Filmmaking on a budget: LED lighting for film and video

Filmmaking on a budget: LED lighting for film and video

LED lights for filmmaking and video production are now super-affordable and hugely convenient because of their safety, portability and battery power. In this post, we’ll review three of the best lights for under £50. Want some powerful tips on how to make great videos for social media? Click here.

Advantages of LED lights for filmmaking or video production

  1. They’re cheap. Every one of these lights costs less than £50!
  2. They’re safer than traditional hot lights like redheads or blondes as they don’t generate anywhere near as much heat and there are no cables to trip over.
  3. They can be powered by batteries, which means that you aren’t tied to plug sockets.

Disadvantages of LED lights for filmmaking or video production

  1. Budget models can’t hope to come anywhere close to traditional hot lights for sheer lighting power. If you’re trying to light an expansive location like a church or hall, you’ll need redheads like this great set for less than £100 or blondes or Fresnels.
  2. Because they aren’t usually super high-powered, they will need to be placed closer to your subjects.
  3. The quality of the Tungsten light colour will vary greatly between models. Some have plastic Tungsten filters that slide in front of the light. Others have dedicated Tungsten temperature LED beads. The latter usually produce better results.

The best Key Light for less than £50

YONGNUO YN-216 LED Studio Video Light for filmmaking
YONGNUO YN-216 LED Studio Video Light

YONGNUO YN-216 LED Studio Video Light

In a nutshell:

YONGNUO YN-216 is a fantastic little spot light for filmmaking or video production, featuring 216 high-luminance LED beads. It really is super bright. It is compact, sturdy and well-made. It’s the perfect all rounder for video lighting. It features three power supply options: AA batteries, Sony NP-F batteries or a mains power adaptor (not supplied). The light can be installed directly onto a DSLR or camcorder using the supplied hot/cold show mount. It can also be mounted on a standard light stand using the quarter twenty thread. The light comes with four colour temperature filters. Unbeatable value at less than £50.

Specification:

Light Source: 216 led beads, Luminance Angle:55°, Colour Temperature 5500k, Average Service Life: 50000H, Colour Rendering Index: < 90%, Power: 13W, Weight: 515g, Lumen: 2000 LM,

Supplied Accessories:

1 x YN-216 Led light, 4 x Color temperature filters ( Blue, White, Orange, Red ), 1 x User Manual

 

The best Fill Light for less than £50

YN300 Air Pro LED light for filmmaking
YN300 Air Pro LED light

Yongnuo YN300 Air Pro LED Video Light with 3200-5500K Variable Colour Temperature

In a nutshell:

The YN300 Air has a built-in milk defuser that produces soft light with a wide illuminating angle. Featuring variable colour temperature, this great little light produces the best quality light for filmmaking of any of the three units in this post. It makes an excellent fill light when used at a close distance. It features an LED display on the rear and a dial that allows you to dim the light and modulate between daylight, tungsten or a mixture of both. A number of buttons allow you to make other easy adjustments. You can mount the light directly onto the hot shoe of your DSLR or camcorder (not powered) or to any standard light stand, using the supplied mount. It’s super easy to use, is highly adjustable, well-made and durable. If you prefer to use AA batteries, or if you don’t want to invest in a new battery and charge system, we recommend the Neewer® 6pcs AA Battery Replacement Mains Supply NP-F970 NP-F550. This handy little adapter opens up to accept six AA batteries. It then slots into the NP-F socket and works a treat. It works out much cheaper than buying NP-Fs at a bargain price less than £10The YN300 Air is an unbeatable value at less than £35!

Full Specifications:

Light source: 96LED beads, Colour temperature: 3200K-5500K, Output power: 18W, Lumen: 2000LM, Average service life: 50000H, Luminance angle: 100°, Colour rendering index: greater than to 95, Power supply: 1 NP-F lithium battery or external 8V, 5A DC power (no power source or battery included), Dimensions: Approx. 210x175x62mm, Weight: Approx. 500g.

Supplied accessories 

1x YN300 Video Light
1x A shotgun style handle that can mount on a light stand
1x Mounting fixture
1x Table stand
1x User Manual in English

A carry pouch is also included withe the YN300 Air

 

The best Background Light for under £50

Neewer CN-160 Ultra High Power LED Light for filmmaking
Neewer CN-160 Ultra High Power LED Light

Neewer CN 160 Dimmable Ultra High Power LED Panel

In a nutshell:

The Neewer CN 160 is a powerful, lightweight and durable little light for filmmaking and it’s a real bargain at less than £30. It’s strong enough to separate your subject from a wall or backdrop. It’s also a very useful general purpose light for use when filming on location after nightfall. It’s also super convenient to power as it accepts 6 AA batteries. It can also run on Sony NP-F batteries and, using a supplied adaptor, several other camera batteries. The light features a rotating dial switch for switching the power on/off and dimming. There is also a battery power indicator. We love this little light and it’s popularity is no surprise given its rock bottom price at less than £30.

Full Specifications:

Maximum Power: 9.6 Watts, Colour Temperature: 5600K (3200k w/ filter), Luminous flux: 660 lm, Run time: 60 – 80mins on AA alkaline batteries, Illumination: 900Lux (1m), 240Lux (2m), 120Lux (3m), 70Lux (4m), 40Lux (5m), Effective distance: 6m / 20ft, Material of the Lighting’s Shell: ABS Plastic, Size: 141 x 62 x 150 mm, Weight: 8.57oz

Supplied Accessories:

Neewer CN160 Light, One Tungsten Coloured Filter and one Diffusion Filter. (Supplied in a plastic wallet.)
Battery adaptor for various camera batteries, Hot shoe mount. (Can mount on a standard light stand via quarter-twenty screw.)

Bonus Video:

Check out the competition with this great video from ‘DSLR Shooter’:

Great low budget sound equipment for filmmaking

Great low budget sound equipment for filmmaking

Audio is just as important as video!

It’s very easy to start making your own films now that most smart phones and DSLRs are capable of recording HD or even 4K footage. Beginning filmmakers have a tendency to place all their attention on capturing the best possible image, but they may fail to understand that audio is just as important as the visuals. Many beginning directors will rely solely upon the internal microphone on their phone or camera. In most circumstances, this will not produce acceptable results. It is common to end up with audio that is inaudible, muffled, echoey, dominated by background noise or completely marred by wind noise. In this blog post, we’ll cover the very best low budget sound equipment for filmmaking. Want some power tips for making great videos for social media? Click here.

Poor audio can totally ruin a great film

Recording dialogue and other sound on location is challenging and requires careful planning, preparation and the use of specialist sound equipment for filmmaking. Luckily, you don’t need to have a huge budget to capture high quality audio.

The best affordable sound equipment for filmmaking

Everyone knows about the excellent sound equipment for filmmaking made by RØDE, but their products are very expensive for a beginning filmmaker who has to make their budget stretch to cover a camera, lighting and sound equipment. Luckily, there is another company that makes excellent microphones at a much lower price point: BOYA.

Lapel (or Lavalier) Microphones

BOYA BY-M1 sound equipment for filmmaking
BOYA BY-M1

The BOYA BY-M1 3.5 mm Lavalier Microphone for Smartphone and DLSR (with microphone input) is an excellent lapel microphone. It is perfect for YouTubers or if you are recording interviews with only one person. It’s an excellent value at less than £15.

The BOYA BY-M1 is an Omni directional lavalier microphone, designed for Smartphones, DSLR, Camcorders, Audio recorders PC etc.
It has a stated Omni pickup pattern, for full 360° coverage.
Best of all, it has an integrated 6-meter (20″) cable which i much longer than that supplied with the much more expensive RØDE version. You really need this length if you are connecting to your camera or smart phone. It connects with a 3.5mm plug to the headphone socket on your smartphone. For DSLR users, this microphone includes battery power so that it will work with cameras that are not capable of supplying ‘phantom power’. The mic comes with a lapel clip, a foam windscreen, a 1/4″ adapter, and an LR44 battery. Sometimes, you’ll even find free carry pouch in the box. It’s probably best to contact the seller to check if a pouch is included before buying.

If you’re going to be shooting outdoors, we recommend that you buy a ‘dead cat’ or ‘furry’ wind shield for your lavalier microphone. This great option costs less than £10.

Click here for a great video showing you how to mount a lav mic.

Shotgun Microphones for Boom or general use

BOYA BY-PVM1000 sound equipment for filmmaking
BOYA BY-PVM1000

A boom mic is a directional microphone mounted on a pole and held just out of the camera frame, usually above the heads of the subjects. Boom mics are probably the most used sound equipment for filmmaking or TV.

The BOYA BY-PVM1000 XLR Condenser Microphone is an excellent broadcast quality shotgun mic. It’s perfect for use as a boom mic or for mounting on your camera. It’s an incredible value at less than £50. It comes supplied with a mount to attach it to a boom pole or mic stand and a ‘dead cat’ windshield that will minimise wind noise when shooting outdoors. It also includes a 1.5 M Cable, a sponge wind cover, jack adaptor, a shock Mount,  four replacment rubber rings for the shock mount and a carry punch.

It can be connected to most DSLR cameras and smart phones. (Check that your DSLR has a mic input before buying.)

Looking for a boom pole? Many people will simply make their own, but this excellent option costs less than £30.

Digital Audio Recorders (DARs)

Tascam Dr-40 sound equipment for filmmaking
Tascam Dr-40

The great news for budget-strapped filmmakers is that you can use most smart phones to record sound directly from either of the BOYA microphones outlined above by using the iOS ‘Voice Memos’ app or, for more control over settings, using the Voice Record Pro app. Similar apps are available for Android.

If you want to take your sound to the next level, you will want to invest in a digital audio recorder. Many filmmakers will use a camera-mounted mic and a separate digital audio recorder connected to an external microphone. These professional audio recorders afford maximum control over audio, allow the microphone operator to get the mic closer to the subjects and provide a useful backup copy.

We recommend the hugely popular Tascam Dr-40 4-Track Portable Digital Recorder. It’s no small-change purchase at just under £160, but it’s money well spent as this recorder will be able to cope with your equipment upgrades as your filming career progresses. It is a handheld 4-track recorder with two adjustable condenser microphones and XLR / 1/4″ mic/line inputs with phantom power. The dual recording mode captures a safety track at a lower level to avoid distortion. The recorder boasts a stated 15-hour battery life from three AA batteries.  It uses SD/SDHC cards, supporting cards up to 32GB. You can easily connect your Boom Microphone or Lav Microphone or other sound equipment for filmmaking to this device. This Tascam recorder is an investment that you won’t regret making.

Bonus video:

Check out this great YouTube course to learn how to get better sound: