Thread: Best LED options?

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  1. #1 Best LED options? 
    Senior Member Christoffer Glans's Avatar
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    So I'm looking for a set of at least two really good LED lights. I rarely use hard lights and if I do I use practicals for that, but I really need at least two lights for softer key light and background lighting that are bi-color and have enough output for most indoor situations. They also need to be pretty portable and not cost a fortune, so this is a budget hunt for the most cost to quality ratio possible.

    So far I've looked at these

    Nanlite Forza 300B
    Amaran 200x
    Apurture Light Dome II

    Two C-stands and sandbags plus maybe this kit for VFX stuff and special lights: MC4 KIT

    Also looked at something like these Godox Panels

    Trying to get under $2500 for the entire package of lights, which isn't really possible, but the thing is that while the Apurture 600D gives the most output for the money, I mostly need something that gives me the most creative choices, not just "a strong light". So better with a little less output and money left for additional light, C-stands, sandbags and maybe even the MC4s for special things. So far the Nanlite feels like a good choice, but they're a bit expensive and the Amaran might be a little weak, especially if going through a softbox dome. Then there's the option of not using monolights but instead using panels with softboxes.

    So I'm a bit lost in which route to take. What LED options are the best to consider when trying to get the most creative bang for the buck?
    "Using any digital cinema camera today is like sending your 35mm rolls to a standard lab. -Using a Red is like owning a dark room."
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  2. #2  
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    The Nanlight and Aputure Bowens mount lights are very flexible, you can get softboxes, standard reflectors indirect via card/polyboard/ceiling or fresnel attachments.
    I have a couple of the 300w Aputure and a 500w Nanlight and really like them. For panels there is also the MC400 from Razyr7, full color control and they just released a free app to control all settings, gel presets and effects via iPad (needs one 150 receiver)
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  3. #3  
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    If you're comfortable with Amaran build quality, Nanlite has their own version with the FS-300. They cost only $350. My buddy just picked one up so I'll report back with how it compares side by side to an Aputure 300d mk II.
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  4. #4  
    Senior Member Mark Spraker's Avatar
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    I've been toying with maybe getting the Genaray Twin Sun or a couple of their Square Suns but I haven't seen anyone really talk about them.
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  5. #5  
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    Because I own and love the Aputure 300D mk II, I'd probably personally go for the Amaran-- I rarely use the 300D at full power, and often I use it under 20%. (I might personally get the daylight version for the extra punch, since I usually can accept the power loss of a gel when I'm matching tungsten color.)

    That said, it's still hard to beat a pair of bicolor Litepanels Astra 6x for power and versatility, and they're very easy to travel with and fast to set up. Much as the Aputure is my single favorite, the 2-Litepanel bag is often the one that winds up sitting next to my camera bag in the back of the taxi.

    And today I did a job with just a pair of bicolor Westcott 1x1 Flex lights. The connections are fliddly (wall cord into power box into controller box into panel-- I hate breaking them down), but they're lightweight and versatile-- you can roll them or tape them or clamp to a pipe. And if you have v-mount batteries, you simple attach the batteries to the control box, and then they're a dream to use. Not sure if they're powerful enough for your purposes-- they're about half as bright as the current Astras--, but I didn't feel I was lacking for power, even when I had windows in-shot. The cheaper flex lights from Falconeyes also have a lot of fans here, but I've never used them myself.
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  6. #6  
    Senior Member Christoffer Glans's Avatar
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    Never mind about the Amaran, just realized it cannot use battery power, which is a dealbreaker.

    I'm also a bit unsure of going bi-color. For me, the versatility of being able to just change the Kelvin is really helpful in many situations and I really dig the ability to be creative with colors, but if the output is hurt extremely much by going bi-color and the majority of shots may be just regular light, would a daylight with some gel be enough? Since LEDs go green over time, the ability to change tint might be extremely important for longevity.
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  7. #7  
    Senior Member Christoffer Glans's Avatar
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    ...and then I found this? 2-bay power station

    So would a kit of two bi-color Amarans with this, two C-stands, sandbags, gels, softbox etc. cut it?
    I'm mostly worried that the Aputure Light Dome II will eat too much light from the Amaran that there's not much left?
    "Using any digital cinema camera today is like sending your 35mm rolls to a standard lab. -Using a Red is like owning a dark room."
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  8. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Spraker View Post
    I've been toying with maybe getting the Genaray Twin Sun or a couple of their Square Suns but I haven't seen anyone really talk about them.
    I'm also wanting to see feedbacks about Genaray Twin Sun but haven't seen any.
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  9. #9  
    Senior Member Mark Spraker's Avatar
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    The light loss from using COB lights to try and make large soft sources is what's really turning me towards soft LED panels for that look. Unless I'm missing something, I think a good 1x2 and/or a few 1x1s with grids would be much easier to get a decent result out of without the hassle of setting up large soft boxes which honestly I hate doing. If I need more softness I think a half soft frost or quarter grid just off frame would suffice.
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  10. #10  
    Senior Member Christoffer Glans's Avatar
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    Ugh... options keep popping up. I know that these lights (Falcon Eyes RX-18TDX II) are pretty much as budget as things go, but the versatility of them goes through the roof. Water proof, magnet capable, bi-color with remote. Possible to hang it on a C-stand with a really long arm or just tape it to the ceiling as well as VFX mode.
    Not sure about the CRI quality and stuff, but man, for that price you get a whole of a lot of creative choices. You can basically do a lightning storm inside a room with these using VFX mode and some smoke.

    Was thinking about the UL150 since it's totally silent, but with a softbox and stuff you get so limited. Especially when I'm mostly doing lighting that's based on practical sources, meaning, increasing light from a candle light or increasing the intensity of a soft window and stuff. Like we used to do with kinos over windows. The Falconeyes feels like an extremely cheap knockoff type of flexible LED, but I've heard some good words on it by gaffers so I'm even more confused now as to what to get. Having two of these and two C-stands really gives a lot of choices.

    Anyone tried them?
    "Using any digital cinema camera today is like sending your 35mm rolls to a standard lab. -Using a Red is like owning a dark room."
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