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Taking the heat out of lighting A review of the Lishuai LED508AS lighting kit by Kevin Cook F.Inst.V. (Hon.) W e’ve seen a gradual move away from tungsten video lighting for a number of years now – and for all sorts of reasons. Firstly there’s the ecological issue about using tungsten lights. Burning a metal filament within a gaseous-free glass chamber is not the most efficient way to generate a light source. Most of the energy in this process is used up in creating heat (as tungsten ignites at such high temperatures), which is not only wasteful but also a really unwelcome guest on any film set if you happen to be sat in front of a tungsten lamp for any length of time. The more lamps you use the greater heat is generated which means you either suffer from the heat or have to use more energy by introducing cooling machinery – which in turn creates other unwanted side effects for the sound guy. The heat issue also means you are limited to how close you can light your subjects – especially if you are filming subjects which are really not that keen on being heated. For instance, I’m sure there are many forms of wildlife who will act very unnaturally under heat-omitting light sources. I’m sure there are even some who would expire under them. Apart from the high running costs and heat side-effects, tungsten bulbs are also very delicate – especially when hot. In this state they can also be very dangerous and tend to explode into thousands of tiny molten glass fragments which is why you should 56 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 82 OCTOBER 2013 never use them without a safety glass in place. So with all this going against the tungsten light it’s really surprising that they have lasted this long and are in fact still manufactured today. Whilst various alternative light sources have been with us for some time they have been somewhat lacking in performance and have not been able to deliver the same quality of light offered by tungsten lamps. This has certainly changed in recent years though – especially in relation to LED lighting. I don’t intend to research and write about this any further now but a LED lamp with a CRI value of anything above 85 is considered to be “very good” – whereas “very bad” would be at the other end of the scale down at zero. Whilst there are other contributing factors to the quality of light it’s the CRI value that will be often the quoted measure of quality. In video terms anything below 80 will start to cause colour inconsistencies in things like skin tones – especially when there are other light sources falling on the subject. The state of LED Lishuai LED508AS-KIT This colour accuracy is known as a CRI (Colour Rendering Index) value which, according to Wikipedia, is a “quantitative measure of the ability of a light source to reproduce the colours of various objects faithfully”. You’d be in your right mind to expect something quite sub-standard for this kind of money but Lishuai quote them as having a CRI value of just over 80. It’s not perfect admittedly, but in practice the colour rendition is extremely good when compared to the level of investment. Mores the point, your colour rendition is far more likely to be impacted by external light sources, operator error and the colour inconsistencies within the camera itself rather than an LED that’s churning out a CRI value of 80+. LED (Light-Emitting Diodes) have been with us since the early 60s and were originally used for all manner of functions such as appliance indicators and other low-intensity applications. Since then this technology has advanced considerably and spread into all manner of light applications and today can be found in everything from car headlights to video displays. This has also resulted in a number of LED constant lighting solutions for video and photography – of varying quality. Whilst LED is a very efficient way to generate light, the light quality is not always the same from one system to another. Generally speaking, the more you spend on your LED lighting the more advanced it will be and will offer a much more accurate colour rendition. You can spend many, many hundreds of pounds on a single LED light panel so you’d be right to question exactly what you’d get from a Lishuai LED lighting kit which costs a shade under £500 plus VAT for a 2-panel kit. And it’s not just two LED panels you’re getting for this money – it’s two screw- on diffusers, two heavy duty stands, two mains supply units, two battery chargers, four 4400mAh NPF-style batteries and a couple of bags to carry and store it all in.