I'm working on launching a site with some cooking videos. I'm also going to be traveling and the lights that I use at home aren't very portable. I'm trying to find a good set of lights to use that would also travel pretty easily. My camera is currently a Panasonic HC-V110. Maybe I can swing more cash there one of these days. For now, though, I need lights that travel. New lights would probably be better than the old incandescent spotlights I use now anyway.
They'll be going into a bag that will be checked on planes, so I have some room to work with. Clothes, a pair of shoes, and a tripod (about 18" long and maybe 3" in diameter when folded) also have to go in the bag, but room shouldn't be an issue, I don't think.
Most of my video work is close-up to my hands, cutting board, stove, etc. I do an appearance in the intro/outro, so the ability to light a wide area is necessary, but not as important as good lighting during the actual working portion of the videos.
I've done a little research and LED lights look like the way to go now, but I know somewhere in the area of "not a damn thing" about this, so I figured I'd ask people that know more and am open to any and all suggestions.
I can spend up to about $500 for this.
Thanks for your help!
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The only thing good about knowing "not a damn thing" about lighting is:
1. You hopefully haven't already learned bad habits
2. You should only be able to go UP from here.
Start by reading up on the inverse square law and on 3- and 4-point lighting techniques. Then move on to maybe spot vs. flood, fresnels, reflections & diffusion, global vs. local. The internet is your friend.
First, the terms "good video lighting" and "light, cheap & portable" are basically mutually exclusive.
Why do you think new (FL or LED) lights would be better than incandescents? Yes, they're more energy efficient and dissipate less heat per lux. Are they less expensive? - NO.
Are they nicer looking (dispersion & color-wise)? - Not necessarily.
Are they more portable? - Sometimes, but not often.
What kind of "incandescent spot lights" do you currently use?
Unless you are lighting a quite small area (say < 1 - 2 sq. m) the lights you will need for decent illumination will not be able to fit into already snug personal checked flight baggage. A standard 3 or 4 light kit case is usually a hardshell rectangular case that is ~18" x 18" x 36" and weighs ~20-60lbs. And that doesn't include common accessories such as power cables & strips (which will be necessary).
Here is a B&H example of a less bright, entry-level 2-light kit: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/819592-REG/Bescor_LED_95DK2_LED_95DK2_Dual_LED_L...l/prm/alsVwDtl. For your budget, you could get 2 of these and have a full 4-point lighting setup.
But then, I don't really know what you are intending to shoot (or rather, what you think you can get with what you have vs. what you intend to shoot). You mention hands, cutting (both usually CU & small), but then you mention stove and Head&Torso (both usually Medium). Lights that just need to cover CUs will NOT be strong enough for Medium shots (inverse square law).
Thank you for such a detailed response. I did some reading on the inverse square law and 3/4-point lighting. In my home kitchen, I have two old spotlights, more like something you'd use in a garage than a kitchen, but with 100w bulbs, they light it up well. There's also the overhead light with 4 standard bulbs, stove hood light, and a fluorescent over the sink. Both the stove and sink light help light up the area I use when I slice, dice, and julienne.
Okay, so I have zero reason to think that LEDs are a better option other than that I'd done a little reading and shopping and LEDs seemed to be the big thing. Now that you've shot down my pie-in-the-sky wants of cheap, good, and easily portable, hopefully you can help me figure out what to sacrifice to get something that will work well.
On the actual prep and cooking portions, the lighted area is definitely smaller than 2 sq m. That's like 21 sq ft and I zoom down onto either my hands, ingredients, or the cooking pot/pan. Intro/outro sections would be bigger since it's a roughly waist/navel and up shot of me.
So if we forget about putting it into my suitcase, but still not too difficult to travel with, what can we come up with? Or what if I could spend $750-1000? (I can probably squeeze that much out of this turnip if necessary, but I'd prefer not to go that high if there's a way around it.)
Appreciate your help
Also, I don't know a thing about color temp or anything like that. I'll do some reading, but if you know of any specific helpful resources, that would be great.
Here's an ok starter link: http://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/lighting-for-video-color-temperature-and-size/
Note: for your purposes & understanding, the terms incandescent = tungsten = halogen, and flash = xenon bulb, and CFL = flourescent.
Color temperature has to do with the fact that, not including cool-body luminescents, an element has to BURN, so it will GLOW, to create LIGHT. The temperature at which it is burning is based on its fuel chemical composition, but the upshot is that, just like stars in the sky, there is a spectrum (range) that goes from red->orange->yellow->white->blue. Similar to a rainbow (but not exactly because there is not quite a green or violet).
Red is the lowest temp and is the color of "dying embers". The term "white hot" clearly connotes that it is MUCH hotter.
Most light kit lights are in the yellow to pale blue range.
The thing to understand for video is that, unlike our eyes and brain which can rapidly adjust to various kinds of light, and so balances it out in our minds, a CAMERA is simple & stupid and needs to be matched (aka "White Balanced") to the kind(s) of light that is before it. Otherwise it is obvious that the presented colors will be off. Mixed light, such as you have, is a PROBLEM. The camera needs consistency.
At my former production company, we had a Lowell DP light kit. Very common. 4 incandescent (aka tungsten/halogen) lights (=3200K temp), averaging 500W / 750W / 1000W. They were adjustable for either spot or flood (using fresnel lenses), with flags/gobos. Could be outfitted with scrim, toughspun, umbrellas, or a softbox, as well. All this for ~$800-1250 in a case slightly larger than the size I previously mentioned. And this covered a "full shot" or "two shot" in a small/medium room. Great for interviews, etc. Something like: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=285849&gclid=CNPh_Jay6L8CFSbl7A...=REG&A=details
You may not need quite that much, but it probably won't be wildly less either. Say, equivalent to 200-450W (incandescent level). Though it is MUCH better to have more light. Let me stress this: you can almost NEVER have too much light (if that IS an issue, you just add a Neutral Density -ND- filter to your cam lens).
So, don't skimp on this.
Thanks a ton for your help. I'm going to confer with my video editor a bit as well since he knows exactly what I'm doing, then make a final decision. Really appreciate it.
I would recommend Lowel Omni & Tota video light kits. Extremely portable (one case with stands, accessories, cords, light heads), bright, quality lights. Used these extensively when travelling and was very happy with them.
Very true. But that's why I mentioned the energy efficiency and lower thermal byproducts of LED/CFL.
On the budget the OP wants, all choices will have some compromises.