Move Toward The Light - with Manfrotto
The Italian manufacturer Manfrotto is intimately acquainted with light - light stands, light booms, light tracking systems. Granted, some of their camera supports in the past have been anything but light...but they have always been well built and practical.
Well, now they have added a new section in light - lighting panels. These have been occasioned by the new capabilities in DSLRs - that of video and of image recording in low light situations.
Bear with me if that seems a little contradictory - lighting for low-light - let's take the idea of the video first. A great many video works are done with frontal lighting - think interviews and street entrapments. These are perfectly lit with a panel attached to the hot shoe of a camera. If it is not too weighty, you can leap around with the DSLR and capture anything that swims in front of the lens.
Manfrotto have introduced three new LED panels for this - they are encased in neat plastic housings with a variable dimmer switch on the left hand side and in the case of the two larger panels, attachment points for the hot shoe mount on two other sides of the case.
The smallest panel runs on AAA cells while the midi and the maxi have rechargeable lithium cells. They come with the appropriate mains charger. These two larger panels also have the intriguing feature of a "flash" setting - you can plug in a synch cord and pulse out the light with your camera PC socket.
The smallest panel has 24 LED's - the midi has 35 and the maxi has 84.
These are perfect for video as there is no operating noise to interfere with sound recording.
Now if you are a student of low-light stills - supplying just enough light to emphasize your subject in a world of gloom - these panels are your best friend. They let you add your touch with surety - you will see the light effect before you shoot. And they are small enough and light enough to go on the end of booms and poles easily - even if hand-held.
Mini is $ 125. Midi is $ 310, and Maxi is $ 465. In store now - come and try them.
PS: the larger panels also include colour-correcting gels to balance them to ambient lighting.