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.
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.
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.
Light Stix - So Much Built Into So Little
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.
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!
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.
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): http://www.intellytechusa.com/collections/light-stix
To learn more on the Light Stix, click the following link (video reviews are also included): http://www.intellytechusa.com/collections/flexible-led-panel-airlight
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.
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