Return to site

Building an led lighting kit

new wave of led's

· Filmmaking,creative,lighting,LED,apurtutre


Why is it so goddamn important?

Lighting is a hugely important part of filmmaking, the subtleties of lighting go far beyond just shoving a light in front of your subject so that you can see them. You can achieve very strong and varied emotions in a frame by lighting it a certain way.

To achieve these different looks you need to understand the different qualities of light. Soft light conveys very different emotions than a dark, high-contrast lighting. have a look at this video from The lighting channel to see what im talking about.

the most important thing when buying led lights

The most important spec that you need to look for while buying LED's is its colour rendition. This is very important as if the colour rendition is poor then colours will be flat and unsaturated. Skin tones are the most affected, it will give the skin a green cast making your subject look ill and un-natural which would be very difficult to correct in post. Look at the video from DIY Perks who shows perfectly the difference in low and high quality LED's.

There are two ways that most LED's are tested to find out their re colour reproduction:


A color rendering index is a quantitative measure of the ability of a light source to reveal the colors of various objects faithfully in comparison with an ideal or natural light source. There are eight CRI test colors. CRI averages a light’s affect on those colors, which are equidistant around the Munsell color wheel.


This brings us to TLCI, whose intent is predict how a light will appear on camera. Cameras attempt to mimic the human eye’s response to color but they do so imperfectly, and TLCI is an attempt to quantify those imperfections across a wide range of cameras to create a generic camera “model” against which the spectra of new lights can be tested. This is a great idea as it helps manufacturers predict, during the manufacturing process, how the average camera will reproduce common colors under their light’s spectrum, and gives cinematographers and gaffers a way to quantify lighting quality without spending a lot of time and effort on extensive testing.

A rating above 90 CRI/TLCI is recommended and above 95 for supreme quality.

Looking to buy a new light is already difficult but when searching for led lights it gets a little bit more complicated as not all leds are created equally. There are two types of led fixtures that are available:

1. the led panel

Led panels are one of the easiest ways of starting a lighting kit they are relatively cheap, 

can be found in very small to very big fixtures, with budget to more expensive options and if you choose correctly most of the well know brands use high quality leds.

The downside of panels is that they use lots of small Leds to make up the panel , this results in the light casting multiple shadows which is very undesirable for video. This results in having to diffuse the light which reduces your options when lighting your subject as there is no way to get a defined hard light.

Although you can use these types of lights for a rim/ backlight light or as a catch light if turned all the way down.

the flexible led panel

No regular LED panel even comes close to this level of portability. It’s light enough to mount anywhere you can dream of and can be folded up to fit any bag. These types of panels have the same disadvantaged as the other led panels.

Some recommendations

Small panels:

Medium size panels

  • Youngnou YN900                  5500K/CRI: ≥95/ Power: 54W /Lumen: 7200LM
  • Apurture Amaran tri 8        2300K-6800K/CRI: ≥95/ Power: 60W /Lumen: 6458LM
  • Apurture ls1                            5500K/CRI: ≥95/Power: 120w 

 flexible Panel

or there is also this tutorial from DIY Perks to make your own flexible led panels for much less than the options above:

2. the COB (chip On board)

Chip on board (COB) LEDs offer many advantages over the standard options. COB LEDs are basically multiple LED chips bonded to form a single module. When the COB LED package is powered on, it appears more like a lighting panel than multiple individual lights as would be the case when using several SMD LEDs mounted closely together. Being multi-chip, the light emitting area of a COB LED can contain many times more light sources in the same area that standard LEDs could occupy resulting in a greatly increased lumen output per square inch. This type of fixture has been becoming very popular recently mainly due to their power and price compared to other single point source fixtures such as halogen fresnels. Also there reduce heat output is a god send to gaffers everywhere.

Here is a great article on how you could take advantage of this light,


3. edge light panel

This style of panel has its LEDs are mounted around the outer edge, aimed inward at layers of diffusion material instead of outward like a traditional fixture. Instead of a direct beam, the light produces a soft, even glow with no hotspots. It's almost like having a softbox built into the light but with a very thin form factor , which is great when lighting up cramped spaces like a car interior or an office cubicle.


thanks for reading, subscribe and comment below!

All Posts

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!

OKSubscriptions powered by Strikingly