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Old June 8th, 2008, 05:18 PM   #1
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LP Micro Review!

Earlier this week I decided to bite the bullet and pick up an LPmicro despite all the negative reviews I have seen on it.

It was going to replace 2 different lights - one being the sony (cant think of the model) that uses the giant sony batteries for good life and the other was the anton bauer elipz system.

The sony treated me well for the 3 or so years I had it, but what I hated about it was battery life unless you used a heavy large battery which then threw off the cameras balance (gl2's now xha1's). I liked the 10/20 watt switchability but even then the light was too bright so I bought an anton bauer softbox and made it fit with the light and helped a lot! It gave a soft nice spread and just enough light in most situations to look good!

Then I moved onto the elipz system with the 10 watt bulb which I then too transferred the anton bauer softbox to it (velcro works wonders!). The idea for the elipz system was to have a powerful battery that could also run my light for most of the night. On the Gl2 it worked well. Seldom did the battery run low and the light was bright and looked nice. On the XHA1, it died much faster (still lasted a long time!) but the problem with the elipz was the batter and the cables. The battery is an awkward shape that just sits at the bottom of your camera and weighs down the already heavyish XHA1. With the weird shape, being hand held sometimes its uncomfortable to hold. Also the cable from the power adapter to the battery is kind loose so it pulls out relatively easily by accident. The light was good and bright enough and weighed next to nothing...but the battery weighed a ton! And the only way you can tell if the battery was dying was on the side of the battery it had a light that turned to yellow that basically means it could die anytime - I like a meter or some kind of easily viewable indication for my batteries!

Enter the LP Micro. First complaint everyone has about it is its build. Its plastic, but I think it feels solid. Sure if you drop it from high up it would probably break, but I dont know about you, but I try not to drop any of my equipment. As far as its stability and durability on the camera, to me it felt great. I never once thought it was going to break or anything like that. My only complaint on the design of the system, is I dont like the battery compartment just because the last battery does not stay in so you have to force the door in place to hold it in, but that is just a minor issue.

The three things that got me interested in the LP micro was the weight, the adjustable brightness and the fact that it takes regular old AA batteries.

With the LP I bought some 2700mah sony rechargeable NIMH batteries to test with it. On standard alkaline AA batteries, the LP lasts for 1.5 hours they say. I decided my first test would be operation time. Charged up the new batts, and put them in the LP and turned it on to the brightest setting and waited. 2.5 hours later it was still burning bright! Sometime between the 2.5-3 hour mark the light started fading. 5 hours in it was still glowing though albeit at a much lower intensity. I gave up on the test after that. 2.5 hours will last me an entire night of shooting usually, if not, $10 for 4 more AA rechargeables and I am covered!

The next test was the weight difference. I didnt go into it and weigh things and what not, I just did a feel test, all 3 setups of the camera (elipz, sony light and LP micro) and the LP was noticeable a lighter set up than the other two loaded with camera batter and tape - my arm will thank me for this...and so will my assistants!

The final test was on a shoot which was a wedding in New Hampshire last night. The beginning of the reception was well lit - which bothered me. The one time I want it to be dark its not! About mid way through they dipped the lights and it was show time! The dance floor was small but packed so doing a lot of overhead shots to get the B&G in the middle with the LP all the way up, it was too bright! I kicked it down to about half of its power and the image looked great to me! I still was iffy because it wasnt as dark as most placed though, but the light at full blast lit up a pretty long distance and 99% of the night I needed only about half the power. I was impressed. Batteries never even came close to dying.

I am extremely unobtrusive so I like little lights that arent too bright and this one seems to fit the bill where it allows me to film from some distance without illuminating the whole dance floor or blinding people.

The only thing I dont like about the light is the filter holder, its flimsy and just not well designed, BUT the good news is its easy to slide a filter into place...so how many times are you filming where it immediately goes from day light to night time and you dont have 20 seconds to put a filter in place? In my experience - never, there is always time, so as much as it would be easier to flip up and down the filter holder, its just as easy to slide a filter in or out.

I am excited to try it at the next wedding where hopefully the lighting is darker...who would have thought, a videographer asking for darkness!
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Old June 8th, 2008, 05:47 PM   #2
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I picked one up a few weeks ago and I must say that I'm quite pleased with it.

I figure a brick of lithium AA's will last me a few months.

A buddy of mine just picked up a CNC and we where toying with the idea of cloning the LPMicro casing in aluminum..... add some red anodize and it would be a nice mate to a RED scarlett..... aye?
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Old June 8th, 2008, 05:51 PM   #3
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Good review and pretty much in line with our own findings.
I feel you really need to leave the diffusion gel on. Without it the LEDs are uncomfortable for anyone who happens to look into the light. Also without diffusion the light coverage is rather poor.
The battery contacts need a redesign, they're not holding the batteries securely, a small bump and they're pushing the batteries out onto the door.
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Old June 8th, 2008, 07:12 PM   #4
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I've never noticed any problem with the batteries popping out especially after performing the LP "certified" fix on the battery connections.

As for filter, for me, the diffusion is in place ALL the time as well as the 1/4 warm. I prefer the slightly warmer look but if I really need it I pull the filters up and blast away. Only need that for outside work and then within about 5 feet.

I vsaid it before and I'll say it again,'I love my LP Micro'

Don
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Old June 8th, 2008, 07:23 PM   #5
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I keep the diff and 1/4 T on all the time as well....

I have not noticed any problems with the batt bay.... to soon to tell maybe?

This little bugger goes along with me and my still cam as well... a 1ds3.... and combined with pretty clean iso 800, makes for a great fill. I hand hold the 1ds3 with one hand and the lpmicro with the other.... light from up above and to the side on a whim.

I have to admit.... I use the lpmicro more than the zylight z90. If the z90 took 4 AA's it would be back on top though. I owned the sony led for a few months as well... but it was just to big and the mount felt on the verge of snapping.

4 out of 5 thumbs from me on the lpmicro!
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Old June 8th, 2008, 08:39 PM   #6
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yeah, only the last battery pops out, but it does not affect shooting at all. I just wish it had molded battery compartments.

Glad you guys enjoy it also! I am buying a second one asap for my second camera set... and time to sell the elipz system! (it is a great system, but not for me!).

I did not use the diffuser or warm much, but I will take both of your advice and next time keep both on!
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Old June 11th, 2008, 03:32 PM   #7
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I purchased one of the first units and sent it back for several reasons, the contacts being one. The main reason I sent it back was the light rolloff on the sides when doing HDV with my A1 in full wide, even with the diffusion. The pattern was circular - which is strange since the LED array is retangular. Point the light at a wall more than three feet away, look at the LCD and you might see it. Is this not the case anymore? I had such high hopes for this light as I use a FlowPod and the other lighting options make the camera very heavy.
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Old June 11th, 2008, 07:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Fink View Post
The dance floor was small but packed so doing a lot of overhead shots to get the B&G in the middle with the LP all the way up, it was too bright! I kicked it down to about half of its power and the image looked great to me! I still was iffy because it wasnt as dark as most placed though, but the light at full blast lit up a pretty long distance and 99% of the night I needed only about half the power. I was impressed.
Thanks for sharing! I'm pushing for a "big brother" to the LP micro, hopefully the same design, just a bit bigger. Maybe with an optional clamp and gooseneck design for attaching to nearby objects.

One recent photographer bought 7 for placing around a room on mini tripods/clamps to get his perfect interior shots. Pretty creative!
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Old June 11th, 2008, 07:54 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Steve Sobodos View Post
I purchased one of the first units and sent it back for several reasons, the contacts being one. The main reason I sent it back was the light rolloff on the sides when doing HDV with my A1 in full wide, even with the diffusion. The pattern was circular - which is strange since the LED array is retangular. Point the light at a wall more than three feet away, look at the LCD and you might see it. Is this not the case anymore? I had such high hopes for this light as I use a FlowPod and the other lighting options make the camera very heavy.
Steve,

Yes it still does have a round shape, however depending on your application this shouldn't matter.

My main use is wedding and event video. 99% of the clients I deal with don't know much about production (although I have had quite a few ESPN clients) and as long as they can see their face they are happy, and as long as it doesn't look like I have a spotlight on them I am happy. I shoot entirely unobtrusive and this really allows me to do it from a good distance. Sure the light isn't perfect, but until something better is available I am willing to invest in one per each camera setup I have!
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Old June 11th, 2008, 08:03 PM   #10
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I also have one of the early ones and while I had to do the LP recommended fix to the battery connections and was at first put off with the plastic construction it became obvious the first time on the job with it that regardless of anything I might find wrong with the lite it was and is a great investment and works like a champ. I have no complaints.

Don
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Old June 12th, 2008, 10:16 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Don Bloom View Post
I also have one of the early ones and while I had to do the LP recommended fix to the battery connections and was at first put off with the plastic construction it became obvious the first time on the job with it that regardless of anything I might find wrong with the lite it was and is a great investment and works like a champ. I have no complaints.

Don
I am curious, how do you use the light?

I looked at one yesterday, and the beam is as high as it is wide. It only covers the center third of a 16x9 frame.

If someone were in the very center the light could be used as fill for the face. However, if the person was in the left or right third of the frame she would be in the dark. I did not see a way to turn the light toward the left or right in this situation.

I was told the battery problem has been fixed. The plastic case seems like a plus since it makes the light extremely light, even with batteries installed.

However, the narrow beam seems limiting.
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Old June 12th, 2008, 11:02 AM   #12
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First I'm shooting 4:3 so any fall off isn't a problem for me but there is a tiny little bit when I use my WA lens attachment however it's really not noticable. Second keep in mind the light like most any other is really only good for about a 10 foot throw and anything over that you need way more pwer than the LP Micro or most other on camera lights can provide. Lastly when I shoot a wedding reception for example I always try to have a specific target in mind. In other words I always have a person of couple 'centered' in my VF so I don't really worry about the fall off.

Yes, the light looks like it is made more for 4:3 by design than 16:9.

Don
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Old June 12th, 2008, 11:23 AM   #13
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Yes, the light looks like it is made more for 4:3 by design than 16:9.

Don
I agree - it does look like it is more designed for a 4:3 camera, however it does just fine in widescreen!

Like Don, when I am shooting a reception, 99% of the time its no more than 2 people I am trying to film and generally they stay pretty centered.

When I shoot again in a few weeks it will be a full out dark reception so I can get the full feel of it, but all you have to do is know how to shoot for the light, and that just takes a little bit of trial and error, but overall it does the job, well I may add.
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Old June 12th, 2008, 04:07 PM   #14
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I returned my LP micro after 1 hour of testing it. I found the light output to be completely insufficient. I literally had to have it about 6" from my face to get any sort of apreciable light noticable through the XHA1 wide open. Shortly after feeling that the light output was not strong enough I also had the unit stop functioning. I will chalk it up to a dud unit as it didn't seem right from the start.

Other reasons I returned....

poor build quality - as others have mentioned the battery compartment doesn't hold the batteries well, the gel holder is flimsy and does not hold a gel well. The hotshoe mount is also made of plastic.

extremely overpriced! - for the consideration that the parts in this unit probably cost a total of approximately $50....the cost of $429 CAD is laughable.....I have built electronics from scratch so my consideration for the cost of the parts is not without some knowledge of electronics.

On a high note - it is light, it does run on AA's. Litepanels have good products in their line but I don't consider this particular one to be one of those.

Since the LP micro I have bought a Zylight Z90.....my god what a light! Great output and range, fully tweakable WB and the ability to produce colors straight from the LEDs. The barndoor accesory is solid and all metal and offers pretty good control of light spill when needed.

The light from the Z90 is so smooth and wide that I can go full wide with the WD-H72 wide angle adapter on the XHA1 and not have any hotspot.

Incredibly good contruction, wonderful finish and excellent feeling controls. I bought it with the Lithium battery found on the Zylight site and the only recommedation I could make is that B&H sell the same battery for $30 cheaper.
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Old June 12th, 2008, 04:21 PM   #15
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James -

What is your main function?

I personally could not see myself spending $900+ on a light for wedding/event videography, especially considering for my needs and style of shooting, the LP Micro is great.

If I was doing like freelance news work or something like that, then I would think twice about what light to use, but I also probably wouldnt be using an A1, prob some form of an ENG.

When I do interviews for corporate work, or other types of setup video, I have a lighting kit, I would never use the LP for that type of work, but to film people dancing or cutting a cake?

Like I have stated I have never ever used a light over 20w and even that (the sony) I kept at 10w. I dont blare light at people, I film unobtrusively, and LP allows me to get just enough light even cranked down to have a good looking image.

Like I have said before, its not perfect, but its a great first attempt and IMO worth to have for wedding/event videographers looking for an easy fill without blinding people.
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