Focusable LEDs and focusable LED knockoffs
I'm a relative newbie to documentary film and video production, and I tend to default to Kino Flo Divas and 1x1 LED Lite Panels to light interviews - primarily for convenience since it's usually just me or me and one other person on shoots, and since they draw less power and are more forgiving for those of us who know less about lighting!
I'm really curious about these new focusable LEDs though. I recently did a 2-day lighting bootcamp where we only used hard lights, and I realized how much I've been missing out on, in terms of my ability to control the look of a shoot with lights. I was hoping people could tell me about their experiences with focusable LEDs... whether they live up to the manufacturers' claims about the amount of light they give off, whether they introduce new problems (I've heard the fans can be loud), and generally what you liked and what you didn't.
I'm also intrigued by these cheap knockoffs, which seem risky for a number of reasons, but very appealing on a price level. Does anyone have experience with this company CAME? http://www.came-tv.com/bicolor-3-x-100w-led-fresnel-light-spotlight-video-l...
Thanks so much for your help, COW Community!
Terrific that you have discovered some of the possibilities of hard light. As for these CAME lights, indeed, the price is right. Alas, the photos make it clear these units do not contain Fresnel lenses at all. They appear to be much more like raw PAR lights.
San Francisco Bay Area
Thanks Rick! Do you mind clarifying what you mean by PAR lights?
PAR's are parabolic reflectors... like the clamp-on "chicken incubator" type worklights you find at the hardware store.
PARs come in several versions, but they all are essentially units that put out raw light, as opposed to the light from a Fresnel unit. Watt for watt they produce more light intensity than the Fresnels. Some PARs are like auto headlights, self-contained, sealed units. Some, such as most of the HMI types, take various different lenses on the front that modify their output somewhat. None of them duplicate a Fresnel. I suspect that your eye-opening workshop worked with Fresnels.
San Francisco Bay Area
Not to highjack this thread, but maybe you guys (Rick?) can shed some light (haa... see what I did there?) on why so many people seem to prefer PARs (in the HMI world) to fresnels?
All of my HMIs are fresnels. On the occasions that we have to rent any additional firepower we always get PARs, because that's all people (at least around here) seem to have in their rental inventory. I hate PARs compared to fresnels. Fresnels just seem sooo much easier to use... and if I never have to swap out a hot lens in a PAR again it will still be too soon. So much easier to just twist a knob to focus. Much more precise, too.
So... why the love affair with PARs? Is it the light output? Am I missing something? And I apologize if I have asked this question before... which seems familiar to me, but apparently the answer didn't stick.
As for those LED knockoffs that claim to be fresnels... Mark is right, the housing is shaped like a fresnel instrument, but the front lens element clearly is not. Still, I'd like to play with one. I'm curious as to how hard the light actually is, or whether those barn doors are as useless as they are on most other LED instruments.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Just saw this thread and would like to revive it to a degree, it is interesting!
To try and answer Todd's question, I like both fresnels and Pars, but for the way I use them, I prefer Pars for the higher output. I agree that swapping the lenses can be a pain, but I use my 1200 LTM's mainly in two circumstances: To get enough raw firepower to diffuse in various ways for a super-soft keylight and to create blazing hot "sunlight" effects that don't necessarily have to be precisely controlled. Also, while you don't get exactly the same spot/flood performance, you can always get a fresnel lens to put on a Par light to regain some degree of the control...but you can't really safely do the reverse to get more output from a fresnel. Bottom line is that both have their applications, but for my aesthetic and since I can't easily afford to have both types in equal number, I go with the higher output for more flexibility and flag where necessary. However, while we're on the topic of daylight-balanced fresnels.....
I LOVE my Zylight f8 fresnel LED. It is quite pricey to be sure, but less than it's small HMI lux equivalent and it can do so much more with less accessories. It has a true, honest-to-goodness 8" glass fresnel that spots and floods via a bellows-type operation, which allows it to retract to about 4", making it highly portable. It can be battery-operated and has great color. I've never used them, but Mole Richardson makes some LED fresnels that on paper look pretty good too, and they are cheaper (albeit larger with lower CRI) than the Zylight. Hope this can help you out Shannon (and others)!
I just saw Todd's query from January, and Erik's recent reply. I think Erik nails it as to why PARs are so useful. That said, different DPs have different styles and practices. For myself, if I had to pick just one 1200 HMI unit, I'd go with the PAR and a set of lenses because of their versatility. If not limited, I'd get a mix of both.
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
Thanks Rick! I agree completely with your assessment as well, ideally you want both. If I wanted a strong daylight source to be more controllable and "paint" with that color temp, or perhaps as a good fill, than a fresnel is the better choice. My regular gaffer has a couple of the older DeSisti 575 fresnels, and their light quality and design is simply beautiful. Would love to have both types in equal abundance but....$$$. Gotta go with the more flexible unit until I can afford both!
I have a lot of experience between the focusable (bi-focus) LED's and the color changing LED's (bi-color). I have found that it is more useful to take something that is originally bi-color and dimmable and then alter the angle/direction of the light than to use a bi-focus (focusable) light in the first place.
To be able to change the direction of a light you need to add-on specific accessories made to do this. Most accessories are made to fit lights that are 1'x1' so its important to choose a light with the 1x1 frame. My favorite LED light choice is the Socanland 1x1 LED Light Panels. I will add more to this later.
The best ways to alter and focus LED light panels are via accessories like a Chimera 1650 LED Lightbank (softbox). The Chimera allows you to insert various degree changing covers (5 degrees, 30 degrees, etc). If your willing to get a little creative, you can also insert light blocks within the Chimera to achieve unique lighting effects. You can also use your more basic accessories like diffusion or barn-doors in a lot of situations to help direct and spread the light.
There are also metal honeycomb grids that can make the light 25 degrees or 45 degrees.
I'm currently using various Socanland LED Light Panels which I have come to love. The standard model I use is the Socanland 50CTD. This is a 50 watt, bi-color 1x1 LED Light Panel with ample power (2-3 times brighter than a Litepanels 1x1 bi-color). Its definitely brighter than other competitors like F&V, iKan, Coolights, etc and with a much better build quality (metal not plastic). It also has fantastic, accurate color temperatures whether shooting with Tungsten, Daylight, or the temperatures in-between. Dimmable from 0-100% and comes standard as a 60 degree flood.
I also added onto my LED Light Kit a model that just came out called the Socanland Nova-CTD. It's identical to the 50CTD but double the output due to the fact that its twice the wattage with twice as many LED's. This model is 4-5 times brighter than a 1x1 bi-color Litepanels light. You can actually use it outdoors while the sun is out. Like the 50CTD it's also a bi-color, dimmable, 60 degree flood.
I should also mention that I heard news about the Socanland 50CTD and the single color Nova-CD soon being available in a 30 degree spot around the beginning of July 2014. Not sure if that's accurate or if it will change the price of the lights in any way.
When you use various tools (either on their own or together) like the Chimera 1650, barn-doors, diffusion, and honeycombs, you get a ton of control out of the lights. Again, I find it most useful to be able to change the color temperature and the output levels via the color knob and dimming knob and then alter the focus of the LED's light with extra tools/accessories made specifically to alter the focus of the light's direction (spot/flood/lighting effects). Hope that helps!
Here are links to the products that I just mentioned:
Socanland 50CTD 1x1, 50W Bi-Color LED Light Panel: http://www.intellytechusa.com/collections/products-of-the-week/products/soc...
Socanland Nova-CTD 1x1, 100W Bi-Color LED Light Panel: http://www.intellytechusa.com/collections/products-of-the-week/products/nov...
Socanland Nova-CD, 100W Single Color 1x1: http://www.intellytechusa.com/collections/led-light-panels/products/socanla...
Chimera 1650 (fits Socanland 1x1 and other 1x1 LED Light Panels: http://www.intellytechusa.com/collections/accesories/products/chimera-1650-...
Hi Mr. Kennedy,
Thank you for that outlay in the Socanland. PLEASE tell me you aren't getting paid for promos. I just want to come away with the thought I just read a review from a very enthusiastic customer. I've been bashing my head against a wall researching LED, CRI and spill control. For several months.
With all respect, truly,