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Old July 19th, 2013, 02:46 PM   #1
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Quality LED solution?

I'm looking for a quality LED solution, I have various china solutions from Z96, 312, 600 but since the C100 is pretty amazing in low light I've been leaving my Arri tungsten lights at home and even the 600 LED seems like overkill in many situations.

Does anyone have experience with the Litepanels Sola ENG, Dedolights or Zylight? Are there any wireless controlled LED that are compact? What do you think is an all round quality, compact solution to have?

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Old July 19th, 2013, 03:10 PM   #2
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Re: Quality LED solution?

Why quality? Nobody does quality anymore. :)


I have a 3 light kit that I fly with sometime. I've had it for maybe 7 years now.
It is not dimmable but bank switchable. It does have barndoors which to me is a HUGE main drawback of a lot of led lights. They are daylight but have a slightly bluish tint which is easily gelled out. You will notice that the silver reflectors are removable, as they are just velcroed on to the barn doors. You will also notice they can be mounted vertical or horizontal. That's handy as well.

If I bought today I would look for daylight, dimmable and with barndoors.. Even some of the really expensive ones that produce what we like to call really white light, appears to be a somewhat different white light then what we are used to.

Unless I'm keeping a person under the lights for longer then 45 minutes, I'm using my hot lights which I still prefer.
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Old July 19th, 2013, 05:00 PM   #3
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Re: Quality LED solution?

There's a chap called Alan Roberts, who's one of those 'Brain the size of a plant' folks who's retired from BBC R&D and now 'Consults' (note the Capital C). He's been doing a lot of research on LED lighting for the EBU and other parties. I've heard quite a bit of it via the workshops of Jonathan Harrison.

The outlook for a 'continuous spectrum' LED isn't looking very good.

The more expensive units have better LED manufacture and better heat management (the cheaper ones change colour as they get hot), but we're waiting for the newer technology like the Kino Celeb or Zacuto plasma to perhaps move things on a bit. The lensed and focusable Dedo LED spots throw a lovely light but again they're kind of 'not out there' yet so I'm yet to be convinced of retiring my DLH4s.

Alan Roberts' proposed standard for 'broadcast specification LEDs' - a fairer but stricter version of CRI - the TLCI (Television Lighting Consistency Index) may improve matters, giving manufacturers something to aim for.

Please don't think I'm completely dissing panel lamps - LED panel lights have their place. For lighting a quick interview in places where you can't run power, or have horrific colour temperature problems, they're in their element. But after 18 months of stand up interviews at exhibitions and conferences around Europe, I have to admit that, without some careful grading, people tend to look freshly dug up. They do make very good green screen lamps, though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Gardner View Post
Unless I'm keeping a person under the lights for longer then 45 minutes, I'm using my hot lights which I still prefer.
+1 on that. Although a nice big KinoFlo is a thing of joy. Heavy to fly with, a bit tense to rent abroad. A couple of 1x1s with V-locks is ergonomic bliss for the travelling videographer, notwithstanding a little bit of a stress in post.
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Old July 20th, 2013, 07:01 AM   #4
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Re: Quality LED solution?

I use the Dedolight Fellonis and Ledzillas and they are both great.

The Fellonis come with a wired remote control which is on a cable that's long enough to be useful when setting up interviews by oneself. But you can be a wireless controller - but I don't have it.

Everything is battery powered which makes for fast simple setups.

Haven't turned on my Kino since I got them.
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Old July 20th, 2013, 07:14 AM   #5
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Re: Quality LED solution?

My first light was a LEDzilla. It's really compact and a great travel light with a focus-able single LED replete with barn doors and two hinged filters (Tungsten and Diffusion). It's also dimmable. I put a 1/4 CTO on the diffuser to give me 4400K with the flip of a filter. It doesn't put out a ton of light however. It's OK for hair or fill. I found it had to be just out of frame on sit down interviews.

I added a Zylight Z90. I've chosen to consolidate on the Z90 and use two for traveling. You can control them remotely wirelessly using another Z90 or buy one of their remote controls.

What I like about both of these units is that it lights without the effect of dozens of light sources that you get with the panels. What I like about the Zylights is that you can dial in the color temperature without changing the brightness. Blending approaches like the Lowel use a mix of daylight and tungsten LEDs so that you only get the peak output at the middle temperature (4400K). An added bonus of the Zylights is that you can program it for color without using gels. They are compact and rugged with some attachments if you need them.

The Sola puts out a lot of light but the single color temp, size and shape doesn't work for me. YMMV
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Old July 20th, 2013, 11:18 AM   #6
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Re: Quality LED solution?

Mr. Alan Robert's camera reviews and testing regimen is well known to even a 'newbie' like myself. I'll be interested in his test results for LED lights and his recommendations in the coming months and years. I'm sure all the various manufacturers are 'waiting with bated breath' for the team's results. : )

I've had good results with LitePanels. YMMV. I have one (1) L-P 1x1 Flood, one (1) L-P 1x1 Spot, one (1) Sola 4 Fresnel, one (1) L-P Croma, one (1) Sola-ENG Fresnel. All are Daylight balanced and battery operated. I was able to use them in an 'educational environment' while attending a 'Doug Jensen Workshop' a year ago and was impressed with the performance. Having come from a 'stills' background, I'm familiar with hot lights and all the pitfalls.

I love the way LEDs run cool, the portability of using batteries to power them and the overall quality of the light. All of those reasons helped me make my decision to make a 'significant purchase' (read $$) for my small company. I haven't used them extensively, but I do like the quality and intensity of light when used for 'sit-down interviews'. I'm not using the L-P LEDs for anything 'cinematic'.

I can't speak to the build-quality or light performance from other manufacturers.

Best regards,

J.
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Old July 20th, 2013, 01:44 PM   #7
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Re: Quality LED solution?

While I do have led lights and yes their cooler and they do run off batteries I'm not willing to drink the "Hot lights are such a hassle" kool aid.

I love my hot lights, I don't see them as a problem, nor do my clients.

If anything LED's are more of a hassle. With hot lights you know what you're getting. With led's it's a crapshoot, as the newest, latest greatest comes out every day. Standards are still being set for CRI, which may not even be CRI anymore.

So I feel like a bit of a guinea pig with led right now.

I do believe that some iteration of led's will be the future but that ain't here yet.
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Old July 20th, 2013, 02:28 PM   #8
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Re: Quality LED solution?

Al...I'm glad you still like your hot lights. If they give you the performance you're looking for, then it's all good. : )

When I purchased my L-P LEDs, I didn't have a lighting kit, so my decision to buy the latest technology was pretty easy. After having the opportunity to work with the L-P LEDs and observe the quality of light and the ease of use in the field, it definitely made an impression on me. And, while I don't remember drinking anything, I do remember reading how the White House Communications staff replaced the W-H Press Briefing Room with L-P 1x1s, along with several cable news broadcast houses. My feelings at the time, and now, haven't changed. Embracing the new technology is a risk I was willing to take.

Everyone's needs are different and this is only my opinion. YMMV.

Best regards,

J.
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Old July 20th, 2013, 06:02 PM   #9
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Re: Quality LED solution?

Given that I'm certainly no lighting expert, I have played around with LEDs and they can have some short-comings. And in this regard I think Matt's quote hit the spot:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Davis View Post
I have to admit that, without some careful grading, people tend to look freshly dug up. .
However, .....

My LED kit consists of 3 CoolLights 600 panels with variable controls and one Comer LBPS1800. The CoolLights tend to give that "freshly dug up look" to my subjects - but - when supplemented with some other light they can do a very nice job. My first supplemented light source was tungesten and to get the color I wanted it was moved in and out until I had what seemed to me to be a pleasing color.

Last spring we were making a trip to Europe and I needed something to take along and got the Comer LBPS1800. This was fairly short notice and I didn't have a lot of time to study numerous options out there in the market place. Frankly, I'm VERY happy with this decision and this is why.

This packs a lot of light in a very small space. A LOT! and it throws a nice beam that doesn't fall off fast with distance.

There are three rows of LEDs. The top and bottom are "~cool white" while the middle row is "~warm white" and the two colors together provide a really nice color balance.

The spotlight 'filter" is a nice feature that I've used on a couple occasions and will really throw a beam.

The light output is adjustable but with LEDs it is typical to get all the light you can. While I usually have it on Maximum power, for indoor family closeups it is so bright one has to tone it down.

In conjunction with the CoolLights, one could use a light like the Comer as a main light and the others for fill. For me, the Comer light is my main go-to light. Compact, long battery life, easy to use, good color, and it was reasonably priced for what you get.

With the CL-LED600s one still needs power cords, at least mine do because I don't have battery packs, so from a portability standpoint it is probably a push. The LED bulbs aren't as fragile as a tungesten filament and they travel easily. Well kinda. By the time one adds three Manfrotto Avenger tripods it becomes a major package.

By comparison, I really like the Comer for it's portability and compactness, but then it is just one light.

These are just some thoughts from a hobbyest and not a pro so feel free to consider the source.
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Old July 20th, 2013, 08:46 PM   #10
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Re: Quality LED solution?

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Kuhn View Post
Al...I'm glad you still like your hot lights. If they give you the performance you're looking for, then it's all good. : )

When I purchased my L-P LEDs, I didn't have a lighting kit, so my decision to buy the latest technology was pretty easy. After having the opportunity to work with the L-P LEDs and observe the quality of light and the ease of use in the field, it definitely made an impression on me. And, while I don't remember drinking anything, I do remember reading how the White House Communications staff replaced the W-H Press Briefing Room with L-P 1x1s, along with several cable news broadcast houses. My feelings at the time, and now, haven't changed. Embracing the new technology is a risk I was willing to take.

Everyone's needs are different and this is only my opinion. YMMV.

Best regards,

J.
It's new to you James. Read my post. I've had Led lights for 7 years now. I'm glad you're happy too.

My shoots are never like the White House.
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Old July 21st, 2013, 01:48 PM   #11
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Re: Quality LED solution?

Al...you're cracking me up, Dude! Heh, heh!

The closest I have ever gotten to the W-H, is working with the W-H Secret Service Communications Detail in support of presidential visits at Kennedy Space Center. : )

But, I figured if L-P LEDs are good enough for the W-H, they'd certainly be good enough for me. And, as I mentioned, "...I didn't have a lighting kit,..." at the time.

"Everyone's needs are different and this is only my opinion. YMMV."

Best regards,

J.
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Old July 21st, 2013, 01:53 PM   #12
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Re: Quality LED solution?

I'm with you John....trust me I'm with you.

My statement about drinking the "kool Aid" was rhetorical, not about you.
It's just that I hear that all too often when technologies change.

Now go in peace my son!
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Old July 21st, 2013, 01:58 PM   #13
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Re: Quality LED solution?

Al...no harm, no foul, Man. : )

Thank you for your insight and unselfish willingness to share your years of experience. I appreciate it.

Best regards,

J.
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Old July 22nd, 2013, 09:56 AM   #14
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Re: Quality LED solution?

Arri LoCaster, Not powerful but very good light quality with green, CT and dimmer adjustment. Compact and built like a tank except for the barndoors that are really flimsy.
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Old July 22nd, 2013, 01:45 PM   #15
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Re: Quality LED solution?

I've tried a number of LED options, from Litepanels (WAY overpriced) Dedo (nice lights with dial-in color temp) and have used a set of Coollights 600s w/ a 256 for about a year now. The Coolights are cheap knock-offs of Litepanels, and I guess you get what you pay for. They do have a horrible color to them, but if you use the minus green filter and warm balance, you subjects will at least look like living beings. My big complaint with these is build quality, and I've had problems with all of them. Power supply failures, LEDs going out, and general dis-assembly in transit requiring constant searching for small screws or other parts which keep falling off. While they are remarkably cheap compared to the competition, I don't feel it's worth the aggro and hassle, and was about to try a Flolight or two when I was directed to a new product out from Wescott. It's called the 'Skylux', and is an interesting option. I'm not entirely sure what the LED technology is, (because it's hidden behind an opaque lens on the light head) but seems to be a single source as opposed to hundreds of small LEDs in a panel. The head is very similar to an HMI, and has a separate ballast like an HMI as well. It utilizes a reflector cone (which I didn't think really would make that much of a difference in lumens, but I was quite mistaken) and a Bowens s-mount for modifiers using that fitting. (umbrellas, etc. This is a common strobe light fitting many still photos will be familiar with) I picked one up last week, and am actually on my way out of town on a shoot right now and will give it a try. I played with it a bit before leaving, and while it claims to output equivalent to a 1200W tungsten, I find that a stretch. The light is very soft right out of the head, though, very similar in throw and softness to my 200W PAR HMI w/ a fresnel lens. It is dimmable, and the CRI is excellent. I did not really detect much of a hue shift at all, but the real test will be on my first interview with it. Balance was spot on at 5600. My one big concern is going to be whether or not the built-in fan is going to be audible in a quiet room. It's noticeable from behind the fixture, but does seem to drop considerably in front of it, so we'll see..... but an interesting alternative to the flock of LEDs out there now. And maybe something to tide one over until Zacuto gets things moving with the Plazma. (are you listening, Zacuto?)
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