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Ecological Consultancy Habitat & Species Management Field Equipment & Wildlife Features

Infra Red Video Lighting

100% Guarantee This infra-red lighting kit beautifully complements the Sony NightShot cameras, giving you the light you need to record bats as they leave their roost. Martin Bailey
Infra Red Video Lighting

Infra red lamps

Infra red lamps

Infra Red Video Lighting Kit

If you have a Sony NightShot camcorder, you probably discovered that the built-in infrared (IR) light doesn’t give much of an image except at very short range. So maybe you ordered the Sony "high brightness infrared light" advertised for viewing at up to 100 feet. Again you were disappointed. You certainly couldn’t see your subject at 100 feet, unless it was very large. You still don't have sufficient illumination to utilize the full capabilities of the NightShot feature, even with the supplementary light from Sony. The camera is just fine, you simply need more light.

So how do you know when your IR light is bright enough?

This is easy to answer if you know exactly what your subject is and exactly where it is. You have sufficient light if the entire subject is visible and details are clearly seen. It is harder to answer if you're not sure what or how many things you're looking at. One of the problems with inadequate lighting is you don't realize how much you are missing until you compare the scene using better lighting (as illustrated below).

When your job is to count bats exiting from a roost, you need to be able to see the entire area, and you need enough light to clearly see and distinguish each and every individual bat. For larger entrances or other applications, the Sony light is insufficient. You will fail to see all the bats that are there, and your count will be inaccurate. The only way to ensure sufficient lighting is to keep adding brighter light until you no longer see an improvement in image quality.

IRLamp6 - Light for consumer DV cameras

IRLamp6 is an incredibly bright IR source for field use. It offers 40 high performance IR LEDs in a specially designed heat sink case. At less than three inches in diameter, the lamp takes up very little room in a backpack.
With a totally machined case to improve both the ruggedness of the lights as well as better heat sinking capability, making it brighter than the original IRLamp3 design.

Martin's Comments:

Tried and tested kit, especially for illuminating bats as they emerge from their roosts and exclusively imported and sold in the UK and Europe by Wildlife & Countryside Services.
The following three still images illustrate the differences between light sources. The scene is an abandoned mine entrance, approximately 5 by 10 ft. The distance from the camera to the entrance is about 20 feet.

Illuminated only with the built-in LED illuminator of the Sony Camcorder. This light is generally not usable beyond a few feet.

Illuminated with the accessory Sony infrared lamp (model HVL-IRC). You can just make out a few bats flying in the entrance.

Illuminated with the IRLamp6. You can now see that there were actually quite a few more bats than were revealed in the images on the left.
Why two lamps?

Adding a second lamp does not increase the size and weight of your pack, but it doubles the amount of light available to the camera. It is like gaining an extra f-stop on a still camera. However, to realize another increase in light, you would need to double again: four IR lamps. That is getting a bit unwieldily in the field. Also be aware that newer "widescreen" aspect HD cameras are shooting such a wide 16:9 aspect ratio landscape image, you will need two IR lamps to feather across the field of view and fully fill the frame. If you are shooting standard 4:3 aspect video, one IR lamp will fill the frame. Forcing a modern camera into 4:3 aspect ratio means you will be giving up the advantage of the wide angle lens on the camera and may have to be further away from your subject, possibly making it more difficult to light.

Camera recommendations?

Camera models are refreshed as quickly as every 6 months and we don't have a list of current models with the NightShot feature, so you'll have to do your own research using the recommendations below.

NIGHTSHOT FUNCTION: first and foremost this feature must be included or you simply cannot film in IR light. Check the Sony specs for NightShot mode, and even the manufacturer's photos of the camera to verify there is NightShot button on the exterior (usually under the fold out LCD display. Only the high-end consumer grade Sony cameras have this feature.

SENSOR SIZE: Bigger captures more light and therefore is better. For reference, in 2017 the Sony FDR-AX53 contained a 0.28" sensor, but the FDR-AX100 and FDR-AX700 contain full 1" sensors, the largest available at the time with the NightShot function. The AX53 and AX700 cameras can be bought using the Amazon links at the bottom of this page (please switch off your ad blocker if you can't see them). Sensor size is always found in the tech specs of the camera.

HARD DRIVE/SD CARD: Old NightShot-capable cameras may record to DVD or Mini-DV formats, these are cumbersome to use with modern digital video workflows for archiving and editing purposes and probably should be avoided if you are editing video on a regular basis.

CAMERA SETTINGS: Generally speaking, use at least 1080 movie size, or larger. The data rate should always be set to the highest possible "recording quality". "Low Lux" feature, if available, should be on (newer cameras are so sensitive you may experiment with this off if the subject is close). Anytime a tripod is used, "Steadyshot" should be off. "Focus peaking" is a visual representation of what parts of the image are in focus, so we recommend that be on if available. Once your image is in focus, press the "manual focus" button to lock it in place and keep the camera from inadvertantly attempting to focus on passing insects, etc.

LIGHTING TIP: If you use "off camera lighting" techniques by placing lamps 3 feet or more away from the camera, the textures/shadows this generates will give your video a more 3-dimensional look rather than a flatly lit scene. This also reduces or eliminates "floating ghost orbs" caused by the light hitting out-of-focus dust particles near the lens or bright flashes of movement cause by a moth buzzing by. (Insects are not attracted to IR lamps!)
Infra Red Video Lighting Kit Complete Dual IRLamp6 System

2x IRLamp6 LED lamp units
1x Light Bar (allows 2 lamps to be attached together)
1x 12 volt Li-ion Battery, 8300 mAh
1x Battery Charger with UK plug
1x 12 volt power cable/splitter, allows 2 lamps to be plugged into battery
1x storage bag containing everything

Camera, tripod & quick release shown for illustration only. Camera, tripod and quick release not included.
Your Sony camera MUST have the Sony NightShot or Super NightShot feature (or other camera with 810nm IR capability) to take advantage of this lighting system.
If you want to have a camera and the two lamps on the light bar, you'll need an extra fixing bolt.
Cameras available via Amazon links below (please switch off your ad blocker if you can't see them).

Complete System is now updated to include li-ion battery pack.
Still only £985 including UK delivery

(lead time usually 1-2 weeks)

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