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Old January 27th, 2010, 01:45 PM   #1
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Coollights disappointment

We ordered a Coollights LED600 LED Panel and got to try it on 2 recent shoots. The concept of a portable, dimmable light is cool but we are not overly happy with the purchase. Let me explain:

1) The unit we received did not have any CTO or diffuser, although it should have been included. We were shooting with 3200K available lights and could not use our Coollights at all on the last shoot. When I email the company, they answered that they would "include them in the next order we place with them". Sure, some people have tons of rolls of gels lying around, but we don't, so now I have order one more light to get those gels or order them off the web from some other company. Not very impressive.

2) The mechanical build of the barndoor unit that slides over the LED panel is very, very loose. Like 5mm too lose, so it barely holds within the rails by 1 mm at most and I always fear it's gonna slip and fall one day.

3) Finally and most important, we could not get nice skin tones using this light as a key light. I am not an expert in light but a friend told me that LED panels output only a fraction of the light spectrum, and depending which portion it is, some colors will look flat. We tried Litepanels and got better skin tones. Not sure what the reason is.

So by and large we are not so happy ):
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Old January 27th, 2010, 03:00 PM   #2
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Francois:

Have you spoken with Richard Andrewski? He is very accommodating and helpful.

1. As far as I know, I thought all of the new shipments of the LED600 have been coming with the full gel pack, which includes the CTO and the diffuser. So you received a pack with only the minus green 1/4 and 1/2 or did not you not receive any gel pack?

2. Not sure what issue you are having with the barndoors? I have two of the LED 600s, flood and a spot, and the barndoors work fine on both. There are some small nuts and bolts that hold each door to the frame, perhaps one or two are loose and can be tightened?

3. Not sure what to tell you about the spectrum issue. I recently shot a series of interviews for a Museum and I lit them all with the two 600s and an LED 256 as a hair light. The clients were pleased with the look I obtained for them, although I will be warming up the skin tones using Color , in post. As you know, LEDs and Fluoros are not full spectrum lighting, tungsten is. When I shoot jobs that are color critical, I still tend to use my tungsten lights. But overall, I have been pleased with the interviews I have shot using the LED 600s. But everything I deliver to clients is always color corrected anyway so to me, raw footage is always just a starting point. I always shoot a gray scale card as well to give me a reference for color correction.

I hope that you are able to contact Richard and resolve your issues. I have been using the LED 600s for almost a year now and I have been very happy with the results and with Cool Lights in general.

Dan
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Old January 27th, 2010, 03:07 PM   #3
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Hello Dan, thanks for your reply!

I have indeed emailed Richard Andrewski and he is the one who told me I had to make another order to get my filters. We did get a filter pack but only the minus green filters were included. The screws are tight enough, but the rails are not.

Your point about Tungsten and full spectrum is really good, but do all LED panels render skin tones equally bad?

Last edited by Francois Xavier; January 27th, 2010 at 03:13 PM. Reason: forgot to answer the screws question
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Old January 27th, 2010, 05:21 PM   #4
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Here's a spectral analysis of daylight vs CoolLight 600 LED.

The yellow line is daylight.
The purple line is the CoolLight LED

Note that the energy level for the LED light starts to drop off rapidly after 600 nm, which is the deeper reds.

That might account for some of the skin tone problem, although I do use mine on occasion as a fill light for interviews in daylight situations.

My lights were among the first ordered, so no filters of any kind. I got my own set of minus green filters and any other gels I acquired on my own or just use some from my light kit.
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Old January 27th, 2010, 05:22 PM   #5
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Francois,

I got an email from a customer using same first name but a different last name in Switzerland saying they were missing the full CTO and diffuser panel. I don't have any other customers in Lausanne, Switzerland that emailed like that so I am assuming that's you operating under a different last name? Anyway, we already sent out the 2 extra filters at our expense to that person even though we didn't have to per our shipping policies for overseas customers which is clearly outlined on our Policies page.

You didn't mention item 2 or 3 above at all in that email so it seems strange to mention it here. Support for Cool Lights products takes place at Cool Lights support channels (like email or phone), not on public boards--its simply not the way any manufacturer does things. I don't know what the issue is with your barndoors but how, for instance, do you know you have them inserted correctly in the channel for them? Rather than post about this publicly wouldn't it be normal to contact us about that? People use things in unintended ways every day and its normal to contact a manufacturer if you're not sure to make sure that its all correct. Not one customer has complained that barndoors will fall or have fallen out of the LED 600 if they are inserted correctly in the channel.

As far as color rendering goes, were you using the supplied minus green filters? Were you mixing with other light? Were there several color temperatures of light mixing together? I deal with many customers every day, some of great experience and some are new to the game. Again, its common to check with us if there's some issue and see if you're using it correctly to its best strengths.

There are lots of variables and you have to understand how to use each tool to its advantages rather than disadvantages. We've certainly been quite public about LEDs and their shortcomings in our blog, on this board and on other boards as well. People get great results every day with the LED 600 but they also use them in intended ways and as their supposed to be used. Be sure you're using them in intended ways to get the best results.
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Old January 27th, 2010, 10:44 PM   #6
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Dean,

What did you use to generate the chart in your post?
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Old January 27th, 2010, 10:56 PM   #7
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Chris...

I used something called a Spectrocam. It's basic purpose is to profile printers but it can also analyze spectral qualities of light sources. At least it used to until the American version had to be "crippled" due to a pending patent infringement suit.
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Old January 28th, 2010, 07:49 AM   #8
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Hey there Dean,
I was wondering if you ever use a 1/4 CTO or something similar to warm up your led or if you think that would help in any way.

Thanks

mb
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Old January 28th, 2010, 09:07 AM   #9
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Hi Mark:

The longer I have been shooting HD and with digital, the less I have come to rely on trying to achieve the absolute look in the field. I have tried gels, warm cards and all sorts of other tricks. It seems that I am constantly flying back East or have been in Europe where my subjects have largely tended toward the pasty and white. You don't meet a lot of healthily tanned people in a blizzard in Philadelphia.

Which program do you use in post? I have found that applying color correction in FCP's three-way color corrector or using the program Color makes warming up skin tones slightly a breeze. Being a DP, I used to really want to achieve the exact look I want in the field but I find two impediments to doing this:

1. My field monitor is not accurate. Sure, it is fine for focus, composition and contrast, but color? Not even in the ball park as I suspect 98% of shooters monitors are not. An $800.00 field monitor is not and will never be color accurate and that is what most people use. I see very few shoots using a calibrated Flanders Scientific in the field. So if your monitor and camera LCD are not even close to color accurate, why try to color your subject in the field?

2. Even though I have only shot with the RED One twice, something about the RAW workflow has stuck with me, even when shooting DVCPRO HD or AVCINTRA 100. With digital and HD, you just need to shoot it in the ball park of where you want it to be. Color correction in post is almost effortless, it really has become so much easier and better quality, especially as long as you are shooting a 4:2:2 codec. If I were shooting HDV or XDCAM EX, I would be a bit more concerned about getting the color right as I shoot. But since everything I shoot is color corrected, I merely shoot a gray scale card and worry about it in post.

I have used the various grades of CTO on my LED 600s. It works pretty much as it would on any other daylight source, it does slightly warm things up.

Dan
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Old January 28th, 2010, 01:04 PM   #10
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Richard, when I sent you an email to let you know the two filters were missing, you replied within a couple hours, saying that you'd sent them "with a future order". I said this was not so good for us and never got any other email, to this day, from you. I assumed you had decided to leave with me my problem, hence the post here. I looked in your shipping terms and could not find the paragraph about missing items. Now if you mailed me the missing filters thank you and I will of course report back here when we get them.

I did not mention the loose engineering of the rails for the barndoor unit (yes, I place them correctly in the rails) nor the problem with skin tones because I assume these are not things you can fix. But if you can tell me whether physics allows us to correct the drop after 600nm so as to get better skin tones, please let me know.
Thank you!
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Old January 28th, 2010, 05:13 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Bolding View Post
Hey there Dean,
I was wondering if you ever use a 1/4 CTO or something similar to warm up your led or if you think that would help in any way.
Hi Mark...

I generally shoot it straight and do any color grading in post. Most of the things I do are in the real of documentary/nature/reality. Most important to me is having the additional light match existing light, and that's usually daylight balanced situations.
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Old January 28th, 2010, 06:08 PM   #12
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Dan & Dean,
Thanks for your input, having just bought my camera package I am doing the research on lighting and looking into the cool lights leds and kino faux's. I will pick up a couple of tungsten fixtures as well but want to go daylight balanced as much as possible which has led me to look into the cheaper alternatives to kino flo and lite panels. I guess I should start my own thread instead of hi-jacking this one.

mb
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Old February 1st, 2010, 02:33 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Sensui View Post
Here's a spectral analysis of daylight vs CoolLight 600 LED.

The yellow line is daylight.
The purple line is the CoolLight LED

Note that the energy level for the LED light starts to drop off rapidly after 600 nm, which is the deeper reds.
This is a fantastic graph! A few questions if you permit:
1) How does the graph look like for Litepanels?
2) If you add a filter, does it change the drop off after 600nm?
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Old February 1st, 2010, 12:51 PM   #14
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I don't have a Litepanel to test, so I can't provide a reading on that. Sorry.

As for filtering to improve the spectral falloff after 600 nm, that would be counterproductive.

To improve deficiencies in a light's spectral characteristics, you have to reduce the output of more energetic portions of the spectrum to be equalized with the the weaker portions of the spectrum.

As a result, overall output is reduced. In this case it would be dramatically reduced, with only a slight improvement in overall color rendition.
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Old February 1st, 2010, 08:11 PM   #15
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These are some of the limitations that you must endure in order to reap the benefits of LED lights, not having full spectrum is one of them. I have found in most casual situations, people look fine under my LED 600s and LED 256. However, if I were shooting a person who was high profile or a person where color accuracy was of paramount importance, I would light them with my Arri kit.

There are no perfect lights and everything is a compromise. I have tested the LitePanel 1x1 and while it is a nice light, I found that the color temperature shifted considerably when the dimmer was engaged. I feel that the Cool Lights are a better value for my needs. The Lite Panels are built nicer and feel nicer but you are paying for it. It is nice to have choices. If I had unlimited budget, I would have a full HMI kit but at about $15k-$20k for an interview kit, that is out of my price range.

Dan
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