Instructables

The Intimate Video Light/ Handheld photograpy light.

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I know what you're thinking. By "intimate," I meant close-up lighting under difficult light situations--not necessarily for "intimate situations." (However, it can be used for that as well...)

As a New York City videographer--or guerrilla filmaker--it's sometimes difficult to have the necessary lighting. As a solution, I built this compact, portable device.

This light is a great way to get a really unique, soft light that works great as both a fill (in daylight) and aesthetically-pleasing primary light in lower-light situations.

The design is a nice alternative to what's on the market, as it gives a more even spread of light than some of the shoemount spot lights available--especially for close-up situations. This particular design is for the Canon GL-1; with some ingenuity, however, the design can be modified to fit many existing video cameras. (Plus it makes a great handheld fill light for still photos.)

I've tried to make this as simple as possible for anyone to make one of these lights. I've tried not too get too technical (to scare off the less-technically-inclined) or too basic (to bore the techies). I've created a resource page and parts list at the end. The build time, with minimal tools, is around 3-4 hours.

 
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 I am thinking in moding this design to fit my Reflex camera for taking portraits, sort of DIY Ring flash. I think that i could mount all the electronics in a spare Lens hood. I just wanted to know, do this rig get's along with faces? Probably ill diffuse it a little, Waddaya think?
hal90006 years ago
Great instructable. I've been looking for a cheap video light. I'll definitely give this one a try. Thanks
curve12 (author)  hal90006 years ago
Good luck and thanks, my only suggestion is to find a better clipping mechanism to the hood. If you're willing drilling a couple small holes in the side of the hood and tapping the inside of the frame might be the solution. When I get time I'm going to be building version 2.0. using different LEDs and a cast frame system. Cheers!
fbosch6 years ago
I was wondering how well this light can be adapted to 16x9?
jamese6 years ago
Pretty cool, but I'd suggest putting the lights on something so they can pivot. Maybe not a full range of motion, but at least along the Y axis (to pivot horizontally). In some of the situations, the lighting is kind of flat, so this may help give the whole key light/fill light effect. Other than that, really cool.
idamtnboy7 years ago
Which color of LED, the cool white, neutral white, or warm white?
curve12 (author)  idamtnboy7 years ago
I was just thinking since it sounds like you might be using this for still shots, thread a 1/4-20 (self drilling screws should do it if you don't have a tap) hole in the bottom. And if you have a spare tripod instant light stand.
curve12 (author)  idamtnboy7 years ago
I used the cool white, which burns at 6500k. It's a little on the hot side but with white balance it works fine. Not to mention you can cut color corection gels to put in the make-up holders. Next one I build I'll probably try the neutral (4100k LXK2-PWN4-U00). Actually the neutral is the one I initially wanted to use but I found the others for a steal on ebay so.... Let me know how it works out for you.
idamtnboy7 years ago
Just learned of this instructable. Wish I would have had it a couple of years for a special photo project I did! How about noting which lighting is which on the bottom set of stills? I'm having trouble distinguishing which is which.
curve12 (author)  idamtnboy7 years ago
Thanks. If you move the cursor over the photo a pop-up should tell you what lighting condition each was shot at.
krip7 years ago
Fantastic instructable! Your step-by-steps are so very clear (and well-written), and the terrific photos illustrate the process and make it non-intimidating. The video examples of what this light can do have motivated me to get started on this project right away... Good luck!
curve12 (author)  krip7 years ago
I'm currently working on some upgrades for it so check back. Thanks
ApplesGuy7 years ago
Excellent instrutable...Great concept,idea,detail, photos. Just a very cool project... You have got my vote. I Hope you win.
curve12 (author)  ApplesGuy7 years ago
Thanks, glad people appreciate it.
Are you smarter than a 5th grader? Well if not you still might be able to build this. Very clear, easy to read and understand. Aside from the soldering I know a few of my students could build this with these directions. Bravo! As far as instructions give this person an A++. Just found this site, I love it.
Very Cool!!! I've been wanting something cool to build and I have a GL1. Is there a model name or number for the frame you used? I don't want to get the wrong one. You've got my vote as of now.
curve12 (author)  Dirk_Ridgable7 years ago
There is a number on the box that I assume would be the product number "f90502". The Pearl Paint Frame Store in NYC carries it. They had it in black and maybe gold as well. In hindsight the black probably would have looked pretty good.
Myself7 years ago
Good stuff! The January '07 issue of Nuts and Volts had a similar lighting ring project.

I'm curious how heavy your rig is -- the frame looks pretty bulky, to accomodate those batteries right inside itself. But it looks like your camera's not slipping into an Altoids tin any time soon, anyway. ;)
gmoon Myself7 years ago
I immediately thought of 'ring light' when I saw this one (as Myself noted first.) These things were invented for macro photography (and used a lot in dentistry and such), but the unique lighting effect for regular photography (models, portraits, etc.) were so cool that photogs began using them creatively. Cool enough I might have to try a build myself...maybe with a larger diffusion ring.
curve12 (author)  Myself7 years ago
The entire unit onlyweighs 12.8oz. The frame looks alot heavier than it is. I was originally going to cast the LED's into a clear resin exactly to the shape of my hood, but wanted to post something that was easiy enough for anyone to do. I still may do that. I hadn't seen the Nuts & Volts one before, but that many of luxeon LED's would blind your subject.
je13307 years ago
This is great, I've been thinking of something similar to this for a while, but as a macro light for use with my DSLR. I could get away with only two LED's for that. I think I'd add a switch for each LED though, so as to be able to turn one off for lighting a subject from one side or the other. It's not a large distance with something like this, but sometimes a few inches can be a big difference in the image with still or video photography. Good job though Curve, very nice...
curve12 (author)  je13307 years ago
I've only gotten to play with this for a little bit since I've been so busy, but it works great with my DSLR too. I'm going to do my best to get stills and more video up this week, so check back. You could probably get away with using a selector switch.
Ravinss7 years ago
This is one of the best Instructables I've read... really great descriptions, photos and attention to detail. If you've entered this in one of the competitions, I hope you win.
theRIAA7 years ago
all your LED links are dead, you can get some nice LEDs from Dealextreme.com for cheap
That looks to be a real nice site to get other items too :)
curve12 (author)  theRIAA7 years ago
Thanks! I fixed the links.