· By Robert R.
LED Lighting: Choosing between a Fresnel, Panel, or Mat...
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 (email@example.com), or by live chat (found at the bottom right and corner).