What are the best portable LED camera lights?
Over recent years, LED lights have been replacing older tungsten lights in video production. You can balance them to be either indoor or daylight and this makes them versatile for lighting different types of scene. Compared with older tungsten lights they use a fraction of the power, with 30 watts of power giving off 250-500 watts of light. They are also far more durable so you don’t have to worry about broken bulbs. LED lights create far less heat. Actors no longer have to cook while trying to deliver their lines and there is less risk of a fire, which makes them safer. LED lights also have the advantage of portable battery power. This makes them great for location filming where you don’t have access to mains power.
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Portable Camera Lights
Although the three-point lighting set up is the ideal way to film an interview, it is not always possible to carry a full lighting kit when you are a mobile filmmaker. The best solution to this problem is to carry with you some portable lighting. Now I don’t mean a full set of stand-alone redheads or a full Kino rig. This would defeat the object of being a mobile filmmaker. What you can carry with you is one of the many portable LED camera lights that are now available. These lights usually have a cold shoe adaptor so you can mount them above your camera. This is a good solution when you need to light someone quickly. Which light you buy depends on your budget. Some come with diffusers which can take the edge of any harsh light they cast and some have colour filters to change the colour balance from warm to cool. Whatever you buy, do make sure it has a cold shoe mount or adaptor so you can slide the light on to a rig, stabiliser or above your camera. To help you choose, here are a few suggestions.
The Viltrox L116T is a great low cost LED light for video production. The LED lights have a honeycomb layout design and this improves the amount of light cast. It also includes an acrylic light guide that makes the light soft and gives it a more natural look. This makes it ideal for portrait photography, YouTube videos and general video production.
At maximum brightness it will give 810 Lux and you can adjust its colour temperature from 3300K to 5600K. So you can adjust from daylight to indoor light settings with ease. On the back of the light is an LCD display. You can use this to see the remaining battery life of the light, the colour temperature and the overall brightness.
You can power the light in two ways by using the included NP-F550 battery and USB charger or connecting it to an external 12V power supply. At the bottom of the light is cold shoe adaptor with a ¼ inch screw mount. You can use these two choices to mount the light on a tripod or video camera.
Price: $43.00 £35.00 €39.00
The Neewer CN-160 is another low cost LED camera light. It comes with two filters that you can use to diffuse the light source to give you a softer look. The other will change the colour balance to 3200K for when you are filming indoors. If the light is looking too bright, you can adjust it manually to the amount that you need. You do this with the rotational dial, which will also turn the light on or off.
The Neewer CN-160 will give off plenty of light for most of your lighting needs with its 160 LED lights. There is a silver surface behind these LED lights to add to its overall lighting power. The light gets its power from 6 AA batteries or you can use a Panasonic SD Series Li-ion Battery or a Sony Li-ion FH, FM and F Battery. At the bottom of the light is a lockable cold shoe that will fit most cameras with a cold shoe mount or you can add the light to a tripod or camera rig.
Price: $31.00 £25.00 €28.00
Yongnuo YN300 Air
The Yongnuo YN300 Air is a great budget light for your camera. It has 300 high quality LED lights that should give you plenty of power to light up your scenes. The professional LED IC driver offers light stability and a light efficiency as high as 93%. It also comes with an automatic light adjustment that adapts to the brightness of the location environment. You can adjust the colour temperature of this light so you can change the light balance to daylight or indoor as you need it.
This light comes with a wireless remote and you can use this to change the brightness of the light and turn it on or off. This is useful if you have the light set up in a high position and need to control it from a distance. You can also control it with an app for your Smartphone. At the bottom of the light is a metal cold shoe that will attach to any camera or rig with a cold shoe adaptor. The battery life is good to and this light gets its power from a single NP-F lithium rechargeable battery.
Price: $65.00 £52.00 €59.00
If you are looking for a light with the most brightness you cannot go far wrong with the Neewer CN-216. It gives off tons of light, which should be more than enough for your filming needs. It can do this with a special LED bulb layout to give it a brighter and wider lighting range. You can also adjust this brightness with the built in dimmer. The LED lights should have a lifespan of up to 50000 hours. So they are not going to go wrong any time soon.
It has a colour temperature between 3200K and 5600K so it will balance between daylight and indoor lighting. You can also affect the colour balance by adding the two filters that come with it in front of the LED panel. There are extension slots on the side of the CN-216 and these allow you to combine several of the lights together. This means you can have a bigger lighting panel if you need it. It is good on energy consumption and gets its power from 6 AA batteries or a rechargeable NP-F lithium battery. There is also a battery indicator to let you know how much power the light has before it turns off. At the bottom of the light is a cold shoe mount so you can add it to your camera or put it on a rig or tripod.
Price: $39.00 £32.00 €35.00
Lume Cube 1500 Lumen Light
The Lume Cube is a small but powerful LED light that will fit neatly into your kitbag and won’t take up much room. Measuring at 1.5 inches you could easily carry a few of them and it has many uses for video production. As the name suggests, it has a Lumen power of 1500, which equals about 25 watts, which is ample power for a light of this size. Another great feature of the Lume Cube is that you can control it with your Smartphone. If you want to adjust the brightness you can do this wirelessly over Bluetooth. In fact you can control up to five Lume Cubes this way so you could have them in various awkward places and still have full control over them.
If you want to mount the Lume Cube to a stand, you can do that too with the screw mount. It also has a built in magnet and suction cup that allows you to attach it to almost anything. This is great help if you are filming in a tight space like a car. You can even put them in a waterproof case, throw them in a pool and then control their brightness with your Smartphone. There are many lighting possibilities with this light and it has various attachments available so you can mount it on a Go Pro camera or even a Drone.
Price: $85.00 £69.00 €77.00
Manfrotto Lumimuse 8
The LumiMuse 8 is the biggest and brightest LED light in Manfrotto’s LumiMuse range but is still portable and perfect for video production. You can control the brightness of the light by simply adjusting the four stage dimming button which also doubles up as the on and off switch. It’s powerful too, with a bright light running at 8 Lux. There are plenty of mounting choices for the LumiMuse 8 and it comes with a ball-head, which includes a cold-shoe attachment so you can mount it to any cold-shoe adaptor. There is also a ¼” screw thread so if you want to mount the light on a stand you can.
It includes a set of colour filters and a filter mount so you can change the colour temperature of the light if needed. There is also a handy carry case to keep the filters and adaptors safe when travelling about. You can buy other filter kits to use with the LumiMuse if the supplied ones don’t give you the right results. The LumiMuse gets its power by Li-on batteries, which you charge by a standard micro USB port. When fully charged these will usually last about one hour before needing a recharge, which should give you enough time for most video shoots. Although, it’s wise to carry a portable charger just in case you need to recharge the light.
Price: $78.00 £64.00 €70.00
The Godox LED64 is an excellent compact budget video light for your camera. It’s lightweight and portable and provides high brightness and accurate colour temperature. It has a lux of about 1000 so it will be good enough for subjects that are close to your camera. You can also add other Godoz LED64 lights together by interlocking them. This will give you more lights without using another cold shoe mount.
The light itself has 64 LED bulbs and you can adjust these for brightness with the built in dimmer. It gets its power from 4 AA batteries but you can also plug in to an AC power supply if you need to use the light for long periods. The universal cold shoe mount means it will fit most cameras or stabilisers that support the cold shoe mount.
Price: $28.00 £23.00 €25.00
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