Studio lighting with… mood lights

A tight budget doesn’t go together well with studio lighting. An inexpensive but apparently viable alternative could very well be — hold on to your socks — to mount a couple of mood LED lights, provided you can control their solid colours using your iOS or Android device.

I recently review Elgato Avea, a mood lighting system that uses 430 lumen LED lamps. The one feature that actually allows you to use Avea as complementary or ambient studio lighting is the iOS app. This excellent app not only has several mood settings that make the lamps cycle through subtly changing colour schemes, but also a wake-up setting and a collection of solid colour settings. It’s the solid colour group I was interested in for my idea of using these lamps as complementary studio lighting.

avea used as studio light

Crucial to lighting you’re going to use with photography or video is the ability of the lamps to maintain a defined colour temperature. With mood light, this is not something you can take for granted, so I decided to measure the light output using a colorimeter over an extended period of time.

It turned out Avea is very good at maintaining two colour temperatures for extended periods. The default white colour setting outputs a colour temperature of 5080K with a deviation either side of the 5080K point of only 2% measured over an hour. The second colour temperature for the white output I measured was the highest setting (dragging the slider all the way to the right). This gave me a temperature of 5700K with a deviation of 2.8% over an hour.

These results are good enough to let us use Avea as a viable ambient lighting solution for an amateur studio, or when no other lighting is available. Indeed, the results are on par with or even better than many of the Chinese studio lighting solutions you can buy these days.

I mounted them on a €20.00 lamp fixture. Avea lamps cost €39.90 a piece, so well within reach of every photographer’s / video producer’s budget.

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