DIY quick build – $50 Large LED Light

4ft photo/video lighting for around $50?

LED Light

LED light on C-Stand

Lately I have been experimenting with DIY lighting.  It’s cheap and with a little effort you can get something than works really well.  LED light is bright, dim-able, and stays relatively cool.  LED light panels have been my go-to production lights, so when I saw this video by David Mudre on how to build a DIY 4ft LED light, I was inspired to take a trip to Loews and try it out.  I was tempted by another model which is a larger, more powerful shop light by the same company for $5 more.  I bought them both to see how they would stack up.  This article shows my build for the shop light.  (I suggest you watch David’s video as a primer if you plan on following along.)

Here is how the shop light stacks up out of the box:

Pros:  higher output;  diffusion panel;  pre-installed power cable;  on/off switch

Cons:  flimsy sheet metal shell;  cannot install a center mount

Overall the two lights are about the same price, taking into consideration the shop light’s built-in power cable and switch.  You’ll also need to purchase (1) 1/2″-20 x 4″ bolt, (2) 1/2″-20 nuts, and a pack of 1 1/2″ washers; setting the price before tax just short of $50.

The Build

My build will take around 5-10 minutes to complete once you have the proper items.  I drilled out the rivet to open the side panel, which I will replace with a small screw at the end.  A 1/2″ hole had to be drilled for the bolt.  Stop here.

LED light 1The light is pretty much done depending on how you want to use it.  Be warned that if you try to mount it at an angle the light’s metal housing will flex.  If that’s not a problem for you, attach your bolt and get shooting.  If not, read on…

Adding Additional Support

We need some supports surrounding the mount to counter this flex issue.  These are items I used that are not in David’s build.  1/8″ flat aluminum plates will act as our supports.

LED light 2I had pieces lying around which I cut to size, but this item may work nicely (Disclaimer: I’m going off the website’s description, so please let me know if you find a more fitting product!)  This may work for the outside plate as well, but I chose a wider piece for extra support.  Don’t forget our tiny screw.

Construction

LED light 3Carefully measure, mark, and drill holes to accommodate 1/2″ bolts.

LED light 4

LED light 5Here’s an inside look.  Measure accurately to leave room for the ballast and the area where the side piece will be replaced.  The smaller plate should fit snugly inside.

LED light 6Put your bolt through the outside support.

LED light 7Tighten down.  Ratchet wrenches save time.

LED light 8Replace the side panel with a screw.  You have a perfect mount for a C-Stand grip head.

LED light 9 As a final touch I attached the pull tab higher up.  The pull tab creates no shadow whatsoever with the diffusion panel, which I was very happy about.

LED Light – Results

So okay, after all this hassle what does it look like?  These images were taken without the additional supports.

DIY LED Light 1

Image 1

DIY LED Light 2

Image 2

DIY LED Light 3

Image 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Thoughts

I love it as a rim light.  Good God, look at that thing (Image 2).  Though it can be used as a soft key light when placed further away (Image 1), I’m not a fan of the long catch light.  It can get pretty harsh close up, which may be better suited for something other than beauty lighting (Image 3).  I intend to use this as a video light, so I’m excited to try it out on set.

Any questions or requests for a future DIY Quick Build?  Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Special Thanks to Jeff Kusant and Nick Jack for their assistance and expertise.