After tackling the DIY ring light project and expressing some things you need to keep in mind before starting out, it may not be for everyone. So if you're not the DIY type, here's a ring light that Serge is sharing with us through the comments. Looks like it could be something to consider. I thought i'd post a single article on it for others to get more visibility about this product. [Thanks Serge]
Here's a couple of inspiring videos that do a great job showcasing low budget gear with great results. First up is another tutorial from Vimeo Member TLA Productions (showed us the use of the DIY Ring light for use in Video), but this time he's showing us the RedHead lighting kit. Yeah this is the same stuff i've been talking about for a while now, but I really haven't been able to show you guys how well they work. TLA Productions does a better job at this, and it's great to see other people using it.
RedHead Lights and Kits can be found here:
RedHead Lighting Kits for Continuos Video Lighting
Next is a great little documentary short from Vimeo member Hello Stranger. Shot using the cheap $24.00 dollar shoulder support, a 50mm F/1.4 and a Sigma 20mm F/1.8. For Audio, it was just a Zoom H1. Just goes to show you that it's not all about expensive gear behind the picture. Pretty cool video, and if you want to show support with a vote, it was shot for the Nikon Contest at http://www.festivalnikon.fr/videos/view/id/251
No audio in this video, I had nothing to say. Just playing around. Testing a 3.5" LCD to see if it will hold up as a remote viewfinder or Electronic View Finder. It displays 960x480 pixels, and adjustments can be made to contrast and brightness. I tried other small LCD's but none of them had the pixel count required to focus. The lower pixel count LCD's are only good for framing a shot. This one seems to be pretty good at setting focus and had better color and contrast than the other mini LCD's. Input is through basic composite cables, but the GH2 doesn't do live view recording unless it's through HDMI. The Canon cameras will output with Composite cables during recording, but I don't have my Canon cables with me today, so i'll have to test later. It's also just a 4:3 aspect ratio, and may not be able to convert a 16:9 signal correctly. Could be something pretty cool for the GoPro, but we'll see where I end up with this thing.
Looks like Yongnuo is always one step ahead of me. Earlier I posted about their 135 LED Video light, which uses rechargeable batteries and can be charged via USB. Looks like they are well on their way to building up more accessories for DSLR video and the 160 LED is the next in line. This wasn't on their website the last time I checked, but here it is already for sale today. Here's where it gets a bit confusing, so try to follow along. It 'looks' like the CN-160 which is a larger version of the CN-126. The goose neck deal looks very similar, but the Yongnuo YN-160 is a different light than the CN-160.
Back of YN-160
Back of CN-160 (OLD Version)
Ok, so we know it's not the same light, and the Yongnuo's are putting out barndoors. Might be good, might be bad. Here's another thing that will confuse you even more. The old CN-160 has had a major overhaul and tries to mimic the design of the Z96! My head is spinning, but hopefully you're all following. Here's the latest build on the CN-160 with stacking capabilities to create a single larger light panel and a better goose neck than the previous models. This looks like a true rival for the Z96 which sells for way more than this 'new' CN-160.
So as far as 160 LED Video lights go - it doesn't look like Yongnuo's 160 is 'stacking' up. No pun intended...ok i'm lying..pun was definitely intended. The latest Dimmable 160 LED Video Lights found here:
Yongnuo 160 LED Video Camera Light
Shortly after posting the DIY Ring Light article, things got real quiet on this blog. I went M.I.A..... So a couple of friends came by and we decided to spend a few hours whipping one up. This is a very old DIY Photography project, but not something every household wants to have laying around the bedroom. There's no way to really break this thing down any smaller than it's designed, but since I have a bit of space in the warehouse, I thought it would be a handy thing to have around. Just another budget light to add to the collection of things, that throws some very interesting catch-lights. When i'm ready to use it next week, i'll share some of those examples.
Depending on how you plan to set this up, it might not be as cheap or be completed as fast as you think. So here's some things we did, tips for making it better than we did (the first time), and things to know:
This video that re-inspired me to tackle the project used a 2x4 sheet of wood. Since the ring itself was only going to be 2ft. round, we decided to start out with a 2ft. round table top. It was $16 dollars as opposed to an $8 dollar sheet of wood, but it was thicker, better wood, and already the perfect size with a rounded edge. The depth of the table also helped to recess the wiring which you want to make sure you cover the terminals up well, and prevent people from touching it. It was also a better quality wood with a smooth sanded finish.
We laid out 12 basic Light Sockets and figured out how much of the inner circle we needed to cut out. It's a fairly large hole in the center, and if you want a perfect circle, you'll need a better saw than a jig. If you don't mind the unevenness of the cut, then a simple Jigsaw would do fine, with some further sanding. We used some decent gauge solid core wiring connecting each light socket in parallel. Might be over-kill but you want to make sure there's the least amount of resistance from lighting up 12 bulbs. We ended it with a 16 gauge pig tail (extension cord).
Dimmer switches? Different dimmer switches are rated to safely carry a certain amount of watts. If you plan on running 40-60watt bulbs, remember that you'll be running 12 of them. Higher wattage Dimmer switches aren't super cheap. Now some of you might be thinking about going Fluorescent with this ring light to generate less heat, draw less watts, but not all FL's are dimmable. If you decide on using the dimmable type of FL's, each bulb can run about $8 dollars, and you'll need to buy 12 of them. Most LED Bulbs should have no problems being dimmable, but those can be fairly expensive in the hardware stores too.
So we started out using 12 tungsten 60 watt bulbs and although we had a dimmer, we didn't throw it in. After lighting the unit up, we found that 12 x 60watt bulbs weren't really as bright as you'd think. Even if we had a dimmer in place, I'm not sure I would use it. I do plan on switching to the more expensive dimmable FL's, and can probably run some brighter bulbs. With brighter FL's drawing less power, I can throw in the dimmer and see if it needs to be used. With the Panasonic GH2 doing the photos and video, I found when the aperture was set to F/5.6 the Auto ISO wanted to be at 800. That might give you a better idea of how much light output you'll get from 12 x 60watt bulbs. If we were shooting at F/2.8 we could probably be down to about ISO 200 or better.
Paint it before attaching everything. Although the ring light adds a nice effect and an interesting reflection, when we tested the ring light against a pair of sunglasses, you can clearly see the wood table. Again, this doesn't show up with simple eye reflections, but will show up if you decide to use this against a pair of tinted glasses. You would need to paint the wood a flat black, and you should do this 'before' wiring things up. It's going to just take you more time if you have to take it apart and do it after everything is mounted.
This 2 foot round ring light works best if your subject is close. The further the subject is from the ring light, the smaller the catch light is. If I were to use this, I would have the subject about 2-3ft away and shoot through the ring using my 70-200 lens. Once you have it built, you'll test a few things out and find what works, but if you want it to be noticeable, you'll move the subject closer.
Wiring was the most tedious part, not difficult at all, but was slow moving. We had to cut, strip, bend, and screw the wiring in place and when dealing with solid core, it's time consuming. Don't expect to have something like this all put together in 20 minutes - especially if you have to let paint dry. This project will easily take you a few hours, but well worth it. This is a different kind of light with a look and an output that would be hard to replicate. We had a lot of fun building it, and even more fun drumming up new ideas and sparked some creativeness. Definitely something I suggest every creative studio have, as you'll find plenty of uses for it.
The video below shows an example of how this ring light was used. Notice the catch light in the eyes of the artist.
So what's next? How about a 2ft round 'Ring Flash'?? One very very large studio strobe. Now that the foundation is built, it would be easy to swap the continuous light bulbs to these special inexpensive 'Flash Bulbs'. This would provide a very nice soft even flash from a fairly large ring light source..
Beauty ring flashes are popular for photography headshots because they provide an interesting catch light in the subject's eyes. Not sure how many of you caught this video, but this was a DIY ring light I seen a while back from Flickr photos. Here's an old version of this http://www.flickr.com/photos/rodolfonovak/196220050/
Now that DSLR's are shooting HD, this project seems to have resurfaced for use with video from Vimeo member TLA Productions. It's a simple design that anyone with a bit of electrical knowledge might be able to tackle, but if your clumsy or clueless, then you can probably just build out the basics and ask an electrician to finish the wiring. Shouldn't be more than a few bucks, and a couple of hours and would be great for Photos or even a Photo booth project too. It's going to provide a much different look than smaller LED ring lights. The bigger your light source, the softer the light and it really shows when used in this video. Looks like i'll have to revisit this project again...
Here's another idea. If you want something closer to Daylight, bulbs that aren't as Fragile, draw less power requirements, and generate almost no heat, check out these LED house bulbs for the DIY Ring Light project. They might be something to look into as an option.
It's designed to be a 1:1 scale of a Canon-Like DSLR with 24-105mm F/4L lens, but it's actually an MP3 player. This replica can play files from USB thumb drives or from SDHC memory cards. When you're not playing music from flash media, you can attach it via USB or through a 3.5mm plug and use it as a speaker. The name says 'Caoon' not 'Canon' over the top, but wouldn't be too hard to modify that yourself. Found over at Gadget4All.com.
Here's a basic setup of rails, HD Handles, base plate, and Adapter plate from Express35.com. I emailed Chris about how I like using the cheap $24.00 dollar shoulder support, but you have to be somewhat inventive to create an adapter for offsetting it. I was surprised to hear back that as an experiment Chris setup this horizontal bar to adapt the rig and to offset it. It's extremely solid, and also an inexpensive way to adapt the two instead of using more expensive rods and clamps. This is not a final design in any way, but nice to see that he's willing to adapt to other accessories we choose to use. A few others have expressed interest in how to do this, so if you've got questions, hit up http://Express35.com or follow Chris via Twitter @express35.
Ooops! Looks like prices are slightly going up. Might need to change the name.
Shoulder Support Pad for Video Camcorder Camera DV / DC
Chris M. share's some images of his Cineroid EVF which I believe is the first EVF out on the market. We're still waiting for Zacuto and RedRock Micro to release their version. If you're that impatient type that needs an EVF now, there's a limited amount of these Cineroid things you can grab over at HotRodCameras.com, where you'll find more information about all the questions you might have.