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How much light?


Sokrates

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The "question" since man invented the camera 🙂

As usual, the right answer would be "it depends." I'll try to give answers by anticipating other important details.

 

What kind of filming do you do? Wide or macro?

 

Lighting can be divided into these two macro categories. A modern light for wide shots ranges from 7,000 to 20,000 lumens.A macro light at most 1,500 lumens.

Actually lumen would not be the correct unit of measurement. We should use lux but unfortunately all manufacturers use lumen.

Then there are some lights that try to cover both needs but IMHO really only cover wide for close-up shots because of low light output. So they are good for macro and for close-up shots of small portions of the seabed as a complement to macro. These usually have max 4/5000 lumens stated for the wide function.

 

What sea do you dive in? How deep?

 

This in my opinion is the real discriminator. Absurdly, the deeper you go, and within certain limits, power is less important.

A modern camera has no problem working at over 1000 ISO. In fact if you work in log, many have a base of 1250 or 2500 ISO. It goes without saying that in depth where you have only or almost only light generated by lamps, even as little as 7/8000 lumens is enough.

Quite different is the case when shooting in tropical waters and shallow depths. Red filter and ambient light aside, here to return colors to the underwater life you have to overpower the sunlight which is very powerful. In some situations 10,000 lumens is absolutely not enough.
In this case it is simply a matter of budget.

I asked about you sea/diving conditions... 

In very turbid or dark water what I wrote about depth also applies to shallow waters.


Will you use filters on the lights?

 

This is a long topic and deserves a separate thread. Basically, in situations where your subject is exposed to a mix of ambient and artificial light (your lights) you can use filters on the lights that bring them to a color temperature similar to the ambient one on which you will do a WB. The issue is complex but as far as we are concerned: if you put a filter in front of your lights, their brightness will be halved or become 1/4. It follows that you need a higher starting light output. Maybe 20K lumens.

 

I hope this helps

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In the jungle of high CRI, easy handling, soft beam angle, price, weight, size, Lumen, Lux, customer service,....

another factor could be the width of the beam angle too.

 

The wider the beam angle, the less Candela you get. Lumens to candela (cd) conversion calculator (rapidtables.com)

 

I use lights with 9000Lm output with 110 beam angle. Most of the time i use them at 2nd highest level. I never felt like getting stronger lights so far. Altough i would have much longer run time with stronger lights, if i use them at about the same Lm level like i use my 9000Lm lights now.

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Great info - to add to  Davide's clear and comprehensive summary of lighting options / requirements, on the subject of ambient light + ambient light filter Keldan, the company spearheading the "mixed lighting" approach (= shooting in ambient light with a red/spectrum filter while boosting closeup items with artificial light filtered to match the ambient light white balance) has recently issued lights with "pre-filtered" LED modules, intended to avoid having to use ambient filters on the lights and the loss of lighting power they incur.

But this approach is still very fresh, seems a little bit fiddly and does limit the scenarios you can use your pre-filtered lights in...

 

For wide-angle shallow-water tropical light style shooting scenarios, there is also the option to simpy go for ambient light only, preferably with a good filter on the lens to help the camera white-balance.

Colours won't pop as much, and you won't get the foreground-background contrast that you get in stills, but it's also a rather pleasing and  balanced palette, that some have called the "ambient light" look. The mixed-lighting approach - when it works - is the best of both worlds as get that smooth ambient light look but more details and, if required, vivid colours in the foreground.

One thing to remember when shooting wide-angle in such tropical / shallows strong-ambient light scenarios is that quite a lot of colour info does actually make it onto the sensor, so if you're shooting in a rather flat profile there's actually a lot to work with when grading in post.
Canon (and to some extent Panasonic cameras) are really your best options for ambient light video due to their white-balancing capabilities.

 

The Fly&Dive channel has some really fantastic examples of what you can do with strong ambient light + grading only, and here are some graded ambient light tests I shot at different depth (shooting info in the subs), to check WB possibilities on a Panasonic compact.

cheers

ben

 

Edited by bghazzal
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For Macro I still use the Sola 120 spot flood I aquired in 2012. Recently one broke I had to buy a dive one and predate parts to make it work.

For wide angle you instead may need around 15000-20000 lumens more importantly the lights should not have hot spots and be dimmable.

I believe close up work and wide angle work have radically different needs in terms of light and in my opinion having two sets is the best option but I do like the keldan dimmer though I think having to buy beam restrictors for close up work is very clumsy hence am keeping my ancient solas

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I completely agree with Davide about the amount of light.  I would also suggest another consideration or way to look at it is what you want the background to look like.  I like to have the background exposed correctly and filled in with the light and if you have a bright background, you need lots of light.  Dark background that you don't want black, you need the ability to really dial your video light way down and balance it with increased ISO (or maybe wider aperture within reason...) Or just go with a less powerful light in the first place. In dark environments, I am frequently shooting at 10-20% power of 18k lumen lights.  In bright... more is better since you want the background to not be overexposed but get the color in the subjects closer to the lens.

 

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  • 6 months later...
On 1/7/2024 at 4:45 AM, Alex B said:

I did a video light test a few years ago. Have a look maybe it brings light into the darkness

 

 

 

 

Thanks for posting this Alex. To my eyes the X Light looks really good for the money? 

 

I'm going to put it on the shortlist anyway I think.

 

Best,

Fraser. 

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8 hours ago, frase said:

Thanks for posting this Alex. To my eyes the X Light looks really good for the money? 

 

I'm going to put it on the shortlist anyway I think.

 

Best,

Fraser. 

Yes they do!

I can´t remember and didn´t watch the test again....do they also have this sharp edge of the light beam?

The BigBlues have it, i remember.

Thats something i personally don´t like. Also the button operating on XLight and BigBlue compared to Keldans twist thing.

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13 hours ago, Alex B said:

Yes they do!

I can´t remember and didn´t watch the test again....do they also have this sharp edge of the light beam?

The BigBlues have it, i remember.

Thats something i personally don´t like. Also the button operating on XLight and BigBlue compared to Keldans twist thing.

Yeah the Big Blue had the obvious sharp edge to the light cone, the Keldan and XLight were much softer. 

 

I'll have a read into the X's build quality and longevity but it looks like a great option.

 

Frase.

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