Interview Lighting LED Kit that Fits in Your Carry-On

I’ve been obsessing over lighting as of lately. It’s like my own anti-camera gear therapy, I’ve been forcing myself to accept and it’s kind of working. Whereas camera technology changes so fast these days it kind of makes little to no sense to get attached to a particular camera. Instead, I’ve been focusing on getting better at lighting the things I shoot, and better yet – finding new ways to get around with my gear. As I do sometimes fly with my kit when I have to film some interviews overseas or do the odd corporate gig, and when one our readers – Ken Martini, an experienced Northern California based owner/operator at Ecstatic Films shared with us his lighting kit he packs in his carry-on, I found it super useful and wanted to share with all you guys.

Checking in lighting gear (even if in Pelican or flight cases) to be flown in the cargo bay is always a risky proposition as checked-in baggage tends to be handled quite roughly by the loading staff and sustains quite a few hits and bumps on its way to you on the baggage collection carrousel at the arrivals terminal.

Therefore, getting a decent carry on bag that’s big enough to fit a basic lighting kit for an interview can be quite useful. This way if you are flying with an assistant or someone else from your crew, you can have one carry the camera and lenses in one of the carry-on’s and the other – the lighting kit.

When I fly and I have to pack a lot of stuff, I normally would fly with this bag:

Think Tank Airport International V2.0 Bag

It’s the Think Tank Airport International v2.0 and it’s very handy. It’s rugged and very well built with the smoothest wheels I’ve ever seen on a rolly bag. You can grab on at Amazon US for about $379, but despite the hefty price tag, it’s a worthwhile investment for your expensive camera or lights. As much as I love this bag, I found it a bit too much for my needs at the moment as I am down sizing my kit, so I have one that is in excellent condition for sale. If you are in the UK, get in touch.

Anyway, enough shameless plugs, sorry. Back to the Carry-On Lighting.

Ken managed to pack a decent amount of lighting kit mainly comprising of affordable high CRI LED lights, stands diffusors and other modifiers in his bag. One of the benefits of these LED lights is that they use the super popular Sony NP-F style batteries. They are the same that power most budget on-camera monitors.

Image by Ken Martini / Ecstatic Films

1 x Kamerar Brightcast 12”x12” Flex LED bi-colour (CRI 95) $399 on Amazon
1 x D-Fuse 18”x18” Soft box with grid $60
1 x Came-TV Boltzen 30 Watt Fresnel daylight LED (CRI 96) $258 at B&H
2 x Youngnuo Pro LED 5”x7” Bi-color (CRI daylight 95 Tungsten 98) $31 x 2 $62.
2 x Aputure M9 on-camera  LED daylight (CRI 98) $45 x 2 $90.
5 x Manfrotto  Nano stand $58 x 5 $290.
4 x Matthew Mini grip head $24 x 4 $96.
2 x Matthews Arm 20” (B&H MAA20) $12. x 2 $24.
1 x Matthews Road Rags kit 18” x 24” $239 on B&H/Amazon
2 x Oben mini ball heads $14 x 2 28.
2 x Duvetyne  54” x 36” & 54” x 60” $30.
1 x Small roll gaffers tape – $6.
3 x 15’ 2 prong (flat “zip cord” style to save space) extension cord $6 x 3 $18.
2 x Triple taps $5 x 2 $10.
6 x Small metal clamps $5.
9 x Small plastic clamps $10.
1 x Kamerar 5-In-1 collapsible grip reflector $28.
1 x Vapur 1 litre water battle (light stand weight) $15.
1 x Table top tripod $20.

Misc. gels & black wrap $10.
Misc clamps & hardware $50.

Kit weight 40lbs (maximum carry on weight for most airlines) and total cost runs under $1800.

Image by Ken Martini / Ecstatic Films

The Think Tank Airport bag from above should be enough to fit this kit if you pack neatly and remove the adjustable separators; however there are other bags that may be to your liking. Think Tank have some newer models tailored for video users such as the Video Transport 18 and Video Transport 20, which satisfy domestic (US) airline regulations, however it’s always best to check dimensions and then check with your airline especially if you are flying overseas.

Got any other carry-on bag suggestions, or perhaps you’d love to share with us how you fly with your lighting or camera gear? Feel free to share in the comments below.

[via Ecstatic Films]

Black Friday 2017 Special - Get 85% Off the Ultimate Black Friday DaVinci Resolve Course Bundle! Sale Ends Wednesday, November 29th 11:59pm Pacific Daylight Time!

  • Lloyd

    why 18″ diffusion box for 12″ light

    • The Dude

      Larger light source = softer light.

    • The Dude

      Could also be that it’s used on a bigger light.

  • Stephen Aaron Brock

    This is absolutely amazing. Perfect timing for me since I am starting to do talking heads alot now and I reeeeeaally needed a carry-on solution! Super pumped about this.