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Litepanels Croma LED – a mini review

By Matt Allard

Litepanels has been one of the big players in LED lighting in recent years.  I have used their 1×1 LED lights for the past few years and have found them to very good.  I have used them in extreme locations and weather conditions and they have never failed me once.   Being able to run them off V-lock broadcast batteries makes them indispensable for the type of work I do.  I do tend to prefer the softer illumination that comes from a fluorescent Kino Flo light but they can’t be run off V-lock batteries and require mains power.   The Litepanels 1×1 are great for working in a news or documentary environment where ease of use, portability and reliability are key.

Litepanels Croma on top of a Sony F3

This brings me to the new Litepanels Croma which I’ve been testing.  It is the company’s latest offering for onboard camera lighting.  Designed for video cameras and DSLRs it is a similar size and shape to the popular MicroPro and can be run off 6 AA batteries (although it will not work with lithium rechargeable AAs) or mains power.  This is a mixed blessing as you can find AA’s just about anywhere but they only power the light for about 1.5 hours.  You can also run the Croma from a d-tap or power supply with the right cables or power distribution.   I would of liked to have seen a d-tap power adaptor on the actual Croma itself.

The Croma runs on AA batteries

Now the really interesting thing about the Croma is that it is fully color adjustable from 3200-5600k as well as being fully dim able from 100% to 0%.  A lot of cheaper LED top lights start to flicker when you dim them right down – not this one. There is no noticeable shifting of color temperature when dimming the light which is a big plus.

Being fully dimmable as well as color adjustable makes it ideal for people who need run and gun on camera lighting.  You can instantly adjust the light to the conditions that you require.  Being an LED it also runs cold so you won’t have that annoying heat distribution near your head while your filming hand held.  It is also flicker free at any shutter speed or angle.

It looks a bit like a children’s toy but it is built tough like all of Litepanels bigger stuff.  The buttons, controls and battery latch are all very solid and well made. You can mount it on a camera or a tripod  and it is very light in weight, just 0.34kg. This light is perfect to use as fill, soft light in compact places, run and gun applications and as a general camera top light.  

The croma comes with a ball and socket mount but one thing I would of liked to have seen included in the kit is an arm of some sort for mounting the Croma on a camera.  Top lights look traditionally bad mounted front on and it would of been perfect to be able to put the light out to side of the camera.

I would highly recommend this light as it does what it says it does extremely well. While there are plenty of LED top lights out there you really do pay for what you get. If you buy a $70 top light don’t expect it to be perfect – there is a reason it is only $70!  Buying quality equipment is an investment and if it is we’ll made it will last for years.

You can download the full Croma spec sheet here.

About Matthew Allard, Aljazeera Senior Field Cameraman, Kuala Lumpur:
Matt has been a Camera/Editor in TV news for more 20 years, previously working for both Channel 9 and Channel 10 in Australia. Twice Network Ten Australia’s cameraman of the year as well as being a Walkley Finalist for outstanding camerawork in 2006 (for coverage of the Cronulla Race Riots) and a Logie Finalist for outstanding news coverage 2006 (Bali 9). He is a multiple ACS (Australian Cinematographers Society) award winner. His Sword Maker story that was shot on a 7D won the prestigious Neil Davis International News Golden Tripod at the 2011 ACS Awards. He has covered news events in more than 35 countries, from major sporting events to terrorist bombings. Based out of the Kuala Lumpur broadcast centre in Malaysia he is an avid user and follower of new technology, shooting stories on HD broadcast cameras, the Sony F3 as well as new Canon DSLRs.

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Posted on February 21st, 2012 by Matthew Allard | Category: Lighting |

3 responses to "Litepanels Croma LED – a mini review"

  1. aaronofnero Says:
    February 21st, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    While I agree that investing money into a quality product is far more advantageous than trying to spend as little as possible, I have to say that having spent 900USD on two micro pro litepanel lights has been thoroughly depressing. I enjoy the lights for their use, of course; however, understanding now the engineering and mechanics to building a LED light, it seems rather absurd to spend that much when there is relative competition out there for a far more reasonable price performing equally as well. What litepanels has done well is marketed their items and made them more accessible and trustworthy (at least it would seem). They also seem to dominate a certain level of the market when it comes to video LED lighting (aside from the bigger players in the league), and seem to also be making strides to keep their market share while presenting lawsuits to smaller companies following in suit.

    Now, i’m not sure what this light is going for, and the micropros might be cheaper now then they were when i first got them – either way, your review makes me very interested in giving this a swing. I’m just scared of the price haha

  2. Dugdale Says:
    February 22nd, 2012 at 7:53 am

    Matt,

    I have done a couple rounds of small LED light shootouts on my blog and I was really disappointed with the Lite Panel MicroPro. It was poorly made. I hope this newer version has corrected some of those issues.

    Dave

  3. yang Says:
    February 24th, 2012 at 12:49 am

    I agree with aaronofnero. LP lights are so expensive. If there are some other led lights with nearly the same output. Why spend so much.

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