Now that the Canon 7d is out, can new video from Nikon and Panasonic be far behind? Some more interesting new products are out to help photographers move into doing short form video. One of the problems that photographers got away from long ago was the need to use constant lights with the advent of strobes. The constant lights were hot both to handle and on the subject, it took a lot of wattage to get a decent exposure, and were 3200 K so had to be gelled to balance with daylight which brought down the power even more. Well, as wonderful as strobes are and I’m a big advocate of using them whenever possible except for a very few highly specialized stop motion systems, they are useless for video.
If you want to shoot video, now there are a number of choices beyond the old tungsten lights. One type that is finding favor with cinematographers is the new LED light. As a light source, they are powerful (for their size), small, sturdy, draw little power and a are daylight-balanced source that run very cool. As of now, to light large areas you still might need a number of 1 x1 panels that can cost quite a bit but that will surely change in the near future. For now you can start by trying one of the smaller battery powered on camera LED lights like the Litepanels Mirco or MicroPro. Powerful enough to light small scenes or use as a fill in some cases, it can be dimmed with little color change. I have found them useful off camera for interviews or as a kicker and on camera for an eye-light and run and gun situations. I wish I had had some when filming in the catacombs of Paris a few years ago. The quarters were cramped with no place for stands and these LED lights could have been hand held right where I needed them. Image by © Lee White
Zeiss continues to grow their line of Canon mount manual focus lenses that are especially suited for the DSLRs with video capabilities. The latest is the ZEISS Distagon T* 2/28 ZE which is a moderate wide-angle lens designed for full-frame (D)SLR cameras, delivering a 74-degree field of view. Like the other Zeiss ZE lenses, it incorporates a CPU and data contacts for communication with the camera body and long focus pull. This lens is meant to be used on the Canon cameras such as the 5d Mark II and the new 7d. As I have mentioned before, Zeiss already has a line of Nikon lenses for video capable DSLRs.