Our Favorite Affordable LED Film Lights for Low-Budget Filmmaking

Most filmmakers rent a standard Arri or Lowell film light kits for their productions. A smart decision, because placing an emphasis on good lighting is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to keep production value high.

But what do you do if you’re a low budget filmmaker who’s looking for ways to get great lighting effects but need to do it as inexpensively as possible? Besides using all the natural light you can, two great options are fluorescents and LED film lights.

Fluorescents: The True Low-Budget Affordable Lights

You don’t need expensive equipment to get cinematic lighting. In fact today fewer and fewer lights are required to get a good picture.

Kino Flo fluorescents have become a staple of modern productions no matter what the budget. These inexpensive fixtures produce a soft light source that looks great on camera. They’re cool to the touch when in operation, easy on talent eyes, and can be wrapped immediately after striking. The versatile Kino Flo Diva and 4ft Four-Bank are two of the most common fixtures used. Both come with a lightweight, removable egg-crate louver that slightly reduces the intensity of the light while controlling the spread. And while both have mounting plates for C-stands, if your shoot is ultra low budget you can easily tape or staple them into place.

Must-Have Affordable LED Film Lights

Once relegated to indicator lights on audio and video equipment, LEDs’ increased power and color temperature control have made them a favorite light source on any set. Their benefits are numerous:

  • LED film lights low-generated heat and a relatively cool touch means you can put them in places a conventional hot light can’t go. Plus, the cooler room temp means talent and crew are more comfortable on set.
  • They’re efficient! LEDs convert 80% of their energy into light. That’s 4x what you get from a standard tungsten lamp.
  • A range of options includes daylight, tungsten, or bi-color adjustable balance and spot, floor, or variable beam angle configurations.

LEDs also offer 25,000 to 1,000,000-hour lamp life and because they’re cooler, you can easily clip gels to them without scorching your fingers!

You have a lot of LED film lights options to choose from. Here are just 4 of our affordable LED film lights that will work wonders on your next shoot.

1×1 Daylight LED Flood

Whether you’re out in the field, filming on a soundstage, or in studio, the versatile Litepanels 1×1 daylight LED flood is one powerful lighting tool that offers a soft and even quality of light. It works equally well at filling in shadows as it does illuminating an entire scene. Highly mobile, the 1×1 goes wherever you need it to and with an adapter plate and Anton Bauer battery you never have to worry about accessing power—nice to have for street, car, and remote locations. Because it’s heat-free, you can position the 1×1 comfortably close to a subject’s face, making it ideal for documentaries. But it’s also extremely effective in controlled situations. Just an all-around terrific fixture!

2×1 Bi-Color LED

Similar to an Arri Skypanel s60, the Litepanels Gemini 2×1 bi-color LED provides a nice wide soft source of color-accurate illumination and it does it at about half the weight! It has full-spectrum daylight and tungsten lighting and allows for quick and easy adjustment of lighting modes for effects. It offers hue, saturation, and light intensity control. The ergonomics, user options, output, and light quality make it a favorite with producers of all size and budget productions.

LED Tubes

Quasar Science’s XMD digital cross fade LED lamps are 4-foot and 2-foot bi-color LED tubes designed to replace fluorescent T12 and T8 lamps. They’re simple to use—no ballast required—and powered by 120 or 240 VAC. Operate the XMD’s as a single tube light or you can gang multiples with a quick-connect power adapter harness. They have a superior light output and are equally useful for lighting cast and sets.  And, they can also be strung above diffusions for the perfect sky.

Miniplus Flood Spot

Want an extremely efficient and versatile on-camera lighting solution? The Litepanels Miniplus Flood is a pocket-sized wonder that offers excellent fill and flood options.

It features nearly 20 fitted gels and is fully operable on battery power. Able to adapt to your specific needs at a moment’s notice, you’ll love how this highly portable yet super bright softlight provides crisp quality without revealing harsh surface details.

LED Film Lights for Rent in Miami

The upside to choosing Litepanels LEDs is obvious. These low-profile fixtures are solidly made, virtually heat-free, and allow you to light tight spaces without harming the talent. Best of all, their affordability makes them accessible to filmmakers on a low budget.

If you’ve never worked with LEDs, do yourself a favor and conduct some research before putting together your kit. Then give us a call to discuss your options. In addition to our grip truck rental we offers all the LED lights mentioned here and more. We’re happy to help you put together an affordable lighting kit for your next low-budget project.