NEW GEAR: Litepanels Sola 4 and Croma
LED Lighting will continue to grow in my opinion and become a greater and greater part of how we light things in the cine/docu/photo world. To date a major limitation has been power… most LED cannot output enough light to fight daylight. But as you’ll see in the upcoming year or two – that barrier is about to be breached. That makes things very interesting as we will need to rely a bit less on hot lights (literally burning hot lights) as well as generators as many of these lights can be adapted to work of batteries such as the Anton Bauer Dionics all the way up to the big Anton Bauer "lunch box."
Litepanels has recently released two new lights that are pretty cool for filmmakers. The first is the Sola 4, which is the younger sibling to the Sola 6, a DMX controllable light, with an embedded touch screen. And while the Sola 4 does not have the touchscreen control, it does have DMX input for control from a lighting board which can make this a pretty versatile tool especially if you don’t have easy physical access to the light. What I find of particular interest for filmmakers is that they are fresnel lights, which are a staple of Hollywood and the film industry. They are named "fresnel" for the lens that the lights have at the front of their casing. This lens provides a uni-directional source that can be more accurately controlled than say the 1×1 Series lights, which are less controllable in terms of how focused the light is. A significant improvement over traditional fresnel lights is of course the fact that these lights are LED – so they don’t get incredibly hot. A Traditional 1k fresnel pulls 1000W of power out of the wall, and outputs an equivalent amount. The Sola 4 pulls just 30W from the wall, and outputs up to 300W (the Sola 6 is 75W/650W). You can also dim these light from 0 – 100% brightness, which is not possible on traditional 1k fresnels unless you have a separate ballast. Therefore these lights give you a pretty incredible level of control relative to traditional lights.
The other light is called the Croma. This light appears to be an evolution of the MicroPro. Like the MicroPro it is either stand- or camera-mountable, can be run off AC power or AA batteries, draws 9W of power, and outputs approx. 50W of soft LED light. The added advantage of the Croma is its adjustable color temperature (like the 1×1 Bicolors) – from 3200 to 5600 degrees (tungsten to daylight). Also like the MicroPro, this light seems to be most valuable to documentarians or photojournalists in run n’ gun shooting conditions. However, with the aid of the Croma, they will now be able to adjust the temperature of their camera-top light so that it can match the ambient light and look more natural. I’m not as in love w/ the design of the Croma as I am with the MicroPro (it’s built like a tank – or a brick to be more accurate) but the ability to adjust color temperature is a big plus… to some AAs may also be welcome. Like the MicroPro it does have a 1/4-20 mounting port on the base of the unit.