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Thread: McGizmo for Photography

  1. #1

    Default McGizmo for Photography

    Hi all, new here on the forums. I've been searching for a good mini flashlight that I can use for my restaurant food photography. The Sundrop was recommended on another site which brought me here. I'm thinking the Sundrop may be more powerful (and expensive) than what I am looking for. I searched through the threads on the different models and also did a search for photography but didn't have much luck finding what I was looking for.

    Is there a lower end model McGizmo light that would work well for low light photography? I am usually pretty close to the subject that needs to be lit so it doesn't need to be super bright.

    I think there is a big market out there for photography specific flashlights but haven't found anyone yet that markets flashlights specifically for photography.

    My restaurant photography set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gapey/s...7603848212807/ I think my photos could be greatly improved if I had a good flashlight for it.

    -Paula

  2. #2
    *Flashaholic* nbp's Avatar
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    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography



    I don't have too much photography experience, but many do around here. Member pjandyho will probably be along shortly, he is a photographer and uses his McGizmo's for that purpose.

    There really aren't "budget" McGizmos per se, although some of the older aluminum lights are sort of a bargain compared to the Titanium lights, or the very rare models.

    For photography, I would guess that your best bet in the McGizmo realm would be a Mule with the Nichia 119 emitter. The Mule is a pure flood light, and the Nichia emitter is an LED with very good color rendition, which would probably be important in your line of work.

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* kaichu dento's Avatar
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    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by nbp View Post


    I don't have too much photography experience, but many do around here. Member pjandyho will probably be along shortly, he is a photographer and uses his McGizmo's for that purpose.

    There really aren't "budget" McGizmos per se, although some of the older aluminum lights are sort of a bargain compared to the Titanium lights, or the very rare models.

    For photography, I would guess that your best bet in the McGizmo realm would be a Mule with the Nichia 119 emitter. The Mule is a pure flood light, and the Nichia emitter is an LED with very good color rendition, which would probably be important in your line of work.
    You beat me to it because that is the exact light I was going to suggest. Another light which could do very well, unfortunately hard to come by, would be the now discontinued Quark neutral RGB, as the light coming from it is a smooth flood of light with no hotspot, and the additional colors could be quite handy when you wanted a special effect.
    If you're patient you might find one in the MarketPlace, but at very least I'd suggest posting a WTB over there for a mule-type light with high CRI, or neutral emitter, and one of the best emitters you could end up with would be the Nichia 119.

    There are many other lights out there that could be modded into a mule light and mostly you just need to get rid of the reflector, or change it to a super shallow one like the RGB has.
    Marduke - Solitaire...I've seen matches which are brighter AND have a longer runtime. 光陰矢の如し

  4. #4

    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    +1 for McGizmo if within your budget you can also buy the Mule head only and use a cheaper battery pack not sure but don may sell just the light engine If your handy and not looking for a flashlight but a lamp

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    Flashaholic* ico's Avatar
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    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Can zebralight`s H501 and the like flashlights be compared to those?

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* kaichu dento's Avatar
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    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    I haven't had one in a while but they might be smooth enough to serve as a photography light - good call.
    Marduke - Solitaire...I've seen matches which are brighter AND have a longer runtime. 光陰矢の如し

  7. #7

    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Thanks for the suggestions. I see there are Mule Hi CRI's available but they appear to be just as much as the Sundrop XR-U that is available. I would spend a couple hundred for a light but not sure about $400. If there isn't a good McGizmo flood light option for under 300 I may just go with the Zebralight. I gotta say the McGizmo's are pretty nice looking though.

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* RedLed's Avatar
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    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    To photograph food and make it look good is a true art - within an art.

    While I am not a food photographer, I did learn how to do it since people can surprise you in this business, and while I may be on an assignment covering an event, there is a good chance a client will ask: did you get the food? So, I needed to learn how to say yes, and be able to produce results.

    Years ago, I was lucky to have one of the best food photographers in LA assist me in learning this. The styling of the food, is as important as lighting because you need to make the food look good and appealing, all the products needed for styling the food is amazing. It is like M-up, and hair combined on a model. What product or products you have applied to the food subject for the light to travel through, or reflect off is the most difficult part of this work.

    You really need both a harsh and diffused light sources mixed to get a nice look.

    Should you do this on a regular basis, there is no way to replace strobes - yet. They provide quite a bit of light, and you do need a lot of light for food.

    Food can be a collaborative effort between the photographer, stylist, chef and lighting director. Some photographers do it all, and others have a stylist, and someone to focus the lighting. It is great for me to have these flashlights when on location, and have the odd request for food photos when I am not set for that type of work.

    An example for food photography is the difference you see on televised Ad's. Shot on tape food always looks bad unless you have first rate post production. Food shot on motion picture film food looks much better.
    In still photography this is a non issue.

    The real art to this is the styling.

    This is just an FYI, you know best what type of equipment you need, but a good set of strobe lighting may be the best if you shoot food or products often, and would be the best, as hot lights are hot for the food, and photographer on a small set.

    Good luck.

    Best,

    NR

    PS...Forgot, to say the Sun drop would be good. Don has a good knowledge of photographic lighting as he shoots underwater, and that is even more difficult than food. I would see what he thinks would be best.
    Last edited by RedLed; 12-13-2011 at 06:29 AM.
    Check my Web Site: www.Redwayphoto.com

  9. #9

    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Yeah I have already invested in strobes, light stands, umbrellas, light tents, etc for my food photos at home so I have plenty of that. However I don't bring any of that stuff to restaurants because I don't want to interrupt the customers. My restaurant photography is for my personal blog and am not hired by the restaurant to take the photos. So am looking sor something small and not distracting for that.

  10. #10

    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Welcome Gapey!
    I composed a post to your thread yesterday but I guess it didn't make it across the ether to stick. If you are shooting in raw then I think you can get by with some LED sources that are less than full in spectrum and it may be most important to find a source with a smooth distribution of light. Redled mentioned that I shoot under water which I do and post production in photoshop for correction of white and color balance makes an incredibly significant difference! I use ambient sunlight which is full spectrum at the surface but filtered big time with any distance traveled through the water.

    What I had mentioned in my failed attempt to post is that there are a number of modeling and video LED lights now being offered to the UW photographers and you might be able to find a solution for your needs there. I don't know how the pricing is as it is a smaller market than mainstream but at least the lights aren't hosted in titanium which certainly drives the price up there!

    I think the Nichia high CRI LED's are well suited for your application and although they don't generate the flux of the other more high powered LED's being offered, the difference in output is typically 1 to 2 F-stops. I would guess a Mule or equivalent type light with no secondary optic would be best suited for illuminating a plate of food in a restaurant without disturbing other diners as you can hold the source of light very close and still have a good field of coverage.

    I could probably piece together an aluminum Mule, single level output for you but the price would still be significant ($200) and the light itself might be less than photogenic!

    Guys, this is an offer to Gapey and predicated on me actually coming up with the needed components from my stash. Obviously pulling this off once is not the same as making it an offer open to multiple takers.
    Build Prices .... some mods and builds (not 4 sale) "Nature can be cruel- but we don't have to be."~ Temple Grandin

  11. #11
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    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Hi Don, I found your post.

    Bill

  12. #12

    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Thanks for responding Don. Your lights look pretty awesome. $200 would be in my budget. What do the aluminum bodies look like? Are they that bad looking? It would be nice to have something somewhat photogenic as I'm sure I'll take lots of pics of it when I get it and show it off to all my photography friends. I might even do a blog post about the light. I know Lightroom and Photoshop pretty well and always shoot in raw so doing some color correction in post is not a problem.

    My "real" photography site is http://www.paulathomasphotography.com/ Those are mostly photos I've taken at home, in a studio with good available light or strobes.

  13. #13
    *Flashaholic* nbp's Avatar
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    Default

    I don't know what Don has lying around but I had purchased an EN coated aluminum Mule host a couple months ago. It's definitely not bad looking (same design as newer Ti lights, just in Al, so a touch of tarnish I haven't bothered to polish off) and and I think I got it for $140 sans light engine.
    Last edited by nbp; 12-03-2011 at 02:00 PM.

  14. #14
    Flashaholic* run4jc's Avatar
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    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Beautiful photos - welcome to CPF. You'll find many McGizmo lovers here, me included. And my all time favorite light for photography is the Don's Nichia 119 mule. I've seen other lights with the Nichia, but somehow Don's stock has the best tint (or lack thereof) of any I've seen.

    You can't go wrong!

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    Flashaholic* kaichu dento's Avatar
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    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by gapey View Post
    Thanks for responding Don. Your lights look pretty awesome. $200 would be in my budget. What do the aluminum bodies look like? Are they that bad looking? It would be nice to have something somewhat photogenic as I'm sure I'll take lots of pics of it when I get it and show it off to all my photography friends. I might even do a blog post about the light.
    If the price doesn't sound bad and you want something absolutely stunning you may want to consider talking to Don about a titanium bead blasted finish, or possibly looking into something with a coating on it.

    Here's light of Don's that I just picked up and although it's titanium, it also has an AlTiN coating (high speed bit coating) which not only looks great, but is very, very durable as well and of all the high speed bit coatings I've had on various lights, I've never seen them take damage like virtually all other coatings are prone to. (A little embarrassed to post this after looking at your photos, but it gives you an idea of some of the possibilities.)

    This would not be the light for you, as the beam is not conducive to smooth coverage as the Mule or Sundrop even, but again, it shows some of Don's work with a visual variation from standard machine-finished titanium.
    Marduke - Solitaire...I've seen matches which are brighter AND have a longer runtime. 光陰矢の如し

  16. #16

    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Thanks for sharing. I like the black finish. The clip is pretty nice too. Don no doubt does good work.

  17. #17
    *Flashaholic* nbp's Avatar
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    Just so you are prepared, if you get one McGizmo, you won't be able to stop. You jumped into the deep end of the pool, friend.

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* pjandyho's Avatar
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    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Hi Paula,

    I love the Mule with Nichia 119 high CRI LED for photography (for fill light applications) but do note that there is a slight warmish tint to it. It isn't a pure white light if that is what you are looking for but it is definitely correctable in Lightroom. I do mainly commercial and corporate photography and uses strobes most of the time. I reserve my McGizmo lights for off days where I just needed a pocket light for my walk-around photography trips shooting close-ups mainly. In the day it adds a slight warmish fill to my subjects, and at night it works as a main light. Before you go into it, please understand that the Mule high CRI isn't a very bright light and most of the time you are required to shoot at higher ISO settings than what some would be comfortable with if done without a tripod. In some of my handheld night shoots, and because I want to preserve my shutter speed since I am holding the camera with one hand and the light with the other, I have been pulling it off with ISO ranging from ISO 800 (if I want a bigger aperture) to ISO 12800 (if I want to close it down all the way). I usually try to avoid crossing the 3200 threshold if possible. But if you are shooting on tripod and doing still subjects, you should not have the need to really push up the ISO. Hope this helps in your decision making.
    The love of light is the reason why I don't walk in darkness. But darkness has it's beauty...Sadly, my lights are much more beautiful!!
    Beam shots Night Trekking with HDS high CRI and McGizmo Haiku & Mule high CRI

  19. #19
    Flashaholic* kaichu dento's Avatar
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    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Here's a thread where I posted a couple shots of two different high CRI emitters and you can see how nice the Nichia 119 is as far as neutrality goes.
    Marduke - Solitaire...I've seen matches which are brighter AND have a longer runtime. 光陰矢の如し

  20. #20

    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    That's fine I'm not looking for an extremely bright light and don't really plan on using it for anything outdoors. It would mainly be used in restaurants that have low light and I will be pretty close to the food. Last week I went to something called a Foodspotting Eatup with a bunch of foodies and most of the people I was with took pics with their camera phones and were using light from their phones for taking pictures and I admit I took some pics that were lit by other people's phones because it was so dark in the place and it got me thinking I should really get a good small flashlight for that type of stuff rather than using crappy light from a cell phone.

  21. #21
    Flashaholic* pjandyho's Avatar
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    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by gapey View Post
    That's fine I'm not looking for an extremely bright light and don't really plan on using it for anything outdoors. It would mainly be used in restaurants that have low light and I will be pretty close to the food. Last week I went to something called a Foodspotting Eatup with a bunch of foodies and most of the people I was with took pics with their camera phones and were using light from their phones for taking pictures and I admit I took some pics that were lit by other people's phones because it was so dark in the place and it got me thinking I should really get a good small flashlight for that type of stuff rather than using crappy light from a cell phone.
    Then I think the Mule high CRI would be perfect for you Paula. Much much better than relying on cell phone lights. Btw, I don't do food shots often and I do really like your food photos. Makes me hungry all of a sudden. Nice work!
    The love of light is the reason why I don't walk in darkness. But darkness has it's beauty...Sadly, my lights are much more beautiful!!
    Beam shots Night Trekking with HDS high CRI and McGizmo Haiku & Mule high CRI

  22. #22

    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    I'm a pro photographer also and I have recently enjoyed this method of "alternative lighting". I was photographing a wedding a few weeks ago when my partner & I were taking photos of the ring in a darkish environment. I happened to have a little Peak Eiger (with a Nichia 119) in my pocket, and ended up lighting a very nice ring shot with it! But the beam is too focused for anything much larger... And this is where the pure flood of the Mule comes into play. After that experience I got a proper Nichia Mule from Don, and although I've only had it for a week or so its beautiful, perfectly even light have the photo wheels in my head spinning. My Mule will definitely be in my pocket for most of my future assignments. I couldn't think of a better light for lighting a plate in a restaurant.

  23. #23

    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Dang you guys are really tempting me. I might just have to bite the bullet and get one of the titanium mules that is being offered. I'm sure it's well worth the price and they seem to really hold their value. Merry Christmas to me?

  24. #24

    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by run4jc View Post
    Beautiful photos - welcome to CPF. You'll find many McGizmo lovers here, me included. And my all time favorite light for photography is the Don's Nichia 119 mule. I've seen other lights with the Nichia, but somehow Don's stock has the best tint (or lack thereof) of any I've seen.

    You can't go wrong!
    run4jc, I saw your photos comparing the Sundrop and Mule. It looks like the Mule would be even better than the Sundrop for my application. Thanks for posting that, it was helpful.

  25. #25
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by gapey View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions. I see there are Mule Hi CRI's available but they appear to be just as much as the Sundrop XR-U that is available. I would spend a couple hundred for a light but not sure about $400. If there isn't a good McGizmo flood light option for under 300 I may just go with the Zebralight. I gotta say the McGizmo's are pretty nice looking though.
    A McGizmo will last longer than you will, and they're now available with 1/4" tripod mount-compatible pocket clips.

    The Mule Hi-CRI is the best light for photography work. I have a Mule Hi-CRI plus one of every other (not ultra-rare) light that McGizmo has made, and the Mule is the one I always use for photography. If you make money with your photography, getting a Mule is a no-brainer; you will use it on a regular basis, and it doesn't cost nearly as much as a pro-grade DSLR camera.

    An alternate option is to get a Haiku Hi-CRI instead, and put a SureFire-brand 1" white diffuser on it when you need flood lighting. That would help defray the cost a bit, since you could use the Haiku for walking at night, peering into dark corners, etc. The Haiku will be somewhat more focused than the Mule even with the Diffuser installed, more like a SunDrop without the bright ring around the edge of the beam. Just something to consider.

    One last thought: last I checked, the the Zebralight Hi-CRI lights don't have as high a color-rendering index (which is rather important for capturing the exact appearance of food, otherwise it comes out looking...wrong, somehow), and their tint is much warmer too. McGizmo Hi-CRI emitters are pretty much the best you can get in a pre-built flashlight.
    Last edited by fyrstormer; 12-05-2011 at 04:09 PM.

  26. #26
    Flashaholic* pjandyho's Avatar
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    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by fyrstormer View Post
    An alternate option is to get a Haiku Hi-CRI instead, and put a SureFire-brand 1" white diffuser on it when you need flood lighting. That would help defray the cost a bit, since you could use the Haiku for walking at night, peering into dark corners, etc. The Haiku will be somewhat more focused than the Mule even with the Diffuser installed, more like a SunDrop without the bright ring around the edge of the beam. Just something to consider.
    Good suggestion! With a Surefire diffuser, the beam of the Haiku is quite nice too. There will still be a bit of a hot spot, but manageable.
    The love of light is the reason why I don't walk in darkness. But darkness has it's beauty...Sadly, my lights are much more beautiful!!
    Beam shots Night Trekking with HDS high CRI and McGizmo Haiku & Mule high CRI

  27. #27
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by pjandyho View Post
    Good suggestion! With a Surefire diffuser, the beam of the Haiku is quite nice too. There will still be a bit of a hot spot, but manageable.
    Not so much of a hotspot as a smooth gradient, in my opinion. Holding a diffused Haiku more than a few inches away from a white wall, the beam never gets too bright for my retinas to see that the brightness continues increasing all the way to the center of the beam. It's no Mule, which is about as perfectly uniform as any light source can be, but there's definitely not going to be any wash-out in the center of a photo.

    The Haiku with a SureFire diffuser is my new recommendation for people who wish they could afford two Gizmos but can only afford one. If they intend to use it for photography, the Hi-CRI is a must, and if/when they can afford a second Gizmo, they can buy a Mule XP-G and swap the light engines between the two.

  28. #28

    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Thanks again everyone for your recommendations. The mule definitely got the most votes and is what I've decided to get. I sent an email to Don requesting one this morning and I just sent another email a bit ago to request the tripod clip. Thanks for that tip fyrstormer! It will come in handy for me. I look forward to getting it and sharing some photos I take of it and of some food lit with it. Maybe later on I'll get a different head for other uses.

  29. #29

    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Hi Gapey,
    Your light will go out in tomorrow's mail. I think if you do carry this with you to restaurants you will find that you end up using it for other things besides illuminating the food for photos. Illuminating the menu in a dark restaurant is one likely example. You might find that it is real handy having your own light source readily available and I think the Mule is an excellent choice for most tasks, at hand.
    Build Prices .... some mods and builds (not 4 sale) "Nature can be cruel- but we don't have to be."~ Temple Grandin

  30. #30
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: McGizmo for Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by gapey View Post
    I look forward to getting it and sharing some photos I take of it and of some food lit with it.
    Here are some I've taken of my own cooking, to give you an idea of the Mule's color rendering capabilities. Background lighting was a mix of standard nasty apartment fluorescent bulbs and Philips warm LED bulbs. The camera is just a Casio Exilim point 'n shoot, so it's kind of a wonder they came out as good as they did.







    Last edited by fyrstormer; 12-05-2011 at 11:15 PM.

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