Sunday, July 19, 2009

Do I need a Camera/Camcorder light?

Video lighting is always an issue so I decided to purchase a camcorder light from for less than $35; an LED light (Sima SL-20LX Ultra Bright Video Light). The cost is reasonable so it was a no brainer for me to buy and test. As you can see from the picture, this light is very bright. Still, the question is, can this light be an effective tool when shooting a room where the objects are 10-15 feet away. I took my point-and-shoot Samsung NV24HD camera, which can shoot HD videos (from, where else? - I know...I'm starting to become an spokes person....but I really do shop quite a bit at Amazon and don't get any special treatments), and took three video clips. First is a completely dark storage room with no light turned on; second is a basement with minimal lighting; and final of a room with lots of windows. All these videos were shot around 6:30 pm on a cloudy day to maximize the effects.

First, not so well lit basement:

This is a storage room without any windows and the overhead room light wasn't working. Also, because the room is so dark, I adjusted the exposure setting and you can barely make out images, but the image is also very grainy as you can tell in the first image - with the camera light OFF. But, the image with the camera light ON - WOW - just look at the difference! What's even more amazing is how the spreads to all sides of the room really well.

The only concern with this shot is that you really won't be taking many videos of completely dark spaces (at least I hope you don't).

Second, dark basement room with two windows:

Because you probably won't be creating videos of rooms that are completely unlit, I took another video of a room that is fairly dark. I again adjusted Samsung's exposure and white balance settings to work under those conditions. The room is actually much darker than it really is and just adjusting the settings presents the view really well. Again, the dark room means more noise as you see in the first image when the camera light is turned OFF. With the camera light ON, you can barely tell the difference in the picture but you can tell the difference if you watch the video of the two .

If you notice the picture with the camera light OFF, you see that the window the right is a big light source so the areas around the window are fairly well lit but not so much for everywhere else, making the image inconsistant. However, with the camera light ON, you can clearly see how the camera's focal point (the treadmill here) is very well lit. While the entire shot insn't pefectly lit, the shot is more consistent with the camera light ON. On the flip side, on problem I did notice is that the light is a little too bright and the light casts a hard shadow behind the treadmill.

Finally, the living room with lots of windows:

Again, this is around 6:30 pm on a cloudy day. One more thing about this shot is that the camera is about 18 feet away from the back wall, whereas the first shot was about 12 feet away; so this is a good test to really see the camera light's strength. The image with the camera light OFF again shows bright windows with not so bright room, but the image with the camera light ON shows the rest of the room (walls and furniture) much better.

Conclusion? For $35, you can't go wrong!

I think most people prefer to purchase a better camera/camcorder than buy accessories like this, but I say buy a cheaper camera and buy lighting accessories like this one. There's no need for you to go buy an expensive HD camcorder when majority of people won't be able to view them. Web video playback technology is still lacking so there's no need to get the most expensive camera right now. Buy a budget camera now, wait a few years until the technology catches up and then buy an expensive HD camera/camcorder. - Real Video Tours; not just flying photos.

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