I became interested in video with the advent of YouTube. Suddenly I could share my classical guitar performances with the world. After posting a few dim and grainy performances I realized my videos needed light—lots of soft light—and amassed an ever growing collection of CFL and LED light heads, softboxes and light stands. The Yongnuo YN300 III is one of many lights I use in my wee studio.
Yongnuo YN300 III | Handle installed and barn doors open. Barn doors can be disassembled and reversed if you prefer flat black (image courtesy Yongnuo)
The YN300 III is small but bright, causing squinting even at half power. I often use a sheer piece of white nylon cloth to help take the edge off. Color temperature is close to daylight but slightly magenta, mixing well with Yongnuo and Neewer LED lights. The magenta tint does not blend perfectly with the greenish-blue tint of daylight balanced CFLs. However, I mainly use CFLs in softboxes for main and fill while the Yongnuo takes accent and rim lighting duties: the slightly mismatched color looks like warm sunlight.
Kona Wind and Silk (Frary) • A YN300 III is aimed at my upper left arm while a second YN300 II is positioned behind my chair. Both lights help separate me from the backdrop. Linco Flora as key and fill.
Selfie | Yongnuo YN300 III as rim light about 3' from subject. Linco Flora as key.
Gracie | Yongnuo YN300 III as rim light (5' from subject)
Yongnuo YN300 III | Positioned to provide rim light on the upper left arm of a sitting guitarist.
Peter Kun Frary | Ecossaise Russe (Giuliani) | Video using the above lighting
When I shoot solos on location—often tiny offices—I place the YN300 III on a light stand and use as a main light. Due to tiny size and intense brightness, the quality of light is unflattering and prone to hot spots and reflections off guitars. So I take precautions: wrap a sheer piece of white nylon cloth around the YN300 III to reduce harshness and position the light well above the guitar. It's not ideal but I can squeeze out decent results by combining the YN300 III with a CFL fill light.
Video set | Yongnuo YN300 III used in 1:1 duet lighting. A white nylon cloth softens the harsh light a notch. Strong reflections off our guitars is the main disadvantage of using a small LED instead of a CFL in a softbox. However, I ran out of softboxes.
Frary Guitar Duo | Carulli's "Duetto in Sol Maggiore | Use of the lighting setup above.
Here's two videos I shot in a tiny office with a YN300 III as key, a second YN300 III as hair light, a YN300 II as backlight and a 85 watt CFL in a 16x16" softbox as fill:
Grace Frary | Prelude No. 5 "Romanza," a piece Peter Kun Frary wrote for first year students:
Frary Guitar Duo | Study No. 9, a duet Frary wrote for first year students. YN300 III coverage and power is just barely enough for a duet ensemble.
Although the YN300 III includes a hot shoe mount, the unit is too heavy and awkward for run 'n gun event style videos (unless you have an assistant holding it). I find my Neewer 160 LED better suited for roving due to smaller size and longer battery life.
The ABS case is reasonably durable but the plastic mount is the weak point so treat it gently. The part that contacts the shoe is metal. The accessories include a 5/8” mount if you count the hole on the end of the screwdriver like handle: screw the end (1/4” stud) into the cold shoe foot and push the hole on the end of the handle onto a 5/8” light stand tip. It holds fine in a static upright position but lacks a t-screw lock and will fall off if used at an extreme angle (e.g., hair light) or waved around on a boom pole. In such cases, use a locking cold shoe adapter, threaded baby pin or Arca plate.
I also own the YN300 II (prior model), and while the YN300 III looks nearly the same, the IR remotes aren’t compatible. Both remotes have on-off and dimming but the older remote is able to trigger Canon, Nikon and Pentax cameras. The new IR remote has better buttons, channel options but no camera trigger. Oddly it has controls for color temperature albeit I bought 5000K model so these controls don't work.
The most significant difference from last year's model is a jack for an AC adapter. I use the YONGNUO Power Adapter for YN600 with thoughtfully long power cord. Any AC adapter able to push 18 watts at 7.5v will work (with proper tip-sleeve plug). Most adapters don't have enough juice to power the YN300 III at full tilt so buy the Yongnuo if you plan to use AC.
Yongnuo YN300 III | Rear panel (image courtesy Yongnuo)
Powered by a single STK NP-F550, it yields 45 minutes to an hour at 100% power. I have plenty of Sony NP-F batteries and AC adapters laying around so I bought the plain YN300 III for sixty-eight shekels (no batteries or AC adapter). I appreciate Yongnuo has ala carte pricing: don't have to keep buying more batteries and chargers when I merely need another light. If you don't own these batteries, pay a Jackson more for the battery and charger and/or AC adapter combo.
Manfrotto Super Clamp with Extension Arm | LED lights aren't ideal for macro due to shadow patterns from individual beads (even with diffusion filter). Bead patterns disappear at portrait distance.
The YN300 III is an excellent video portable light for a reasonable amount of cash: fits in small spaces, runs on batteries or AC and is useful for small studios and location shooting.
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