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Best video light for GH2?
  • I'm looking for a video light I can mount on top of my GH2 for around $100-300.

    What's the best one out there for that budget?

  • 28 Replies sorted by
  • What kind of light you are talking about?

    Small panel or small spot light?

    For most popular lights you can check - it is Aputure 198 models and Lishuai 312AS.

  • Panel light.

    Like this

    Dslr-Video-LED-Light.jpg
    400 x 400 - 25K
  • In this case I referenced two most popular lights with good feedback, you can find them here

    http://www.personal-view.com/talks/discussion/717/special-deals-lighting-fresnels-evfs-monitors

  • I was looking at the 312AS earlier and some people said it wasn't bright enough.

    Has anybody here who has one experienced that? Or has it been more than bright enough.

    Also, would the AL 198A or the 312AS be better for even spread out light? I don't want my subject to the have "Deer in the headlights" look . :p

  • @acuriousman

    If you need just brightness, you can get 312A.

  • If you don't want them to have the deer in the headlights look you need more than one light or at least not blasting them straight in the face mounted on your camera.

  • Short answer: Get the Seculine L2S-5K. One of the brightest, smallest, widest and most even "throwing" lights I have ever used. Maybe a little bit over your price range. But definitely the best choice for direct camera usage (and also the included accessories are quite nice).

    One con: There is a (quite silent) fan built in. But as you can control it automatically AND manually - not that of a problem at all. For example: You can use it without any problems up to the brightness level 28 (max = 30) at the lowest (most silent) manual fan level 1. And I used it primarily at lvl 24 up to 28. Even constant passive cooling is possible up to lvl 24.

    Btw.: There is coming a review soon (as soon as I have time to cut the footage). But to set things clear already: It´s for sure no match compared to a 312A led light (according the light output). Altough don´t forget: The 312 LED lights are all in all a little bit too big as on camera led lights. Here the Seculine "shines" with it´s compactness. ^^

  • Get the Seculine L2S-5K. One of the brightest, smallest, widest and most even "throwing" lights I have ever used. Maybe a little bit over your price range. But definitely the best choice for direct camera usage (and also the included accessories are quite nice).

    Issue is that it is $400, lacks any optics, so most light is wasted. As it is also very small, it is very hard at eyes. So at small distance you will have hard time using it if ou deal with people, and on larger distance it is just useless.

  • The lights on Vitaliy's link are less expensive and have some cool features like angled LEDs, Sony Battery capability, variable color temperature and so on. You really don't want a fan as it will be near the camera mic and create vibration and turbulence noise, and you definitely want off the shelf, powerful cheap batteries. Your video will not look very good with a single light, so rather than buy one expensive light consider several lights. Color temperature is of course very important, depending on the ambient light. A variable light isn't perfect, but at least you won't have two different color temps at the same time which is very difficult to correct in post. Edit--agree that a small bright light is hard on the subject without an umbrella, and even then you have diffusion issues.

  • BTW, I'll vouch for those 312A lights, they are pretty damn good for the price but like already said, they are way too big to mount on your camera but you can put them on a low priced stand. This might be your best bet, that is of course if you have to have it mounted to your camera for mobility purposes. If you do decide to go with the 312, I wouldn't get the bi color one for the reason you already stated, not bright enough. You're only getting half of the light output. You can just gel it to put the temp where you want it or order Lee 3200 gels that are made for LEDs which also address the green spike issue.

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev:

    Sure. As said it´s a little bit over his max. budget of 300$. But it´s the one and only light which is that compact and offers a very wide LED throw. About the hardness to the eyes: That´s a main problem with all led lights - Not only with the Seculine. And about the optimal distance: Sure. The Seculine is better usable at smaller distances. But there it "shines". ^^

    @DrDave:

    Yes. The Aputure lights and the other models are cheaper. But with the L2S-5K you have: Sony NP-F batteries as standard too (plus optional Canon and Nikon battery plates) and an optional changeable LED panel (to 3200k LEDs) -> So no lower light output because of a filter or only 50% of the all in all LEDs are running (which is a problem with the 312AS for example). And the fan is not THAT loud. Sure. You shouldn´t use it beside the mic. But if you know that, it´s more than ok (at least for me - I am using it on an articulating arm to adjust it more easily). About the single light: Sure. More lights are always better. But the question was for ONE on camera light (and which one is the best) ^^.

    About the color temperature: Hmm. Yes. That´s true. But to have a proper light output: The 312AS would be too big as a direct on camera light. Maybe the AL-198C bi color is the better choice for that purpose. Altough I am not sure about the all in all quality of these lights (LEDs, built quality, flickering, CRI, sound level -> buzzing or such noises and so on). And as stated above: You always loose 50% of the brightness (if you´re at full 3200k or full daylight setting).

  • If I use a small bright light on my friends they yell "turn it off".

  • @DrDave:

    g. A common problem. That´s the case why I normaly used the Seculine only inbetween 24 and 28 (with 30 = max. brightness). I also plan to try out a few very thin diffusion filters. Or (because a colleague is interested in my L2S-5K and I am always happy to try out new things) I will try out a set of two way cheaper Z96 or Z-Flash LED lights with the new milk diffusion filters (both on one hot shoe mounting bracket + a stable ballhead and with adjustable angles for each light - so not fixed at one line - or on two articulating arms if used on the bigger rig).

    @acuriousman:

    Hmm. Maybe the double Z96 or Z-Flash led light sollution (with the new milk diffusion filters) is the better way for you (because it´s cheaper, has no fan -> so you don´t need to think about the light and mic position at all and because they are maybe also a little bit more robust than the Seculine). But if you want to get just one light (and if it should be REALLY compact, light & wide throwing) -> the Seculine is the way to go. (Altough plan to get a diffusion filter for it.)

  • Maybe the double Z96

    Z96 is early generation light and it is worse than lights I mentioned. Plus, again, you need light and larger light to be less harsh. Aputure advantage is that they have special leds arrangement so central ones have long throw.

  • The Z96 is quite old. That true. The Z-Flash is the newer generation. I have it here too. Even better stability than the old Z96 -> because they removed the AA battery depot (which I am happy abou, because the new NP-F holder of the Z-Flash is now WAY better and to be honest - what´s the use of a FIVE AA-battery depot?). Ok. The Z-Flash has a light startup flash - that should I mention here - but who cares ^^. All in all both models are good lights. Real "workhorses" with a very good light quality and quite high light output.

    The most important points which are speaking FOR the Z-Flash / Z96 btw.: No color shifts, no buzzing / humming noises, very easy to change & stable magnetic filters (which you also get easily as a replacement to modify them for example), they are built like a tank, the new "milk" filters are quite nice and they have a very high CRI factor of 85 upwards (I saw already real measurements with rates about 86 and 87 if I remember right). And F&V is delivering soon the Z96 and Z180 lights (and also the Z4000) with their new even better "ultra color" LED panels (with a rated CRI of 95). Sure. The cheap Z96 and Z-Flash units (which are sold from third party dealers) will be still just equipped with the "older" 85 CRI LEDs. But if you really want a good single light with a high light quality and high light output: Maybe the Z180 with the new LEDs is a good choice (or as said two of the Z96).

    But I am talking now about on camera lights. Sure. If you have the space, the time and the option to use bigger lights which are nicely diffused - That´s always better. About the special led arrangements of the Aputure lights: Hmm. I understand the feature of the newer angle switchable one (the AL-198A) - There you have the most constant throw (because the array is mixed completely). But the AL-160 - to be honest: To use central LEDs with narrower angle - I don´t know. I am nearly sure that this will produce a hot spot in the middle. But this are only my thoughts / doubts. ^^

    Btw.: Sorry for the long text.

  • No color shifts, no buzzing / humming noises, very easy to change & stable magnetic filters

    I understand your idea to push this lights :-) But believe me, Z96 is worse in almost every aspect.

    And F&V is delivering soon the Z96 and Z180 lights (and also the Z4000) with their new even better "ultra color" LED panels (with a rated CRI of 95).

    This soon is quite long. I am keeping contact with them and it is at least a month, most probably more. And price won't be too affordable.

    To use central LEDs with narrower angle - I don´t know. I am nearly sure that this will produce a hot spot in the middle. But this are only my thoughts / doubts. ^^

    It is very smart solution as in real life most of such lights are used in events and fast interviews/shots in bad lighting conditions.

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev:

    Not pushing anything (i am no dealer or connected in any type to F&V). Just telling facts and hands-on experience ^^. Btw.: The only two aspects where the F&V are worse is: Price (the Aputure are WAY cheaper yes) and maybe brightness. Because the angle adjustment feature is again a "50% LED" problem (like with the bi-color models). As soon as you want full wide or full narrow beam angle (with the AL-198A for example), you just have 50% of the LEDs running = only 50% brightness. And as soon as you want to adjust the angle a little bit, the brightness goes down =/. And the AL-160 is not controllable at all seperately (the different LED types).

    About the release date of the F&V "ultra color" LEDs: They said something about the summer (or end of the summer) or so. So not THAT long ^^. The only problem is, that they will be for sure just be available over the official F&V store at the beginning (where the lights are most expensive). But that´s all. Oh. And they said clearly, that the price will be the same (they said it at least for the Z96 and Z180 - Maybe the Z4000 will be still available with the older LEDs - so the new model will be more expensive for sure).

    About the central narrow angle LED solution (of the AL-160): Hmm. Maybe it´s usable for interviews - If you want / need a way softer falloff towards the edges / corners and highlight something more in the middle. But that´s a little bit special usage (and not always wanted). These are as said only my thoughts / doubts - Because nearly everyone is searching for a more even (and not "spotty") throwing light. And here even the AL-198A is way better (because of the full mixed array which is full controllable). But the AL-160 ... hmm.

  • Because the angle adjustment feature is again a "50% LED" problem (like with the bi-color models). As soon as you want full wide or full narrow beam angle (with the AL-198A for example), you just have 50% of the LEDs running = only 50% brightness. And as soon as you want to adjust the angle a little bit, the brightness goes down =/. And the AL-160 is not controllable at all seperately (the different LED types).

    You need to really find some position, as you do not like adjustable angle and you do not like fixed pattern. :-) Again, 198A is brighter than Z96, non adjustable 198 light is even more bright, so it is just waste of time. Z86 was good light in its time. Now it is overpriced and not really popular.

    And they said clearly, that the price will be the same (they said it at least for the Z96 and Z180 - Maybe the Z4000 will be still available with the older LEDs - so the new model will be more expensive for sure).

    Nope, they did not said it clearly, as they can't tell it even to their dealers. LED used in them cost significantly more, so this is almost certainly not true.

    About the central narrow angle LED solution (of the AL-160): Hmm. Maybe it´s usable for interviews - If you want / need a way softer falloff towards the edges / corners and highlight something more in the middle. But that´s a little bit special usage (and not always wanted). These are as said only my thoughts / doubts - Because nearly everyone is searching for a more even (and not "spotty") throwing light.

    Main usage for on camera light is really interviews or similar situation in case of hurry and bad overall light. And in this situation you need light and big panel. As I can knwo much better quality small lights - http://www.ebay.com/itm/DSLRKIT-WALLI-LED-VIDEO-Light-2000LM-5600k-for-Camera-Camcorder-without-Battery-/330822017565 , they are much more powerful and have better CRI. But. They are very hard at subject. In fact, it is reason why most of the time leds are used with diffuse insert.

  • This is a very obvious tip but whenever possible DO NOT use the light attached to the cam, it will give the flattest, most boring light on subject you can get, and get in their eyes. I am lucky - 6"4, so I have the cam on Tri/mono pod and hand hold light angled to one side/slightly above subjects head, can get the light much closer to subject this way and also achieve some modelling on subject face. It will give you shoulder ache using outstretched arm but results are x 1000 better than when attached to cam

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev:

    Hmm ... Just meant, that the AL-160 is even worse than the AL-198A, because you cannot even change the pattern. At least the AL-198A is controllable - Altough there is still the 50% brightness "problem" again at the max. pattern states. I am not a fan of both models. But at least the AL-198A seems way more usable to me.

    Btw.: Yes. The non adjustable AL-198 is for sure brighter than the Z96 (it has double the leds ^^). But the adjustable one - hmm. At full pattern state I don´t think so. Also the price is quite ok (of the Z96 and Z-Flash). Even here at europe you can get the newer Z-Flash edition for 70 up to 80€ new from a dealer (incl. shipment and full warranty). And to call the Z96 not very popular ... ^^. Sure. You get more light output for your money if you buy an Aputure AL-198. But I think it´s better to invest a little bit more in the F&V lights (because the quality matches the price).

    About the price for the new "ultra color LED" models: I can only say what they´ve told within press releases and interviews I´ve read / seen. What´s then really the case - I am not F&V. And I am also not an official F&V dealer or so (to have more detailed information about the actual state). Maybe they only sell the new LED models in their own stores for a longer period of time (because there they get more than over 3rd party dealers). So its compensating the new LED price (and their online store prices will stay the same). Who knows ^^.

    About the situation you use on camera LED lights: Sure. Such Lights are (more or less) always for "on the go shots" and interviews. I wrote it maybe not that clear. Sorry. -> I just meant the pattern of the light is maybe a little bit too special and not always wanted (the middle hot spot). Btw.: That Walli looks nice. But at the 2nd look: From the official Cree datasheet (of the CREE XML U2 LEDs): "Typical CRI for Cool White (5000 K – 8300 K CCT) is 65." So kind of low. And it´s a little bit too spotty (at least on the pictures they provide it looks that way). A small diffusor in front would help for sure (not the original one). But it´s annoying to search for one (or build up a special one).

    @tubefingers:

    Good tip(s)! But if you´re on the go an on camera light to "fill in" a little bit is just the only way.

  • And to call the Z96 not very popular ...

    It is good to remember that I keep in touch with most factories and dealers :-) Z96 is not popular anymore.

    That Walli looks nice. But at the 2nd look: From the official Cree datasheet (of the CREE XML U2 LEDs): "Typical CRI for Cool White (5000 K – 8300 K CCT) is 65." So kind of low. And it´s a little bit too spotty (at least on the pictures they provide it looks that way). A small diffusor in front would help for sure (not the original one).

    As I remember, I just asked guys who are pro in LEDs and they confirmed that specs are close for both output and CRI.

  • About the popularity: If it is really the case, then I am sad to hear about it. It´s one of the most solid lights out there (in nearly every aspect). To be honest the point is for sure: The most people just search for the cheapest lights ^^.

    About the WALLI: Check out this datasheet:

    http://www.cree.com/~/media/Files/Cree/LED%20Components%20and%20Modules/XLamp/Data%20and%20Binning/XLampXML.pdf

    It´s about the XM-L LEDs (2013 datasheet). 2nd page -> In the table it´s the 3rd entry. The CRI levels are mentioned below. There are just no XM-L daylight LEDs with higher CRI factor than 65. I am a little bit astonished that they write up to 90% CRI factor on the Ebay page. Yes. The whole XM-L series can deliver up to 90%. But not the used "U2" model. As always - Just write something to blend the customers ^^

  • About the popularity: If it is really the case, then I am sad to hear about it. It´s one of the most solid lights out there (in nearly every aspect).

    We got that you like it. But it is not best choice for quite a time.

    Available in cool white, 80‑CRI minimum neutral white and 80‑CRI, 85‑CRI and 90‑CRI warm white

    As for CRI, I'll need to check this with factory. As it can be also wrong citing of binning by sellers. CRI and light output are almost always opposite, with best CRI being warmer and less efficient lights.

  • Sorry if I sound a little bit biased. No offense ^^. About the CRI: Yes. It seems so. The best CRI rated CREE XM-L LEDs are for example the darker 2600k up to 3200k versions. Btw.: It´s maybe too much to ask this after our "active" discussion but:

    Is there maybe a chance to get a good PV deal on the original F&V R300 ring lights (incl. the milk filter and the light stand mount)? Just asking. Because that one is even more - or lets say - WAY more interesting than the Z96. Very bright, quite small, lightweight, also good built & high LED quality AND very soft (with the milk filter). Also price wise very interesting (retail price is for example around 200€ here in europe including all taxes & VAT!).

    Just asking =)

  • How about this? Any good?

    www.fvlighting.com/store/lighting/led/r300.html