1×1 LitePanels

1x1_LitePanels

OMG!

Now I know that’s not the best way to begin a review but quite frankly that is my overwhelming reaction to the 1‚óä1 LitePanels.

I’d been looking at these already for a travel program to be shot later in the year. Due to their physical weight and low power consumption they seemed to be a very practical solution to the problem I was facing of being in locations with little to no electricity at all.

National Geographic US asked me to include a set on a docu-drama I was shooting with them at the time which gave me a great opportunity to spark them up in anger. I was immediately hooked. So often kit promises the world and fails to deliver, but these were like the kid at school you underestimated before he turned around and blew you out of the water. Small and lightweight but punchy with plenty of stamina.

One of the scenarios I was faced with was lighting a Roman Tavern in a 16th century barn which was better described as a ruin with a roof! This provided me with a two-fold problem. 1: Being faithful to period lighting conditions and 2: Lighting without a reliable power source.

I was sceptical that the LitePanels would be enough to light the room in question so we strung out a cable from a nearby house which I figured would reliably give me a 1K pull at best and I had my Diva on standby too. While consulting with the director I had my assistant rig the diva and litepanels and stand them to the side of the set. Always better to look at it than look for it.

When I turned back to the set I asked Reese, (my assistant) to fire up the 1x1s and quite frankly I was staggered. Combined with replica paraffin lamps they were too much!

What I immediately loved about them was the beautiful quality of light that comes off them. It’s a really punchy yet soft light source. We were shooting with a mix of Panasonic P2 and Canon 5D and I have to say the 5D plays really nicely with the litepanels, with incredible detail and a really natural light quality.

The second thing I loved about them was their bi-colour function. Daylight to tungsten in one dimmer-dial, no more looking for gels and croc clips. Its great when you want to dial in a smidgen of warmth or cold into your shadows for example.

That leads me to the third thing I found brilliant. Speed. As a cinematographer I like to work quickly. I’m forever pulling things off my rigs and I always find by working quickly you retain a nice energy and momentum amongst your crew and cast. Anything that gets fidgety gets cast aside. I ditched the RedRock rig off the 5D on the first shot of a 10 day shoot. Not because of RedRock’s quality, we’ve got some of their stuff already but because of the dodgy monitoring connector out of the 5D to the Marshall monitor. I’m simply not up for pressing record and then some other random button twice before I carry on shooting. If you want me to spend my good money on your kit make it work right first time!

I digress however. My point was that the LitePanels make you work far faster on set. You can dim them down to nothing, put them anywhere due to their size, ( that?s 1ft x 1ft ), and you can alter the colour temperature in a heartbeat. Three days into the shoot I was even using them in place of reflectors.

We were in the barn for a day and a half in freezing temperatures and were typically getting 4 hours per light off an endura7. We worked in extreme close up to long and wideshots. In all honesty I couldn’t fault them, there didn’t seem to be a weakness.

The only thing I couldn’t vouch for was durability but they are a simple design and should fare well.

Sell your Diva’s, a new queen has ascended!

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