February 3, 2015 at 5:35PM

1

Best LED Key light for 2-person interviews

Been doing a lot of interviews lately and thought I could get by with F&V's R-300 ring lights (I have 4 of them). The problem's been once I throw the softbox on them, I'm struggling to get good exposure at f/4 without getting really close or of course removing the softbox. I knew I'd need to upgrade eventually, just didn't think it would be so soon.

Anyways, any recommendations for an LED light that would be my primary key light. It would need to be powerful enough to light two people at least down to their torsos, w/o having to be too close.

My budget is around the $1000 range.

20 Comments

You can buy 3 F&V K4000 1x1 lights and a case to carry them for $1,050 US. The K4000 lights have about 3 times the light output of the R-300 ring-lights. Because of the larger surface area they are also a little softer than the R-300 lights. The big drawback to the K4000 lights is that they use the large and very expensive V-Lock batteries when not running from their AC adapter.

If you can wait a couple of months, there should be a bunch of new LED lights shown at the NAB 2015 show in April. I am hoping to find something like the K4000 lights but with better color. ( affordable CRI 95 lights would a treat )

February 3, 2015 at 10:15PM, Edited February 3, 10:15PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30863

Thx! Going the 3x1x1 route is definitely an option, but I was thinking more in terms of one key light to go with the ring lights I already have. Ideally that one 1x1 would be powerful enough, and have a wide enough spread (with a softbox), to light two people. Then I'd just use the ring lights as fill and back. To me, a 1x1+2/3 ring lights would be a much lighter/portable kit compared to 3x1x1s. Does this make sense?

February 4, 2015 at 12:04AM

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Ty Harper
Producer/Documentarian/Broadcaster
149

The brightest 1x1 that I've seen to date is the new LitePanels Astra light, which is about 3 times brighter than the F&V K4000. It's not a cheap light ( about $1300 ), but it's about the only bright bi-color 1x1 on the market with very good color accuracy. I am waiting for the Daylight ONLY version of this light, which should be 1 F-stop brighter than the bi-color version.

February 4, 2015 at 9:03AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30863

Cool, The Astra is actually the one i was looking at as well, just wanted to see if anyone else would mention it or other options with the same or better performance specs. At least I know I'm on the right path, thx!

Ty Harper

February 4, 2015 at 3:23PM

Take care about the led lights. There are a lot of led lights prepare for shoot but is not. Becarfull with this caps less light.

February 5, 2015 at 1:10PM, Edited February 5, 1:10PM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
8110

Take a look at Aputure :-

http://www.aputure.com/Amaran-HR672

I'm using 3 of the 672C's for interviews.

February 6, 2015 at 12:52PM

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Aditya Kapur
Cinematographer
62

I'm interested in these new lights since they came out, have you compared its output with other LED panels? I do mostly interviews with 3 softboxed CFL lights (2x150 W each).

Raya Fahreza

February 6, 2015 at 9:08PM

Already great answers here. I've found that the softbox is just as important if not more so, than which brand of LED panel.

Aditya is right-on about the 672C's... they also have battery-powered capabilities. I've had good luck with the "Fancier" brand--they're a bit cheaper but mine came with a temperature knob as well as a dimmer. Unfortunately no battery power.

What I'll toss into the ring is the Airbox Inflatable Softbox. It evens the light out in a room beautifully. They are well worth the price for improving LED lighting.

http://airboxlights.com/products/model-1x1-page

February 6, 2015 at 9:04PM, Edited February 6, 9:04PM

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Bob Peck
Director
93

Hey Bob,

Which brand of LED's have you been using?

The Amaran 672's come in three variants :-

672S where S stands for Spot.
672W where W stands for Wide.
672C where C stands for Color.

I had one S version of their older models knows as the 528S. Would use it mostly with an umbrella if I wanted to soften it. It's CRI value was 88 or so, and wouldn't look too natural on a persons face if I tried to have it emulate daylight. It had a very violet shade.

I decided I had to trade light intensity for something that was CT changeable so that I could get the perfect color whenever I wanted. They upgraded their LED's and now claim the LED's have a CRI value of 95+. Hence I bought 3 672C's. These have a dimmer and a CT knob. They also ship with two Sony batteries which power the device. The color coming out of the LED's are great now. Big improvement.

Hope this helps,
Aditya

Aditya Kapur

February 7, 2015 at 1:47PM

I have 4 of these (Amaran 500 LED) and they are fantastic. http://www.amazon.com/Aputure-Amaran-AL-528W-LED-Light/dp/B00CBAVWG8

I get great front lighting for 1 person for one of these, so add a second for the other person, and one or two for back lights, and you get a great look. If you look harder, you can find them all for pretty cheap, about $140 each for me. I've used them for a few months now and they take a beating pretty well.

If you want to see the lights in action, you can see what it looks like here.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGvQj0uEnlc&list=PLHlCjeHVmwFHdAQT2YxxJR...

All lights are on about 75% power. F/4, 1/60sec, iso 640.

February 7, 2015 at 12:01AM

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CN-600SD Studio LED Light.
$210 (using AC Power. Minimum cost of $130 or more for the Sony V-Mount Battery).

About 1'x1'.
Smooth dimming (doesn't jump).
Uses 36W.
Without filter it's rated at 5600K and comes with a filter that rates to 3200K.

Yes spending more will get you more, but I simply love this panel. If you need it for indoor use, I see no reason to jump at the V-Mount battery - but having one is the only way to take it on location.

February 7, 2015 at 2:08AM

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Kris Monroe
Director of Photography / Writer
93

I believe this would solve your problem (CAME-TV High CRI Bi-Color 2 X 1024 LED Video LightsTV Lighting $1,048) and this video from Tom Antos would do to you what it did to me which is why i now have this sweet LED ... It has a touch screen at the back of it for dim control and white balance control and also has a nob for same controls.

http://www.came-tv.com/cametv-high-cri-bicolor-2-x-1024-led-video-lights...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DL4c21kAUk

Hope this helps

February 7, 2015 at 2:31AM

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Chris Ezeani
Executive Director KNOWHOWTvLiVE
74

I started out with a single http://www.lacolorpros.com/product/?CM1800-Comer-CM-LBPS1800-On-Camera-L...(Sony-Battery) which has a huge output, you could point it at the ceiling / reverse bounce it at them or buy a tiny softbox from ebay but it looks a bit whacky - after that I went to three of the Comer variable colour CM-LED5500k panels with 3 x 190a AntonBauer batteries - I got it with the rolling case and also a single carry case - with a diffusion panel on just 1 they are quite amazing, the light output is sensational and 1 battery lasts me 5-6 hours. Have used them fortnightly for three years or so? Fantastic kit - that said, airline regulations have changed and 160a is the largest capacity you can carry - so I'm going to buy some smaller (the 130as?) to fly with (I'm in Australia).

http://www.lacolorpros.com/product/?CM5500-Comer-CM-LED5500K-Broadcast-a...

One of the lights has got a slight green tinge to it as a DOP pointed out to me I was working with, he himself has 1x1's he got no-name though I think they were an ebay version of http://www.came-tv.com/video-lights-led-lights-high-cri-c-19_25.html - recently I bought a steadicam through came-tv and would happily buy from them again - their prices are amazing, seems like 50-60% of what the Comer stuff costs from LAColor?

I noted they have a softbox for $35 - http://www.came-tv.com/soft-box-with-grid-for-1024-led-video-light-p-608... so I might go measure up my Comer's and see if they fit 35x35 as I've been looking for a softbox / eggcrate front for them for a while.

Lastly for the last three jobs I've left the LED panels at home and been taking a pair of Icelights with me - http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/839342-REG/Westcott_5500_LED_Ice_L.... They were relatively pricey and the battery life is terrible, I wouldnt trust them to go beyond 15, but if you don't mind plugging them in they are gorgeous - though they require you to get close to the subject. I've been putting them on the edge of frame either overhead or sideways -

Icelights only:

1 https://scontent-b-nrt.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpf1/v/t1.0-9/10959542_10153... (photo taken earlier today)

2 https://scontent-b-nrt.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xaf1/v/t1.0-9/1501721_101528...

3 2 x Comer's pushing through a roadflag diffuser screen...

https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpf1/v/t1.0-9/544920_1...

..with 2 icelights at short range on the other side of the cutter (the light goes up and down all day in Melbourne so I thought if we cut out the window and use constant daylight up close it would work and it did - we had 12 people across 2 days come through the setup)

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfa1/v/t1.0-9/10154929...

.. Icelights were in a crossbar screwed together:

https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfp1/v/t1.0-9/954732_1...

Good luck :)

February 7, 2015 at 7:46AM

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Philip Bateman
Bravo Charlie - The world is waiting for your story™
86

We decided to use the Pixapro led100 for key.
http://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/product/pixapro-led-100d-studio-light/
It is very powerful, albeit not on battery power. But for our needs we decided to have the key light on mains power, all the other lights (fill, hair, background etc.) are battery powered. For us this was the best compromise between light output vs. ease of set up. The light is so powerful, it gives you a lot of flexibility; you can even shoot with a window in the background. From a portability point of view it is not that bad either; more bulky than a 1x1, but no that much. From the same company you can also get low cost - good quality soft boxes.

February 7, 2015 at 6:55PM

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Appreciate all the responses! So far I'm leaning towards Litepanel's Astra 1x1s although the CAME-TV leds seem slightly interesting (thx Chris!). They seem pretty bright and the price point is great too, but it seems like you really get what you pay for as far as overall build goes. The other issue I see is their dubious `Hi CRI' claim, which means nothing w/o a quantitative # (CRI rating). Anyone else got experience, comparisons with F&V/Litepanels, or a solid CRI rating?

IUJustin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIIpr_n9j60

Film Path comparison review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_4aBOOfXYw

Tomantos Films comparison review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DL4c21kAUk

Anyone got more hard info on this brand, namely: CRI rating, how it compares to the F&V and Litepanels brands?

Thx!

February 10, 2015 at 11:19PM

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Ty Harper
Producer/Documentarian/Broadcaster
149

We usually use 3 LED lights + 2 softbox lights for interviews.

http://www.shootinchina.com

April 20, 2015 at 11:02AM

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Lighting two people with one LED source is tough; I generally don't use the same key for more than one person unless the key is both big and relatively far back so the falloff between the two is not apparent. When possible, use as big a source as you can. If you're just using one LED panel w/ a softbox on it, you could favor the person who's darker toned and maybe get away with it. Another way to make your key source bigger on a budget is to hang up a shower curtain liner out in front of the panel, far enough away so that you mostly fill up the diffusion. That material (clear etched PVC sheet) is one of the more efficient diffusers out there. You can buy the same stuff (half soft frost) from Lee or Rosco at 125$ a roll instead too if you have extra $ ;). It will look much cleaner/more pro if you have a horizontal member at the top of it, like a little aluminum light stand held in a cardellini in the top of a c-stand, with the curtain clipped to it with spring clamps. The pros use a section of a frame or tubing to make a goalpost or t-bone, but lots of low budget folks don't have 8' pieces of tubing in their cars, so a telescoping light stand will have to do.

When you can't hang up a large piece of diffusion, softboxes are much more convenient. +1 on the Airbox Lights softboxes ( https://airboxlights.com ) comment- they work on all of the panels that have been mentioned in this thread, Astras, Comers, Came-tv, F&V ring lights, even the Aputures in a pinch. Great if you've got mismatched panels, which it sounds like many of you do, and want to be able to use your softboxes across all of them. The most convenient fast + cheap softening solution for panels out there, in my humble opinion. Not the only way to do it at all, but an affordable and effective one. But then again, I'm biased- I developed those products. Forgive me for the self-promotion, but I am a working gaffer and I use my Airboxes all the time. Without my interest I would still recommend them in this thread.

As far as brightest panels? The Astra is probably the brightest bi-color right now that I've worked with. I kind of like the Dracast and Flolight panels too- they are super bright for an old-fashioned design panel. They're in the neighborhood of 1000$ for a single-color panel. I think they both use the same factory. I did some color and output testing ( https://airboxlights.com/led-panel-comparison-color-charts-vectorscopes-... )on all the panels I could get access to. Unfortunately I couldn't test any of the inexpensive Chinese panels like came-tv et al. I would have liked to see how they stood up to the pricier panels.

When one regular panel isn't bright enough, remember you can always stack two next to each other, either butting the edges of the softboxes together so it looks like a single source, or shooting both of them through a large freestanding piece of diffusion.

Brighter but more esoteric LED sources:
Aadyntech LED fixtures are crazy bright- replacement for hmi level! $$$ though.

The remote phosphor LED fixtures (Area 48 soft or Cineo LS/Maverick) are much brighter than regular LED panels, really good color, but pricier and chew through batteries pretty fast. All of them are well north of 2 grand USD.

Kind of weird option from the news world- Frezzi hylight and Frezzi skylight. Single-emitter very bright LED, designed to be bright enough to be used as fill outside in the daylight. Not that expensive. be advised I haven't shot with it, just checked it out and played with it at trade shows. BRIGHT. Wouldn't use it on people's faces without something in front of it like a frame or softbox.

Hope this helps.
Tom Guiney
Oakland, CA
DP and Gaffer

September 23, 2015 at 5:51PM, Edited September 23, 6:36PM

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Tom Guiney
Dp and Gaffer
1

Tom, there is so much variation in price for the various LED light panels out there, and I was wondering if I could get some guidance from you, since you are obviously very experienced. I am looking into purchasing my first set of light panels. The Litepanel Astra and Dracast 1000 bi-color seem to be universally well-regarded, but then I've read positive reviews of the Aputure lights, which seem similar and sell for considerably less. Does the "you get what you pay for" rule apply here, and should I pay up for Litepanel/Dracast, or do some of the lower-cost brands offer similar functionality at a lower price point? And does anyone have an opinion on Litepanel Astra vs. Dracast 1000 Bi-color?

If I'm going to pony up $2000+ on this stuff, I just want to make sure I'm making an informed decision. Thank you for your help!

Ray

October 6, 2015 at 10:53AM

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R Lin
74

My Dracast LED1000 plus bi colors should arrive Thursday. If anyone is interested, I'll post my thoughts up. I normally with with the K5600 joker combo (400 & 800) and kinos for interviews but they are out of my budget to own for my "house lights".

December 1, 2015 at 9:47AM

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Charles C
DP/Gaffer
1

Maybe late but, I use this.
http://www.thelight.com.es/products/velvet-light/

I have worked a lot with Velvet and Panel series. No fan, very powerful and made in aluminium. You will find a little bit expensive but my own experience is that if you want to be sure about the results, this is one of the best. And sure it will last for years (My first tripod was a cheap Libec, passed away 3 years after. Now I have an O'Connor since 1998, so at last, budget is relative!).

February 27, 2016 at 10:49AM

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