Litepanels announce new Astra 1×1 Soft Bi-Color LED panel

Litepanels has announced a new addition to their 1×1 Astra range, the Astra Soft Bi-Color LED panel. The company has made the Astra Soft Bi-Color as a soft light alternative to the original Astra 1×1 Bi-Color LED panel. They claim it replicates the same effect that you would get using a softbox on the standard Astra – but without the bulk of a regular softbox. It does this by using a new diffused lens.

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The Astra Soft Bi-Color panel has a high CRI (93+) that Litepanels says ‘yields exceptional colour reproduction and precise color temperature’. As its name suggests, the Astra Soft Bi-Color can be adjusted between daylight and tungsten and can be dimmed with no noticeable color shift. The new 1×1 panel also offers flicker-free performance at any frame rate or shutter angle and can be run off batteries or mains power. The maximum power draw is 110 Watts and the light has a claimed comparative output of a 2K tungsten soft light.

The Astra 1x1 Soft Bi-Color with optional barn doors
The Astra 1×1 Soft Bi-Color with optional barn doors

Like the design of the other Astra panels in the range, the Soft Bi-Color features surface mount LEDs that are said to produce a light output that is four times higher than the original 1×1 fixtures. The light also features an internal microprocessor that includes dual cooling modes, active and passive, that manages the temperature of the panel. The light weighs in at 3.4kg.

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The Astra Soft Bi-Color uses the same technology as the rest of the Astra family so you will be able to use accessories that you may already own. The new light is also compatible with a communications module that allow the user to control the lights via 512DMX standard protocol with the DMX communications modules. With the right module you can also control it via wireless using Bluetooth on your Apple device through the Litepanels SmartLite app. The app also lets users control multiple lights at once,controlling the intensity, colour temperature, fan and more.

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The new Astra Soft Bi-Color certainly has impressive specifications, but for the news shooter it does face some stiff competition from the new breed of flexible LED panels. These are a lot more portable and some models are significantly cheaper. Despite this, the light should be a good option for anyone looking for a single high quality light that can used for multiple purposes.

The Soft Bi-Color solves one of the main challenges I had using 1×1 panels in the past – they always needed to be diffused to achieve a soft source. Carrying around an additional soft box slowed down the set up time and added additional expense. If the new light performs well then not having to use it with an optional soft box or diffusion will certainly make it an appealing solution to shooters. Having one or two of these alongside some regular Astras should create a very versatile kit.

This from Litepanels:
“With these new Astra Soft Bi-Colors, the diffusion that they have built-in on the front of them makes it like it’s one nice, flat, soft source. It’s fantastic! They’ve got pretty good throw… you can dim them and they are not going to change color temperature,” said Emmy Award winning Director of Photography (DP) and Director Jody Eldred.
“Also, I can run these off batteries if I want. That’s huge for me because it allows me to work much faster. And the faster I can work, the more creative I can be… the more coverage I can get out of my day.”

The Astra Soft Bi-Color has an impressive output that rates among the highest of soft LED panels. This higher intensity illuminates a wider area, allowing the panel to compete with strong exterior light sources or illuminate a large area effectively with just a single fixture. These fantastic light output levels, combined with continuously variable color temperature settings mean there is no need to install expensive fixed color temperature plates.

“The real value with the Astra Soft is the continuation of this Astra family of products. There’s passion in the design and an understanding of how our products are used. The uniqueness of the light is the luminescent quality of the light. This light can match existing colors with a soft, beautiful quality that those with the professional knowledge of lighting can understand and those who are beginners can see,” said Pat Grosswendt, one of the founders of Litepanels.

“Since their introduction, the response to the Astra family has been outstanding. We created the Astra Soft Bi-Color for our customers’ who were looking to soften the Astra Bi-Color without having to purchase and set up a soft box for each shoot,” added Alan Ipakchian, Product Marketing Manager for Litepanels. “Meeting that demand at an affordable price is just a small example of how we are listening and adapting our products to meet the needs of today’s gaffers, lighting designers and directors of photography.”

The Astra Soft Bi-Color LED panel begins shipping Feb 2016 for a RRP of $1800US.

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