Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Can I attach lights to the camera?, part of DSLR Video Tips: Lighting.
Rich Harrington: Hi, my name's Rich Harrington. Robert Carman: And I'm Robert Carman. Rich Harrington: And today we're talking about affordable lights, and one of the questions people always get, they're like, can I put the light right on the camera? Well, I, I, we're going to answer this in multiple parts today. There's lots of things you can do, and then there's things you should do. Robert Carman: Well, let's first of all talk about why you'd actually even want a light on the camera. One of the things that, that's exciting about DSLR cameras is that they're compact, they're mobile. They're really built well for running gun situations, and if you go out and you watch your nightly news, what do you see? You see the guy with a camera, you see the light on his camera, he's doing an on-the-spot interview with somebody.
Keppert capturing that movement, maybe at night, even. And having the ability to put some additional fill light on the camera can prove to be very, you know beneficial. Now, the thing about these lights though, as I think you'll bring up, Rich Harrington: Yeah. Robert Carman: Is that They're no substitute for studio lights. Oh! I'm blinded by the light. Rich Harrington: Yeah. Robert Carman: and the thing about it is that you have to know what these lights are good for and what they're not good for. Rich Harrington: Yeah well, I used to work in broadcast news. Robert Carman: Mm-hm. Rich Harrington: And the type of light you're referring to on top of the camera, one brand of that, but often gets used generically as a term, is a Sun Gun.
Robert Carman: Right, Rich Harrington: So putting a light right on the camera, so as you're running around, you can actually get those shots. Robert Carman: Yep. Rich Harrington: And you know what? No light is generally worse than more light. Robert Carman: Right. Rich Harrington: But there's different qualities of light. So if you want to put this on the camera, one of the easiest things to do is you just get something like this little guy here. Robert Carman: Mm-hm. Rich Harrington: This is very simple. It's just going to screw right into the bottom of the light. I'll just twirl that in, and I've got a hot shoe, actually technically a cold shoe, and it's going to go just right onto the camera there. I'll just slip that into place with the shoe and then twirl that down, make sure it's snug.
Robert Carman: Yep. Rich Harrington: And look, you know, there's a light. Robert Carman: Yep. Rich Harrington: And I could twirl this, I could adjust this, you know this gives me the ability to bend and position the light. I could tilt it up and down. That helps, but you know, let's just go ahead and turn this on here. So I'm going to turn this and point. You see that's a lot of light. If I put it on you, it could be unflattering. So sometimes you're going to want to dial that intensity down, so it's not so abrupt and you're just filling in a little bit. Robert Carman: Yeah, and you had a couple good points about that. Just like you know, traditional flashes or strobes that are on a camera.
Having it removed from the, as close from the lens as possible, is going to give you little bit better shot at producing some nice light. Rich Harrington: Well and to that end, sometimes what I'll do is I'll actually bounce it. I'll just use a little reflector. Robert Carman: Mm-hm. Rich Harrington: This one's small enough to go in my pocket. Robert Carman: Yep. Rich Harrington: And so if I had the camera on a tripod and I turned that light on, and I was interviewing you. Instead of putting the light right into your eyes, I could just bounce that off of the thing, and you know move that around. Robert Carman: Yeah. Rich Harrington: And you use this to bounce the light onto you. Robert Carman: Absolutely. Rich Harrington: Now, little more subtle.
Not going to you know, you mentioned as I put that right in your eyes and flashed it. Robert Carman: Rich Harrington: Sorry, couldn't resist, that he was seeing spots. Robert Carman: Rich Harrington: And that's not going to lead to a good interview. If your person's squinting or they can't even see you. Robert Carman: Yeah. Rich Harrington: it's going to affect their performance. Robert Carman: Its true, true. Now Rich, like anything else with video and photography, there are certain, certain levels or different levels of gear that you can get on the camera. Now you showed just a moment ago. Rich Harrington: Yep. Robert Carman: One like this, which is more purpose built, right? Rich Harrington: Yeah and this is from a company, this is a micro light from Light Panels. This is actually what they consider their budget level 1.
Robert Carman: Yep. Rich Harrington: You're not using proprietary batteries, just normal double A's. Plastic construction, you don't want to, you know, unlike some of the other ones that are metal. Robert Carman: Well, I can go more budget than that Rich. Rich Harrington: Yep. Robert Carman: I'm a big fan of going to the local hardware store. Rich Harrington: Yep, they, they talk to him there. Robert Carman: Right, they talk to me here. And this is something I just got there for about 7-8 bucks. Rich Harrington: Yep. Robert Carman: Same idea, right? Little LED light. Cool one, thing about this one, is it actually has this little hook on the back. Rich Harrington: Yeah. Robert Carman: Right, so I could hang this off of a tripod. Or some other piece of camera equipment and shine that on somebody? Now is it as customizable and dimmable, for example, as as this little light balance one? Rich Harrington: No.
Robert Carman: No, but it's still going to produce a nice little light and for... in a pinch, getting a couple of these can provide you some nice filler light. Rich Harrington: Yeah, that actually I have several of those in my camera bag. Those are my lights for when these go bad. Robert Carman: Right. Rich Harrington: And yeah, this actually has a magnet on the back. Robert Carman: Mm-hm., Rich Harrington: So sometimes if I need to illuminate a background, I like having these here, where I can adjust the intensity with the dimmer for my subject. But if I just need to put a little bit of light in the background, or if I've got a practical item that's not popping like maybe something behind the subject, putting this down below, kicking that on, so it's putting a little bit of light up on to the subject.
Robert Carman: Mm-hm. Rich Harrington: Can really add a little bit extra to the scene. You know, sure, this isn't going to replace professional lights. Robert Carman: No. Rich Harrington: But You know, 7 bucks a pop, 3 or 4 in your bag, these could be helpful but I still would probably step up to something with a dimmer switch and the color control on this is going to be much more constant. Robert Carman: Absolutely Rich Harrington: This is going to be prone to having unwanted variations, even in the middle of recording. Robert Carman: Yep. Rich Harrington: Alright well when we come back, we're going to talk about getting the light off of the camera, which is one of the best things you could do with it and moving it and what sort of things you should think about.
- Moving lights off-center
- Controlling exposure in bright areas
- Using ND filters and matte boxes
- Overpowering a backlight
- Maximizing available light with reflectors and shiny boards
- Using battery-operated LEDs and flashlights
- Enhancing shots in post-production