One thing all cameras need, whether they be video, still, smartphone, dashcam, action camera or pinhole even, is light. That’s what allows the image to be created.
And how that light can be setup, manipulated, coloured and so on has been the content of probably millions of articles and thousands of books and even probably more than that in lectures.
But if the source of the natural light available is not playing the game – too dark, too shadowy, or even too bright – we need ways to tamper it, tame it, and even substitute it.
In the science of lighting, the most basic is what is known as 3-point lighting and those three points are called key, fill and back. By placing these three light sources at strategic points around the subject, each illuminates a separate dimension of the subject to create a greater representation of height, width, and depth in the resultant imagery.
This diagram shows the most basic lighting setup.
Elgato has released a specific light designed to act as a key light and whilst it is aimed it seems, specifically at vloggers, it can be used in many other locations as well, and has some rather nice features.
In concert with its sibling, the Elgato Ring Light which I reviewed back in September last year the Elgato Key light supports Wi-fi letting you control its settings right from the desktop of your PC or Mac.
Using the Elgato Control Centre app, you can turn the light on or off, change the brightness, the colour temperature or even have it synched with other lights. Featuring a 2800 lumen output from 160 LEDs, you can change the brightness from a very bright right down to a very subtle glow, through color temperatures ranging from 2900 to 7000K.
In my testing the diffusion was utterly glare free and I could see no hot spots or other deviation.
A major advantage of using LEDs of course is the heat generated factor is minimal and power usage is much less than standard lighting systems.
To set the Elgato Key Light up is simplicity itself. The power source is a 240v adaptor that thankfully has a long lead (about 3 meters) that plugs into the LED panel. This in turn is screwed onto a vertical extendable arm. The connection point is a ball joint allowing large freedom in choosing angles to point the light. The actual screw fitting is a standard ¼” thread so the Elgato Key Light can actually be mounted on any tripod or bracket supporting this size (or with an adaptor of course if that is needed).
The base is a familiar Elgato clamp style for attaching to a desk or benchtop.
To connect the Elgato Key Light to your Wi-fi network you press the rocker switch to the right and hold for around 10 seconds until the light flashes, then switch it the left and use the Elgato Control Panel to detect and connect.
The only issue I found is a common Wi-fi based peripheral problem; as the IP address is used, if you are using non-fixed IP addresses in your network which is common, if you reset the modem / router, it may allocate another IP address so you’ll have to reconnect.
The Elgato Key Light is available for around $329.There is a Key Light Air available as well which I have not seen, and that retails for around $219.
You can get more information on the Elgato Key Light at the Elgato website.