First, as a general technique, much like using camera flash – multiple light sources, off camera work best since you get shadows and depth. Second, in order to see the stars, you really need very little light on your foreground. If the foreground is too bright, then the shutter speed it too fast to really show most of the stars, so it really takes very little light.
So in my search for a LED panel, I had a few goals. Battery powered was a must, preferably rechargeable. I really wanted one that was dim-able so that I could control the intensity. I was hoping it would have gels, since most lights need to be warmed, and barn doors to help direct the light would be a big plus. Finally, I didn’t want to pay a fortune. Since I live in Alaska, I wouldn’t need them in the Summer – these will sit in our RV and only used for Winter travels.
What I ended up with was Yongnuo Professional LED Video Lightflash YN300 At $70, it was definitely inexpensive. At 2,200 lumen, it is very bright! In fact, I end up using it a the dimmest possible setting. It takes readily available Sony video camera rechargeable batteries – you can find third party batteries and chargers also at Amazon. A 5,800 mah battery lasts over 2 hours at the max power, and forever on the min power. It has attachable gels, barn-doors, and handle and even a remote control.
I’m sure the much more expensive lights are built more rugged, but this light has worked fine even after the tripod it was attached to blew over in the wind. So far, I would say for the price, it is a great value.
Now for additional lighting, after reading some positive reviews, I opted for this Coleman LED Lamp: It has 4 separate removable panels giving me up to 4 more separate lights. I like using it in the lantern mode for setup, then pull of individual panels for supplemental lighting. I do tape some warm gel material since they tend to be a bit cool for my taste.
The biggest drawback to the Coleman – even though the individual panels have a built in rechargeable batteries for when they are removed from the base – the base is powered through a bunch of D batteries. I do wish it had a rechargeable that could be plugged in. It isn’t dim-able either, so I vary the intensity my adjusting the distance. But, other then that, it has worked great, it gives me lots of flexibility giving me 5 total lights.