So here’s our latest project, an LED light panel assembled using an ordinary lighting fixture (from China*) and some parts we made, like the aluminum swivel bracket and the mounting support. Combine that with a lightstand and a power outlet, and all of a sudden I have a low wattage, cool to the touch, ridiculously bright (but not so bright that you can’t look at it) studio/cinema light. :)
As a disclaimer, most of our projects aren’t the typical DIY stuff, meaning the kinds that have a shopping list with readily available parts from the dollar store. Having access to a full machine factory, we make this stuff for my own photography fun. Shining a light on something/someone isn’t exactly a new concept, and in the age of so many experts on the internet we seem to get lost in all of that. Smart engineers will have a field day picking apart the light quality and innards of the electronics, but hey, take it up with the quality control over there in China. I’ll just use it to take pictures and move on.
*This panel is similar to the ones you can search for on Alibaba (search for 600x600mm Light Panel), but I don’t know if it is the same as far as lumens, CRI, etc. Our source tells me this one is much brighter than the average panel. Some of the places do have a minimum quantity order so don’t be fooled by the low price. In the future, I’m sure Home Depot will start to carry all types of LEDs and all this will become forgettable.
I’d been wanting to make something like this for quite some time. I’ve always loved shooting with just the modeling lights on studio lights through softboxes. It’s just that a good amount of my brainpower is devoted to on and off camera speedlights, because I mostly shoot on location, where you have to create your own light. Speedlights can fit in a bag, and are powered by batteries, so therein lies their strengths. Problem is, flashes don’t provide a realtime preview of what they are going to do to a scene, a person’s face, etc. Every photographer or artist out there should hopefully be able to recognize quality and interesting light in all shapes and forms, so this LED light panel can get me back to doing what I enjoy the most, portraits of people with honest emotions, without the oftentimes annoying rinse and repeat nature of strobe based photography.
These lights are really bright, it’s hard to show their illumination power in photos. It’s bright enough to light up an entire room, and uses less power than a 40W bulb. I could see using these lights just as a work light or figure drawing light.
(D600 Video Clip, lit using two LED panels)
So here’s the light quality of the LED panel with real people. Most of these shots are from my Nikon’s. I just prefer them when shooting like this as opposed to the Canon. The fixture is not dimmable, but maybe I can change that by hooking up a different driver. The LED’s are 6000K, but I’ve found that all my cameras struggle with the white balance, even when shooting with it set in degrees. As always, I’ve found it easier for me, to just shoot AWB and edit the RAW’s later. These lights sometimes do show flickering, it depends on the “camera” used and of course the settings on the camera. I’ve seen the iPhone 5 camera have horrible flickering and banding when using these lights, but nothing on the J1. X100, yes, it has always been susceptible to flicker on the LCD. The video equipped DSLR’s work great at 1/60 a second and these lights are not bad as a bonus cinema light, for much less than the price of the name brands. Besides the larger size, the difference between this and the little LED’s that people put on their DSLR’s for video, is that you can look directly into the source and not squint or be blinded. I know the little 160LED I have could really use the same diffusion material.
Here are the LED panels set up in our makeshift “studio” before the 3em concert/fashion show. Being able to see in real time can make for easier image creation.
Since the back of the LED panel is just a plain square I thought I might as well use it for shameless advertising!
I found another use for our LED light panel, using it as a light table to “scan” my recovered Fuji FP100C negatives! Basically just taped up, photographed with the 105mm Micro and color inverted and corrected in Capture NX2.
For more posts and images with this LED light, click on the tag below!
To see some of our random Photography Projects: Design
For more inspiration, please check out one of my favorite websites: DIY Photography