5 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Film Light

With so many lighting fixtures out there, how do you know which ones to buy?

It can be difficult to purchase the right lights for your projects, especially considering the number of options. Should you get an LED? What kinds of bulbs should you use?Should you go with panels or fresnels or spots or what? It's exhausting trying to figure it all out! However, in this video, Ted Sim from Aputure makes the process a little easier by going over five things you should consider the next time you're in the market for some professional film lights. Check it out below:

What is the beam angle?

The beam angle of a light is important because it tells you how the light is distributed. The spread can be narrow (e.g. 25-degrees) or wide (360-degrees) depending on what kind of unit you go with, so be sure you know what you're going to use the light for before you buy. For example, if you need a light that spreads over an entire scene, you might want to go with a one that has a wider spread, like a china ball or fluorescent tube. On the other hand, if you need more control over your light, units with narrower beam angles, like spots, will let you do so.

What is the output of the light?

If you're not that familiar with lighting you might assume that the higher the output the better the light is, but that's not really how it works. Brighter lights like these are great for illuminating large areas, but they tend to be larger, hotter, and more expensive. If you're shooting in a small area, you probably don't need a light with a high output. Another thing to consider is how well your circuits can handle the output of your light, so if you're shooting at home, you may want to stay away from high wattage bulbs. (If you're shooting with LEDs, this is not usually an issue.)

What is the light's color temperature?

All lights have a color temperature and it's up to you to figure out which lights will give you the look you want for a particular scene. Lights that are lower on the Kelvin scale (1000-5000 K) look very warm in color (orange, amber, red) while other lights that are higher on the scale (6000-10000 K) look very cool (blue, purple, cyan). Also, think about how you will be combining lights. Are you going to use other fixtures with different color temperatures? Are there going to be practical lights in your scene? If you're going to be using a lot of different color temperatures in your project, you might want to go with a bi-color fixture.

Kelvin Color Temperature Scale

What is the color quality of the light?

When you buy a light and turn it on, you expect it to give off the color temperature that is advertised, be it daylight, tungsten, or whatever, but this isn't always so. That's where color quality comes into play. CRI, or color rendering index, is important because the higher that value is, the more accurate that light's color rendering is going to be. High CRI values are crucial for all lights, but especially so if you want to go with an LED light, so try to get one that scores at least a 90-95 or higher.

Does the light make any noise?

This is really simple: does your light have a cooling fan? If so, how much noise does it make? If it's going to interfere with your sound recording, you might want to opt for a different fixture.

What are some other things to consider before buying a professional light for filmmaking? Let us know down in the comments.     

Your Comment

1 Comment

Which comically means that a lot of the Aputure lights aren't enough for a lot of stuff.
Except ofcourse if you are able to put the lights really close to the talent and like that kind of look.

January 1, 2018 at 12:19PM

10
Reply
avatar
Torben Greve
Cinematographer
1066

Don't you ever post anything other than list articles? Top 5 this... top 10 that... the 5 important thing to do when... filler garbage.

January 30, 2018 at 6:57PM

0
Reply