We reported the announcement of the new Litepanels Astra 1×1 Soft Bi-Color LED light a few days ago. It is essentially a regular Astra 1×1 with the front panel replaced with a dedicated diffusion solution instead. This has the advantage of creating a nice soft light without having to add a bulky softbox to your light. It should save time when setting up, and also has a less obtrusive form factor if you want to get lights close up to your subjects.
The trade offs are that it is slightly deeper than the regular light, and it is permanently soft and cannot be focussed in any way, whereas the regular Astra 1×1 has optional lens panels that can concentrate the light. Despite its larger size it should still pack into your lighting case fairly easily. Because of the diffusion the light also has less punch, and this is something we were keen to test out.
You can see the results in the video above. The Astra Soft is certainly more diffused than the regular Astra and light from the panel wraps around the subject more. The loss of light output was noticeable, but for an interview setup in a controlled environment this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Colour accuracy seemed good from what we could see.
Currently retailing for just over $1600, the Astra Soft Bi-Colour is a good light that will likely find its way into the kits of news shooters who already have other Litepanels. Of course, there are many competing soft LED light sources these days, including the new flexible panels, fluorescent fixture replacements and also the Rotolights. Time will tell whether the Astra 1×1 Soft Bi-color will be as popular as its predecessors.
To find out more about the Astra range visit the Litepanels website.