2019 DIYP Holiday Gift Guide – Lighting
With cameras and lenses out of the way, it’s time to light your scene. So, you’ll need lights. I’ve noticed a distinct trend over the last year towards continuous lights, so while there are some flashes and strobes in this list, we’ve put quite a few of our favourite continuous LED lights in this year’s list, too.
The Godox AD200Pro is a refresh to the popular Godox AD200 (Amazon / B&H). It uses the same heads and accessories as the original AD200, but it offers faster recycle times of 1.8 seconds at full power, 1/10th stop adjustments as well as better colour accuracy and consistency. It also features a new button layout with a slightly recessed panel to help better protect it out on location. A pair of these along with the AD-B2 dual head (Amazon / B&H) and an AD400Pro (Amazon / B&H) is the ideal battery-powered three-light starter kit for many photographers. And for those in the UK, Pixapro sells that exact kit.
This one was on last year’s list, too, but it’s seen a nice price reduction since then and still remains a very popular lighting kit. I still use my two sets regularly. Each kit is comprised of four 30cm (12″) long segments that attach together in various configurations providing a multitude of lighting options. Two sets can be combined together or you can split them up with extension kits for maximum versatility.
Litra’s range of products has really won me over on small LED lights. Despite their small stature, these things can put out an awful lot of light. The LitraTorch 2.0 expands on the original LitraTorch with more LEDs and lenses like the LitraPro (Amazon / B&H) to maximise output. You can easily fit a bunch of these in your bag for throwing some extra light in dark corners on location and I find they’re particularly useful for close-up photos and videos like products and macro photography.
LitraStudio – $649 (B&H)
The LitraStudio is Litra’s latest light and it’s a beast. We got to see them in person at IBC and you can find out more about them here. But, they’re RGBWW LED lights offering both bicolour white and the full array of RGB colours. They’re waterproof to 10 metres (~33ft), built like tanks, and can be controlled from your smartphone. You have a number of ways to control the colour of these lights including HSI, Gel simulations, effects modes and it’s even able to fire a short bright burst as a flash for stills.
The DigitalFoto YY120 has become one of my most used lights over the last year, mostly because of its size and versatility. It’s a bicolour LED light which ranges from 3200-5600K. It’s got an internal battery that gets charged through a Type-C USB socket. But this socket can also charge out to other devices, too, like your smartphone. This is handy, as the YY120 is also a similar size to your average smartphone so it’s easy to take with you just about anywhere. When you need a little extra light on your smartphone shots or if your phone battery is running low and needs a top-up, the YY120 is there to save the day.
Lumee Bicolour & RGB LED lights $45 (B&H)
Lumee is an interesting new light to have come out in 2019, and it even took a place in NAB’s inaugural Product of the Year Awards earlier this year. Lumee comes in two flavours, either bicolour or RGB. Both are the same price at $45 each and offer a lot of lighting options that you just can’t get with anything else. They can wrap around objects or stick to them with their magnetic base. They’re not waterproof but they are splash resistant and can be used in light rain, too. The bicolour version goes between 2700-6500K and the RGB version lets you individually select red, green and blue LEDs with various combinations of each and fine-tunable hue. Both versions also include various lighting effects.
If you’re a photographer with a ton of Bowens mount lighting modifiers who either also dabbles in video or just wants to shoot with continuous lights, these are probably what you’re after. They’re not cheap, by any means, but they offer a lot of control and colour accuracy while putting out a whole heck of a lot of light. These are daylight balanced with a white balance of 5500K.
As another monoblock style continuous LED mount, the Nanlite Forza 500 also runs at 5500K and features a Bowens mount. But this is a 500 Watt light, putting out a virtual supernova of light. If you’re planning to use those big 4-5ft octaboxes then this is certainly going to help fill them while still giving you a decent output from the front diffuser. These can be DMX or WiFi controlled, and mount to any standard light stand.
The $1,000 Speedlight has become the $1,100 Speedlight with Profoto’s A1X. A revision to the original A1, the A1X offers a more powerful battery, faster recycle times and an updated user interface. The A1X offers more system compatibility than the original, too, which was only available for Nikon and Canon. With the update, Sony and Fuji have also been added to that list.
Lighting is a tricky thing, not just how to apply it but which gear to use to do it. There are plenty of other fantastic lights out there on the market for both photography and video that aren’t on the list this year. But these are some of those that have stood out to us over the last year.
What’s been your favourite or most used light of 2019?
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.