Introduction: Spherical LED Lamp for 360° Cameras
In this instructable I show you how you can easily create a 360° light source for 360° cameras!
In the last few years many new 360° cameras came to the market. Currently the most prominent may be the Gopro Max, the Insta360 X2 or the Kandao Qoocam 8k. They are great if there is plenty of light. But they are not so good in a candlelight situation.
And this is where this mighty lamp comes in handy!
Of course there are professional solutions out there. One of the potential affordable is the Bushman 360 Halo. I was about to order one but around 200€ are a big commitment to a lamp with a quite llimited use. And unfortunately the bushman is not available in Europe and so ordering it somewhere else would add a fortune of customs to the already big costs for this.
Therefore I did some research on LED-strips and found that there are some for USB.
From the first idea to the final lamp it only took me 2 days! And I could not be happier!!! So I had to make an instructable on it!
I used the following things:
- A 5V LED Strip of around 2m like this one: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B08S3QLW5M/
- A tube of around 7-8cm diameter and a length of 10cm. I used a transparent PET-jar where I got honey in.
You should already have some kind of powerbank that delivers 5V and 2A roundabout.
If you want to carry a bigger battery or your camera uses 12V by any means you can also go for some other LED-Strip. I chose this one, because it has a lot of bright LEDs and is adjustable for quite a good price.
Step 1: Why and What and Alternatives
What do we want to achieve?
Well, we need a lamp which fairly equally brightens up everything around. This excludes many other options like two flat LED panels back to back. This brightens up two oposite sides but the lateral areas are dark.
We want the lamp to ideally be part of the invisible selfie-stick. That includes most other photographic lamps out there. Because everything that is outside of a very small area below the 360° camera is visible in the picture or video. That means the lamp should be lean with a tripod adapter on both sides or hollow.
The tripod mounts face high tensions and forces and I don't have the tools and material to make a sturdy connection like on the Bushman 360 Halo.
Therefore I also declined the idea to include the power into the lamp. This would result in a bigger lamp, some additional switches and a charging PCB. I mean a compact standalone lamp would be nice, but I always bring a powerbank anyway to charge the 360° camera during breaks or for long timelapses. And this powerbank has everything that I need. And if it is broken or sot suitable any more in a few years I can easily replace it. Also for stationary shots I can use a wall wart to power the lamp and have nearly no restriction.
And finally a "milk glass" housing. I initially thought that I would need some kind of diffuser. I didn't find a suitable one and finally I went without it.
Step 2: Prepare PET Jar
I wanted to use the lid to close the jar and keep all the cables stored.
Therefore I needed to make a small rectangular opening in the lower side of the jar.
And flatten the botton and make an opening for the tripod.
I used my dremel-like device to cut the PET and smoothed the edges of the cut.
Step 3: LED-strip Through Hole and Glue Strip to Jar
The USB-connector and the switch is too big to fit through the hole. Therefore I had to carefully pull the led-strip through the hole. Then remove the adhesive tape protector and glue the LED-strip to the outside of the jar.
Before I tried of course if the 2m strip will fit completely to the jar. If the strip is too long just cut the end off, where it is possible. There are cutting marks on most of the LED-Strips.
You can fix the end of the cable inside the jar with a small tape.
Now you are ready to go shooting!
Step 4: Use It With an Invisible Selfie Stick
When you are setting up the camera to shoot you have two options so install it.
For invisible selfie stick that have the classical UNC tripod thread you can just stick that through the jar and screw the camera on top of the jar.
Selfie sticks with the gopro mount are too wide to fit through the hole of the jar because of the long screw. Now you can either unscrew it, stick it through and then attach the screw again. Or you use a much compacter mount and this is the reverse, where the lamp is sitting on the base of the selfie stick. The base of the stick goes into the jar and the screw from the base-tripod keeps it in place. This obviously isn't suitable for every situation but for a table-top setup this seems ideal.
As you can see I have two different selfie sticks I use regularly. The classical selfie stick i use for outdoor shoots when the camera should be adjusted 50cm - 300cm from the base. Here the lamp is just right under the camera and gives the best performance.
The other selfie stick with the gopro mount is a cheaper one which extends from 20-80cm roundabout. The 20cm I use for a table-top setup. Sometimes I also use the 80cm to walk in narrow spaces or indoors. But here the lamp is quite far away. For this case I would rather use the other stick and only extend one segment by half.
Step 5: Tweaks
When the lamp is not in use the cable can be stored inside the jar.
If it is installed to the selfie stick the cable should can be taped to the stick by some velcrotape. The tape itself could of course also be stored inside the jar.
Then just plug it into your powerbank and start shooting in previously dark environments!!!!
The lamp is of course not water tight! So in rain or in humid environments you have to protect it. Have fun and maybe share a shot that you got with the lamp!
Step 6: First Results
This step shows the first results of the spherical lamp in the middle of the night.
In the first two pictures you can see the lamp with the lowest and highest settings taken from around 5m distance.
The last three pictures are smaller versions of 360 pictures I have taken that night. Obviously the first is without any light, just to show how dark it was a little bit outside the city.
The second 360 picture is with the lowest setting and the last picture is with the highest setting. I am standing approximately 3m away from the camera and the lamp.
As you can see the lowest settings should be fine for table-top setups while the highest settings is able to light up something like 4 to 5m around the camera!
Participated in the
Anything Goes Contest 2021