Monthly Archives: May 2013

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Here's an unboxing of the new Aputure Amaran 528 LED Video lights along with a few tests to show the difference in spread (diffusion) and light output. [Note: The readings on the C-500 Light Meter may not be accurate with the full spectrum of LED lighting, but should provide a baseline for comparison between the lights. Do not accept my readings as an accurate source for each manufacturers specifications]

The lights are about the size of an iPad (not as thin), so carrying around a three piece lighting kit should be an easy task. For a very portable solution, these ultra portable Light Stands are a great combination (found here). The three different Amaran LED Video lights share mostly the same features which include a Digital brightness display, Double power supply system (battery or AC), the ability to charge batteries from the unit while being powered by AC, a Battery power indicator, and all come with a nice Carrying case.

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find-price-button Aputure AL-528W LED Video Light Panels

The AL-528W is an all daylight color temp rated at 5500K and throws a 75 degree beam angle.
The AL-528S is an all daylight color temp rated at 5500K but throws only at a 25 degree beam angle (spotlight type effect).
The AL-528C throws at the 75 degree beam angle, but can adjust color between 3200K-5500K using two sets of different color LED bulbs.

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Batteries can be charged in the LED Light Unit

The unit DOES NOT come with batteries. You will have to purchase a set of Sony NPF style batteries, but you don't need to purchase a charger, since the Amaran LED light allows you to charge the batteries while mounted to the LED light (I haven't tested how long to charge a battery). I have to admit, the digital display does come in handy when you're monitoring power from a glance. Why doesn't all LED lights have this?

The Digital display shows you Kelvin temp and Power output. I don't know how accurate this is, but I can see this being very useful if you're trying to match the color or the brightness between three (or more) different lights. I have more tests to do, but for more information on the Aputure Amaran AL528W, AL528S, and AL528C, they can be found at eBay (click here).

Aputure AL-528W LED Video Light Panel 5Aputure AL-528W LED Video Light Panel 4Aputure AL-528W LED Video Light Panel
find-price-button Aputure AL-528W LED Video Light Panels

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The new Carry Speed VF-4 LCD View Finder was first announced during NAB 2013. The new VF-4 model has improved design and functionality over the popular VF-3 model. Today Carry Speed has announced the VF-4 is officially available for purchase, along with an introductory $50 OFF retail price Coupon (found here).

A few enhancements include compatibility with LCD Screens up to 3.2", repositioned side brackets to allow better access to buttons and dials, angled sunhood for access to touch screen LCDs, and the new VF-4 is slightly lighter in weight but stronger in design. An optional extension bracket is available to fit the VF-4 on taller cameras or camera with battery grip attachments.

More information about the new Carry Speed VF-4 LCD Video View finder can be found at CarrySpeed.com (here)

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find-price-button Carry Speed VF-4 LCD View Finder & VF-4 Bundle (with Extension Bracket)
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A few weeks ago, I showed an example of a motorized rotating table that can be used for products. It's a great way to add dynamic movement of your products, and I suggest you take a look at that video (found here).

Jay writes in and shares another small rotating product table. This one is not as inexpensive as the one i'm using, but it has better features. The product I use is cheaper, but only has the option for ON/OFF. The little table is rated to support up to 100 lbs (Jay mentioned his kids could stand on the table), and also comes with Variable speed from 1-10RPM.

It may look small from the images, but the specs state the table weighs 35lbs, so it sounds pretty heavy duty. [Thanks for the tip Jay]. If you can dish out a bit more cash, this rotating product table looks pretty good found via Amazon (click here).

Motorized Product Table Variable Speed
find-price-button Variable Speed Rotating Product Table 1-10RPM

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Here's a video from YouTube member Kicapiproduction showcasing one of Wondlan's new Wireless Follow Focus System products. The new WFF is designed into a single unit that contains an 5" 1200x800 resolution HDMI monitor [thanks Kicap].

According to the details of the video, the wireless focus system is rated to have wireless range of up to 100 meters, but the the wireless monitor is only rated for a 30-60 meter range. I'm not sure what's going on with the use of an external HDMI cable to the monitor. It seems like they just threw an HDMI monitor inside of a case along with one of their existing Wondlan Memonic Wireless Follow Focus system (found here).

Wondlan wireless follow focus systemwondlan follow focus
find-price-button Wondlan Memonic Wireless Follow Focus system

With more refinement i'm sure they can shrink the entire package down, keep all the circuitry internally, and actually make it one single unit. Looks like a cool system, but might be a bit early on the design right now. The unit isn't posted on their website yet, but i'll keep an eye open to how this new product develops.

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Ever wonder how your LED light compares to others on the market? 600 LEDs? 1200 LEDs? Adjustable Color Temp? 5600K? CRI? 2200 Lux? Yadda Yadda Yadda... There's a few dozen LED video lights on the market, but i'm not sure if there are true standards in which they are being tested before the specs are listed on the packaging. Light output can be measured at different distances, and if the rating on the box seems pretty high it's possible it was tested at a distance of 1 foot while another may have been tested at 4 feet away.

LED Video Lights Cheesycam

There are just too many variables, so I finally decided to run a few tests of my own in a more standardized fashion. I'm starting out by placing various lights at a distance of 4 feet. I'll be able to compare the spread (diffusion) of each light with this method. I'll be using the Sekonic C-500 Color Meter to take a few LUX readings to see which has the highest light output. I'm also able to take color temperature readings and check for color bias (green/magenta cast).

[Note: The readings on the C-500 may not be accurate with LED lighting, but should provide a baseline for comparison between the lights. Do not accept my readings as an accurate source for each manufacturers specifications]

Cheesycam LED Video Light Test Sekonic C500 C-500 Color Meter
find-price-button Sekonic Prodigi Color C-500 Color Meter

A few things to keep in mind about the various LED lights on the market. Higher output doesn't necessarily make a better LED light. It could just mean one is more spotty instead of diffused. Bi-Color LED lights have much less light output than LED video lights with only one color, but the Bi-Color light can quickly adjust to match ambient lighting as opposed to a light that may be stuck at 6000K and require you to carry filters. An LED light might look great at full power, but adjusting the dimmer or adjusting the color temperature can introduce color shift, color cast, or sometimes banding or flickering.

Not to mention the physical qualities like size, weight, power requirements like battery type, AC/DC adapters, build quality, remote capabilities, available light modifiers, and finally pricing. Some people may want a harsh spot light while others may want a very soft diffused source. Some will request the biggest and brightest, while others will require something more portable. There are many LED video lights on the market, each with their own pros and cons. My goal with this project is simply to set a benchmark test that can compare and contrast side by side a few of the lights available today.

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(above) CN600 vs K4000

BTW, If you're wondering what my preference is between the two lights I just tested, I prefer the F&V. Although the CN600 had a stronger LUX reading it is mostly concentrated in the center. The K4000S diffuses better (even without the diffuser on), can maintain better color (less greenish tint compared to CN600), and can quickly be dialed in to match other lighting without carrying around additional filters.

Sure there's a bit of green on the K4000S, but only when it gets down to 3200K. A simple minus green filter or WB shift in-camera can easily correct this. I feel the K4000S pros outweigh any of the cons compared to the CN600 and the F&V K4000 lights are also a bit cheaper for each piece if you opt in for the 3 pc Studio Kit (found here).

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find-price-button K4000 Single Color / K4000S Bi-Color LED Video Light Kits

600 CN600 CN600 LED Video Light
find-price-button CN-600 600 LED Video Light

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Carry Speed VF-4

Here's an unboxing video of the brand new Carry Speed VF-4 LCD View Finder. This new LCD View Finder was announced a short time back, but has not been officially on sale (just yet). The redesign improves on many little details of the previous Carry Speed VF-3 View Finder (found here).

While the Carry Speed VF-4 is currently not on sale (at time of this writing), here's your chance to get one exclusively from Cheesycam. As part of a promotion to introduce the new product, I'm sponsoring a Give Away that selects one random person to receive a brand new Carry Speed VF-4. To register for a chance to be one of the first to receive a VF-4, just the follow the link to the sweepstakes page (click here).

Cheesycam Sweep VF-4
Enter the FREE Carry Speed VF-4 Give Away - sponsored by Cheesycam

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These Mini Telescoping Video Jib / Cranes are getting cheaper by the week. Typically the Carbon Fiber Version (found here) runs for close to $300 dollars, but here's a pretty sweet deal on the Aluminum version for just $169.99 (found here) which even includes counterweights and a bowl adapter. Below is an example video we put together on how these cranes operate.

These ultra-portable video jibs fold down to about 30″ inches, but can telescope to a full 6.5′ Feet long. Comes with a travel bag, Mini Jib supporting rod for counterweights, x3 Counterweights, and a Bowl adapter for 70mm/100mm video fluid heads. Pretty sweet price for a mini travel crane, and I suggest you look into more details following the link (click here).

Mini Portable Jib CraneMini Bowl Adapter Jib Crane Travel Carbon Aluminum
find-price-button Aluminum Portable Travel Telescoping Mini Jib Crane

International Orders

For International orders, you may want to check this listing for the same Portable Mini Telescoping Video Jib / Crane via eBay (click here).

Portable Telesciping Mini Jib Crane
find-price-button DSLR Video Mini Portable Telescoping Jib Crane

Live Feed Mini Jibs Available Now - via eBay

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The Panasonic DMC-GX1 was a popular little Micro Four Thirds camera only released about a year ago. At 4mp burst mode, the camera can capture a fast 20 frames per second. Besides the built in pop-up flash, the GX1 still offers a hot shoe for attaching a more powerful external flash. The camera can also accept an optional EVF attachment. If you're looking for a small handheld MFT camera, B&H currently has the DMC-GX1 on sale, for under $240 (body only) via B&H (click here).

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find-price-button Panasonic DMC-GX1 MFT Camera

[Update] Just overnight the camera dropped another $50 dollars down to $199 (body only) via Amazon (found here).

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find-price-button Panasonic DMC-GX1 MFT Camera - via Amazon

This is great deal on a small travel photo camera. Often when i'm trying to figure out the quality that can be achieved from a certain camera or even Camera + Lens combo, i'll jump over to see what images have been captured by doing a Flickr search. There are some really amazing images coming from the Panasonic DMC-GX1, and you can check it out at Flickr (click here).

Flickr DMC-GX1
Images from Panasonic DMC-GX1 MFT Digital Camera - via Flickr.com

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This might be a helpful tip to a few people out there. I used to work as an auto tech (cars), and rolling tool carts were not only an easy way to transport your tools, but also a great way to keep things organized. I'm also using the same practice for my camera equipment.

Here's a peek at a few tool carts i'm using in the studio. These are just basic tool carts you can find at your local hardware or auto parts stores. The tool carts roll close to the set, giving me a table area to work on, while keeping all the gear together and easily accessible. You'll have less of a chance loosing small parts (batteries, SD cards, lens caps).

cheesycam camera video tool cartcheesycam tool cart camera gear

Some of the items on the cart during a shoot include clamps, small hand tools, charged batteries, white balance cards, slate, QR plates, audio recorders, headphones, lenses, camera bodies, microphones, friction arms, HDMI Monitors, cables, and of course gaffer tape. There are expensive dedicated Grip Carts on the market, but for now I seem to be getting by using these inexpensive service carts.

I would first check your auto parts store or hardware store to see if they carry something like this. I purchased the black cart for just $60 bucks at my Lowes, but you can also find many different versions online (here).

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find-price-button Rolling Tool Service Equipment Gear Cart