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LED Studio Instruments: just around the corner, or way far off?

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Dave LaRonde
LED Studio Instruments: just around the corner, or way far off?
on May 12, 2008 at 9:44:19 pm

I work at a TV station transitioning to HD. The Powers That Be think it would be a good idea to replace our Kliegl Bros instruments designed in the days of Busby Berkley. I say it was high time decades ago.

What's the current state of HD studio lighting? Are LED instruments beginning to make their presence known, or does the Kino-Flo still dominate?

I personally like the idea of an LED instrument's reduced size, weight and power consumption, but if they're not yet any good, so be it.

Who are the companies to watch for such things?

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Jonathan Howells
Re: LED Studio Instruments: just around the corner, or way far off?
on May 21, 2008 at 8:10:50 am

HI there,

I'm also pretty excited and curious about LED lights. It would seem one of the leaders in LED right now is 'Lite Panels'.

http://www.litepanels.com

They are advertising a lot, winning awards and getting a lot of buzz.
Their 1x1 LED panel is not cheap -compared to a Kino Flo 4x4 - they are about 20% more expensive, and I don't know how their output throw compares.

Some top DPs are raving about them.

For small table top lighting, LitePads by Rosco are also very versatile.

http://www.rosco.com/us/video/litepad.asp

I am about to invest in either a Lite Panel 1x1 or a Kino Flo Diva Lite 400, and so I'm also wondering which will be right for my small studio.

I will provide more insights when I complete my research.

Jonathan



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Dan Brockett
Re: LED Studio Instruments: just around the corner, or way far off?
on May 25, 2008 at 3:58:11 am

Just beware, the LitePanels 1x1 fixtures change color temp pretty radically when dimmed. Wish they didn't but they do. Litepanels was at NAB to announce a whole new studio lighting division so maybe they will lick this problem and capture some studio tv business.

Dan

Providing value added material to all of your favorite DVDs


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Gary Hazen
Re: LED Studio Instruments: just around the corner, or way far off?
on May 25, 2008 at 8:45:29 pm

Element Labs

http://www.elementlabs.com/VersaBANKII.html




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Dennis Size
Re: LED Studio Instruments: just around the corner, or way far off?
on May 28, 2008 at 5:34:35 am

Really? Define "pretty radically".

DS



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Dan Brockett
Re: LED Studio Instruments: just around the corner, or way far off?
on May 28, 2008 at 4:41:16 pm

Hi:

I don't own a color meter but let's just say, "visible and obvious to the naked eye and on the monitor hooked to the camera". I would estimate perhaps 500-800 degrees K?

Have heard this same feedback from several other DPs. If they are your sole source, just manual white balance, not a problem. But since they are advertised as basically dimmable without color temp change, this could be a significant factor for certain situations.

As I stated, if they are going for the television market where dimmer boards are standard equipment, they will rectify this if they are to succeed. But for ENG/EFP now with just a few 1x1 panels, this can be a dealbreaker.

Best,

Dan

Providing value added material to all of your favorite DVDs


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Dennis Size
Re: LED Studio Instruments: just around the corner, or way far off?
on May 29, 2008 at 1:20:00 am

GOOD GUESS!

I have measured the color temperature drop as a maximum of 500 fc from full to dimmed out to 0. In the scheme of things however -- compared to incandescent sources (that many of us use all the time) that shift is nothing. (of course I'm not dealing with film).

I use the lite panels (both mini and 1'x 1' versions) extensively and have bought dozens upon dozens upon dozens for clients of mine -- who have had no complaints whatsoever.

Recently I consulted on the relighting of the WHITE HOUSE PRESS ROOM. Three major issues were heat (the fixtures must generate none), power (there were only a few 20 amp drops available for the entire room's lighting compliment), and color temperature (One whole wall is windowed exposing daylight into the room, and the shooters run in from outside to shoot inside, not to mention the myriad of still press photographers who require constant color temperature).
I used 50, 1'-0" x 1'-0" Daylight Lite panels (a mix of spot and flood) -- dimmed and dmx controlled via an ETC SMARTFADE. The fixtures light the presidential podium and the reverse angle shots of the audience (reporters) and was quite a successful design.

DS




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Dan Brockett
Re: LED Studio Instruments: just around the corner, or way far off?
on May 29, 2008 at 2:08:21 am

Hi Dennis:

I have seen your work, nice job. I don't think it is an unforgivable sin that their light temp swings when dimmed except for the fact that they advertise and promote the product as "dims 100% to 0 with minimal color shift", which IMHO is patently false. To me, a 500 to 800k shift is far from minimal.

But I love their smaller products (DV, etc.), hate the LitePanels Micro, it is a very substandard build quality and is basically disposable. I think that they are a company that has a lot of potential to be great once they get their act together and pay attention to the details and stop letting their marketing people drive the product.

1. The Micro would be MUCH better if it retailed for $80.00 more with a 50% increase in build quality. The concept, size and battery source is superb but the build quality is really bad.

2. The LitePanels 1x1 product is fine as is, they just need to revise their advertising and marketing and stop falsely promoting it's dimming capabilities. It's a credibility issue with professionals who could be potential customers like me.

Nice gig, how do you get a gig lighting the White House Press Room?

Dan

Providing value added material to all of your favorite DVDs


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Dennis Size
Re: LED Studio Instruments: just around the corner, or way far off?
on May 29, 2008 at 10:34:46 pm

Wow.....you are most certainly a big believer of "truth in advertising". You should buy a color meter and let the law suits commence. You'll find that 90% of the 3200 degree kelvin lamps you check will not be at 3200K -- as advertised on the box. Exacting color temperature standards are a myth -- which is why god created color correction media.
Frankly I wouldn't consider a 500 degree color temperature shift over the entire range of a dimming curve to be extreme (and I've measured it at 500 MAX (no where near 800.

As to why I get various gigs, I suppose it's because I answer the phone, and then say, "Yes." .... sometimes to my regret ---as in the case of tomorrow morning's GOOD MORNING AMERICA on ABC, which I'm going in to light in a few hours. We're broadcasting LIVE from New York City's Bryant Park, with several concert performances by USHER. Tune in and watch (perhaps you'll see me vomitting in the background). The Usher peformances will be on in the last half hour of the show ((8:30-9:00am Eastern time).

DS



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Dan Brockett
Re: LED Studio Instruments: just around the corner, or way far off?
on May 29, 2008 at 11:08:30 pm

Hi Dennis:

Yes, but no tungsten instrument is advertised as negligible color temp shift when dimmed as the LitePanels 1x1 are. Everyone knows that tungsten gets much warmer as it is dimmed but the LEDs are new technology. Because they are new technology, I feel that it is important that their advantages are presented truthfully. The 1x1s are costly and it irks me when marketing geeks "make things better than they really are", just to sell product.

Luckily I rented one but if I would have bought one, I would have been really excited to have a soft broad soft source that holds it's temp as its dimmed, could be a nice key light for interviews with some flagging. When I would have experienced the shift, I would have returned it as the product doesn't do what it's maker claims it will.

I will look for you in the BG, sounds like another nice gig.

Best,

Dan

Providing value added material to all of your favorite DVDs


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Dave LaRonde
Re: LED Studio Instruments: just around the corner, or way far off?
on May 29, 2008 at 11:25:17 pm

Okay, just to get back to the original point of this thread....

...it sounds like if our station wants to get all-new studio lights for an HD news set, we're probably smart using Kino-Flos for the larger areas, and using LitePanels or something similar for all those nooks & crannies HD news sets seem to have. Currently we have tons of 1kw incandescent Kliegl Bros Fresnells, so just about anything's an improvement.

Does that sound about right? Am I missing anything obvious, like radical color temperature differences?



Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Dennis Size
Re: LED Studio Instruments: just around the corner, or way far off?
on May 29, 2008 at 11:34:18 pm

In a word ...no.
Stick with KINO-Flo's and good old-fashioned incandescent fixtures. LED technology is no where near advanced enough for full-scale studio useage. Although I came to the Lite Panel defense, I only use them in studios as desk or camera eyelights. Unless your studio height is only 10'-0" the Lite Panels will be ineffectual.
DS



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Dennis Size
Re: LED Studio Instruments: just around the corner, or way far off?
on May 29, 2008 at 11:40:31 pm

I think you should raise your objections to the manufacturer and be the champion of "truth in advertising" and precise manufacturing specifications. Actually the thing that drove me crazy about the 1' x 1' (daylight version) was the fact that it's color was so "green". I found myself always using 1/8 minus green -- or even 1/4 -- to bring the color quality closer to real daylight. I complained about this (as did many others, I'm sure) and now if you buy a brand new model you'll see that the front lens has 1/8 minus green actually bonded to it.

DS



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Dan Brockett
Re: LED Studio Instruments: just around the corner, or way far off?
on May 29, 2008 at 11:48:03 pm

Hi Dennis:

Frankly, I would only do this if I were serious about purchasing their product and I am not. IMHO, LEDs are not quite ready for prime time for my needs, too high cost for too low output. Not sure if I have that much David Horowitz in me, but I will think about it.

Too much green, huh? And they fixed it? That's cool. It sounds as if with any many thousands of dollars you are worth to them in sales and word of mouth, you are the guy to raise the issue ;-)

Dan

Providing value added material to all of your favorite DVDs


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scott stueckle
Re: LED Studio Instruments: just around the corner, or way far off?
on Aug 20, 2008 at 9:59:23 pm

dennis: just a note. since we've been working with element labs, the kelvin(tm) tile, specifically, we haven't noticed very much shift (the thread quote is a 500k shift with lite panels) on the fixture using calibrated, 6-color blend leds. there are other design level issues to resolve in the led industry, but we ran a lot of tests including mired shift during dimming and have not seen much shift with the led lamp products used in the element labs kelvin(tm) tile. perhaps the bin-picked leds used by most other led fixture manufacturers are less stable than the 6-color led designs that can be balanced to white.

-s



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Robert Kennedy
Re: LED Studio Instruments: just around the corner, or way far off?
on Oct 12, 2011 at 4:28:51 am

*Guys, I know this is super long. Excuse the long length, but I am very passionate about what I am writing about. When it came to LED's I use to buy overly expensive brands like Litepanels. Finding these two new manufacturers helped me save tens of thousands of dollars while finally getting LED lights that can be used for someone needing professional footage.*

I've been playing around with LED's the last few years. In the beginning I was very turned off by the over-the-top price tags but still had to purchase LED's for the type of work that I do. Still, even in 2011 some manufacturer's (LitePanels in particular) price tags irk me. Then about 2 years ago I found some new manufacturers that I was really impressed with in terms of quality, light output, features, and price, Socanland and CamLight.

To start off with, they have fantastically bright lux/meter ratios. The CamLights seem to get a bit more lux/meter per wattage than the Socanland's do. The Socanland's are still bright and have a very strong build quality with their aluminum frames. My only gripe with Socanlands are that they are a bit heavier than your normal LED light panel. But at the same time it pays off having a strong aluminum frame instead of plastic like Litepanles have. When helping out friends and colleagues choose the right LED light, I always like to tell people that CamLight is like Apple with it's ultra thin, creative, and attractive designs while Socanland is like Windows with its very conventional layout that has the ability of adding about any feature and/or accessory you want. Socanland uses the most common size layout, 1'x1'(50 series, choose either 50W or 100W). They also have a smaller model, 9.5"x9.5" (30 series, 35W) and a larger model which is 1'x2' (100 series, 100W). What I love about Socanland is that you can choose exactly what you need and exactly what you don't need. On either of the 3 series (30,50, or 100) you can choose to have it in 3200k, 5600k, bi-color (can change color temp. without filters), bi-focus (can change from spot to flood electronically), and you can add DMX ports if you need them. Their bi-color models don't lose any lighting output like other manufactures because they add twice as many LED's compared to their non-bi-color counterparts. You also get to choose an Anton Bauer Gold Mount or V-Mount Battery Plate at no extra charge. Whatever you need, it can be done. Just choose which size you want from the 3 series and then choose if you want to add any of the features that I listed above (keep in mind you choose 3200K OR 5600K OR bi-color OR bi-focus, you can't mix and match the features just because there isn't any LED light that can combine the technology at this point in time). You can add DMX to any of the models and you can also add a digital screen to the 50 or 100 series. Their lights all have very impressive lux/meter ratios and have very accurate color temperatures. All of their lights are dimmable.

All of the CamLlights are dimmable as well, but they don't give you as many choices when it comes to which features to add on to which model. That is my only gripe. Like Socanland, they have 3200k, 5600k, bi-color, bi-focus, and DMX available, but you don't get to add them on to any model. The model either has it or it doesn't. My personal favorites are the CamLight SL-9900, SL-7500, and SL-3300. The SL-9900 is their most expensive model, but it is also their brightest (99W/1800Lux/3M). The main feature in it is the bi-focus function. On this model, the LED's can literally twist inwards to form a spotlight or outwards to form a flood light. It's very new technology and its one of a kind; CamLight is the only manufacturer with this technology at this time. Watching the 9900 move is nothing short of mesmerizing, check out this video (http://vimeo.com/22498953). When I'm not using it as a key light, I am using it as a piece of artwork to show guests (not even kidding). One of the best parts is that it produces 1800lux/3 meters. Many large panels don't even produce 1800 lux at 1 meter (LitePanels bi-focus model produces only 1500Lux/M and that costs $2600)! I purchased my SL-9900 for about $2000, but there is a deal from the company that I bought it from so you can get it a couple hundred dollars cheaper now. If you don't need such a large and bright light, I would recommend the smaller version, the PL-4000 (45W, 1600Lux/2 Meters, about $800).

If you want another bright light but don't need bi-focus and don't want to spend as much, I would recommend the CamLight SL-7500. This is an 80W (1200W equivalent) light and you choose to have either 3200k or 5600k. It produces 1400Lux/3 Meters and is approximately 1'x1.5'. Its super slim too, about 1.5 inches and is very light (maybe 5 lbs.). You can get this model with either 2 V-Mount/AB Gold Mount Battery Plates or with DMX ports. Both models are approximately $1000.

If you want bi-color, I would recommend the SL-3300. It has about 37W but produces more light than many other LED lights that use 60W (900Lux/2M). I would say its about equivalent to a 700W halogen in terms of brightness. Its about 10"x14" and is super slim (1.5 inches) and very light (3 lbs). It comes with either a V-Mount or Gold Mount battery plate.

As far as I know, there is only one company in the U.S. that sells Socanland and Camlight products. The company is called Intellytech, their website is http://www.it-photovideo.com. Overall, I had a very pleasant experience with them. I have ordered over 10 LED studio panels from them over the last year and they always get the lights to me about 2 days after my purchase, very accessible as well. I had an issue with one of the lights because one was rear-ended in an accident with me on the highway. I sent it back to them and they repaired it for free even knowing that I created the damage.

I hope this helps those looking to buy LED light panels. Sorry I never said I recommend one manufacturer over the other, its just too hard! Either way, look into the features that they offer along with lighting output to size up which lights are best for you. There are several other Studio and ENG lights that I didn't talk about (just because I haven't used them). They also have a ton of on-camera lights which are fantastic and very affordable. Can't go wrong with these two manufacturer's!

PS: For those new to LED's, I never mentioned that all of the models that I wrote about are fully portable (besides the CamLight SL-9900). You just throw a battery pack on them and can take them anywhere. All Socanland's come with a battery plate (and allow you to add DMX if needed). Most CamLights let you choose to have EITHER a battery plate OR DMX. Another great feature of LED lights is that they are so much lighter than conventional lights and they produce no heat (so you can get close to your subjects without making them sweat). All of the lights that I mentioned have a dimmer and are flicker free. Write if you have any questions!


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David Amphlett
Re: LED Studio Instruments: just around the corner, or way far off?
on Jul 2, 2008 at 4:33:08 pm


You cannot accurately measure LED light sources with a conventional hand held colour temperature meter.

Photographic Colour Temperature Meters and LED light sources

The human eye exhibits characteristic variation in spectral response over the 380 – 760nm range of the electromagnetic spectrum, referred to as the photopic response. Photometry is the science of measuring light scaled to how the human eye would see it. The eye’s photopic response is the reason why we see one unit of green light as being much brighter than one unit of blue or red light. The eye is most sensitive to yellow-green light (specifically at 555nm), a colour that corresponds to the peak wavelength of sunlight that reaches the earth’s surface.

In photometry it is essential to use light meters which have the spectral responsivity that matches the standard photopic observer. Photometers generally use silicon or selenium photodetectors to convert the optical radiation into an electrical current. However the spectral responsivity of these photodetectors does not match that of the human eye. The solution to the spectral mismatch is to use a series of subtractive glass filters which scale the inherent silicon or selenium response curve to match as closely as possible the CIE luminous efficiency function.

Filter photometers are normally calibrated using an incandescent reference lamp (a CIE standard illuminant A filament lamp operating at a colour temperature of 2856K). Any filter photometer that is calibrated with an Illuminant A source will be inherently accurate (typically +/- 3%) when used to measure other incandescent sources using 2856K lamp.

Photographic colour temperature meters, such as the popular Minolta III F, determine the colour temperature of a source according to the ratio between the intensity of light in the blue region and that in the red region of the spectrum; the resulting value expressed in degrees Kelvin, and is referred to as ‘photographic colour temperature’, since it is determined based on characteristics of colour film. Higher B/R ratios result in higher photographic colour temperatures. However, this method of light source evaluation assumes that the spectral distribution of the light source is continuous with no sharp peaks, such as those of sunlight and many tungsten lamps.

Although colour temperature meters can provide colour temperature readings for light sources with dis-continuous spectral power emissions or which contain sharp peaks (such as those of LEDs and florescent lamps) such readings are almost certainly going to be misleading and inaccurate. They are not going to provide a good guide to how the photographic emulsion or electronic chip with react to the light source. Therefore using such meters as any guide is discouraged.

White LEDs, multi-colour LEDs and other problem light sources

The Minolta Colour Meter III for instance uses three sensors, one each for blue, green and red, to measure the light from the source and determine the filtration required. It will provide accurate results for a variety of common light sources but not LEDs. Light sources with peaks (or line spectra) in their spectral power distribution will cause problematic readings. Light sources such as those using white or multi-colour LEDs, sodium lamps, mercury lamps, metal-halide lamps, and some florescent lamps, such as three narrow band lamps cannot be read with a photographic colour temperature meter. Under such light sources it is also not possible to reproduce all colours regardless of any added filtration.

The following readings were taken using 8 samples of ‘Tungsten balanced’ white LEDs, (commonly called ‘warm white’) from two leading manufacturers driven at 350mA

They were both read using a recently calibrated Minolta II colour temperature meter and Bentham Colour Analyser and integrating sphere taking 200 readings between 380nm and 780nm and 2nm intervals. All bar one of the samples produced an Ra colour rendering value in excess of 86.


Meter Readings Bentham Readings
Sample No Meter K Meter CC Approx K
Sample 1 3460 +2 3330
Sample 2 3470 +2 3340
Sample 3 3800 -1 3280
Sample 4 3730 +1 3280
Sample 5 3620 +1 3220
Sample 6 3490 +3 3070
Sample 7 3380 +4 3160
Sample 8 3550 +3 3290

Using the Bentham results samples 7 and 8 were the best in terms of proximity to the target 3200K and in proximity to the Panckian Locus but the meter readings indicated both samples 7 and 8 the furthest from the Black body line and colder than they were in terms of CCT.

The only way a user could overcome this evaluation problem in the field would be to use a spectroradiometer instead of a filter photometer. A spectroradiometer uses a monochrome or spectrometer to separate the light from the sample into its constituent wavelengths and to sample every nanometre or two. From the raw spectral radiant data, the spectroradiometer software will compute the photometric quantity. The accuracy of spectroradiometric measurements of photometric quantities are inherently more accurate than those performed using filter photometers.

Hope this helps

Regards


David Amphlett
MD

http://www.gekkotechnology.com







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