Hi, this is Jay P. Morgan. Today on The Slanted Lens we’re talking about why tungsten lights are still really valuable when you’re on set. I’m also taking a look at the new 120T by Aputure. It’s a fabulous tungsten light. So let’s get started and see what we can do.
There’s been a recent trend on set towards LED lights. But tungsten lights are still very valuable, for a few reasons. I’m highlighting four of them today.
Balance Tungsten with Practicals
The number one reason to keep tungsten lights available when you’re shooting on set is the ease with which they balance to the practicals in the room. What are practicals? Practicals are all the light bulbs in the lamps. In the stove. In the hallway. In the sconces. Those are all the practical lights and they are usually tungsten balanced. You’ll walk into a room and think, “Wow this looks pretty good.” Then you turn all the practicals off and think, “Wow. We’ve got a lot of work to do here.” There’s no reason to do that to yourself. Turn those practicals on, use them as a soft fill, then bring in your tungsten lights and kick in your highlight and your rim. It looks great and you’re quickly ready to move ahead. I frequently use them that way. It’s fast and easy, which is great on set.
Turn Daytime to Nighttime
I like to shoot daytime and make it look like night. So I’ll set my daylight balance on tungsten, which makes the sunlight blue. And then I bring in my tungsten lights for my key and my rims. It gives a nice look. I have clean light with my tungstens. I don’t have to put gels and all kinds of things to make it work. I’ve just got a high powered light that’s going to go in and do it’s job. But you get that blue light from the ambient that’s overhead with the sunlight. So it’s a great way to cross the color to make daytime look like nighttime.
Existing Stage Lighting
Stages still have a lot of tungsten lights installed in the grids. Yesterday we shot on a set and we had great lighting on the background, but it was all tungsten. We could turn on six lights in these big China type balls. There’s no reason to fight that. No reason to try to gel that. We’re just simply going to turn those on, set our color balance to tungsten on camera. Then we punch in nice highlights with the tungstens we have. We had the 120T by Aputure for a nice highlight so we could use a 2k or a Source Four to give us some rim. And just is a great look. We roll and it looks fabulous. We don’t have to find the lights from the ceiling already.
I absolutely love this look. When I’m shooting at magic hour, towards dusk, and it’s looking really beautiful outside, I will set my color balance to daylight and then bring in the warmth of tungsten lights. House lights, Christmas lights, whatever. Of course then I’m going to punch in a highlight. The key light on my talent will be tungsten as well. And it makes the subject feel comfortable or correct in that setting. Makes it feel like the house is lighting them. If you put a blue light on the viewer will think, where’s that coming from? It won’t feel consistent. But that nice warm tungsten light makes them look like they’re a part of the house and the scene looks very natural. They can be walking down the street and you’ll see a warm light come over them. Like they’re passing a street light, or a car is going by.
So now let’s take a look at a new tungsten light that Aputure has. It’s called the 120T. What I love about this light and the reason we’re reviewing it is that for one, it’s a single LED light source. I love that because we just have the single LED in the front which gives us one pin point light source. Not multiple shadows, not multiple cross. You know it’s just one light source in the eye. One light source on set. Becomes a single light source.
And two, it’s a Bowens mount. And what that means is that I can put reflectors on it. I can put grids in the reflectors if I just want small pools of light which is fabulous. I used that on set just this last week and it was wonderful. I love working with grids. I can also put softboxes on it with a speedring. The Bowens mount allows me to modify the light more like strobes which is how I’m used to working.
Let’s talk about how this light is set up. It’s got a cable out the back that runs into a ballast. That ballast you can hang on the stand. They’ve got a nice strap for it so it hangs on the stand, gives the stand a little bit of weight so it won’t fall over. The power switch is on there and I can dial our light up or down. It also has an AC cord if we want to plug it into the wall. If we want to plug it into an Anton Bower battery it has a plate for that as well. They also have them in V-mount. You can’t use these lights on location without having a battery on them, so that’s really handy. And they built that right into the ballast. It’s equipped right from the beginning.
Six Foot Test
So now for my six foot test. First I get my meter six feet away, I turn all the lights off from the room so it’s just this light. And then I take a meter reading. I got 4.09. Or basically 5.6. At 640 ISO. The reason I chose 640 for ISO is people are all over the map with ISO. People are shooting up to 3200. S-log is natively 3200 for the Sony. I thought 640 was a nice place in the middle to be able to test all the lights. And so it gives a nice kind of middle ground for everything. Every light I test is going to be 640 ISO, 6 feet away. And that’ll give you an idea of what this light does. And that way there’s a constant when we’re reviewing the different lights. That’s a powerful light, it’s great light to work with on set.
One of the reasons that this is so valuable and a lot of the products from Aputure fall into this category is that it’s very reasonable priced. It’s around $600, depending on the version you get. It comes with the head, the ballast and the plate so you can put your batteries on it. It’s just up and ready to go. That’s a great price point for a good single LED tungsten light. There are others out there that are more expensive but you know what, you can pay twice or three times this and you won’t necessarily get any more power. You might get a softer light, you might get a different use for the light. But this one holds its own. For the price point it’s really a fabulous light.
This light is very similar to a North Star light that I loved, by Photoflex. It was a stop brighter but it was almost twice the cost. So this is a great light. You have the ability to modify it with a grid or softbox. And you can choose AC or batteries. And last of all, it’s powerful enough to use on set. It’ll mix in with your 1k and your 2k and your Source Fours. It’s a light that is meant to be on set and compete in that world. So this becomes a great light at a price point that makes sense. It’s portable, modifiable, and it’s got a battery to go with it. So check it out on B&H or Amazon and just keep those cameras rollin, keep on clickin’.