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Gels topic
  • Hi, As I keep building up my micro-budget movie kit, now the question of gels comes up.

    Which gel set would you recommend? Preferably, cheap and relatively good quality. I need them to work with LED lights, Redhead 800W halogen and "As ARRI" 650W tungsten fresnel lights. eBay links would be appreciated.

  • 25 Replies sorted by
  • First thing to get is some diffusion filter, my preferred is Rosco full diffusion. For LEDs you want some minus green, I think 1/2 ought to be enough. Then some CTO and CTB is worth getting, I'd probably get 1/4 CTO and 1/2 CTB.

  • I think it is quite easy - get big set. As you could need some weird colors even for background light, etc.

  • As Vitaliy says get a full set. You never know what you're going to need.

    Lee filters manufacture a comprehensive range of gels. There are CTO and CTB sets which include 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 1/1 gels.

    As mentioned by @Gabel LED's are somewhat notorious for some green cast so LED's will benefit from some magenta (green minus)

    As an example I have a pair of Chinese 1000 LED's lights from Steven Studios eBay store.

    This is how I checked the colour temperature of the 1000 LED's. Using a WhiBal card (calibrated white balance reference card) and a Pentax K5 I took a RAW shot of the Whibal card under the 1000 LED (no filter) and checked the result in Adobe Lightroom.

    After calibrating the whitebalance in Lightroom the WB module showed a colour temp of 5900k with a required +16 Magenta tint.

    I was expecting to maybe need at least a 1/4 or even 1/2 minus green (magenta) but as it turned out a 1/8th minus green (magenta) was perfect.

    The 1/8th minus green (magenta) corrected the LED's to exactly 5500k and '0' tint.

    As the LED's tend to be somewhat hard some diffusion is recommended.

  • @kronstadt

    Lee just started producing gels made specifically for LED's. They help with the horrible CRI and color shift most LED's produce. I have one sheet of CTO in bound and will let you know how much better or different it looks than the regular stuff they sell.

    Here's the link:

  • I prefer Lee or Rosco, usually.

    Diffusion- Opal and 250 are must haves. Hampshire Frost is great, as is light grid cloth. 216 is a need, as well as 251. I also always have a couple of cosmetic sheets - rouge/ peach/ or salmon

    CC- Full/ half/ quarter/ and eighth CTO & CTB , half/ quarter/ eighth minus and plus green

    Straw is nice if you need to match some nasty street lights. Mix it with CTO and a little green...

  • Once you have those, you can pick and choose the specialty gels- Pale Gold (Love the look), Chocolate, etc...

  • There are a few useful starter kits. If I was starting again I would get one. DigitalJuice have a couple of kits

    Colour Correction


    And westcott have similar .. more expensive .. search on bhphoto

  • Your main lights are all tungsten, so if you have to match daylight, you'll need CTB filters which cut an tremendous amount of light. I'd suggest that for daylight scenes, you learn to make the most of showcard and reflectors.

    When using diffusion, I highly recommend gel frames.

    There are a number of kinds of diffusion and each does their own thing, but in general they're pretty similar. Use the gel frames to get them away from your lights and you'll be in good shape (diffusion gels right on your lights are not very effective because you also want to expand the size of your light source to really soften things up, as the blog post explains.

    For diffusion material, I like Opal in full or half strength because it maintains directionality of light but softens it really well. Tough spun is very soft--essentially like bouncing off showcard. Frost (half or full) is in the middle and also a great all around diffusion material. Talk to your gaffer and see what he prefers. If you dress a few frames you won't have to constantly be getting out the diffusion sheets.

  • Thank you all for the input. I keep reading and learning about gels and colour manipulation as I go along. I'm someone who comes from Super-8mm and 16mm background - many years ago, shooting experimental shorts in B&W, neo-noir style - often with simple 2 point lighting or one light + reflector setup. Even in my teens and childhood during art lessons I preferred to paint B&W (I still do), which made me more aware of light and shadows, but at the same time, less attentive to "colour". So shooing and editing not only in digital, but also in color, is a whole new experience for me. @DouglasHorn I don't have a gaffer. For now I'm just re-learning what can be achieved with a very limited budget, so I'm often a one-man-crew (well, sometimes friends come along and help).

    My 2 tangstens (As ARRI 650W fresnel and Redhead 800W) are my main lights (working with reflectors, difusers, bounce-cards, cookies, flags etc). I have a small YN-160 LED, which is ok for hairlight or some oddly placed small light, but it is a nightmare to control, so I'm quite skeptical about all this LED hype that is going around (I light get a 312 or 500, but hmm - skeptical). For external shots it's mostly natural light with occasional reflectors (depending on location).

    @rockroadpix Thanks for that bit of info. I'll aim for the Lee filters.

    Right now I want to build a very basic Starter-Kit of gels (including CC and diffusion) and play with them and see what I can get and what other gels I'll need. @pundit and @Vitalij_Kiselev of course, I'd love to get a full pack, but the budget is a concern - I'm not a videographer, so I don't get paid, and for now I don't want to spend more than £30 on gels. I think a beginner's-set of 10-20 gels will suffice for now, no?

    Most of the links posted in this thread are US based shops. I'm in the UK. I'd prefer to purchase from eBay or . I found 4 options and would appreciate your advice/thought as to which one to start with:

    Any other options?

  • The first lot looks like some sort of el cheapo no-name brand plus no colours identified. Definitely go for Lee / Rosco.

    The third set above also includes a bit of cinefoil - always useful stuff (light control / DIY bokehs, etc). And labels on each sheet are handy to have.

    You used to be able to get swatch books which were really useful. Don't know if you can still get those now but get one if you can.

  • Thanks @Mark_the_Harp . The 3rd option (36 Lee filters from amazon) is what I want to get (wspecially because the price is very reasonable), but being only 12"x12", I'm trying to find out if it will work with Redhead 800W, which has quite large barn doors. What would you advise?

  • @kronstadt - Well, you do have a gaffer. He just happens to have the same name as you.

    Been there a hundred times!

  • @kronstadt Ooh - I don't know if the order of the links was changed in your post since I replied, but I meant what's now the fourth set. Not wildly cheap but sounds like a good supplier. The Amazon set is also good but I don't know if they would be big enough - I use Dedolights which are quite small so I can't say if 12"x12" will do. I'm sure someone else will chime in here!

  • Ps the Amazon option looks good if they are big enough for your lamps. Also I just had a romp round - which would be good for knowing exactly what's in the filter packs. And an amazing resource in general. I'm captivated by the architectural lighting, and you can get all sorts of interesting stuff like fluorescent light sleeves which might be really good for DIY coloured wall washes, for example.

  • I received my Redhead 800W today and measured the front gate (7.5" X 7.5"). It actually is smaller and more compact than it seems. So 12" Lee filters should fit it pretty nicely, so I went ahead and purchased the 36 pack for £30.99 + £6.14 P&P. Since I don't know anything about gels, I'll treat it as a "starter pack" and buy additional ones as I go along if I need.

    What I'm also thinking is attaching stick-on velcro pieces to the barn-doors and to all 36 gels, so that I can easily and quickly attach and change filters during the shoot. Has anyone else done this? If yes, what's you experience? Did it work? My only worry is that 800W Redhead and barn-doors get VERY VERY hot (so hot that you can see smoke from its burning paint emanating from the lamp). So I'm not sure if that velcro will slide off or melt or stay in place as intended? And I'm also concerned if the Lee filters will not melt? Are Lee filters designed to be heat resistant so as to work with these kinds of extremely hot lights?

  • @kronstadt "What I'm also thinking is attaching stick-on velcro pieces to the barn-doors and to all 36 gels, so that I can easily and quickly attach and change filters during the shoot."

    Just use a bunch of good 'ol C47's...

    Wooden of course, not plastic.

  • @pundit sure, C47s are the classic method. But velcro mught speed things up in terms of attaching/detaching and changing gels.

  • @kronstadt regarding redheads and gels. I advise attaching larger sheets to the extremities of the barn doors (buy 24inch) .. the GELs will age/melt faster .. you get a lighter colour centre spot .. the correction becomes inaccurate

    The velcro will melt along with it's adhesive :) .. Even if you use c47s .. if you peg close to the light .. eventually you will get toasted pegs. Stick a c47 4 inches away from a 1000w electric heater .. see how long it lasts

    I am really trying to advise you against the velcro

  • @kronstadt I agree with kavadni re the velcro. The last thing you want are the gels falling off in the middle of a shoot. Pegs are okay as long as you keep them at the outer edges of the barn doors. Besides if they start getting a bit toasted just replace them. My 'As Arris' are 650w and while they get pretty hot the pegs have survived okay though I'm not using them all day, every day.

  • I've never tried clothespegs - I use bulldog clips to attach the gel to the ends of the barn doors (only on the basis that metal doesn't burn). But it does get hot - in general, though, you want to let a lamp cool anyway before moving it, so the filament doesn't get damaged and you don't burn yourself.

    My dedos can in theory take gels near to the lamp, but I think even those would be too hot, so I'm sure a bigger lamp will certainly cause problems. You can get heat filter stuff from LEE to keep the heat down a bit, but probably easier just to put the gels further away from the lens.

  • One of the joys of wooden pegs, is that you can change the gel without a glove. You also get less instance where the Gel gets welded to the barn doors.

    I agree let the light cool before moving (if you have time).

    In a lot of locations, these incandescent lights get pushed hard up against the ceiling, sometimes pointing up with the barn doors pretty much closed .. the air conditioning is off and the windows are closed for sound purposes .. your actually in a kitchen .. there are 2000 watts of lights burning and 6 people in the room .. it's fucking hot.

    .. Your gels will melt .. your pegs will chargrill .. your light will leave light singe marks on peoples ceilings .. you will burn your fingers .. you will move a light without letting it cool .. a stand will come sliding down .. when you look at it the wrong way .. and you will get covered in a shower of molten glass one day .. the quality of light is very nice

  • @kavadni Good tip on the clothespegs - I''ll take some with me next time and try them out.

    The worst thing I ever did with quite a few large lights was to blow the fuses in an old ice-cream shop in a small town in Wales (he made his own and had about 10 freezers going). These were quite industrial fuses and we didn't know which ones were blown because it was a real rats-nest of wiring. Luckily and almost unbelievably there an electrical shop in that same road and they sold big industrial fuses and had a fuse-tester (something I've never seen before or since) so we could identify which one it was. I think the location gods were smiling on me that day. We managed to get it all working without the owner ever finding out. I've never burned a ceiling (yet) but did once let a rat loose accidentally in someone's house while recording them for the BBC. So location sound isn't any safer than location lighting really.

    I can quite see why people like the idea of LEDs but sometimes you can't beat a bright light particularly for bounce lighting...but big lights come with heat and power issues!

  • May I suggest an Autopole or 2 in a low budget kit .. I have two .. used floor to ceiling, you can get a light right up in the corner of a small room without a light stand to trip over.

    Mine are long I think they go to 14 feet .. if I were to nuy again, I'd buy the short ones and extensions .. use them in hallways horizontally

  • And if you want diffusion, you can't go wrong with this low budget option

  • It's not a bad idea to carry some spare fuses for when you blow the box.

    C47s (clothespins) should be made of solid maple. They will char but not burn/ignite. At least that's what they say. You should always give yourself a little room between the ceiling and your light. If you absolutely must throw your light up there, some cinefoil can make a bit of a heat shield.