If you want a powerful yet inexpensive LED spot light that runs off batteries then your prayers may just have been answered.
These days there are plenty of inexpensive LED panel lights available. Several Chinese manufacturers like F&V, Brightcast, L&S and Aputure have affordable panels with good specifications. The output, colour accuracy and build quality of these lights is steadily improving too. But try to find a good Chinese LED spot powerful enough to be a serious alternative to your old tungsten ones and you would have been out of luck.
Aputure might be about to change all of that. At NAB they were showing their upcoming LS-C20 LED mini-Fresnel light which should cost just $199. They claim it has a CRI of 96, something we didn’t get a chance to test, although hopefully we will be able to soon.
This mini marvel has an incredibly bright single LED chip at its heart. It is also dimmable and comes with rotatable barn doors plus filter holder. It can be focussed from 80 degrees to 20 degrees, and the level to which you can spot is the best I’ve seem from a cheap fixture.
The output is quite hard and you can cut the light down to a narrow slit using the barn doors. This should make it useful as a hair or accent light.
The light has a wide ranging DC input that can power it from 5V sources like an iPhone battery, or a 16V D-tap source from a V-Lock or AB battery. It is also very compact and carrying a few of these in your light kit should be no problem. Adding these to a couple of flex lights should allow you to light a wide range of interviews for relatively modest outlay.
The LS-C20 is claimed to have the equivalent output of a 120W conventional fixture. If true, then that isn’t far off the output of the venerable Dedolight DLH4, which is rated at 150W with its 24V supply.
Of course, the LS-C20 isn’t built to the same level as a Dedo (few lights are). Conventional tungsten or newer LED Dedos are built like tanks and will last for years. They are more versatile, their light highly shapable and they offer a wide range of accessories. But if you are on a budget, or want more lights to supplement your existing kit, then the LS-C20 has its advantages. Nothing else I’ve seen at the price is as versatile, or as bright. Of course, we have no idea about reliability at this stage, but for $199 the average professional probably won’t be upset if the LS-C20 only lasts a couple of years.
Currently I use my trusted little Litepanels Sola ENGs for the same kind of duties that the LS-C20 can perform. My airline carry-on light and camera kit has a Sola ENG and a couple of Flex lights in alongside my cameras. The Sola ENG is quite a lot more expensive than the LS-C20, so it will be interesting to compare the two when the Aputure finally ships.
For more details keep an eye on the Aputure website.