LED Lighting: Choosing between a Fresnel, Panel, or Mat... 0

In today's market for filmmakers, videographers, and photographers, there are an abundance of choices when it comes to continuous lighting. As LEDs have had a surge in technological advances, they have replaced many conventional hot lights like Tungsten and HMI fixtures. Today's LED lights offer so many options in terms of spread, output, size, color, power options, and available uses. Knowing which light to choose for the particular style you're trying to create can seem daunting at first, but following a few key guidelines can really help an image-creator choose the right light according to their needs. Intellytech offers a variety of light series including Light Cannon Fresnels, LiteCloth and Airlight LED Mats, as well as Socanland & Nitro Panels, which all help to serve different lighting styles and solutions. 

Choosing Between a Fresnel, Panel, or Mat.

In the world of continuous LED lighting there are three main categories of lights: Fresnels, Panels, and Mats. When selecting your next LED light, first choose if you need a Fresnel, Panel, or Mat, as each style of light has inherent strengths and intended uses. If you're looking for some guidance to find the right light for your shooting requirements, read this to help point you to the fixture that will suit you best. We will discuss the various types of lights as we dive into a few models in particular to outline the best way to use them. 


LED Fresnels - Light Cannon Series

In general, LED fresnels are the master shape makers. These lights most closely resemble the lights that dominated yesteryears like Tungsten and HMI fixtures. Think of them as a Tungsten that now uses a cool running LED in place of the old power-hungry, hot bulb. On top of that, they feature a variety of different options which were previously impossible to achieve, like daylight or bi-color tune-ability, being able to plug into a standard outlet without blowing a fuse, and some, like our Pocket Cannon and F-165 AC/DC, even have battery options.

Fresnels like the Light Cannon Series have an LED that moves further and closer to a glass lens, allowing the user to select their spread from spot to flood. On top of that, one can add on barn-doors or softboxes by simply sliding on and off a speed ring. An LED Fresnel is the only LED light source that lets you direct your beam from a spot to flood simply by rotating a focus knob.

The Light Cannon Series offer a ton of outputs ranging from 400W Equivalents like the Pocket Cannon, to 1,000W Equivalents like the F-165, all the way up to 3,500W Hot light Equivalents like the F-485. This combination of focusability along with various light modifiers make a Fresnel the best choice for those wanting complete control over their light's spread. 

LED Mats - LiteCloth & Airlight Series

For those wanting to travel lightly and create broad, far reaching light, Mats are the way to go. These fixtures use an SMD LED, which creates a super wide spread; think of them as a super-flood light. Not only do they allow crews to travel lightly, they also allow lights to fit into spaces where a panel or Fresnel would have a hard time fitting. They measure in at less than a 1/4" thick so they can practically go anywhere--on car visors, in the corner of a ceiling, on a laptop, the options are endless. 


Lights like the LiteCloth LC-160 create a super broad, bright, and natural look, as if shooting a high output Fresnel or panel through a silk or deep softbox. The LC-160 in particular can achieve this effect because of its impressive 160W power draw (1,500 Hot Light Equivalent) and its broad frame of nearly 2' x 2'. Mats like the LiteCloth and Airlight look flattering on skin because they create very little shadows due to their super wide spread. A Mat will create the broadest, softest light compared to panels or fresnels and are the best choice when the user wants to travel lightly and have the luxury of being able to put lights into spaces that would be impossible to fit a panel or Fresnel. 

Panels - Socanland & Nitro Series

Panels have been around the longest in the LED scene. Almost every film crew travels with a 1x1 or a similar sized fixture on location shoots. Panels, like our Socanland and Nitro series, are incredibly convenient to setup as everything is built into the light. You simply mount them to a light stand, choose your power source (battery or ac), and you're good to go. Panels are typically the most convenient to use but don't offer as much control as a Fresnel and don't allow for as much flexibility as a mat. A panel is a great choice for an image-maker needing to get things done as fast as possible. 

When choosing the best light for your needs, start by first selecting if a Fresnel, Mat, or Panel is the right way to go. From there, choose the output and features that will allow your shooting style to match your creative vision. Because a Fresnel, Mat, or Panel are all useful in their own ways, the most potent light kits will include a mixture of each light. Use the various points in this guide to help you choose the right fixtures for your lighting kit.


Those looking for more help can reach a Lighting Specialist at Intellytech by phone (303-997-8197), email (, or by live chat (found at the bottom right and corner). 






  • Robert R.

Reviewing Portable LED Lighting Solutions -- Flexible Panels and Light Stix for Video & Photgraphy 0

Professional Videographers, Gaffers, and Photographers are constantly traveling with their lighting equipment. Having lights that are made with portability in mind makes ENG (Field) work easier related to transport and quicker to set up. To use the phrase, "time is money" may sound a bit cliche, but for a small crew or one-man team, a fast and simple lighting set-up with a variety of mounting options will make the shoot go by smoothly and with less headaches.

Intellytech offers two new LED lights made specifically for portability, ease of use, and lots of versatility -- the Intellytech Light Stix & Socanland FL-40 Airlight. The two fixtures offer so much in terms of portability, ease of use, and mounting options. Both lights also integrate effortlessly for battery set-up. Read more below to learn more about the Flexible FL-40 Airlight and Light Stix and why they are great lights for the traveling film-maker and photographer.


Overview of Socanland FL-40 Airlight - Flexible LED Light Kit

The FL-40 is as lightweight as an LED Panel can get. Weighing just ounces, the 10"x10" Flexible LED mat can fit into a backpack or the included carrying case with ease. The Airlight is only millimeters thick, so it can go anywhere. The included dimmer, battery plate, and AC allow for an easy attachment for either battery or AC power right out of the box.

The Flexible frame allows the light to be mounted virtually anyway a gaffer requires. It can be placed around a car visor, wrapped around a pole or corner, gaff tapped to a wall, or it can simply be attached to a light stand with the included X-Bracket. The FL-40 Airlight also has magnets in each corner allowing the light to securely connect to metal objects.

Flexible Video LED Light for Video & Photgraphy, Socanland FL-40 Airlight

Additionally, because the FL-40 Airlight is flexible, you can direct the light exactly where it is needed without the need for light modifiers or barn-doors. You can control the degree of the light from 0-360 degrees by simply bending the light to your desired position. The included cloth diffuser bends with the light and can be added or removed in seconds. A variety of extension cables are also included to allow the light to be powered and controlled from a distance.

Flexible Video LED Light for Video & Photgraphy, Socanland FL-40 Airlight

Because the light weighs almost nothing, traveling with one or several units reduces the carrying load drastically compared to traveling with traditional bulky and heavy LED Panels or Fresnels like Arri's. Additionally, the FL-40 is extremely bright. It is similar to a standard 1x1 Litepanels in terms of output, as the Bi-Color FL-40  reaches 1950 Lux at 3 feet.

Flexible Video LED Light for Video & Photgraphy, Socanland FL-40 Airlight



 Light Stix - So Much Built Into So Little

Hand Held Video LED Light for Video & Photgraphy, Intellytech Light Stix

The Light Stix require no yoke, no battery plate, no cables or... anything really. All that is needed is the Light Stix itself. It can light your subject simply by placing it to your desired position whether vertically or horizontally. If using a light stand or C-stand, the light can be put into places where most other lights would intrude into the shot or fall short in length. 

Hand Held Video LED Light for Video & Photgraphy, Intellytech Light Stix

Really, what you see is what you get--a self-contained, self powered LED Light Panel that has all of the controls built into a frame 2 feet long, 3 inches wide, and weighs 2 pounds. It is dimmable and has a huge color range from 3,000k-8,000k. That is over 3,000k more range than a typical bi-color light panel. Simply use the battery to power the light and you are set to go!

 Hand Held Video LED Light for Video & Photgraphy, Intellytech Light Stix

Variety of Accessories

Intellytech offers a lot of accessories for a variety of uses. The optional Tilting Bracket allows for the light to be positioned with precision. It can be tilted and aimed to exactly where you need the light. When more power is needed, a yoke is available allowing up to 4 units to be attached. The Light Stix simply screw into the 4 thread slots on the yoke. The lights can also be tilted in unison or individually when on the yoke. When adding lights, the output drastically increases. The Light can also be used as a handheld option either on its own or with the optional external handle. 

*1 unit reaches 1600 lux @ 3 feet. 2 units reach 2300lux @ 3 feet. 4 units reach 4600 lux @ 3 feet.

The Light Stix unique frame make it a simple light to use and set-up. Traveling is simple with the included case which securely holds one Light Stix along with a charger and optional external handle.

Stackable Video LED Light for Video & Photgraphy, Intellytech Light Stix

When considering which lights to purchase for portable ENG filming or studio use, the Flexible FL-40 Airlight and compact Light Stix are the perfect solutions for a variety of lighting scenarios whether being used for key, fill, hair, or back lighting.

To learn more on the FL-40, click the following link (video reviews are also included):

To learn more on the Light Stix, click the following link (video reviews are also included):

The Importance of your LED Light's Spread - Spot, Flood, or Super Soft? 0

As many buyers search for their perfect location and studio lights, typically only two specs are analyzed--a light's output and color ratings (aka CRI, Ra, or TLCI measurement). After all, these are the two main specs reported on by most manufacturers. It's easy to get caught up in the output and color ratings of a light when analyzing performance; however, there is an important third factor that directly correlates to a light's output--spread. The spread is the degree or angle of the light, basically whether that light is a spot, flood, or super soft light. For many buyers and even manufacturers, the spread is either an afterthought or is completely ignored.

When reviewing the output of a light, it's critical to understand that a light's spread is directly correlated to a light's output. Lights that have a tight spot spread will have a significantly higher lux per meter rating than equally powered lights that have a wide flood spread. On top of that, a spot light will result in a very different look than a flood light due to their different characteristics. Read more to learn about the drastic effect that spread has on the output of a light, as well as the various qualities and uses between spot, flood, and super soft lighting.

Spot to Flood Light Studio & ENG Video Lights

Explaining the Correlation Between Spread & Output

If you take a 50 Watt, 1x1 light with a 30 degree spread and compare it to a 100 Watt, 1x1 light with a 60 degree spread, the weaker 50 Watt light will actually match the lux per meter rating of the 100 Watt unit (in a straight line, anyway). The same results would come from two 50 Watt 1x1 lights with a 30 degree and 60 degree spread. The 60 degree flood will have a lux per meter reading 50% less than the equally powered 30 degree spot light. The data not highlighted in a lux per meter rating is the area being covered by light. The 60 degree light will cover two times the area of the equally powered 30 degree light. Matching the area covered by the 60 degree light would require two 30 degree lights to be placed side by side. The output and area of a light aren't the only qualities effected by spread. A 30 degree spot, 60 degree flood, and 140 degree super soft light will all have a uniquely different look on your subjects and sets. When deciding between various spreads, there is a criteria that you can use to help in choosing the best option. 

The Spread of a Light Determines its Qualities

The degree of the LED being used determines the look of the light. Tighter, spottier LED's are brighter, but are also more directional. This results in the light looking harsher, which will create distinct shadows. Spot lights can be beneficial in creating a moody or intense atmosphere. Wide angled lights will be softer and smoother, which will either reduce or remove shadows. Rather than being bright in a straight line, these lights will cover vast areas. Naturally, a wider angle will look better on skin tones and is the right choice when a large area needs to be covered evenly. Different spreads can be used for different jobs.

The Proper Way to Choose the Best Spread for its Position

When choosing between a spot, flood, or super soft light for specific roles like Key, Fill, and Back-Light, the choices may seem confusing. But there are easy ways to choose the proper light for the proper job. Each DP has a specific style and different jobs require different looks. But generally, one should use tighter, brighter, more focused spreads as their Key, while using wider and softer spreads as their Fill.

Finding the proper Key / Fill Combination - The best way to pair a Key and Fill Light is to use two simple rules. One, the output of the Fill should be 50% of the Key. Two, the SPREAD of the Fill should be two times wider then the Key. So, if your Key is the Nova-CTD with the 60 Degree spread, pair it with a light that will have a spread two times that of the Nova-CTD, like the R12 or R18 SoftBox Lights (which both have a spread of 140 degrees). If using two Nova-CTD 60 degree lights, dim the fill to 50% of the key and add on diffusion and a soft box that will widen and soften the Fill light. If your Key is the Nova-CTD 30 Degree Spread, pair it with a 60 degree flood like the 50CTD or 60 degree Nova-CTD. Using those guidelines will help in choosing a good Key and Fill combo. There are a few other guidelines you can use to help you choose the proper spread when lighting

Choosing a Backlight or Background Light - There is a little more play in choosing a Backlight, mainly because the Backlight is done in so many different ways. A Backlight can be used to add separation from the subject and the background but can also be used to highlight the background.

When adding separation between your subject and the background, place a spot light to make the subject's head and shoulders really stand out from the background. If you would like to make a softer look or need to cover multiple subjects with limited lights, choose a flood or super soft light for your backlight.

When lighting a background, use a spot light to focus on a smaller area or to highlight something specific. When trying to cover the entire background with an even cast, use a flood light or super soft light. If you're just trying to do something simple like a slash, use a Fresnel light like our ENG-30, which can basically be placed anywhere and can make a slash in seconds.

Choosing the right light's for your kit - Lighting with Variety is Key

If someone is told that they need to bring 4 tools to a repair, it's obvious that having a hammer, screw driver, wrench, and pliers is better then bringing 4 hammers. The same goes for lighting. Overall, the most important thing to consider is that different spreads result in different looks. Instead of buying 4 of the same unit, buy a variety of spreads according to their use in order to give you as many tools and options as possible. A variety of lights will allow for the widest range of capabilities. If you feel like you'd like some pointers, ask us and we will surely be able to help you find the right choice according to your needs and budget.

  • Aaron Schweid