The best video lights are one of the most important things to invest in if you want to improve the production value of your video material. Natural light is a temperamental beast, and no matter what discipline you’re working in, it’s critical to be able to create a beautiful light for your subject. This is when video lights come in handy.
You might envision pricey studio lamps on stands, but a video light can be as simple as an LED panel attached to a camera’s hot shoe. Whether you’re shooting full-length films or simple TikToks, knowing how to use light properly will make a huge impact.
A decent light allows you to adjust exposure levels in a scene, allowing you to keep more detail in the shadows and highlights.
You may also start generating effects with your lights once you’re acquainted with them, using different colors to inspire different moods or even to replicate things like a flickering TV or an emergency vehicle’s blue flashing light.
Lights can aid in the telling of a narrative. The fact that video lights are now considerably less expensive than they ever were has democratized the skill, allowing more people than ever to grasp the fundamentals.
So, in our guide to the best video lights, we’ve tried to pick units that are both affordable and capable, so they can be used by almost any videographer, whether they’re using a DSLR or an iPhone.
We’ve chosen lights in a variety of price ranges, so there should be something for everyone. So let’s get this party started!
1. Rotolight NEO II
The NEO II is an excellent choice for photographers who will be shooting stills one day and video footage the next.
This is because the NEO II has both a High-Speed Sync flash mode and a more traditional continuous LED light delivery.
The NEO II has a built-in kуроrt 2 thanks to a collaboration with lnсhrоm.
4 GHz wireless flаh receiver that can wirelessly sync up to 10 light in four groups and, even better, the photographer can make changes from up to 200 meters (656 feet) away.
The power options are equally versatile: use it indoors with a mains socket or carry it outside with 6x AA batteries.
The battery life is outstanding, with Rotolight claiming that the NEO II can run for 1.5 hours at full power.
Videographers can utilize the NEO II to send warm or cool light (or a mix of both) to the subject thanks to its adjustable color temperature of 3150-6300K.
Three mounting points around the circumference of the spherical NEO II allow the light to be attached to a cold shoe or a customized handle for handholding.
Move the light during a shoot, and the NEO II’s small size will let you place it in tight areas for a creative effect.
To help videographers on a budget get even more creative, the NEO II has some built-in lighting effects that mimic things like lightning, fire, and even the muzzle flash of a gun – a hugely useful feature at this price point that will undoubtedly improve the production values of videographers on a budget.
The NEO II also includes four filter choices (full and half diffusion, cosmetic peach skin diffusion, and magenta), which should aid videographers in fine-tuning the lighting appearance.
Users may install barn doors or a softbox to further control and modulate the light, which is measured at 2000 LUX at 0.9 meters, according to Rotolight. The LEDs have a lifespan of 100,000 hours and feature Flicker-Free Technology, according to Rotolight.
While the NEO II may not be the best light for lighting large outdoor settings, its versatility and cutting-edge features demonstrate that big things can come in small packaging.
2. Light Storm C120D II LED Light by Aputure
The Storm C120D II is a large, powerful light that looks like a monobloc strobe. It’s meant for professional video projects and improves on the previous C120D model in several crucial areas.
The power output is very impressive, with 30,000 LUX at 0.5 meters.
Videographers who want to fine-tune their scene can use a strapless brightness control to change the light’s power from 0 to 100, eliminating any jarring leaps when the power is adjusted.
The usage of remote control allows users to rapidly turn on/off the unit and change the power without having to leave the camera – a huge time saver.
It comes with a rotation yoke bracket that mounts on top of your usual light stand and allows you to quickly angle the light up and down to make sure it’s pointing where it should be, which is very useful if you’re using many lights.
If you have any softboxes or other modifiers with a Bowens S mount, you’ll be happy to know that they’ll work with the C120D II as well.
You’ll be able to soften the light without having to spend a lot of money on specialist softboxes. Despite being heavier than your normal LED light,
The C120D II weighs only 2.2kg, making it light enough for filmmakers to carry from job to job.
Paparazzi, Fireworks, Fault bulbs, Lighting, and TV are among the pre-programmed effects, allowing users to be more creative with their filming.
Users can change the color temperature of the C120D II to a perfect daylight color temperature of 5500K by connecting color filters to the front element of the camera.
The light comes with a travel bag, allowing you to move it safely. The C120D II is appropriate for both indoor and outdoor shots and may be powered by either mains or a portable battery.
3. Lumimuse 8 LED Light by Manfrotto
There will be occasions when carrying a larger LED light around is simply not an option, and in these cases, the Manfrotto Lumimuse 8 could come in handy.
The tiny light may be attached to your camera’s hot shoe mount and operated over Bluetooth by your iOS smartphone.
The unit is made up of eight LED lights that provide 550 LUX and should not be mistaken with the non-Bluetooth variant (at 1 meter).
The Manfrotto device is therefore ideal for vlogs or product videography. You may, of course, utilize the LED as continuous lighting in your still picture as well.
The Lumimuse 8’s mobility is one of its main selling points, which will appeal to filmmakers who prefer to travel light and shoot on the fly.
The light, which weighs only 160g and is powered by a built-in lithium rechargeable battery, won’t be a bother during extended sessions.
This means that if your batteries run low during shooting, you can simply plug in a power bank through USB and recharge in between shots.
If you want to elevate the LED into a certain direction while filming, a cold shoe mount adaptor allows you to slot it onto your camera or attach it onto tripod support or even a monopod.
When utilizing the unit’s button, you can control the power output in four steps (25 percent, 50 percent, 75 percent, and 100 percent), but if you want, you can modify power remotely using the free Lumimuse App on your iOS device.
By moving the slider control on-screen, you can go from 0-100. You may believe that it isn’t much you can do to change the light because of its design.
However, Manfrotto has thought of this, and the Lumimuse 8 comes with a set of clip-on filters that let you modify the color temperature, which is set at a daylight-friendly 5600K.
4. Profoto C1 Plus
Not everyone shoots video with a DSLR, and with recent technological advancements, an increasing number of vloggers are opting to record footage with their smartphones.
Why not, when they’re capable of capturing stunning 4K footage? The C1 Plus from Profoto is the ideal LED for this crowd, as it can be used for both still photography and video.
Given the C1 Plus’s small size, a built-in rechargeable Li-Polymer battery allows the unit to provide over 40 minutes of continuous light at full power.
This also implies that it can flash over 2000 times on a single battery.
The flicker-free continuous light ensures smooth-light footage, and the battery charges in just two hours via a USB-C connection, allowing you to charge while on the go.
The C1 Plus is compatible with Profoto’s AirTTL remotes and may be used with a variety of accessories, such as grids to control the light or a variety of colored gel filters to change the color temperature of the scene.
The accessors are connected by a magnetic mount, which reduces operation time and eliminates the need for fiddly screw-on fittings.
The C1 Plus is small enough to be held in your hand, but it also has a 1/4″-20 mount for mounting to a light stand if you prefer.
According to Profoto, the C1 Plus has a CRI (Colour Rendering Index) of above 90, which is excellent and indicates that the light quality is good.
Videographers should keep in mind that the C1 is another product in the line, but only the C1 Plus can connect to accessories, putting it at the top of the line and making it better suited for video production.
5. Westcott Ice Light 2
This is the only LED light that will make you feel like Luke Skywalker.
When you’d prefer to manually position the light source in the scene, or when you’re filming a tracking shot and need a handy LED to move alongside the camera, the Ice Light 2 is ideal.
This is Ice Light’s second incarnation, and Westcott claims that the new version is 50 percent brighter than the first.
The Ice Light 2 is powered by a chargeable lithium-ion battery that can be charged both inside and outside of the light.
This means the cameraman can keep a few extra batteries in their backpack in case the power supply runs out. The Ice Light 2 has a one-hour run time at full power.
The Ice Light 2’s light is daylight-balanced at 5500K, and the LEDs are rated for over 50,000 hours of use, which should give you plenty of confidence.
The Ice Light 2 receives a high score of 97 on the Colour Rendering Index (CRI), which measures a light source’s ability to correctly show the colors of various objects, and the power level may be changed across 18 stages.
A snap-on gel filter produces Tungsten-style warming with a temperature of 3200K to move to a warmer color temperature.
If you want to use your colored gels, Westcott provides a set of special clips to keep them in place.
The Ice Light 2 can be recharged with an adapter that plugs into your car’s 12v outlet between shots, and there’s even a barn door optional component if you need to shape the light even more.
The Ice Light 2 has a connection socket that allows two units to be connected to multiply the effect on-set, and it also has Bluetooth.
Because of the free app, the LED may be operated remotely using your smartphone. Finally, flicker-free technology assures seamless footage.
1. Hard and Soft
Lights can be classified into one of two categories: hard or soft.
A modest light source placed close to the subject will cast intense and distinct shadows with high contrast.
A light source that wraps around the subject because it is larger than the subject is considered a harsh light, whereas a light source that wraps around the subject because it is larger than the subject is considered a soft light, resulting in indistinct shadows and low contrast.
So, why is it so difficult to see the sun on a hot summer day? Because, despite its massive size, the sun is extremely distant and small in the sky in comparison to Earth.
If there is any cloud cover, the lighting becomes diffuse and everything appears soft.
Another thing to remember is that the closer a light source gets to the topic it’s illuminating, the softer the light seems. Regardless matter the light source employed, this is true.
Hard light is found in incandescent lights and electronic flash by nature, whereas soft light is made by taking hard light and diffusing it with diffusers or softboxes, and is also a typical feature of LED and fluorescent lighting.
2. Intensity of light
Understanding how light works and how to use it in photography requires knowledge of lux and lumens.
To put it another way, a lumen is a light measuring unit that is used to compare the total quantity of light output from a light emitter.
Lux is a unit of measurement for the quantity of light output, or light intensity, in a specific area.
The application is where this becomes useful: a camera’s lux rating, for example, shows the least amount of light or low light sensitivity required to produce a quality image.
3. Color of Temperature
Color temperature refers to the color qualities of light as measured in Kelvin degrees (K).
The Kelvin scale depicts a black body object, such as a light filament, that begins to glow and changes color as it becomes hotter.
Starting with rich reds, then oranges and yellows, and ultimately blue or white.
Light sources of various temperatures are used in imaging. Tungsten lights have a color temperature of roughly 2900K, and as they age, they become “warmer,” or (contrary to popular belief) lose color temperature.
Tungsten halogen light is in the 3200K range, while fluorescents are around 4500K. The color temperature of sunlight is usually around 5600K, however, shade and skylights can reach greater temperatures.
These are essentially averages that were discovered to be the most beneficial in the days when the film was king, and they relate to the reactivity of various emulsions.
Light can be described as “warm” (yellowish) or “cool” (bluish) as differentiated by different light sources for practical application as it relates to human perception of color from a psychological point of view, not temperature.
The human brain reacts to the appearance of light, but recording devices do not, so the light’s “look” must be prepared to get the desired effect.
4. Color Quality Assessment
The Color Rendering Index is an important metric to use. The color rendering index, or CRI, compares a light source’s ability to reproduce colors of objects to that of an ideal or natural light source.
LED lights with a high CRI are worthwhile replacements for incandescents, even though it is a tough metric for matching replacement bulbs for incandescents.
The majority of high-quality LED lights will have a CRI of 90 or higher.
The fundamental disadvantage is that the perception of LED illumination as measured by CRI can be misleading: a low CRI of 25 for an LED bulb appears to have vibrant white light, whereas a high CRI for an LED bulb appears to be bad at reproducing reds and flesh tones.
The TLCI method is an alternative to CRI (Television Lighting Consistency Index).
While not yet accepted as an industry standard, it is gaining traction among manufacturers as a solution to the numerous difficulties that plague LED lighting in film and television production.
It takes a spectroradiometer measurement of a luminaire’s spectrum power distribution.
The luminaire’s performance in the context of television is evaluated and assigned a value ranging from 0-100, with 85-100 being minor faults that a colorist overlooks. A colorist would wish to adjust colors in the range of 50-75; 25-50 would necessitate color correction work. 0-25, where color rendering is so poor that it is almost certainly unsuitable for transmission.
Unlike CRI, the scores are more evenly distributed and hence more accurate, deciding to do something less subjective.
5. Tungsten Lighting Options
Illumination technology has evolved, but rather than new ways replacing the old, more and various types of lighting have been added to augment what is currently available.
Tungsten lighting, which was once the industry standard, consists of a bulb with a glowing filament made of a metal tungsten element.
Even though they can be highly fragile depending on the situation, these lamps have long been a staple of photographers and filmmakers and are still in use today, despite advances in lighting technology.
The color temperature of tungsten lamps designed for professional usage is 3200K, although it can be changed by using gels to get alternative color temperatures, such as daylight.
These gels are available in color correction filter kits (also known as color rendering kits), which include filters for raising the color temperature of tungsten/warm light sources, warming daylight-balanced sources such as strobes, HMIs, and LEDs, balancing the green spiking from fluorescent lights, and removing the green content from low-cost light fixtures such as some LED and fluorescent panels.
The obvious disadvantage of employing tungsten is the heat generated by the lamps, but on the plus side, the bulbs are inexpensive.
Reflectors and other accessories that direct their light in the right direction are widely available and easy to regulate.
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