If you’ve ever seen feature film or high-end TV commercial shoots, you may have noticed that, while low-budget productions tend to use lots of small lamps, these high-dollar projects use a small number of very large lamps, and then modify the light with diffusion material, bounce it off various surfaces, or sculpt it with opaque “flags.”
Over the years, I’ve tried to incorporate that more cinematic approach to lighting in my work, with somewhat limited success. Most of the instruments marketed for video production – especially in the low-to-mid-budget range – simply don’t put out a sufficient volume of light. Once you bounce it or diffuse it, there’s usually not enough left for a decent exposure.
To a certain extent, fast lenses and cameras capable of high ISO have mitigated that problem, but it’s always a challenge to balance artificial light with available light, or to light a larger area for a wider shot.
The fact of the matter is, you just can’t do cinematic lighting with small video lights. Larger, more powerful lights have been available – first HMIs, and now LED Fresnels – but they usually cost upwards of $1,200 or more (much more), putting them out of reach of many “crew of one” filmmakers. They’re also usually very large and cumbersome.
Personally, I’ve spent way too much money on cheap, underpowered lights over the years. Finally, I got so frustrated about being unable to find anything that hit the sweet spot of price, convenience, and raw power, that I decided to solve the problem myself.
I found a manufacturer that would work with me to produce what I wanted, and now I’m very pleased to introduce the CrewOfOne Supernova 240!
This beast of a light serves up 240 watts of daylight-balanced LED power, silently blasting 29,000 lumens of raw light in a 120° pattern. That’s about 400% brighter than the LED lights I’ve been using and recommending until now, with drastically more coverage. Best of all, since I’m dealing directly with the factory, I can offer this for HALF the price of anything close to a competing product: only $599! That’s the same price as a cheap light kit that’ll never quite satisfy you until the day it finally falls apart.
Check out these comparison shots showing direct illumination (aiming at the backdrop), and indirect illumination (aiming the light at the ceiling). Camera settings (f/5.6 at 1/60 ISO 400), lamp/background position, and image processing are all identical. The Supernova 240 really IS that much brighter than a typical LED video light.
Now, a few caveats: to keep the price down, I’ve made this a no-frills piece of gear. That means three things:
1) It doesn’t have a fancy angle adjustment handle. It has a very beefy metal bracket that holds the light securely in one position at a time. Two small bolts lock the bracket in position. If you want to change the angle, you need to take the locking bolts out. Frankly, I don’t bother to lock mine at all, as the bracket is tight enough to keep the lamp at whatever angle I put it.
2) CRI. This light is rated >80Ra. More expensive lights are usually >90Ra. To me, the difference in color rendering between cameras is far more than that, and there’s a lot of debate about whether CRI even applies to LED lights, but if you’re a CRI snob, there’s your full disclosure.
3) It’s heavy. About 14 lbs, actually. If you use cheap, flimsy light stands, they might not be enough for the Supernova. You’re going to have to get some decent stands (ideally, C-stands), and you’re also going to have to be careful, because if this falls on somebody, it will hurt them, and you will be responsible.
HOWEVER, since, let’s be honest, I designed this thing for myself, here are a few things I made sure to include.
1) No wall-wart or annoying two-part transformer box. The LED driver is built right into the light, so the power cord is just that: a power cord.
2) Speaking of power cords, the on/off switch is on the cord, not the light. It drives me crazy to have to lower a light just to turn it on or off.
3) Completely silent: some lights have built-in fans or generate a high-pitched whine. Not this one.
4) This isn’t exactly a feature, but FREE SHIPPING within the continental USA.
5) Also, a 100% satisfaction money-back guarantee.
Until you’ve used a lamp like this, you almost can’t imagine how versatile it is. Here are just a few of the things you can do with this much raw light:
You need to film a high-key interior scene? You can aim the Supernova 240 at the ceiling of a normal sized room, and the fill the whole place with soft, beautiful light. This is GREAT for business-candid shoots where you have to move quickly and clients never want to see dark shadows.
You need to shoot an interview? You can shine the Supernova through some white fabric and give your project the kind of light you see in movies that win awards for cinematography. You can make it more or less dramatic simply by altering the angle of the light, and you can make the shadows softer by adding more diffusion material, or harder, by removing diffusion.
You want to make a scene look dark? Backlight your subject, and bounce a little bit of light in from the side for that cool, “noir” effect.
If you’re worried about power consumption, let me put 240 watts in perspective. When I started my career (in the previous century), it was not uncommon to use tungsten lights that were 1,000 or 2,000 watts. In addition to using fragile bulbs and generating enormous amounts of heat, these suckers would often trip circuit breakers. As a result, I learned that 2,000 watts is about the limit that you can plug into a standard (20 amp) circuit. If you do the math, that means that you could actually plug EIGHT of these lamps into one circuit before you started worrying about tripping a breaker.
An extra note for any photographers who may be intimidated by video lighting: this light is so bright, you can use it just like a flash. The same way you’d bounce a flash off the wall or ceiling, you can use the Supernova 240.
So … if, like me, you’re tired of wasting your money on flimsy, underpowered lamps, I’d like to sell you a light! Or, more than one (you’ll be able to select quantity on the next screen). Click the “Buy Now” button, and get ready to go Supernova!