Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Using the Elinchrom Quadra's as video lights and shooting with 5DMkII

I got asked recently to help light an interview for a documentary airing later this year with an American TV network. It was however quite experimental, firstly we'd be shooting the entire thing on the Canon 5Dmk II and secondly I was going to attempt to light it partly using the pilot lights on my new Elinchrom Quadra heads.
The Elinchrom Quadra kit with manfrotto Nano stands in a 1510 Peli Case
The Quadra pack has LED pilot lights which mean that they can be run from the battery pack without running it down too quickly, that they don't generate much if any heat plus they are already white balanced. To use them as a constant light source you have to first make sure the pilot light stays on (holding down the button for more than 3 seconds) and also shut off the auto-power off feature, lest they turn off in the middle of filming.
The Canon 5D MkII with the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS L lens attached, along with radio mic
I soon discovered that one major disadvantage of using the Quadra's in this way was that the LEDs have a very limited output and that it was constant and thus unable to be increased or decreased. Of course the LEDs are designed as pilot lights and not modeling lights so this shouldn't be a major surprise. Still it did mean using them for filming was not massively useful. Firing with a reflector dish they are perhaps powerful enough but create an ugly shiny light, whilst using them with a softbox obviously reduced the amount of light reaching the subject.
The red arrow points to an Elinchrom Quadra A head with reflector dish acting as a background light
In the end I ended up using window light and mutliple reflectors to shape the light around the subjects head. Using one Quadra head to throw some light on the background (see above image). As we were shooting at around ISO 500 on the 5D mkII at f/2.8 towards the 200mm end of the focal range we were able to get a fantastic look that would require a lot more physical space in the room with a traditional film camera.


Nathan said...

Looks like a great setup Greg - be great to see a quick clip - or some stills taken? I've been looking at the Quadra's since they were announced, with the size, portability and relative power of the Quadra's combined with the LED modeling lights, VERY tempting...

Do you find you are using your mono-lights a lot less with these around?

Greg Funnell said...

Yea in terms of lights for photography they're great - they've completely changed the way I pack for location jobs and you're right I don't use my mono-lights nearly as much.

Waiting for a few publication dates to pass then I'll have some images up here that were shot with them and hopefully a small behind the scenes video.

Lam Thuy Vo said...

Hey, nice set up.

Mind if I grill you bout audio? Are you able to monitor the sound while you're recording? Is it automatically adjusting audio gain?

Nathan said...

I'm not sure I like you very much - now I'm even more likely to get some... grrr... :)

With them being asymmetric with the power distribution - do you find that to be ok? Can you have the same power going out of each head?

Greg Funnell said...

Right sorry for the delay in responding I had to ask my friend about the audio question - here are the answers!

Lami - Apparently the Tramm Hudson hack allows you to monitor audio, but you need a box such as a juicedlink cx231. With that it allows you to monitor levels with headphones etc and manually control audio gain.

Nath - The Asymmetric power isn't as big an issue as I thought it might be. You can't have the same power out of each head - you have to do it the old fashioned way and move one closer etc. They should be bringing out a new pack maybe next year with symmetrical heads. My main bugbear is that I tend to use them for the sake of using them. Sometimes this means I'm on jobs where using my speedlights would be just as good and take up a lot less space in the bag!