Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Let there be light!

Now, the third in this short series of video tips posts is all about light - lighting, luminescence, illumination.

As you'll know by now if you've read parts one and two, I'm passionate about iPhone photography and videography. I've analysed the results from a wide range of cameras and those from the iPhone (and mine's a mere 4 - not even a 4S or 5 which are even better) are as good as almost any mid-range equipment and better than many.

But there is one big drawback. And that's the ability to take decent still or video clips in low light conditions. When you think about it, those are often precisely the conditions many family films and photos (birthday parties, special dinners, opening Christmas presents) are taken in so this could be a major drawback for the smartphone filming.

Step forward the Manfrotto KLYP case, which ingeniously allows you to both attach the phone to a tripod and - with the addition of the ML240 LED - add a light, portable (and very effective) external light source to make those indoor movies even better.

Of course, the iPhone does have it's own lighting but it's distinctly underpowered and also has the rather unsettling effect of making people's eyes glow green in the dark. Being an LED array and being adjustable the ML240 acts more like the diffused light you might get in a studio - it significantly reduces shadows in bright light, for example, but will also allow you to film pretty much in the dark, as here. This short sequence (filmed entirely on my iPhone 4) shows first, footage with no additional light then (following the transition) the effect of the iPhone's built-in light and then, finally, with the ML240 turned on:

At the moment the entire kit can be bought for just under £50 from John Lewis ('never knowingly undersold') online. But if you do decide to buy from them beware - when I ordered mine the picture clearly showed that the package also contained the Manfrotto mini tripod. When I contacted John Lewis about the discrepancy between the picture and the product description I was told I would have to 'phone one of their stores and ask for a box to be opened, which I had no intention of doing as my order - and my enquiry - referred to their online operation.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the only issue with my order. Although I'm happy with the case I was clearly sent one that had (albeit briefly) been opened and used by another customer. There were slight marks on the clip fittings and - the real giveaway - the box contained the returns slip from a lady in Edinburgh.

And I've noticed that John Lewis online has now at least taken down the original, misleading photo. Pity they couldn't be bothered to tell me or maybe even thank me for pointing out a serious - if inadvertent - case of misrepresentation on their website.

Never knowing undersold? Maybe now we know why..

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