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Choosing Light Kit
  • Anyone can do me a recommendation for a good budget light kit for three point lighting, something decent but not overtly expensive. Also maybe someone recommends me a good small factor led light for three point lighting in thight spaces also to serve as fill in day light. If ac powered they have to be 240/220 VAC

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  • If you search ebay, you'll find a brand of lights called "As Arri". They're chinese knock-offs designed very similiarily to Arri fresnels and they perform surprisingly good for their low price. You can buy them one by one or in packages. I haven't tried any of them myself yet, but I'm going to buy a couple soon. I can't afford real Arris just yet ;)

  • I'd recommend tungstens over flos too. You can sometimes find real Arris used for the price of new "as arri" cheap stuff. 312AS for daylight fill (better yet get a big reflector).

  • Go with hard lights. Tungsten for sure. I like to use a tungsten key diffused then a soft fill (either a bounced light or a hard light with a soft box on it) and then a hard lower wattage backlight. I've always had a good experience with Lowel kits. Get an avenger stand with an arm too and a scrim jim reflector/diffuser. Great product

  • Best thing is to ask first how he indend to use it.

  • VK nailed it. What do you want to use it for? Doc work? Narrative?

  • I am more into docs and realities but here in Malta it's not difficult to find yourself in doing narrative what I'm used to is redheads but I am looking into getting some varied kit varied in sense of intensity I used fresnels when I was at uni but in tv work fresnels are used in studio rarely on location any input and brand ideas will be appreciated thanks

  • Check out the Dedo portable stuff. They have a full interview set that will fit in a backpack, and run on batteries or AC. They are super powerful, dimable, very small, light, and easy to use, and have foldable softlight options. The whole kit literally was designed so that you could take a studio setup like up into the Himalayas and do interviews in tents and hovels. I LOVE Dedo's

    I use Dedo's whenever I can because they use almost no power, setup so quickly, and can be mounted on almost anything. I used them almost exclusively on "What Lies Between Us" (Shot with GH2 [Quantum v2] and we never went above ISO800. Most everything was shot at 200)

  • I for one am torn on what lights to go for . . . can't afford to get everything, gotta pick a direction and go. With everything, there are pros and cons.

    Kino-Flo (or knockoff equivalent): I absolutely LOVE fluorescent light. Kinos have a way of being soft and powerful/far-reaching at the same time. Built-in dimming. But I'm not sure about the quality of budget options, and they're large lights, not as maneuverable into tight spaces.

    ARRI/As ARRI: What can I say? Fresnel lights are classic. But even with budget versions, I'd end up spending a pretty penny outfitting them with soft boxes and dimmers.

    LED: Not there yet, always looks too harsh to my eye. Then there's the multi shadow issue. When will the As-ARRI people offer a wad of LED bulbs in place of the tungsten bulb in their units? Wouldn't this work?

  • @divineworld A "good budget light kit... something decent but not overtly expensive" can be very subjective. First of all, it depends what you want to use it for. Are you after wattage, power, aesthetics, performance or travel/mobility etc? Also what may be "cheap" for a well paid DP who has his gear expenses covered, might be well out of budget for an aspiring film-maker (documentary or narrative).

    One famous DP (can't remember who exactly) said "Light is light". Think about it... you can take a 100W light bulb or a candle, place it at a correct spot and it will look gorgeous. This is the principle that I follow. And the best and most beautiful kind of light (appart from natural light) is the bare light bulb - oh yes!

    Sometimes on eBay you may find second had lighting kits being sold as a whole. The good thing about those "package deals" is that someone spent TIME researching what kind of kit would suit him/her best (though it might not be best for your needs or style, it might well be what you're after, just ask the seller what kind of shoots he/she used it for). For example, I have seen yesterday a 3 piece kit go for £720 + £20 P&P (650W Arri fresnel, 300W Arri fresnel, 800W Lowel Tota + silver umbrella, 3 stands, Chimera softbox, Pelli Case), which is a fair price, considering that that those Arri fresnel were almost new, but even that is outside of my budget.

    In another post (here I have made a list of very basic 3-piece lighting kit for around £400 ($650). Hope you find it useful. (And apologies if this may be construed as a "cross-posting" - I was encouraged to do so by VK.) Here it is in a slightly rewritten version:

    I decided to start a thread to see what kind of lighting gear people would recommend for a narrative type of shooting (with GH13 and GH2) on a very low budget. We all know that in terms of ISO GH13 is far from Canon DSLRs, so when I was getting my GH1, I knew that I'd have to supplement with lighting gear.

    There are quite some cheap lighting solutions out there ranging from worklights to cheap 800W Redheads on eBay. But then the question becomes, is 800W not an overkill for GH13 and GH2 ??? And what is an "okey" kit that would work well with GH13 and GH2 ?

    Hopefully, others, who are in the same kind of searches as I am, would find this thread useful, so do post your ideas and advices.

    To make this fun, lets set a limit of ~ £400 ($650) for the entire kit (including all the accessories, stands, softboxes, gels, lightmeters etc).

    So here is my list:


    • 1x 800W Redhead (£29.80 from eBay) - great for floodlight or bounce light or artificial sunlight, but might be an overkill for Gh13 and Gh2, so you might want an extra dimmer for £19. Pack of 5 bulbs £11. I think getting a 800W Redhead is better and cheaper than doing those DIY re-configurations of worklights that you see on Youtube. [Update: my Redhead arrived today. Actually it is pretty compact and not at all "big" as appears in pictures or videos. It's a workhorse - 800W of halogen quarts light really lights up the scene. I might even get a dimmer for it (£18). So far I have nothing to complain about and I'm glad that it will hold 12"x12" Lee filters (which will be my next purchase). But a word of warning: Redhead gets VERY-VERY hot and VERY quick, and then the paint begins to smoke - I've already burned my fingers thinking that I can just adjust the barndoors with my bare hands. But for £29.80 - it's extremely reasonable - I'm tempted to buy another one of these. I think you can also put a 650W or even lower into these Redheads]

    • 1x 650W "As ARRI" fresnel light from eBay £120, or with dimmer £135 (Is 650W an overkill for Gh13 and Gh2 if you can shoot up to 320 ISO without any grain? Is it not better to get a 500W or 300W instead???). Also, I heard that there are at least 5 factories in China that manufacture these knock-offs. I'm personally going to stay away from a brand of these "As ARRI"s called "JieTu".
      That's why "As ARRI"s have mixed reviews, so you need to find an eBay seller who sells good quality and reliable "As ARRI"s. (that alone would be a good thread. More on this here: )

    Alternatively, I might get a MOLE RICHARDSON 407 BABY 500W-1000W (although I have no idea how much they weigh. They seem pretty heavy.)

    • 1x 300W "As ARRI" fresnel light £108.

    • 1x Yongnuo YN-160 LED (£37.50) (+ 6600mAh batteries for Sony NP-F970 ~ £14 each. Will last ~10hours on YN160. + £5.70 for the charger.). Not the best light, but if you have a dark night scene, and don't have generators for your "As ARRI"s or permission for location, these YN160 (+ a diffuser umbrella (£3) and a long painter's pole) might save the day night. Nicely placed, it can also work as a hairlight or some other minor kind of light on set. Just remember that with YN160 every time you switch it on and off, it doesn't remember your last settings and goes back to medium power - so you have to bump up the light intensity every time (this is it's main drawback).
      You might also want to get the bi-color LED 312 AS (apparently exactly the same as ASZ) that are often posted on for £107 ($168) for entire pack (with 2 batteries and dual charger) - which is a pretty awesome deal, if you ask me. (I might actually buy one of those 312AS after I've sorted my 650W Fresnel, instead of getting a 300W fresnel)

    • Gels ~ I got Lee Filters - Master Location Pack - 36 sheets of 12" x 12" (£37). So far so good. See this discussion

    • 3 light stands (£20 each). Don't go for the ultra cheap ones . See this topic But you can get a couple of those ultra cheap ones (£8.05 each) to hold dingle for shadows or bounce cards or black flags or other non-valueable things.

    • at least 1 C stand (Century Stand). with 2 gobos and an extending arm. Though a great piece of equipment, C-stands are actually quite expensive. I'd be interested to know what people use as an alternative to hold bounce cards and black flags.

    • Bounce card (to bounce 800W light or natural light back at your talent) -- Foamboard £1-£3 from local arts shop or eBay. You will also need a "fork" (£13) to mount your foamboard on, so that you can mount it on C-stand or whatever. (or you can make one DIY)

    • Flags ( black card board or foamboard to block light) -- £1-£3 from local arts shop or ebay.

    • DIY diffuser pannel - a wooden frame with silk or shower curtain pulled over it. You can also use Tracing paper roll (£7) (I haven't tried it) or White Baking Parchment paper roll (£1). This is actually what they often use on professional sets. This actually works better than a "professional" softbox. I've found that using white baking paper (£1 for 8m roll from Poundland) works pretty well in creating a "diffusion filter" to be put on to a Redhead.

    • a fake eBay Gorrillapod (£7) - great for holding (or hanging) things in weird places

    • a pack of bulbs for your Redhead and "As Arri"s. You never know when those bulbs will blow up, and they WILL blow up.

    • 110cm - 5in1 Reflectors - £9 (White, Black, Gold, Silver and it also contains a diffuser, in case you don't have a softbox, and you don't need a softbox if you can make a DIY wooden frame with a shower curtain)

    • 33" Reflector umbrella - £3.70 (you might not need this for your style. I actually prefer them to softboxes - they give me the kind of "sharper" grey sections, than softboxes do).

    • 50m Gaffer Duct Tape roll - £3.50 from your local DIY shop (really handy in all kinds of situations.)

    • Heat Gloves (£1 from Poundland) - so that you can work with your fresnel and redhead lights.

    • Metal Spring clamps and wooden clamps of all sorts and sizes - ~£10

    • Black Foil -- to "shape" or "contain" the light

    • Sandbags. you can make them DIY. For now I just use simple supermarket plastic bags with stones. But there's a set of 4 sandbags on Amazon for £13.

    • 1m stick-on velcro (£2). I'm gonna use it to put quickly put gels onto the barndoors of my redhead and fresnel light. I hope the heat is not going to cause too much issues with such a set up. Velcro is useful in all sorts of situations, like if you want to attach a tracing paper onto a wooden frame, in order to make a diffusion panel.

    • Magic arm - £11 from - to hold diffusers and flags etc , but you can make a DIY one with piece of strong wire and 2 spring clamps on both ends.

    • Lightmeter ? Do we still need one for shooting digital? In 16mm world it's a must-have, but in digital...? Sekonic L-308DC is said to be designed for digital video, but quite pricey. Will a second hand Sekonic L-308S for ~£70 do the same job?

    • Last but not least ... a BAG. You need this to securely transport and organise your ligting equipment. I'm going to use an old huge suitcase on big wheels (bought it for £24) with DIY dividers made of foam. Should work fine. But you might want to get a Pelican case or something "professional" looking if that's important to you, although those do cost a lot.

    So that's it - we have a kit of 4 lights + all the accessories that may be needed on a low budget narrative film shoot. Have I overlooked something? Any ideas as to how this list could be improved? Any thoughts?

  • @kronstadt that sounds pretty workable. Personally I'd get 2 Redheads and just a single as arri (the 500/650). Have a look at the special offer 312A rather than the 160LED. I just thnk it's bigger and brighter.

    1m stick-on velcro (£2). I'm gonna use it to put quickly put gels onto the barndoors of my redhead and fresnel light. I hope the heat is not going to cause too much issues with such a set up.

    Wooden pegs .. the adhesive on the velcro will melt.

    Think about some large sheets of Full CTB .. it's often better to Gel a window than to Gel the lights.

    This is just opinion, if I had to start from scratch

  • Yep, 160 led sucks. Get either 312AS (not A), or if you absolutely short on money, get Amaran (160 or 198 versions). 198 are better (either bi-colour or bi-angle).

  • @kronstadt Take a look at F&V Z96 LED lights.

    I used two (coupled together) with the supplied orange filters for a few location still shots I took last week. (see below)

    I don't know how they compare with the 312A's etc (less output I would think) but I quite like them especially for use as discrete accent lights (snooted) or small fills in tight spots. They'll run for 6-8 hours off a NP-F970.

    Pentax K5/FA31mm lens @ F3.2 - 1/50th - ISO320 Background lighting was practical in store lighting and street window lights.


    1200 x 795 - 167K
  • @kavadni "Think about some large sheets of Full CTB .. it's often better to Gel a window than to Gel the lights."

    If he is going to be matching un-gelled tungsten's don't you mean CTO's for the windows assuming daylight?

  • @pundit you are correct .. I have increasing mental lapses with age.

  • @kavadni I know the feeling! ;>)

  • Another thought .. on C-Stands.

    I have never owned a C-Stand .. something I have hired and borrowed. They seem to be incredibly expensive here in Australia .. and the freight kills them buying overseas.

    I decided to buy C-Stand tops to put on lightstands.

    These are the two items I carry, along with an extra light stand .. holds poly's and frames.

    You can probably find cheaper alternatives on ebay .. for me $60 for those two .. add a light stand .. in my budget ... you WILL need sandbags

    And I can buy a heavy steel base at a later point in time when funds allow

  • @kavadni I'm also in Australia (Melbourne)

    B&H have a great deal on this C Stand for $128.95...

    As you say the killer is the freight to Australia which is over $200!

    I recently purchased a C-Stand from Image Melbourne. It was just over $300 though it came with a sliding leg (for use on sloping ground/steps etc) and with two grip heads.

    If we could find enough interested buyers for the B&H deal it may be worth buying say a dozen or so and getting them sent via sea freight. It means about a 3 month wait but it could bring down the price to about $200 each. Of course it may just be more trouble than it's worth! ;>P

    C-Stands are just so much more versatile than almost anything else. I use mine for both hair lighting and often with a mic boom pole bracket to fix the boom over the talent.

    Occasionally I'll rig both a mic and a LED hair-light ( via another small extension arm) together on the one C-Stand arm but it's a fiddle and not the optimum way of doing things. I'm in the market for a 2nd one so I can do both of the above simultaneously.

  • Btw, if many people will be interesting we could add Weifeng C stands to our deals. Using some slow shipping :-)

  • @Vitaliy, I am interested in C-Stands .. wonders how much they will be

  • @kronstadt The thread would be very interesting. Your list is very detailed. Thanks for your share.

  • Could you save weight and cost of weights / sandbags by using screw-top plastic milk containers which you fill with water as needed? Just an idea really, never tried it.

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev , me too might be interested in a C stand , if I could get them for cheap. What's the approximate price for those Weifeng C stands? and do they come with the gobo grips and the arm?

    @Mance thanks, I'll be updating my list as I go along. I've outlined a VERY basic kit. What I notice is that the Lighting kit is all about smallest (and seemingly useless) accessories. If you're not careful it can spin out of control and then you'll have too much stuff (which is also heavy) to carry around.

    @Mark_the_Harp yeah, that's a good idea, but one still needs to bag it in order to hang it on a light stand. Another good idea would be the camping water containers from Poundland - same principle, but more water/weight (also great for carrying drinking water to the location). So far I've been using ordinary plastic supermarket bags filled with stones to stabilise my light stands. It's an okey temporary solution. But I've noticed a set of 4 sandbags (specifically for lighting gear) on going for £13. I might get those.

    @kavadni thanks for the advice about using CTO gels on the window. But wouldn't that look weird that a tungsten color light is coming from the window? So far I actually like mixing the sunlight (blue) as fill and internal (orange) colors as jaw-line and background lighting - in the same shot. I know it's a "NO-NO", but it looks pretty cool. Regarding getting 2 Redheads and 1 As-Arri 500/600W, which would be the weakest light in the kit, but with a GH13 or GH2 isn't 500-650W an overkill for backlight????

    In my lighting style, which is very very simple, I could actually use 2 Redheads (1 for background lighting, and 1 for key-light with diffuser-panel/softbox+honeycomb or bounding off a reflector card, which is my favorite method). But the question of the backlight remains - I have a feeling that 500W would be an overkill for the jaw-line.

    I have a question to everyone: what is in your experience a good light for the kick-light (backlight)? Specifically, to create a nice jaw-line highlight in the shadowy area of the face during the dialogue scenes. So far I'm thinking of a 150W or 300W Fresnel As-ARRI (because of the fresnel lens it should be able to focus the light without spilling too much into shadow areas of the face).

  • for backlight I think that a 150W Arri would be too low..on the other hand, I have seen a video where even two 100W CFL bulb were used as backlight (medium shot) and they worked fine..

  • @kronstadt forgive my novice ignorance, but when you say " key-light with diffuser-panel/softbox+honeycomb or bounding off a reflector card" does the reflector card serve as your fill light source?

  • @Albertz yeah, I guess I'll get one of those IKEA table top goose-neck clip-lamps with 100W tangsten bulb (for mid-shots), but will probably go with 300W As-ARRI as a general kicker light. (To light the actual background walls one will need more power like a 650W I guess).

    @jules No worries - we are all learners. Basically, this is a kind-of a neo-noir style. The key-light often comes from my redhead 800W which is being projected not directly onto the talent, but onto a white card, which bounces light to one side of the talent. So my key light actually comes from the white card. This creates quite dramatic, but at the same time relatively "soft" light. My guess is that most of the interviews in this great video were shot using this simple technique

    I tend not to use fill-light. Instead, I might place a silver reflector to the other side of the talent that serves as a minute "fill-light", so that the other side is not completely dark.

    The second light lights up the background (walls, shelves etc).

    This is pretty much a Two-Point lighting. Check this video for more explanation

    The third light (kick-light or back-light), (which I don't have, and would like to have) throws a very thin and focused light edge onto the dark shoulders and jaw-line of the talent. Thus separating the talent from the background.