Tag Archives: video

LED Softbox Test

[Note: This is being published as a “work in progress”, so I will be adding photos, framegrabs and video clips over the next few days, as I have time]

I heard about a new make of LED softboxes which seem to be being used by some photographers and though it would be good to test them and see if they live up to their claims. I contacted the distributors and was sent 2 to test. In addition I asked for dimmable transformers.

I tested them with both a stills camera (the Canon 5D Mark II) and a video camera (Red Epic).

Size and Packaging

Each panel comes well protected in a thick cardboard box with foam corner protection and a foam front panel protector. The size of the packaging is 66cm x 63cm x 5.5cm._MG_3181

The panel itself is very thin (about half the width of a £1 coin) _MG_3185 and measures 595 x 595mm square _MG_3184

The only connector is a socket into which you plug the transformer. You can either use a fixed brightness transformer (supplied with the unit) or buy a dimmable transformer (as shown here) _MG_3182

Colour Temperature

The box and specs claim they are 4500K. However in testing they turned out to be closer to 4100K.


I took a series of photos with the light at 2m, 1m and 0.5m from the subject (a black/white/grey card). The ISO was set to 800, the aperture was f/2.8.

Full-at-0,5m,-_MG_3180 At 0.5m, the shutter speed was 1/1250th.


Full-at-1m,-_MG_3179  At 1m, the shutter speed was 1/500th.

Full-at-2m,-_MG_3177At 2m, the shutter speed was 1/125th.

Video Flicker

coming next

Blackmagic Hyperdeck Shuttle


When Blackmagic originally brought out the Shuttle, it seemed like a great product if you wanted high quality uncompressed video. But that came with the downside of massive disk space requirements.

Version 2 was then released which allowed recording in either ProRes or Avid compressed formats. Brilliant. And a great price.

Now it accepts SSDs formatted in ex-FAT format too, so no need for nasty Mac-emulations on the PC.

So I finally bought one, to record 1080p output from my Red Epic and Sony Z1 cameras.

Connecting it to the computer

It comes with a DVD with software and manuals for every Blackmagic product! I read the Hyperdeck Shuttle manual and installed the software.

The Shuttle has a mini-USB socket to connect it to a computer. I did this and then ran the Hyperdeck software.

This is where I had my first major problem:


The software did not recognise that the Shuttle was connected. Eventually I realised that one of the grey buttons was actually an On/Off button! Turning it on helps. LOL.

I could then set the recording format to “Avid DNxHD QuickTime”.

Connecting it to a camera

The built-in battery only lasts for about an hour. Not much use if you are recording 2 hour concerts as I frequently do. So the first thing I needed to get was a cable to connect the Shuttle to one of my V-lock batteries. I spent ages reading through the Blackmagic website and on forums with no definitive advice. Then eventually I was given a link to the perfect cable on eBay. And only about £12. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/251192565581?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649 (Note: it does come with a mains adapter, but I prefer to move about on battery power when I can).

The next cable needed was an SDI to Blackmagic mini-SDI. Well I already had a Red mini-SDI to SDI cable, so I thought I would be OK. But no, both the output of the Epic and the input for the cable are male plugs. So I’ll need another cable. I’ll update this page when I find the right one.

In the meantime I will use the HDMI connections on both devices. I have loads of HDMI cables!

The next problem is that the indicator LED for the video signal did not light up. But there was definitely a video signal coming through the cable (I tested by plugging into the TV).

After a lengthy phone conversation with Blackmagic support, we established that the LED lights up when you have a 720p signal at any frame rate. But that it only lights up for 1080p if the refresh rate is 25Hz (irrespective of the frame rate). This is just wierd as the UK and Europe run on 50Hz. I shall investigate further with other users.

Test shots of flaming torches

In a month or two, I will be shooting a music video in which a group of people will be running through the woods with burning torches. So to prepare for this we took some test shots this week on the Red Epic camera.

I turned on the camera’s HDR facility (which takes a normally exposed version of the footage and another under-exposed version) and combined them in Photoshop. Here are the results for one frame of the footage:


This was made up from the following two exposures:

A001_C006_0226_Aframe and A001_C006_0226_Xframe

I combined the 2 exposures in Photoshop with a layer mask and then added a curves correction to the lighter exposure.