LEDs are the future, but we’re fortunate to have them here and now. Litepanels has a new offering-the 1x1 Bi-Color, an LED light source that’s both a 3200 degrees K (tungsten) and 5600 degrees K (daylight).
by Chuck Gloman
Listing for $2,995, the Litepanels Bi-Color is an extremely versatile light that consumes very little energy (only 45 watts), gives off no heat, lasts up to 100,000 hours, is dimmable in both daylight and tungsten (or mixes both at the same time), runs on AC or DC, and gives off a soft, even light.
Great for portraits or interviews, I love the fact that you can look through the “holes” in the back of the light to aim it. Our university already has the Litepanels 1x1, but now we can mix color temperatures without resorting to using the slide-in CTO gels. The gels are a good idea, but they cut down the output of the light and most LED lights do not have that far of a throw when it comes to light output.
Dialing in less tungsten and more daylight gives a warm glow; and at three feet, the light is close enough to make eyes sparkle. With 1,128 light emitting diodes (yes, I counted them), 564 being daylight and the other 564 being tungsten balanced, you have a surprisingly bright source of illumination. The LEDs reside behind a clear piece of plastic, which has a slot for the optional six-piece CTO or six-piece CTB gel set. The rear features two rotating knobs: The left knob (color), operates either the daylight balanced or tungsten balanced LEDs and allows both of them to illuminate if the dial is in the 12 o’clock position. The right knob increases or decreases the intensity of the LEDs via dimming-all the way down to zero. An on/off rocker switch strikes the unit and a small 24V DC receptacle accesses the power.
Placed four feet from the subject at full illumination, 100 foot-candles of light (1,100 lux) will bathe your talent in a soft, cool or warm glow. Moving the light back to eight feet cuts the output by more than half (34 foot-candles or 370 lux), but LED lights were meant to be used up close-not far away.
Using Kelly as our model, I placed the Bi-Color light three feet to her left and got 480 foot-candles on the full daylight setting. Illuminating the daylight and tungsten, the foot-candles jumped to 640 at the same distance. Because of its strength, the Bi-Color was used as my key source. I had intended to use a piece of foam core as a fill source, but by positioning the light closer to the front of Kelly’s face, I no longer needed a fill source. Since Kelly has olive skin, I dialed in less tungsten and more daylight to give her a warm glow. The light was close enough (three feet) to totally illuminate her and still give her eyes that sparkle you only can get from a close source of light. Giving off no heat, the 1x1 Bi-Color is comfortable close to the talent without spilling too much illumination on the background. For our shoot we needed the talent to be lit and not the surroundings.
Again, having a light that’s both daylight and tungsten makes it extremely versatile for all shooting situations. If extra warmth or coolness is needed, it is simply dialed in. The dimmer is also a great feature, although I don’t use it too often-I’d rather just move the light closer or farther away as the situation warrants.
Drawing less power than a 50 watt incandescent lamp, you can use the Bi-Color all day with no discomfort to the talent and very little impact to your electric bill.
If traveling, you do not need to carry a large case of lights. The Bi-Color is small enough to fit in any carry on bag and one of my colleagues wished he had had this light for a recent trip to Singapore.
This is as close to the perfect source of illumination that I have seen in a while. This could be your only source of high power, long lasting, eco-friendly, indoor or outdoor lighting. For the price, where else will you find something that does this much and draws so little power?
Chuck Gloman is program director of the TV/Film Department as well as a member of the faculty at DeSales University. He may be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.