A $550 professional LED
A $7.50 worklight with a fluorescent lamp
Yeah, both are trick questions as you can tell from the article’s title. In most cases the Canon 5DII is probably a better camera to use than the Sony NEX-7, but there are times when the Sony is better. Same goes for the lights. A $7.50 clamp-on worklight can be a better tool than a professional light in some situations.
In the photo below, an uncorrected frame grab from the raw footage, two sources of light illuminate the actor.
The candle in the shot is one. The key light is in the next photo down—a Home depot worklight.
The work light is equipped with a 100 watt equivalent lamp (also purchased at Home Depot) labeled “warm white”. It checked out with my Gossen color temperature meter at a little under 2800K. I thought it would be close enough to the candle. I made a snoot of sorts out of a piece of blackwrap to keep the light off the background. It was clamped to the curtain rod shown in the photo but then moved to an open door to get it in a better position.
The sample shot is from a sequence shot mostly in a dark room with lots of candles. I bought four worklights for the sequence but needed only two. The camera was the 5DII. All the shots were done using an ancient pre-AI Nikkor 35mm f2 or a Zeiss ZE 50mm f1.4. The frame grab of the actor here was shot with the Zeiss lens.
The third photo was unfortunately shot by somebody else with my iPhone, but if you look hard you can see the Sony NEX-7 in my left hand, a work light in my right hand, and an LED500 beside me as I lie under a truck trying to get a nearly impossible-to-light shot. I was just getting ready when this photo was taken. For the actual shot, I ended up with the LED partially on my chest, and the worklight clamped to a mayfer clamp attached to a part of the truck frame. I did the shot with the NEX-7 up against my eye, using the built-in EVF.
For this shot the NEX-7 was the better tool over the 5DII because with my Zacuto Z-finder attached to the back of the camera, and the 24-105 lens on the front, the whole package was too long to fit in the space. I had tried the shot with the camera on a beanbag using my Zacuto EVF separated out from the rig so I could see it, but that wasn’t working out very well. I needed to be there on my back to see things with the naked eye. Since the NEX-7 has a built-in EVF, the camera itself with viewfinder is about an inch thick. The lens adds about 3 inches, so there was plenty of room to maneuver.
I have a 50mm Nikkor micro lens for the 5DII but it wasn’t wide enough, and the 24-105, which has a macro function, was too long. The smaller camera became the one to use.
The NEX-7 has a nice focus assist too, so it was easy to shift focus as needed during the shooting.