The UK isn’t well known for it’s fabulous weather and scorching summers but we’ve been fairly lucky over the last couple of weeks and had some absolutely gorgeous weather. As nice as this heat is when working outside or chilling at the beach though it can also cause a lot of headaches (quite literally) when shooting indoors and trying to work in rising temperatures.
I’ve been shooting some corporate web videos for a company that sells conservatory accessories and window blinds over the last few months so I’ve had to light to match the natural light coming through glass roofs and windows as the fitters went about demonstrating how to install their products. These videos have been shot on a minimum budget so I’ve been using my standard tungsten-halogen light kit and using various density blue gels to match the colour of the natural light.
The most recent shoot took place two days ago in the smallest space I think I’ve had to work in, the room was no more than 10ft x 5 ft and the windows and door had to be closed to enable the fitter to work and also to block external noise. To say it was hot and uncomfortable in there would be a huge understatement! If I’d fired up my Rifa 55 soft box in there I think we’d all have passed out within 20 minutes!
Luckily however I had a Litepanels 1×1 Bi-Color light with me which I had on loan from B&H so I decided to give that a go instead of the rifa. The great thing about LED lights is that they don’t get hot so even though the light did a great job of illuminating the shot it didn’t add to the already uncomfortable heat levels in the room. The other great thing about this light is that you can dial in the colour temperature to match anything from incandescent room lights through to full daylight meaning that a quick tweak of the colour dial perfectly matched the natural sunlight coming through the window without the need to mess around with blue gels and gaffers tape.
The 1×1 is also dim-able so setting the light intensity was also easy, my rifa softbox is either on or off so any adjustments to light levels on the subject are done by either moving the lights or adding some kind of diffusion material. With the 1×1 I just switched it on and dialled it in. If you’re lucky enough to have a few 1×1’s to work with you can also link them up to each other and control them all at the same time from a single unit.
LED lights are a great choice if you’re looking for something you can travel with, they’re a lot less fragile than bulb based lights and often weigh less too which can be a factor when checking in baggage. The light I’ve been using runs on both 120 and 240v mains supply so could be used in the US or Europe. You can also power it using rechargeable V-Mount batteries by adding Litepanels LP1x1-BAPV adapter plate.
The litepanels 1×1 was a great light to work with and didn’t add additional heat to an already uncomfortable situation. As with most LitePanels products though you have a pay a premium for the LED goodness, at a whopping $2,545 the LitePanels 1×1 Bi-Color is quite an investment, especially compared to a more traditional light like the Lowel Rifa 55 soft box which retails for around $440. I’ve also seen cheaper LED lights from other manufacturers appearing on the market but I’ve not been able to compare those to the Litepanels as yet so it’s difficult to say how they stack up in terms of functionality and quality. I can certainly report that the Litepanels 1×1 is a very solid unit and feels like a very professional bit of kit.
In use the 1×1 performed flawlessly, it provided a solid spread of light with no perceived flicker or unwanted changes to brightness or colour. All of the controls feel like they use high quality components, especially the two huge control wheels for brightness and colour which remind me of the kind of volume knobs you’d expect to find on a high end Hi-Fi system.
Not having to mess around with gels and diffusion was fantastic and I loved that after shooting for 4 hours I simply switched the light off and packed it away. That might sound a bit strange, but if you’ve used something like a riffa softbox before you’ll know that you really can’t touch them for at least 20 – 30 minutes after switching them off because they remain blisteringly hot for so long.
I’d love to work with a set of four of these lights and plan on investing in more of them in the future. In the meantime I’m going to be talking to B&H about hanging on to this one for now!
B&H Photo Video sell the LitePanels 1×1 Bi-Color variable LED light for $2,545 and also the whole LitePanels 1×1 range which include floods, spots, multi light kits and a range of accessories including barn doors and egg crates for controlling light spread.