RGB LED lighting has matured in the last couple of years. Matt and I saw a lot of them at NAB 2018 as well as IBC in Amsterdam. Intellytech showed me the prototype of the new LiteCloth LC-160RGBW at IBC 2018. For the most part, it’s the same but the controller is all new to handle the RGB options.
The original LiteCloth LC-160 review
I reviewed the original LiteCloth LC-160 2’x2′ foldable LED Mat earlier this year and I liked it. The new LiteCloth LC-160RGBW is basically the same build and design as far as the actual LED mat is concerned and the mounting hardware is as well. The LC-160RGBW now adds RGB LEDs. Definitely check out the review of the original LiteCloth LC-160 above to see how it mounts and the overall build of the LED mat.
LiteCloth LC-160RGBW Kit Includes:
- 2×2 Foldable LED Mat
- Mounting Bracket
- Ballast (Controller) with Attached Battery Plate
- AC Adapter (Universal)
- Power Cable
- Carrying Case
- Limited 1-Year Warranty
The fixture is light in weight and folds into a nice and tidy 12″ square making the kit fairly compact and easy to travel with. The kit is pretty complete. Out of the box, you can shoot with a punchy softbox source with included grid attached. The fixture is a prime candidate for punching through a 4×4 or 6×6 for even softer lighting.
The softbox itself can be used as barn doors without the front diffusion attached. As a result, it’s helpful to prevent light spill and want to get the maximum output of the LiteCloth LC-160RGBW.
A nice upgrade is the hard case it now comes in. While the soft case wasn’t bad it’s just nice to have a solid case for transporting and stacking on a cart.
A common issue with RGBW fixtures is the output will be a little less in “White light mode”. Here is the output comparison of both original and new versions.
Output and Color of the LiteCloth LC-160 2′ x 2′
All tests performed are with a Sekonic C-700 SpectroMaster from 1 meter (3.3ft) to the front and center of the LC-160RGBW.
The original LiteCloth LC-160 has the same kelvin range as the new LC-160RGBW from 3000K to 9999K. Intellytech says the output of the new RGBW model has the same output as the original in bi-color so lets put this to the test.
Original LiteCloth LC-160 Output at 5600K
- 3640 LUX
- 338 Footcandles
New LiteCloth LC-160RGBW Output at 5600K
- 3220 LUX
- 299 Footcandles
Original LiteCloth LC-160 Output at 3200K
- 3280 LUX
- 305 Footcandles
New LiteCloth LC-160RGBW Output at 3200K
- 3449 LUX
- 320 Footcandles
I was a little surprised to see that in 56ooK the output wasn’t affected too much with a 420 LUX drop. At 3200K the RGBW version had an increase of 169 LUX.
Let’s see if the CRI is equal to the original.
CRI RATINGS for the original LiteCloth LC-160 2′ x 2′ at 5600K
With the LiteCloth LC-160 set to 5600K, I got a reading of 5592K. This is a good reading as having a close correct kelvin temp makes mixing them in with other lights easier.
The lights average CRI or Ra is the “mean color rendering index”. It is the average of R1 to R8. These colors represent the typical colors of the general environment. It comes in at a solid 95.1. The R9 is lower at 82.8 and surprisingly the R12 blue channel comes in at 70.
The extended CRI comprises all 15 colors (R1-R15) added together and divided by 15 . This gives the light an extended CRI of 92.72.
The important skin tone range of R13 and R15 look good at over 90 CRI. The lower numbers indicate that particular colors vividness will be lower. In the real world, you probably won’t see a difference but it’s good info to know. However, if several values drop under 85 CRI the extended will also drop. I tend to focus on the Extended Ra for the overall quality of the light.
The spectral distribution with the original LiteCloth LC-160 is also solid. Now for the new LiteCloth LC-160RGB.
CRI RATINGS for the original LiteCloth LC-160 2′ x 2′ at 3200K
With the light set to 3200K Tungsten, the average CRI (R1-R8) jumped to 97.6, R12 also increased to 77.3 CRI. The extended CRI (R1-R15) is 96.42.
CRI RATINGS for the new LiteCloth LC-160RGBW 2′ x 2′ at 5600K
The new RGB version’s average CRI (R1-R8), when used at 5600K was 96.8, and the extended CRI (R1-R15) was 95.85. This is an exceptionally good score and an increase over the 92.72 that the original light scored.
CRI RATINGS for the new LiteCloth LC-160RGBW 2′ x 2′ at 3200K
The new RGB version’s average CRI (R1-R8), when used at 3200K was 97.9, and the extended CRI (R1-R15) was 96.52. This is an exceptionally good score and almost identical to the 96.42 that the original light scored.
Overall the new LC-160RGBW scored very well in color and output to the original and would be easy to add in if you already own the LC-160 model.
The controller design is different than the original LC-160 due to the fact that it now has to control the RGB colors as well. To change the colors quickly the LC-160RGBW has 9 presets for the most common colors.
Different colors have different output due to how deep or light the colors are.
Below is the output of each of the nine presets.
- 1 RED 407 LUX
- 2 GREEN 1120 LUX
- 3 BLUE 267 LUX
- 4 YELLOW 940 LUX
- 5 ORANGE 580 LUX
- 6 LIGHT GREEN 1190 LUX
- 7 MAGENTA 461 LUX
- 8 LIGHT BLUE 1680 LUX
- 9 PINK 604 LUX
One downside is the output level can’t be changed for the presets. When more control of the output is needed then use the RGB settings and dial in the color and strength. This can be a slow process and you will have to understand how to mix colors together to get what you’re looking for.
The RGB values can be adjusted from 0-255. You have to spin the dial a lot to get to each end of the saturation. To change the values in higher increments simply push the dial in. Now an “S” or “F” icon appears next to the color. “S” in increments of 1 value and “F” in increments of 10. This makes it easier or faster to get to the color setting you want to change. This is not as intuitive as adjusting colour values on a HSL scale (hue, saturation, lightness).
Also available but not included is a wireless controller ($99.00 US). It has the same functionality as the main controller for the most part and shares the same interface so it’s pretty easy to use. Simply assign the same channel to the remote to pair it with the controller. You can control several fixtures at once or assign different channels to several fixtures. You can control up to 512 fixtures.
The controller is very easy to use. The buttons above the dial activate different settings. With a simple push of the CCT(K) button, the controller goes into “white light” mode. The dial controls the color temperature range that is 3000K to 9999K. To set the output select Dimmer and again use the dial to set output. When set at 0% the light is. 1% is the lowest setting and it’s really low.
It has two functions to precisely set the Kelvin and RGB values. Push the dial in to set the range from 50K or 200K increments. No icon appears for this setting like the “S” and “F” on the RGB settings.
A couple features that are lacking is lighting effects. No party lights or police light flicker is available. Also no preset gel settings for Rosco and Lee filters. I also would have liked a plus & minus green feature to match up with other lights.
Similar to the original LC-160 the LiteCloth LC-160RGBW controller has a way to mount on a stand. Unfortunately, they decided to go with a metal fastener as opposed to a nylon cord design. I liked the flexible cord better as it’s less rigid and can be adjusted better on the stand.
With the preproduction unit I have, the metal hanger comes off very easily and just doesn’t fit very well on a stands locking knob. I had to be careful. I reached out to Intellytech about the issue and they stated that the first units out had this issue and has been fixed so the wire hanger is secured and won’t detach.
The LiteCloth LC-160RGBW comes with a battery plate on the backside. The ballast can be attached directly to the V Mount plate to keep it off the ground. Due to the poor design of the wire hanger, I’m not sure I like having it on the controller as it makes it bulkier and even harder to hang.
The mat light connectors are high-quality locking barrels. They are made of plastic.
The cable is permanently attached to the mat and is on the short side. If you want to get the controller farther away from the fixture a 20′ ($27) & 32′ ($39) extension cable is available and is the same locking barrel for a secure fit.
On the opposite end of the cable is a multi-pin XLR that connects into the controller. The AC input is standard for regions.
Some disadvantages to having a separate controller and ballast are it takes more time to set up as opposed to a 1×1 panel like the ASTRA that is all self-contained on the fixture.
New Modifier option
New to the LC-160 is this Chimera Pancake Lantern & Skirt Kit for LiteCloth LC-160. I need to try this one out as Chimera makes the really great softboxes hence this one for over the top lighting looks nice! Also, the beauty of this Pancake Lantern is that no speed ring is required. The 4 straps simply go over each corner of the LC-160, therefore, the design allows for super fast setup and keeps the entire Lantern & Skirt weighing just a few ounces. Broad and light in an overhead is a great combo.
Furthermore, the Chimera Pancake Lantern features a flat-top design that allows the LiteCloth LC-160 to be placed higher and closer to the ceiling. The Lantern can be used on its own, without the skirt. The skirt attaches to the Pancake Lantern to enable control over the light-spill since spill is a common issue with overhead lighting.
With adjustable velcro on all four sides, the skirt can be rolled up or down to very light spread from an omnidirectional overhead source to a straight down-light. The LC-160 looks to be a very good candidate for soft overhead lighting when used with the Chimera Pancake Lantern. It retails for $299.
Chimera Pancake Lantern Kit Includes:
- Skirt Set (2 Total)
- Limited 5 Year Warranty
The original LiteCloth LC-160 now sells for $999.00 and the new LiteCloth LC-160RGBW model is 60% more expensive at $1,599. Some might think it’s an expensive fixture. I personally think you are getting a solid product for the money however you really have to want the RGB feature to justify the cost plus slightly lower output in 5600K white light mode for the advantage of having it all with RGB color options.
I wasn’t able to find an exact comparison to the 2′ x 2′ style but here are a few that are a mat design in with RGB.
Aladdin ALL-IN 2 COLOR 1′ x 1′ – $1,299. Controller and mounting hardware sold separately.
Westcott Flex Cine DMX RGBW 1-Light Gear Kit 1′ x 2′ – $2,999.90
FalconEyes RX-718 RGB 24″ x 18″ flexible mat Kit $709.00
I like the new LiteCloth LC-160RGBW fixture which isn’t a surprise since it’s basically an RGB version of the original LiteCloth LC-160. While the output is similar to the original for a fixture of its physical size doesn’t necessarily make it punchier than a high output 1×1 however the advantage of the 2×2 is a wider beam spread. This can be a plus or a minus depending on the type of lighting you need. With RGB I think broad is a good solution to wash areas with a more even fill.
The controller is simple to use and feels rugged enough to handle some grip abuse however I don’t like the metal hanger it uses to fasten to a light stand and doesn’t fit on larger locking knobs very well especially when a battery or the ballast is attached. Alternatively, having the ballast off the floor and attached to the controller is a nice feature. I use Tehther Tools StrapMoore to strap the ballast to the stand. Keeping the set tidy is a good thing and having that V-Mount or Gold Mount battery option is really great.
I would have liked more presets available and a custom preset option too, so if I use colors the producers liked I can easily call it up without having to memorize or write down the RGB values. The remote is nice to have since all the settings can be changed with it and that’s great for faster setting changes when you are a solo shooter.
A mobile app would also be welcome and make choosing colours much easier to do. The light doesn’t have WiFi or Bluetooth though so perhaps something for Intellytech to think about.
With most RGB lights you have to really know you need color on your productions to justify the added expense. The LC-160RGBW retails for $1,599 US while the original LC-160 is now $999 US. I personally think it’s great not having to deal with gels that knock down the output while adding creative color to a scene but if you don’t need color non-RGB models are a very good deal these days.