Anyone who has ever used a camera has seen what lighting can do to a shot. The proper lighting may make or break a video, giving detail or contrast, or enhancing color. In this article, we will delve into the world of videography lights. Read on to get everything you want to know.
Why is lighting important for videography?
Compared to human eyes, cameras process light quite differently. The lens does not allow for nearly as much detail and contrast as our eyes do, because our eyes can change and respond to what we perceive. Camera lenses are fixed and cannot do this function. Lighting is one method we try to compensate for this in videography. Here are some reasons why it plays a big role.
Visibility: Good lighting makes the subject or scene visible, allowing the audience to see all the details and fully understand what is going on without straining their eyes. It aids with the removal of shadows, extreme darkness, and overexposure, which leads to a well-balanced and appealing image.
Mood and Atmosphere: Different videography lighting techniques may be used to create different emotions and atmospheres in videos. Bright and evenly lit situations, for example, can create feelings of happiness or optimism, whereas low-key lighting with dramatic shadows can evoke feelings of suspense or mystery. Lighting contributes to the overall tone and emotional effect of the video.
Depth and Dimension: By producing highlights and shadows, proper lighting gives depth and dimension to your videography. It aids in the definition of item shape and texture, increasing visual appeal and making the video appear more three-dimensional.
Focus and Emphasis: Videography lights may draw the attention of the viewer to certain areas within the shot. It directs the viewer's focus and accentuates the major parts of the scene by highlighting the subject or relevant items.
Aesthetics: Lighting contributes to the video's overall artistic appeal. Lighting settings that are well-planned and implemented may make the video visually beautiful, interesting, and professional-looking. It can improve the colors, contrast, and general composition, raising the total output value.
In a nutshell, lighting in videography is critical for visibility, mood, depth, highlighting elements, and enhancing the overall visual aesthetics.
Different types of lights used in videography
If classified by bulb types, there are four common types, including HMI, Tungsten, Fluorescents, and LED videography lights. If classified by light design, you can get the ring, panel, and tube lights for videography. Read on to learn about more information.
If classified by bulb types
HMI: HMI lights utilize mercury vapor and metal halide to generate a high level of brightness while maintaining decent energy efficiency. The light emitted by HMI lights closely resembles natural sunlight (6000K), resulting in a balanced daylight effect. Although they may have a significant initial cost, these lights can effectively reduce power expenses over time. However, it should be noted that they require bulky ballasts and lack full dimming capabilities. Generally, they are not recommended for average videographers.
Tungsten: This type of videography lights can be considered as highly powerful variations of traditional incandescent light bulbs commonly used in households. With a color temperature of 3200K, tungsten is the standard choice for indoor lighting. If different color temperatures are desired, gels will be needed. Tungsten lights are relatively affordable and offer satisfactory color accuracy. However, there are some drawbacks to consider. They tend to generate heat, consume a significant amount of power, and require careful handling of the bulbs. It is crucial to always wear gloves when handling tungsten lamps, even when they are cool, as the oil from your fingers can lead to the lamp exploding.
Fluorescents: Fluorescent lights employ the use of gas to produce a radiant glow, which is then intensified by a phosphor coating. These lights are highly energy-efficient and offer a wide range of color temperatures, spanning from 2700K to 6500K. Fluorescent lighting is compact in size and generates minimal heat. While regular fluorescent lights used for general purposes may exhibit issues like flickering and subpar color accuracy, those specifically designed for video production typically overcome these problems. Professional-grade fluorescent lights employ special techniques to eliminate flickering and ensure superior color quality, although they do come with a higher price tag compared to household fluorescents.
LED lights for videography: LED units are highly energy-efficient, although they have a reputation for producing relatively low levels of brightness. These videography lights can deliver adjustable lighting across the RGB spectrum and commonly feature bi-color settings that enable easy switching between daylight and tungsten color temperatures. While they were once considered a new technology, LEDs are currently expanding at a rapid pace and are increasingly utilized in both panels and Fresnel light fixtures. Unlike other bulb types, LEDs exhibit an incredibly long lifespan, provide full dimming capabilities, and are built to be sturdy and safe.
If classified by shape
Panel light: Panel light is one of the most versatile lights for videography. An LED light panel for videography is a good choice among this type. It is compact, lightweight, and emits little heat while offering accurate color reproduction. Most LED panels also feature adjustable color temperatures and brightness levels.
Ring light for videography: A ring light is the top lighting option for capturing videos of individuals, particularly for YouTube or vlogging purposes, such as interviews. It offers a light source that eliminates shadows on the subject, providing a seamless and evenly lit appearance. By shooting through a circular band of light surrounding the camera, the lights have no specific directionality, resulting in the absence of any shadows. Additionally, ring lights can be incorporated into an existing lighting setup to create a catchlight effect in the subject's eyes.
Besides the aforementioned two types, there are also videography lights in the types of tube, strip, etc. Each has its pros and cons in the video production.
Best videography lights: 3 picks at COLBOR
COLBOR is a videography light manufacturer that offers LED continuous lights ranging from compact LED panel and studio lights for videography. They feature different power outputs, making them ideal for various types of video making. Here we will recommend three best picks at COLBOR.
The COLBOR CL60 is an LED light designed for video production and vlogging. It brings the following benefits for videography:
- It is small and light, making it easy to transport and store.
- Its modular design allows it to construct a strong 650W matrix by simply sliding them together.
- It boasts a CRI of 97+, which ensures accurate and natural color reproduction.
- It includes a changeable color temperature range of 2700K to 6500K, which allows it to adapt to varied settings and lighting circumstances.
- It comes with a Bowens mount adapter and is compatible with various light modifiers and accessories.
- It boasts a quiet cooling system that prevents undesired sound interference during video recording.
- It supports multiple power options, including AC power, PD power bank, V-mount battery, and NP-F battery.
- It can be remotely controlled via the COLBOR Studio app, which also allows for OTA updates and extra effects.
The COLBOR CL100X is a compact and powerful videography light. It features a bi-color temperature range of 2700 to 6500K that can be adjusted to suit various lighting scenarios. It also has a high color rendering index of 97+, indicating that colors may be reproduced properly and naturally. The lamp features an integrated dimmer that allows you to adjust the brightness from 0 to 100%, and it may be powered by AC power or optional batteries.
The CL100X has a Bowens mount adapter on which other light modifiers, such as softboxes, reflectors, or umbrellas, may be attached. The light also contains ten pre-programmed lighting effects, such as fire, TV, and explosion, that may be used to create various atmospheres for your video projects. You can use your smartphone to control the CL100X remotely, and you can link up to ten lights together to make a powerful lighting matrix. The COLBOR CL100X is a flexible and portable light that may improve the quality and creativity of your videography.
The COLBOR CL220R is a 220W RGB light for videography. It comes with the following features:
- It has full-color lighting choices and a powerful 220W output, allowing you to create your distinct palette and ambiance for your videography.
- It has an M/G color balance function that provides perfect color variation and white balance management, resulting in bright and realistic colors for your subjects and scenarios.
- It includes 13 pre-set lighting effects, such as fire, spark, TV, party, and explosion, to provide an exciting layer to your multimedia production and narrative.
- It contains a NATO rail and adapter, which allows it to be used with a variety of Bowens and NATO-based modifiers, such as fresnel lenses, projection lenses, softboxes, and so on, to improve and modify your light production.
- It can run on V-Mount batteries when AC power is absent, making it suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.
How to choose: 5 factors to consider
By considering the following factors, you can find videography lights that suit your needs and requirements best and enhance the overall video quality.
Light Quality: Light quality is critical for videography since it influences the entire appearance and feel of videography. Look for lights with a high CRI, which assesses how well a light source renders colors in comparison to natural light. For great color accuracy, a CRI of 90 or better is suggested. Consider the color temperature as well. Indoor videography usually employs daylight-balanced lights with color temperatures around 5500K.
Power: Power output is commonly measured in watts or lumens. Videography light with higher power output can offer brighter illumination. Consider your filming scenario and the brightness level you need. Lights with adjustable output levels allow you to regulate the intensity based on your needs, enabling versatility in a variety of lighting scenarios.
Size and Portability: Depending on your requirements, you may want portable lights for videography. They are ideal for on-location shooting or movable setups. Consider the weight, dimensions, and any additional mounting or positioning equipment required.
Special Features: Consider extra features that lights may offer based on your creative requirements. Some lights feature wireless connection, allowing you to operate them remotely via smartphone apps. Others may include the option to modify colors or vary color temperature, which may be handy for creating creative effects for your videography.
Price: Videography lights come in a wide range of prices. Determine your budget and look for a fixture within that price range. Remember that higher-priced lights frequently have superior build quality, advanced functions, and improved light quality. However, there are less expensive options that might still produce good results.
FAQ about lights for videography
What videography lighting techniques can I apply to video production?
There are 10 basic types of lighting used in videography:
- Key lighting: Key light for videography is the primary and most powerful light source to illuminate the subject or the scene.
- Fill: It eliminates the harsh shadows cast by the key light and adds dimension.
- Backlighting: It points toward the subject from behind to define the features and separate them from the backdrop.
- Side: It illuminates the subject from the side and concentrates on the face contours, which results in a dramatic high-contrast effect.
- Practical: It is is any apparent light source inside the scene, such as lamps, candles, light fixtures, and television sets. They aren't generally powerful enough to illuminate a subject, but they contribute to the cinematic atmosphere of the scene.
- Hard lighting: This can create harsh shadows and draw viewers’ attention to the target subject or specific area of the scene.
- Soft: It has little to no severe shadows. It is a lighting technique to create a bright yet balanced scene.
- High-key lighting: This is a lighting style in which there are no shadows and the brightness is extreme, verging on overexposure. It is commonly used in television sitcoms, music videos, and commercials.
- Low key: It uses many shadows to create a feeling of mystery or tension.
- Motivated lighting: It is used to simulate natural light sources in a setting, such as the sun or the moon.
- Bounce lighting: This is a method that uses a reflector to bounce light from a strong source toward the subject, softening and spreading the light.
What videography light setup can I use in indoor video making?
Here are 5 options that you can choose from:
Three-point lighting: Three videography lights are used in this setup: key, fill, and back lights. This is the most commonly used scheme used by YouTubers and streamers since it is ideal for one person speaking into the camera. You can add a diffuser to the backlight to soften the illumination and enable it to look more natural.
Two lights: A bounce card can be used in place of a fill light if you only have two lights. The light from your key light will be directed onto your subject's face using this kind of reflector. You could also use a window instead of a fill light if you have one and some lovely daylight available. To provide a uniform light over you as you stand and walk about, you may alternatively position two lamps at eye level on either side of your setup.
Four lights: You may add a backdrop light to your three-point setup. This is roughly waist-high and stands directly behind the subject, illuminating the backdrop. Not every background requires a light, but this lighting setup illuminates the wall behind the subject and eliminates shadows.
One light: If you just want to utilize one light for a YouTube video or live stream, a ring light placed right behind the camera is your best option.
Natural light: Natural lighting is always the top choice if you can make it work for you. It costs the least as well. Place your camera between you and the window while filming close to the window. This is a far better angle for the light to shine on you than it is for it to shine on your back. Making the most of window lighting can also include placing a reflector on your opposite side and arranging yourself such that the window is on your side – this creates natural loop lighting!