Flexible LED lights are a good option for travelling shooters who need to keep gear to a minimum. Aladdin was the pioneer of flexible LED technology and they were soon joined by Westcott and then a host of other companies looking to cash in on this lightweight and versatile form of lighting. The latest company to try their hand at flexible LED lighting is DP Lumi who have a range of 1×1 and 1×3 options available. Today I’m going to be focussing on their 1×1 daylight fixture.
While I am a big exponent of flexible LED lighting, a lot of potential users are put off by their relatively low output compared to a traditional 1×1 panel light. Recently, I have shied away from using flexible fixtures in favour of more powerful and quicker to use LED lights. The dilemma for me when using flexible LED is the compromise you have to make. The beauty of flexible LED lights is that they are lightweight and extremely versatile, the downsides are that the power output is limited and they often take a lot of time to set up.
Build quality and Mounting bracket
DP Lumi’s 1×1 doesn’t look any different from any other flexible LED panel light you may have seen before. Appearance wise, the only real difference is the clips on the back of the fixture that secure the mounting frame. Speaking of mounting frames, the amount of badly thought out ones I have used in the past from other manufacturers helped me overflow the swear jar on many occasions. Often these mounting brackets have to be assembled from multiple pieces and in some cases, end up breaking within the first few weeks. Look I get it, I know you need some sort of frame to be able to put a flexible LED light on a light stand but why does it have to be so hard to make a decent one?
DP Lumi hasn’t made a radical departure from using mounting brackets, but at least they have made one that is a little quicker and easier to set up and attach. The mounting bracket DP Lumi uses is perhaps a little heavier than what you may be used to. It’s also bent in several places so it keeps your light more rigid and flat when it’s attached to the bracket.
In a nice touch, there are clips on the end that allows you to secure it down to the panel light so the bracket won’t move or fall off.
One of the clever things DP Lumi have done when designing the light is put velcro on one edge so you can fold the light around and secure it so it can take on a tubular form. This is nice if you want to use the light as a sort of china ball or even to illuminate two people in a sit-down interview scenario. For travelling shooters, this versatility is what makes flexible LED panel lights such a compelling option. Being able to bend, fold or even stick the light to a wall is to me the biggest selling point of a flexible LED light.
The only thing I would have liked to have seen included on the DP Lumi lights is eye holes on the corners. Having eye holes increases your mounting options and allows you to use a simple piece of string or rope to attach the light.
The company also includes a heavy-duty ball mount that looks like it was designed to support a fixture weighing 10x as much. Maybe it’s a case of overkill, but at least you will know with absolute certainty that it will support the light in any position. This Heavy Duty 5/8 Swivel Pin adds articulation to your light stand giving you the option to turn your lights horizontally, vertically or facing up and down. One end slips onto a male 5/8″ pin while the other supports your light panels with a 5/8″ receiver. The ball joint allows 180° swivel of the fixture, while the large, rubber-covered T-handle provides secure locking in your chosen position. The barrel at the receiver end measures 1 1/8″. Removing the tightening knob from it allows you to drop it into a 1 1/8″ receiver.
Everything but the kitchen sink
What I do really like about the lights from DP Lumi is that just about everything you need is included in the price. In the case of the 1×1 daylight you not only get the light, but you also get:
- X-Bracket with Pro 5/8″ stud hardware for mounting
- Driver with either V-mount or G-mount battery adapter
- Diffusion Cover
- Eggcrate for Softbox mounting
- Soft Case
Not having to buy a softbox, egg crate, mounts and even a bag to keep the light in saves you considerable coin. I really like it when companies think about the end user and provide everything you need, rather than charge an arm and a leg for every little accessory.
Power supply/dimmer unit
The 1×1’s dimmer/power supply unit weighs in at a rather heavy 1.14kg (2.51lb). There is no doubt that it’s well made, but in some ways, you have to wonder if this weight is counter-intuitive when using a lightweight flexible LED panel. I mean isn’t the whole idea behind using a flexible LED light that it’s supposed to be lightweight?
The power supply/dimmer unit has a nice handle that you can use to attach to a light stand, as well as a velcro strap for added security.
On the top, there is a V-lock or AB Gold Mount battery plate depending on what option you choose. For a 1×1 sized panel, I would have preferred to have seen a lighter dimmer/power supply unit and perhaps one that could run off smaller batteries.
On the front, there is only dial labelled 5600K. There is no on/off switch and by turning the dial you turn on the light and adjust the brightness. On the new dimmer/power supply units that will be available in July, this will all change and you will be able to see the actual output level displayed on an LCD screen.
The dimmer/power supply unit I was reviewing requires a 14.8V battery to power the fixture at 100%. The light only draws 56W so you can run it off any readily available V-Lock or AB Gold Mount battery for a long period of time.
Softbox and egg crate
The softbox is fairly easy to construct and it attaches via velcro to the 1×1 panel. The diffusion for the softbox then attaches again via velcro to the softbox frame. The combination of the softbox and the diffusion works well and it certainly softens up the light.
I found that putting the egg crate onto the softbox and diffusion was a little more difficult than it should be. It doesn’t quite seem big enough to fit over the frame of the softbox without bending it inwards. In saying that it still does its intended job and really controls the spill from the 1×1. UPDATE: It seems that I was using the wrong egg crate. The light comes with two egg crates and the one I was using was supposed to attach to the light when you aren’t using the softbox. The other egg crate which I incorrectly assumed was just a different angle variant fits on the softbox correctly.
So now let’s get to the photometric results. I always test lights in this way so that I get a reference to how they compare to other fixtures. Results only tell part of the story and should never be used alone to judge a light. I have found from extensive testing over the years that certain lights that have good photometric results don’t always look good, and lights that have worse photometric scores can sometimes look better than their results indicate.
OUTPUT AND KELVIN COLOUR TEMPERATURE ACCURACY
I tested the 1×1 Daylight with a Sekonic C-700 Spectrometer to find out how much output the light had and how accurate the Kelvin colour temperature reproduction was. The readings were taken at a distance of 1m (3.28ft) in a controlled environment.
As you can see from the above readings, the light recorded an output of 2160lx (201fc) at 5600K. 2160lx from a 1×1 sized flexible fixture is fairly decent. The light also recorded a Kelvin colour temperature of 5842K which was more than 300K off replicating a true 5600K source.
Let’s have a look at how the DP Lumi’s output compares to the only other 1×1 flexible LED panel that I have tested:
Westcott 1×1 Flex (5600K)
The DP Lumi has 22.68% more output than the Westcott 1×1 Flex. It is important to note that the Westcott 1×1 version I tested is more than 2 years old.
So now that we have seen how much output the DP Lumi 1×1 produces, how does it perform when it comes to replicating accurate colours. Above you can see that when the light was set at 5600K it recorded an average CRI (R1-R8) of 96.5 and an extended CRI (R1-R15) of 95.5. For replicating accurate skin tones it recorded 96.2 for R9 (red), 96.8 for R13 (closest to caucasian skin tones), and 97.4 for R15 (closest to Asian skin tones). These results were very good.
In comparison lets look at what average CRI (R1-R8) and extended CRI (R1-R15) reading was from the Westcott Flex 1×1:
Westcott 1×1 Flex (5600K)
average CRI (R1-R8) 97.6
extended CRI (R1-R15) 95.26
R9 (red) 98.5
R13 (closest to caucasian skin tones) 99.2
R15 (closest to Asian skin tones) 95.8
As you can see from these results, the DP Lumi is very comparable to the Wescott in terms of accurate colour rendering. Any CRI scores in the mid to high 90’s are exceptional.
Above you can see the spectral distribution of the DP Lumi 1×1 at 5600K. The spectral distribution is nice and even at 5600K and the light only has a marginal green spike. Despite having a nice even spectrum for the most part, the light is missing quite a bit of information around the 480nm wavelength.
Lets now compare that against the Westcott 1×1 Flex. Above you can see the spectral distribution for that light at 5600K. As you can see the Wescott has a much fuller colour spectrum and doesn’t have a big gap at around 480nm. The Spectral Distribution isn’t quite as even as the DP Lumi, but it’s still fairly good.
While it’s important to test for photometric results, graphs and figures can only tell you part of the story. Just because a light performs well when it comes to photometrics, there is no guarantee that those results transfer over to a nice quality of light.
The DP Lumi 1×1 does generate a nice even soft source of light. I have always been impressed by the colour accuracy of most flexible LED lights and the DP Lumi is no exception. I did, however, find that the light is not comfortable to look at if you don’t use the included softbox. Bright non-diffused multiple source LED lights such as this one are very distracting and uncomfortable for your talent. If you are going to use the DP Lumi 1×1 without diffusion you really need to make sure it’s not directly pointed at anyone.
For a 1×1 flexible light, it is quick and easy to set up and use. As I mentioned at the start of this review one of my pet hates with flexible LED lights is they can be time-consuming to set up, the DP Lumi 1×1 bucks this trend. The softbox and diffusion cover is easy to install and use, although the egg crate is a little fiddly and it doesn’t seem to quite fit the 1×1. I couldn’t get the egg crate to sit on the softbox frame without it bending inwards. This is more of a cosmetic problem than anything else, and I found it didn’t really affect the egg crates ability to reduce the beam angle.
Value for money
Price certainly isn’t an indication of quality when it comes to the DP Lumi 1×1. For $599 USD DP Lumi gives you a carry bag, V-mount or AB Gold Mount driver, softbox, egg crate and X-Bracket with Pro 5/8″ stud hardware for mounting. In comparison, the Westcott Flex Daylight (1 x 1′) is currently available for $649.90 USD and only comes with a dimmer/power supply unit, and nothing else. They don’t even provide you with a mounting frame.
DP Lumi has done a good job with their 1×1 flexible LED light. It’s brighter than some of the other competing fixtures, has been well thought out, and is solidly made. It’s also been designed to stand up to the rigours of field use, and it’s the most robust flexible LED light I have seen to date.
I love the fact that DP Lumi gives you everything as standard so you don’t have to spend any additional money on accessories. Too often lighting companies make you spend a small fortune on components that really should be included for free with your light.
For a relatively small company, DP Lumi has managed to create a product that is right up there with the more established competition. The DP Lumi 1×1 offers excellent value for money if you are looking for a colour accurate flexible LED light. At $599 USD with all the added accessories, it’s hard to overlook. The company also makes a Bi-Color version of the 1×1 for $679 USD.
Do you use flexible LED lights? If so, which ones do you use and what has your experience been? Let us know in the comments section below.