In the market for a new lighting rig? Consider these viable, powerful options for all your film and video production needs.

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After a camera, the most important piece of equipment to own might just be a good light. Anybody who has been shooting for some time knows just how crucial a dependable, high-powered light is. A good lighting setup can make or break your shot and elevate your work into the realm of professional film and video production.

The hard truth about purchasing lights is that, no matter how far along you are in your career or how big your budget is, finding cheap, viable lighting solutions is always a challenge. Let’s take a look at some lights that will stand the test of time and give you the most bang for your buck.

There are a couple different things to consider when choosing your next light. First, consider the type of shoots you’ll be on. Are you moving locations in only one town, traveling around the world, or using the same setup for every shoot? It’s also vital to consider the CRI (Color Rendering Index rating: how true to the color the light is) of the light you’re buying and how comfortable you are with color temperatures and knowing when to apply gels and filters.


FotodioX C-700RSV

LED Lights Under $500 Every Filmmaker Needs On Set — Fotodio

Image via Dave Dugdale.

This small, easy-to-carry light is perfect for traveling long distances between shoots. The compact dimensions of the light allow the user to quickly set up their shot, whether it’s for an interview or a narrative-based shoot. Another big bonus with this light is that it eliminates the need to carry softboxes around. The already-diffused light eliminates the slow, ungainly pace of typical production setups.

Price — $444.95


Dracast LED1000

LED Lights Under $500 Every Filmmaker Needs On Set — Dracast

Image via Dracast.

With a CRI of 95, this bulky-yet-expansive LED light is perfect for both outdoor shoots and intimate, dialogue-heavy interiors. Included with the light are barn doors and a daylight/tungsten adjustable color balance. The light is powered by V-mount batteries and comes with a mounting plate. To get the full potential of coverage from the light, I recommend a C-stand because the stand that comes with the light limits your ability to tilt and position the light.

Price — $344.50


Aputure AL-528

LED Lights Under $500 Every Filmmaker Needs On Set — Aputure

Image via Aputure.

Running off F/FM/Q series batteries, this dimmable light features an adjacent LCD screen that shows you the exact level of the light’s power setting. This exact control will allow you to keep a consistent lighting setup in case you have a stationary setup or must return to a location for a continuous shoot.

Price — $189


Aputure HR 672

LED Lights Under $500 Every Filmmaker Needs On Set — Aputure HR

Image via Aputure.

This light also comes with a wireless dimmer remote, maximizing the efficiency of a one-man-band operation. With the light, you’ll receive diffusion and CTO lenses, allowing you to push the power as far as it will go without worrying about power deduction from built-in filters. If you have multiple HR 672s, you can link them with the remote so you can control the brightness and power at the same time. This means you can set the lights in different areas of the set and maintain control over the overall setup from wherever you are. The accessories for this light run moderately cheap as well, allowing you to build a professional setup for less than $500.

Price — $278


Aputure AL-M9 

LED Lights Under $500 Every Filmmaker Needs On Set — Aputure AL-M9

Image via Aputure.

Now, obviously, if you can afford a $500 light, you wouldn’t consider a light of this size as part of your regular lineup of main lights. However, this little beast is worth the $45 for the sake of having a compact light source that you can place and use in many different ways. It clearly won’t be useful as a key or fill, but the possibilities for the different ways you can put this light to creative use are limitless.

Price — $45


What are some cheap lighting solutions that you could see yourself purchasing? Let us know in the comments.