August 27, 2015 at 12:27PM


Wanted: Lighting Advice

I plan to invest in a lighting kit for short filmmaking. Do I go with the affordable hi-output of hot lights and sacrifice flexibility or do I go with the user friendly agility of bi-color LEDs and sacrifice power at same price point?


You have to be careful with bi-color LED lights because only the very recent lights that came out within the last 6-9 months can change color temperature without introducing a noticeable color shift to either green or magenta. The latest generation of Aputure and Lite-Panel bi-color lights don't have this problem.

August 27, 2015 at 1:03PM, Edited August 27, 1:03PM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

Good to know - thanks Guy.

Grant Reinero

August 27, 2015 at 2:49PM, Edited August 27, 2:49PM

Here is a great review of one of the new Aputure lights. He reviews the daylight balanced ones but it also comes in Bi-Color. I have the daylight model coming from B&H this Friday :)

Sawyer Thurston

September 8, 2015 at 11:16PM

I'd say it depends on how in control of the light you want to be. If you are the type that likes complete control of the light in your image I'd say go for more power and get some gels. Also depends on the camera you are using if it is a dslr more light is always better.

August 28, 2015 at 3:47AM, Edited August 28, 3:47AM

Daniel Williford
DP, Editor, Screenwriter, Director

What's your budget? This determines a lot.
What do you plan to shoot? This can determine what kind of lighting instruments will best suit your needs.
Nothing says you can't mix and match. However, most affordable continuous lights have tungsten bulbs. If you can afford them, HMIs are great, and daylight balanced.
To get a tungsten color balance from an HMI, use 3/4 CTO (color temperature orange) gel. You'll lose about 3/4 of a stop of light.
To get daylight color balance from a tungsten lamp, use CTB (color temp blue) gel. You'll lose close to two stops of light.
KinoFlo and Alzo make color balanced CFLs for use in standard Edison sockets.
The Aputure bi color LED Guy mentioned is another inexpensive light, about $300.

August 29, 2015 at 1:46AM

Charlie K

The first lighting kit I bought was an ARRI kit with 750W flood, 650W fresnel, 2x 300W fresnel, and a Chimera softbox. The kit was expensive, but I could immediately realize virtually all of the textbook lighting setups (on a small scale). If you aim to light your scenes using battery power, LEDs cannot be beat. But if you are looking to learn the craft of lighting, the LEDs that are useful for that (ARRI L5-DT, etc) are quite expensive even if they are wonderfully efficient.

I have since transitioned to Joker Bug and ARRI L7-C instruments, but am glad I started with the ARRI hot light kit.

August 29, 2015 at 5:31AM


Thanks Michael - I took your advice and I am very happy with my decision to go with a set of tungsten fresnels. After many hours of experimentation I have been able to roughly approximate the effects I have always admired. The lights are large, heavy and hot but the power and quality of light makes them worth the extra effort. Emotionally, I like that I'm learning to negotiate a traditional technology that has long been an industry standard.

Grant Reinero

September 4, 2015 at 9:39AM, Edited September 4, 9:39AM

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