I get at least 3 emails a week where people ask me "which brand of LED's do you use?", and "what is the CRI (colour accuracy) of your LED's?". Valid questions for sure, but unfortunately I don't know the answer to either of them. About two years ago I purchased three LED panels from an eBay seller that does not exist any more. The specs were: "1000 LED panel, V-Lock" and another "1000 LED panel, Colour Temp Adjustable" (which really means 500 LED panel because it uses 500 for each spectrum - Tungsten(ish)Daylight(ish)). They were cheap and have served me very well as I strive to learn more about lighting. The fact that they run off V-Lock batteries meant that I could shoot out-doors with some success alsp. Getting back to my original point though...these LED's do NOT have a high CRI rating. The Daylight ones are magenta as hell and the "colour temp adjustable one's" tungsten is SO GREEN it's not funny. But, I've never had a director complain and I've never been disappointed with them either. I guess part of that comes from the fact that I mostly work on super low budget stuff, but also because I don't really have (or didn't when I purchased them) any other choice! Low power, soft source, relatively bright..SUPER CHEAP. That's all I know, and I take them on every shoot.
Part of me agrees with snobby DOP's who complain/talk about NEVER shooting with low CRI LED's and how "awful" they render skin tones. Or how about suggesting that you couldn't possibly shoot food with LED's because the full spectrum just isn't there? Really!? I mean sure, when you're shooting the next Bond film, ask for the best and shoot with whatever you like, but don't NEVER do something just because it's not the ULTIMATE way to do it - that's far more dangerous than magenta spikes and skin tone rendition. That's putting a stop to actually getting out there and focusing on what you DO have and how best you can use it.
Okay, so I'll stop the rant and get on with the show - just don't let anyone tell you NEVER to do something unless you've tried it before yourself....OR, do what I do and challenge the notion so that you can back it up with results ;)
Tomorrow is the last shoot day for Ryan Thomas's new short film 'Next Door's Mail' and I've really been enjoying the challenge of lighting the super tiny space we have to work in. I'm also enjoying the fact that the owner of the apartment, and lead actor (thanks Mitch!) has installed these funky Philips LED thingies that let you dial in any colour you want! The only problem is, you have to have them at 100% percent intensity otherwise they flicker, but they have really been awesome to play with. The fact that they hang on the wall by a rope means you can position them anywhere, the most flexible practical I've shot with that's for sure.
Here's a close-up of Pete Young in one of the early scenes of the film. Not only have I been experimenting with lighting on this one but Ryan and I are also really trying to utilize clever, meaningful framing whilst keeping camera movement to a minimum.