LED lights that mount on videos cameras have been around for only a few years but are catching-on fast for event videographers. One of the reasons is that the old lights usually required heavy lead-acid batteries and a cord connecting the battery (worn on a belt around the waist) to the light. LED lights require much less power and are typically powered by AA batteries – anywhere from four to six – so are much more convenient and lighter.

In the December 2010 edition of EventDV Magazine, I reviewed four LED camera lights:

  • Lite Panels Micro
  • Litepanels Micro Pro
  • F&V HDV-Z96
  • F&V LED-R3

And the overall winner was the F&V HDV-Z96

Top rated LED light

HDV-Z96 from LCD4Video.com

2 replies
  1. Mario says:

    Hey Shawn, Does anyone in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland sell these for a reasonable price. On Ebay they seem to be about $75 and some local retailers price them closer to $180 – big jump

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hey Mario. Good question. I couldn’t tell you as I don’t keep tabs on current local prices and received my units are review units from LCD4Video.com. It appears as if they have brought-out this newer light that is colour temperature switchable, although I have not reviewed it: iLED light from LCD4Video.

      I understand the challenge that local suppliers have trying to compete with online US Ebay sellers who have absolutely no overhead or hassle with currency and customs. I wish this didn’t play such a large role in purchasing decisions but unfortunately the reality is that our market is 1/10th the size of the US market and because of currency, customs, and higher shipping costs, it is more expensive for local retailers to purchase through approved channels the same product we can purchase online for less. Although it is not the case in this instance, some companies have very different prices for the same product on either side of the border. Sony is a great example of this. Their large ticket items, like video cameras, have very similar prices, especially when you factor in additional shipping, brokerage, and duty from US shipments. But their accessories sometimes retail for double the price.

      Need some examples? Price-out the Sony NPF-970 battery at two online US and CDN retailers. The Canadian retailer sells for $199.95 and the US, for $99.99.

      This isn’t isolated to this one product – look at battery charger prices:
      The Sony AC-VQ1050D L-series battery charger is $97.90 at a US retailer but $219.95 from a Canadian retailer.

      So whose fault is this? It is not the Canadian retailers’. They aren’t buying the NPF970 for $80, marking it up 250%, and selling it for $200 to unsuspecting Canadians. Sony likely sells them the batteries for $160 and they are only returning a 20% margin. In this case it is Sony of Canada who controls Canadian pricing, not by setting the retail price, but by having a higher wholesale cost for Canadian suppliers than Sony USA has for US suppliers.

      But what they are doing to fool Canadian customers is by advertising an even higher price on their own website. The same $97.50-in-the-US battery charger that sells for $219.95 at a Canadian retailer, is listed for $249.99 from Sony in Canada.

      So what can you as a Canadian consumer do about this? Print out a fair price comparison, including shipping, currency, and brokerage costs (B&H now provides a full import cost scenario online)and present it to your local authorized Sony retailer. Then offer them to opportunity to make a sale if they can match the price to you. I’ve had more than one Sony Authorized retailer match US prices for me in order to make a sale. In both cases they didn’t cut their own margins (they too need to have margins in order to stay in business) but they got Sony of Canada to cut their wholesale cost by offering them the US wholesale cost. It may not work every time but at least you are giving your local retailer the opportunity and leverage they need to make a sale and pressure their suppliers to give them fair wholesale costs.

      As business owners, we are not in the business of charity so the reality is that we have to watch our costs. As much as we would love to support our local retailers all the time, the reality is that their pricing has to be competitive on a global scale in order for us to do so. And it isn’t all bad locally and with Sony of Canada. Depending on the current exchange rate, it is often less expensive for Canadian videographers than it is for US videographers to purchase the same item. Although at the time of this writing the US currency trades higher than does the CDN dollar, as recently as in August, some professional Sony video cameras were less expensive for a Canadian to purchase in Canada than they were to import from the US, when you adjusted for currency, shipping, brokerage, and duties.

      Ultimately, upfront cost should only be one variable in a purchase decision and evaluation of true cost. Pre- and post-sale support and warranty are other considerations. Local support can be invaluable when you need it the most and US warranties are not usually honoured in Canada – so for big-ticket items that are serviceable, such as video cameras, I would never consider a US retailer and always shop local.

Comments are closed.