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Macro video lighting

Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
12 Mar 2011 8:28PM
Well I just recently (today) took delivery of a 64LED light block. The design is generic and there are a fair few of these type lights kicking around ebay - from 32LED up to 120 (and more) versions.

Initial view is that you won't take some ones portrait with 64 superbright LED's shinging in their face (its bright!). It has an on/off as well as two modes, low and high (low reduces the number of LEDs which are on). Power comes from 4AA batteries and they make up the bulk of the units weight as well, though its not that heavy overall and the flexi arm setup I show above can support it with ease.

However bringing things down to the macro level its more of a challenge, at 1:1 in video mode one can get around f8, 1/100sec and ISO 800 provided that the light is well positioned over the subject. You can just about keep those settings static all the way down to 3/4:1 and there after ISO 1600 is needed.

However whilst its more challenged at the higher magnifications once you get to around 3:1 and beyond the weakness of the DSLR sensor for image capture starts to show and the image starts to get a watery appearance to it because of the way the sensor exposes. The result is that handholding becomes increasingly more difficult (more so than normal) and also more damaging to the final video. By 5:1 handholding is all but impossible as even when seated and with steady hands the tiny motions show up as fluid wobbles.

Tripod mounting on a very stable setup is I think going to be the order of the day for high magnification video if you want a good video beyond simple recording of events (even then the watery appearance might well cause problems with a clear view of details and actions).

Overall the unit works well and does what it says on the tin. I think that anyone serious about video with macro would benefit from using two of these units in tandem (like the twinflash) simply to increase the light output. I'll note that I tested this indoors in a not so brilliantly lit room - so actual field shooting will give a bit more light to work with. Still two units would be my recommendation (more light means a chance to at least have them a little further from the insect).

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