August 27, 2010

Budget buster lights and camframe

We bought a couple of little LED lights from the 7Dayshop for £20 each that are a useful addition for video or stills photography.

Lights off, F5.6, 0.3s, 400 ISO
The 64x LED Video/Camcorder and Photo Modelling Light is fairly basic - it doesn't have a dimmer (just two settings, low with 36 LEDs lit or high with all 64). It fits into a hot shoe, but does come with a handy bracket that allows you mount it off to the side of the camera (you screw it into the camera's tripod mount - especially handy on the many small camcorders that don't have hot shoes). With two you can mount them either side, which is the way we'll usually use them - typically to shoot product shots at exhibitions (which are often poorly lit with black products often displayed on a black background...). Flash guns can be too harsh, especially the camera's built-in flash.

Lights low, F5.6, 1/8th second
The little LED lights can also be overkill if you are in close, when switching to low mode is advisable. We'll put a little pouch of Half Tough Spun filter (from Lee Lighting) over each, to diffuse and soften the effect, especially necessary if shooting people. The three photos on the right are shots of Panasonic's little HDC-SD700 camcorder taken in poor light without the lights, then with them on low and on high, from about 60cm away (as ever, click pic to see full size).

Lights high, F5.6, 1/10th second
The four AA batteries should power it for two to four hours (depending on the mode used). The colour temperature is claimed to be 5,500K (which seems about right), with an output of 480 lumens. It weighs only 198 grams and is prety small, so it won't take up much space in your camera case - although you'll have to take out or reverse a battery for transport as the on/off switch is annoyingly easy to push on...

We have better, fully dimmable lights for video (such as the excellent Dedolight Ledzilla), but these are great value as a simple light for either video or stills (and having just broken a previous LED light used for stills, we needed a replacement). You can also stack several of them together to make one big panel (or pop them around a room or location for a nice moody effect - they can also mount via a standard 1/4-inch socket).

Hague DSLR Camframe

The Hague Digital SLR Camframe in the photo above (with the 7Dayshop lights and Canon EOS 7D) is another new addition to the UrbanFox.TV equipment collection (we wrote about its introduction in June). There are numerous DSLR rigs and "cages" available - almost all of them fairly expensive for what are relatively simple pieces of metal. VFGadget's new DSLR SwissCage Kit costs about $560, while the Letus DSLR Camera Cage costs $699 plus. Both are beautifully made and versatile, but the Hague Camframe does essentially the same job and cost us £65. It makes it easier to hold the camera for low shots (it has a handle at the top of the rig) and you can hold it with both hands in the driving position for fairly stable shots in more normal use.

It can also sit on a tripod and has hot shoes and mounting points for lights, a monitor (very useful if you do low angle shots) and an audio recorder. It was pretty simple to set up and get the right balance point for the 7D (you need a screw driver - or just a coin for the camera plate).

By David Fox

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