popup reflector or reflector panel.

And, of course, stands.

That would give you the ability to do tungsten and daylight; you'd have trouble doing low-key work that requires a softbox and grid, but you could overcome that to some extent with duvatyne and more stands. (Gel the 6" fresnel with 1/2 CTB for daylight shoots and use it for hair or backgrounds without killing all its kick). You wouldn't be able to hold window views when shooting interiors, but that's getting to HMI levels. 

I've rented tota lights but they're stupidly overpriced and the barn doors are like someone's joke on the buyer.  There's all sorts of open-faced tungsten out there used, from rectangle theatricals (I have about 6 of those, they're insanely handy) to smith-victor cans to redheads.

If you can find a good deal on a used Photoflex Starlite with a softbox, that gives you 500 or 1k tungsten in a softbox (and you can stick a 400 HID mogul in them with a ballast - that's actually become my main interview light when I don't need bigger HMI stuff).

Yeah, LEDs are the latest-greatest thing, but if you want one that can give you more lumens than a 400-watt open faced fresnel, you need to spend some bucks. (And 400 watts through diffusion doesn't give you much leeway for many situations). I do plenty of work with a kit similar to the above list (though the 400 HID stuff goes out more often, there's usually a quad biax in the case as well, it's very fast to set up if I'm in fairly close and spill isn't an issue). 

 

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I just bought a pair of Yongnuo's new YN300 III LEDs for £40 each. They're 5500K, 95CRI (apparently), flicker free, with barn doors (good for pegging diffusion to), dim-able and so far live up to the description. I've owned one YN LED panel for a year or two and its served me well. These new ones can be linked wirelessly so you can use one control for all of them. I use three together on a three-way hotshoe/umbrella light stand clamp, so have got 900 quality LEDs with no noisy fan for £120. I'm struggling to find a downside to this setup for daylight stuff...

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For simple interviews (1 or 2 people siting together)... I would get this...

Aputure HR672S with a softbox like this as a key light:

http://www.amazon.com/Godox-Portable-Umbrella-Reflector-Speedlight/dp/B0132I34K4/ref=sr_1_7?s=photo&ie=UTF8&qid=1453124246&sr=1-7&keywords=softbox

The HR672 series includes an adapter that works perfectly with this type of softboxes (I position the LED facing out).

An Aputure AL-198C as a back light. I also recommend (if your budget allows it) a Manfrotto super-clamp and a magic arm so you can position it anywhere.

As a fill light I would get a big reflector (get one with black so you can use it as a negative fill too), with an adapter like this:

http://www.amazon.com/Neewer®-Portable-Photography-Background-Reflector/dp/B00KMOH26E/ref=pd_sim_sbs_421_13?ie=UTF8&dpID=41UCvUjoIbL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR160%2C160_&refRID=1E1V3ACJ3EAXDBQY1CKV

Now you just have to ad two cheap tripods to the mix...

I love LEDs because of the cable-less experience... it's priceless!

 

 

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I just bought a pair of Yongnuo's new YN300 III LEDs for £40 each. They're 5500K, 95CRI (apparently), flicker free, with barn doors (good for pegging diffusion to), dim-able and so far live up to the description. I've owned one YN LED panel for a year or two and its served me well. These new ones can be linked wirelessly so you can use one control for all of them. I use three together on a three-way hotshoe/umbrella light stand clamp, so have got 900 quality LEDs with no noisy fan for £120. I'm struggling to find a downside to this setup for daylight stuff...

Wow these look hard to beat for the price. I love my Yongnuo Flash, have absolutely no issues with it. My consider this. Gonna have to be after I buy a new camera though. But this doesn't sound like a bad deal at all.

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Wow these look hard to beat for the price. I love my Yongnuo Flash, have absolutely no issues with it. My consider this. Gonna have to be after I buy a new camera though. But this doesn't sound like a bad deal at all.

Yup they're great. Make sure you go for the mark III version though. They're a step above the old 'mark one'.

They take Sony NP-F batteries, which can be bought for peanuts on eBay. The NP-F970's (the largest ones) last well over 2 hours.

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Yup they're great. Make sure you go for the mark III version though. They're a step above the old 'mark one'.

They take Sony NP-F batteries, which can be bought for peanuts on eBay. The NP-F970's (the largest ones) last well over 2 hours.

I just found an awesome video review showing a short filmed entirely with the YN 300 and YN 600. They also showed using a diffuser for softer light. Do you find yourself doing this?

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I just bought a pair of Yongnuo's new YN300 III LEDs for £40 each. They're 5500K, 95CRI (apparently), flicker free, with barn doors (good for pegging diffusion to), dim-able and so far live up to the description. I've owned one YN LED panel for a year or two and its served me well. These new ones can be linked wirelessly so you can use one control for all of them. I use three together on a three-way hotshoe/umbrella light stand clamp, so have got 900 quality LEDs with no noisy fan for £120. I'm struggling to find a downside to this setup for daylight stuff...

There's always a downside - lighting is a compromise. In this case it's lumens. A YN300 has less output than ONE 55w biax lamp. Not one fixture, but one tube (biax tube 2900 lumens, YN300 2280 lumens, according to their site). You'd need three of them to surpass one dual biax fixture.

I know people really love the idea of LED panels, but... I really like having a lot of light available. We're just now seeing panels with a really useful output, and they're in the $1k range. I can get a 575 HMI for that if I shop around. "But you can't run that on a battery". True, but in the last 5 years of shooting, I've never shot an interview or a project where I needed battery lights - there's always been power within reach, and when I've needed light outdoors, 2000 lumens wouldn't even register on the sensor.

If I were doing news or something, maybe - there are careers where LED panels can make your day easier, I'm sure... but I get at least a few minutes setup time in my kind of gigs. If you generally shoot within an extension cord's reach, you can get a lot more light for reasonable money. I'm not an LED hater, but it seems like every kid who buys a DSLR starts shopping for LEDs when they really could do better. (Not saying the OP or contributors are "kids", but LEDs have become a newbie lust item it seems - think it through before buying!)

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If I were doing news or something, maybe - there are careers where LED panels can make your day easier, I'm sure... but I get at least a few minutes setup time in my kind of gigs. If you generally shoot within an extension cord's reach, you can get a lot more light for reasonable money. I'm not an LED hater, but it seems like every kid who buys a DSLR starts shopping for LEDs when they really could do better. (Not saying the OP or contributors are "kids", but LEDs have become a newbie lust item it seems - think it through before buying!)

No offense taken. I'm not a "kid" actually. Sure I'm young in my twenties but anyways, when I started this thread I was looking for ideas for a cheap lighting kit. Unfortunately I now have to buy a camera but I've seen all kinds of great ideas here. Really glad this website exists!

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