December 10, 2014 at 3:23PM


Need help deciding between light set ups

I'm looking to finally purchase some lights of my own. My budget, however, is very small. I'm looking to spend less than $175. I will be using these lights for shooting small scale short narrative films, indoors and out and both during the day and night. I've looked at a number of LED panels and have narrowed it down to the Yongnuo YN-300 (watt light at $68) and the Yongnuo YN-160S (160 watt light at $42).

My question, then, is this: Would 3 160s do a good enough job? Would I end up having to put the lights right up on my actors and limit my frame? Or, alternatively, would 2 300s with the addition of a bounce card be more effective? I would like to have the most control over what's in frame as possible, so lighting is very important. Should I bite the bullet and spend a little extra? I'm looking for these lights to last me a year or so before I can upgrade.

If anyone has any alternate ideas I would be open to them as well.


If I were in your situation, I'd bite the bullet and spend a little bit more. I have no experience with the Yongnuo led lights, but I've seen a few reviews on youtube and various other spots that make the seem like a decent bet for the cost. However, you might run into some green cast with them (which you could fix in post). The problem you'll probably run into with them though, is that you'd probably have to have the pretty close to the subject.

The fact that LEDs are so portable is very enticing, but if you're planning to use them outdoors in daylight, you'll need them to be pretty powerful. So, unless you have a bigger budget, you might want to look into some more powerful tungsten lights. If you're mainly planning on shooting at night outside, you might be able to get away with it. I don't have any specific product suggestions, just my two cents. Hopefully it helps.

December 11, 2014 at 8:58PM

Brad Tennant
Director / Cinematographer

How fast is your lens collection? I know a fast lens isn't a substitute for good lighting, but equally I wonder if sometimes no lighting is better than crappy lighting. So if you can only afford a couple of so-so interview lights then maybe you'd be better off just using practicals with slightly high-wattage bulbs in.

I don't know if you've seen Josh Caldwell's film Layover, but as far as I know most of that was shot with practical lights; Kendy Ty (on Vimeo) shoots without artificial lights and makes amazing looking films with just a 550d and Sigma 30mm.

If you do want to 'light' your films then consider cheap options like china balls, work lights etc. I have some 500w work lights with barn doors attached that can produce a fairly decent look - although you also need lighting stands, gels to maintain colour temp etc. As ever, Film Riot et al have some great videos on making the most of limited kit and budget.

December 12, 2014 at 9:48AM

Jon Mills

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