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Light the way to a professional looking video

It is often said that good lighting makes any camera look expensive. Even a $120 Logitech C920 USB webcam looks fantastic with good, well balanced lighting. And when you think about it it makes perfect sense. When the role of most cameras is just to capture a portrait style picture of a talking head delivering a message why would you spend thousands of dollars? Along with the camera and a microphone a decent lighting kit will go a long way too making your content look like it was produced by a pro.

But what are some of the mistakes people make with lights and what should you look for when buying a kit?

Well the best place to start is budget and content. How much are should you spend and what are you filming?

lighting diagram

A 3 light kit around $500 including stands and diffusion will get you up and running for portrait style videos. Having each light strategically setup around the subject so that you are lighting their eyes, face and the back of their head gives the camera a good 3D style image of the subject.

Common mistakes people make is having the lights too close. This creates flares on their face or hotspots. Their normal skin colour goes from being normal to blown out in certain areas. This is not good and can be avoided by Turing the light intensity down or using a layer of diffusion in front of the light. Another common mistake is not setting the cameras white balance to the correct light colour temperature. Most LED light kits are set to 5500k (kelvin) light temerpature. This means you have to go into your camera white balance settings and set your camera to 5500. This will give you natural skin colours and bring out the true colour of your shot.

Lighting a subject property take a bit of practice. Nobody ever gets it right the first time. However once you learn a few basic principles you’ll be light like a pro in no time.

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