I shoot video, underwater (topside too, but I got my start beneath the emerald sea)
Most recently with a Canon 5DMK2 in a Subal Housing and a Sony PMW-EX1 in a Gates Housing. My underwater cameras are all a generation or so behind, but that isn’t terribly relevant, I do ok 🙂
I’ve used small lights and big lights HID, LED, HMI, etc…
I’ve learned a few things over time, HID’s have great throw (as in they can punch through the murk) but LED’s win for the smooooooth light.
I found that a lot of light is brilliant when it comes to pretty much all cameras. My favorite when it comes to a lot of light prior to using the SOLA 4000’s was a set of 50w HID’s, but there was still the issue of the hot spots and beam angle. No matter how good the reflectors and diffusers were, the light was never soft enough and wide enough to paint the full angle available to my cameras lens.
Keep in mind not all LED’s are created equal though. They differ in color temperature, and you REALLY want to make sure you get ones with voltage regulation so that your lights don’t slowly change over the duration of shoot due to battery drainage. That kind of color arc is basically not correctable in post, which sucks if you shot your best footage evah.
Having power settings that can be dialed up and down (without a color change) is absolutely necessary.
When I went started shooting with the 5DMK2 I asked around, do I need the 4k’s or will the 2k’s suffice… Most folks agreed that the with the low light capabilities that the 2k would be enough. I liked this answer because I’m pretty much always on a budget and the price difference was quite appealing.
The result was ‘fine’ I’ve never been unhappy with the SOLA2000’s + a SOLA800 for fill. Smooth light, bright enough, the only thing I would have liked was wider beam (all my lights had approximately a 60 degree beam) and Light & Motion stepped up and introduced the SOLA2500 and 3000 which sport a whopping 90 degree beam.
I recently had the opportunity to use a set of SOLA4000’s, I was familiar with them already as my dive buddy uses a set, and since I edit all the footage I recognize the nice smooth wide beam (ok, so I’ll admit to being a bit jealous). They have an 80 degree beam and 4000 beautiful lumens.
Most recently I used the SOLA4000’s + a SOLA2000 for fill when we were out shooting an assortment of underwater creatures for a project “Know What’s Below” that I am developing. The idea of the program will be to offer a web site with numerous free resources not just for education with regards to conservation and preservation of our precious Emerald Sea, but one minute narrated videos along with an informational page for each of the more commonly observed creatures that call Puget Sound home. Our hope is that these videos can be used by teachers, educators, parents and kids to virtually explore the underwater world in their own back yard and make a connection that will last a lifetime.
Today I shot for the second time with them, and all I can say is this: “what took me so long?!!?” If you are even slightly serious about shooting video that is a step up from that gopro selfie stick, then give serious consideration to the updated SOLA line.
A byproduct of all that light is the key to why I’m so tremendously enamored with these beautiful bright lights… Gain. With more light, I was able to step the SONY EX1 down to a -3 on the gain. What does that mean in plain english? It means beautiful crisp footage with minimal noise.
All that was a lot of words to say what I really mean: I can’t wait for the SOLA8000’s!!!