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New Litepanel Sola12 vs. Conventional HMI


Robert Gardner
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Hi there,

 

I was just wondering if anyone had a chance to test the new Sola12. Am thinking of getting one for ENG and on location training videos for huge construction sites.

I am looking at the light in terms of flexibility and value for money. Also lots of times I have limited access to power or am not allowed to run a generator.

 

I never worked with Litepanels before and am a bit skeptical about them. Any advice or experience is highly appreciated.

 

Cheers,

 

Rob

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Well, Litepanels hasn't put out any photometrics on the solas, but I'm a bit skeptical. Number one, output. Seems to have spot/flood capability, which may imply the use of a fresnel lens, which would be interesting to pair with an array of LEDs. Second on output I wonder how the footcandles drop over distance. Also, in terms of durability, the spot flood is apparently controlled by a touchscreen, so if it is mechanical there's two points of failure - the servo that drives it, or the touchscreen from impact.

 

For rugged daylight source that doesn't tax on power, I'd suggest taking a look at the Arri Pocket Pars or K5600 Jokers - The Arri's are available with DC ballasts. The 200w joker has a ballast that takes a single Anton Bauer brick for field power, or for larger heads they have an inverter that can pull from two batteries. Throw two batteries in a flight case with the slimverter, wheel that onto your location, and have a punchy par source ready to go.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I saw a Sola this weekend at Cinegear, and besides being a very interesting fixture, it will not measure up against any Jokers or even the Arri mini-par 125. Its a great light but it doesn't have punch.

 

I do love Litepanels (I own a couple) because they give out a very unique light. with a quality that isn't very hard like an HMI nor soft like a Kino. In my opinion they are in a category of their own.

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Guest Trevor Swaim

Well, Litepanels hasn't put out any photometrics on the solas, but I'm a bit skeptical. Number one, output. Seems to have spot/flood capability, which may imply the use of a fresnel lens, which would be interesting to pair with an array of LEDs. Second on output I wonder how the footcandles drop over distance. Also, in terms of durability, the spot flood is apparently controlled by a touchscreen, so if it is mechanical there's two points of failure - the servo that drives it, or the touchscreen from impact.

 

These have been my concern as well. I really like the idea of a very, very cool running high output Fresnel. But I would much prefer a straight up Fresnel light. All of the Touchscreen stuff and local dimming and everything only serve to make the light more expensive and more prone to failure.

LitePanels_Fesnel_1.jpg

 

LitePanels_Fesnel_2.jpg

 

I saw a Sola this weekend at Cinegear, and besides being a very interesting fixture, it will not measure up against any Jokers or even the Arri mini-par 125. Its a great light but it doesn't have punch.

 

I do love Litepanels (I own a couple) because they give out a very unique light. with a quality that isn't very hard like an HMI nor soft like a Kino. In my opinion they are in a category of their own.

This is too bad, I personally have not fallen in love with the LitePanels after using the 1x1 versions on a few shoots, but I did have high hopes for these fresnels. I will still give them a try when they become common on the rental scene.

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These have been my concern as well. I really like the idea of a very, very cool running high output Fresnel. But I would much prefer a straight up Fresnel light. All of the Touchscreen stuff and local dimming and everything only serve to make the light more expensive and more prone to failure.

LitePanels_Fesnel_1.jpg

 

LitePanels_Fesnel_2.jpg

 

 

This is too bad, I personally have not fallen in love with the LitePanels after using the 1x1 versions on a few shoots, but I did have high hopes for these fresnels. I will still give them a try when they become common on the rental scene.

 

That touchscreen must be a bitch to operate with gloves, plus a rather that flimsy and hard to interconnect ethernet connection for DMX control. I think these might be great for work in studio grids, news and the like, but I can't really see them surviving in a rugged field use environment. Still interested in testing one, though.

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I'd consider buying one after someone (a magazine perhaps) perform a side by side test of the Sola 12 against a 2K Fresnel (any make). The test battery must include reliability in the rain, without the use of any type of rain deflector.

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post-34561-12762725479884.jpgpost-34561-12762717304806.jpgTo promote the LED light I have developed the KOMET 12, which was also at Cine Gear. The KOMET 12 has the most punch by far of any LED lights 11,000

Lumens. Using the same 6" par lenses as HMI's it very similar in punch to Joker. Plus it's waterproof to 100'. The AC to 24v power supply is connected by a 25' head cable, also available is 3 hr battery pack and car/boat power adapter. I also make the KOMET BURST, the first LED for use with JEM Balls and new at Cine Gear this year introduced the PIPE LIGHT. Total self contained LED w/built in stand & battery contained in a PIPE that deploys in seconds, for the perfect ENG light. Check my web site www.KOMETLED.com for details.

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  • 6 months later...
I was just wondering if anyone had a chance to test the new Sola12…. I never worked with Litepanels before and am a bit skeptical about them. Any advice or experience is highly appreciated.

 

I have been following the development of the Sola Fresnels with interest. While they are definitely a step in the right direction in developing a production LED light, they still don’t quite combine the advantages of LED illumination (cool-burning, energy-efficient) with the versatility and control of traditional Fresnel fixtures. If the history of film style Fluorescent lighting offers any lessons, the manufacturers of High Power LEDs will have to address several key issues before LED lighting can replace incandescent and HMI lamps in studios and on location sets powered by generators (particularly small portable generators.) For LEDs to be widely used, manufacturers must overcome their poor color rendering, poor power quality, and lack of versatility. Progress is being made, however, on many of these fronts.

 

LED_Mole_board_main.jpg

The OSRAM Kreios stage light LED module

 

Until the recent development by OSRAM of their KREIOS® LED technology, the color rendering of LED fixtures was generally pretty poor (they exhibit significant green output.) The new OSRAM KREIOS® stage light module (pictured above) uses remote phosphor technology to produce light in two exact color temperatures, Tungsten and Daylight. While, remote phosphor technology has been used for years to extend the short wavelength of Blue LEDS to create a fuller color spectrum, OSRAM was the first LED manufacturer to use remote phosphor technology to exactly match the spectral sensitivity of Tungsten and Daylight balanced film stocks. Unfortunately, the new OSRAM KREIOS® stage light module is only available in the Mole LED 12 Pack light panel (use this link for more details.)

 

A second problem inherent in LEDs that manufacturers will have to address is the relatively poor power quality generated by the Switch Mode Power Supplies (SMPSs) they use to power their lights on AC power. The SMPSs used in LED AC power supplies can draw a very distorted current, and result in current that is significantly phase-shifted with respect to the sinusoidal voltage waveform. Although values vary widely, the SMPS used in the AC power supplies of LEDs generally have a Leading Power Factor around 0.54 (Litepanel 1x1s) and high harmonic distortion (THD upwards of 68.1%). As such, the AC power supplies of LEDs can have an adverse effect on power quality similar to that of CFLs (use this link for more details.)

 

Finally, before LEDs will be widely accepted in motion picture production, manufacturers will have to engineer a fixture that has the versatility and control of traditional Fresnel fixtures. The drawback to existing LED light panels is that their light falls off very rapidly and is hard to control. These characteristics make LED light panels only suitable as Key sources in documentary interview set-ups where the Keys are typically positioned close to the interview subject. In that capacity LED light panels (with heavy diffusion) can generate a wonderful soft light that wraps around the interview subject without wilting them. However, in dramatic set lighting, where Key sources must be capable of throwing a distance, LED light panels have only limited applications as fill sources. The broad soft light they put out drops off too rapidly, and is too difficult to control, for them to be effective as a Key or Backlight source in dramatic set lighting.

 

As far as I am concerned, Litepanels has not overcome these problems with the Sola fixtures. Litepanels doesn’t give CRI ratings for the Sola Fresnels on their website, but when asked they say the CRI is in the 80s – which is still rather anemic compared to other light sources. The Power Factor of the Sola has been improved. But, at .85 it could stand further improvement (a Power Factor Corrected HMI has a Power Factor of .98 or near unity power.) They claim the 75W Sola 6 has the output equivalent to a 650W Tungsten, but comparing the photometrics published on their website to those of an Arri 650 Fresnel, the Arri has nearly three times the output of the Sola. And, while the Sola 6 has an impressive spot to flood range (10 to 70 degrees), spot/flood capability is not the only characteristic that makes a Fresnel light versatile. Of equal importance is the ability to render clearly defined shadows and cuts. The ability of Fresnels to render crisp shadows make them ideal for creating gobo effects like window or branch-a-loris patterns. The ability of Fresnels to render clearly defined cuts enables their light to be precisely cut to set pieces and talent. And, simply by adding one of a variety of diffusion material you can vary the softness of a Fresnel’s output. These are the characteristics of traditional Fresnels that make them extremely versatile, that the Sola “Fresnels” have not been able to emulate.

 

ArriLED_PS.jpg

 

However, progress is being made in the development of a true LED Fresnel. In September 2010, Arri introduced a prototype for their L-Series LED Fresnel at the European trade show, IBC 2010. As is evident in a demo video that was recorded at the show (available at www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/emailnewsletter_generators.html#anchorLED%20Fresnel ), Arri may have finally engineered a fixture that combines the cool-burning, energy-efficient advantages of LED illumination with the controllable versatility of traditional Fresnel fixtures. Not only is the beam of the Arri L-series Fresnel continuously focusable from spot to flood; but it is also easily controlled with barndoors and flags. Just like conventional Fresnels, the light of the L-Series Fresnels can be precisely cut to set pieces and talent. And, while CRI ratings are not available (the L-Series Fresnels are still in the prototype stage), Arri promises on their website “broad spectral output (such that), skin tones, costumes and scenery will appear vivid and lifelike.” With the clear and defined shadow rendering, excellent field homogeneity, and smooth continuous flood to spot focus demonstrated in the IBC 2010 show video, Arri has clearly engineered the first true LED Fresnel. And, if they can deliver on their promise of “broad spectral output”, Arri may well have the first true production LED light (use this link for more details.)

 

For more detailed information on the Power Quality generated by LED power supplies and to see the demonstration video of the new Arri L-Series LED Fresnels, use this link to an article I wrote for our company newsletter on the use of portable generators in motion picture lighting. In it I cover some of the basic electrical engineering principles behind LED drivers, the harmonic distortion they can generate, and how it can adversely affect generators. This article is cited in the just released 4th Edition of Harry Box's "Set Lighting Technician's Handbook" and featured on the companion website "Box Book Extras." The article and video are available online at http://www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/emailnewsletter_generators.html.

 

Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lightng & Grip Rental in Boston

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