Rotolight Anova Pro 2 Hands-On Review

Rotolight’s Anova Pro 2, is a bi-color (a daylight only version is also available) LED fixture that is color temperature changeable from 3150K to 6300K. The light is also flicker free at any output and is a good option for anyone who does both photography and video. I reviewed the original Anova Pro back in 2016 so it will be interesting to see if the sequel is better than the original.

How is it different from the original Anova Pro?

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 Bi-color LED light back panel

The Anova Pro 2 is the follow up to the companies Anova Pro. At first glance the lights look to be identical, so what has changed? Most of the changes are under the hood and are related to increased output, but there are also plenty of other new features. Rotolight claims that the Anova Pro 2 has 70% more power output than its predecessor. To get this power increase the light now draws 72W compared to the 48W of the original Anova Pro. The Anova Pro 2 can also flash at 250% of its maximum continuous output when used in Flash Sync Mode. This is up from the 150% that the original Anova Pro was capable of.

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 LED light filter holder

A lot of this increased output has to do with the fact that Rotolight is now using 960 LEDs instead of the 576 that are in the original Anova Pro.

There is also more special lighting effects, 14 in total, including a ‘chase’ mode which uses DMX to control a line of lights to simulate a moving light source such as streetlights. There is also a new Exposure Effects (X-FX) mode that lets you create a stroboscopic effect for creating multiple exposure images.

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 LED light DMX interface

Speaking of DMX, the light now includes DMX which can be used to control up to 512 wireless slaves from one Anova Pro 2. There is also an RJ45 DMX (in/out) socket and an Auto set-up function for quickly configuring channel settings when you are using large numbers of lights.

A few other nice new features in the Anova Pro 2 are:

  • TECH menu/FINE dimming mode – allows perfect smooth dimming to 0% across the color range
  • CNTL menu / BASE / AUTO – auto setup mode, allowing you to set up ANOVA / NEO2 and AEOS slaves with one button push
  • CNTL menu / BASE / AUTO / NEXT- auto DMX addressing mode, allowing you to set an individual DMX address on each ANOVA / NEO2 and AEOS slave with one button push
  • CNTL menu / BASE / AUTO / LOCK- prevents accidental over-writing of configured ANOVA / NEO2 and AEOS slaves with one button push

If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. Despite all of these new additions, I like that Rotolight hasn’t tinkered too much with the Anova Pro 2. It still retains every feature that I originally liked about the original Anova Pro, but addresses my biggest complaint, which was output.

According to Rotolight, the design philosophy with the Anova Pro 2 was to “Deliver a light that out of the box produces a very flattering, soft light source that almost gives the effect of a naturally diffused light.” The rationale for making the light round is to create a catchlight effect in the eye, and to give it a flattering ‘wrapping light quality’.

It’s not hip to be square

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 LED light open barn doors

I’ve never quite understood why so many companies continue to make a square or rectangular light. In my opinion, it makes a lot more sense to actually use a circular-shaped light, especially for interviews or when shooting faces. Our heads aren’t square, either are our eyes. A lot of softboxes are also round, so why not make a light that is also round. I have found from prior experience that the circular Rotolight fixtures create really nice catch lights in peoples eyes.

It’s nice to see that Rotolight has continued to keep their lights round, especially since most lighting companies continue to pursue making 1×1 or square/rectangular LED fixtures.

Different versions

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 LED light close up details

The Anova Pro 2 is available in several configurations. There is a bi-color version that is available with a 50-degree beam angle, or you can choose to get the 110-degree beam angle model. There is also a daylight only (5600K) version available. The LEDs used on all of the models are carefully spaced to ensure that each individual LED beam overlaps. The benefit of doing this is that the hundreds of individual LED elements give the appearance of coming from one source, to deliver one single uniform shadow. The problem with a lot of LED lights with a wide beam angle (over 90 degrees) is that the individual LEDs end up creating weird shadows.

The light I will be reviewing is the 50-degree version.

CineSFX

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 LED light film FX

The light has a built-in set of CineSFX lighting effects that allow you to recreate effects that normally would require specialist equipment. These include Strobe, Lightning, Fire, Cycle, Throb, Police, TV, Spin, Weld, Spark, Film, Neon, Roto, Gunshot, Film, Paparazzi, and Chase. While some of the effects are the same that can be found in the original Anova Pro, not only has the company added a few more options, but they have also given users the ability to further fine-tune their parameters.

These CineSFX can be remotely triggered using either a wired DMX trigger or wirelessly triggerable using the PC sync port on the back of the light. There is also a feature called FX slave which allows the Anova Pro 2 to act as a DMX master controller for not only previous generation Rotolights but also third-party light sources with DMX inputs. This eliminates the need for additional DMX controllers or expensive flicker boxes on set. Rotolight says you can control up to 512 channels in a single DMX universe. The CineSFX effects really are impressive, and they can come in very handy for creating lighting situations in the field that would otherwise be very difficult to replicate. Rotolight was arguably the first company to offer special effects in a portable LED light, and since that time many other manufacturers have followed suit.

Along with the CineSFX, there are also True Aperture Dimming and Designer Fade effects. True Aperture Dimming calculates and displays the correct aperture (F-Stop) for your subject at a given distance. In theory, this eliminates the need for using a light meter in certain situations. You can also adjust your brightness level, to coincide with your desired aperture (F-Stop). It is unfortunate that it doesn’t also show T-stops for those using the light with proper cinema lenses. The Designer Fade effect lets you dial in preset times for custom fade up / fade downs which can be handy for certain projects.

There is also Exposure Effects (X-FX) mode for stroboscopic effects for creating multiple exposure images. This is primarily for use for photographers.

Great for photography and video

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 LED light built-in sync trigger port

If those features weren’t enough, the Anova PRO 2, just like the original Anova Pro, are the only bi-color LED lights in the world that has a built-in flash sync port. This means that for a stills photographer, you can replace your strobe (in certain situations) and it does so with no recycle time with high-speed sync capability. When in flash sync mode, the light is able to flash at 250% of its maximum continuous output. This is up from the 150% that the original Anova Pro was capable of.

Unlike the original Anova Pro, the Anova Pro 2 has a built-in Elinchrom Skyport receiver that provides wireless triggering plus brightness and color adjustments at distances up to 656′. You can control up to 10 lights in 4 groups.

Rotolight recommends the following triggers:
Rotolight HSS Transmitter (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic)
Elinchrom HS Transmitter Plus (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic)
Godox X1T (use with Godox X1R receiver)
Pixel King Pro (Sony, Canon, Nikon)
Flashpoint R2
Phottix ODIN II  (HSS) (canon, Sony, Panasonic)
PocketWizard (HSS)
Cactus VI II (HSS) (Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Pentax, Panasonic, Olympus)

For those who are shooting both stills and video, this product eliminates the need for two separate purchases and removes many of the constant downsides of shooting with strobe (e.g. your flash not firing because of recycle time). If your job calls for both stills and video, or you’re working in multimedia, this function alone should put the Anova Pro 2 right at the top of your list of lights to look at.

I’m not going to do any in-depth testing of the photography features of this light as Newsshooter is primarily aimed at video shooters. There are plenty of examples online if you are interested in seeing how the light performs specifically for photography use.

What do you get?

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 LED light Master's Kit

The Anova Pro 2 comes with a LEE 4 piece filter set (an optional 10 filter set is also available). This is nice to have and gives you a lot of creative freedom for making subtle adjustments to the light. You also get a built-in V-lock battery plate, built-in Elinchrom Skyport receiver, built-in DMX, and a 110-240V power supply unit. I was reviewing the Masters Kit, which comes with everything I just mentioned, plus the addition of a hard flight case and barn doors.

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 LED light user manual

I also like that Rotolight includes a proper manual with the light. Too often these days companies don’t include a manual. It’s really nice to have an actual paper reference for a product and not have to go searching for one online.

Build Quality

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 LED light knobs

The overall build quality of the Anova Pro is very good. It is certainly well made and feels like a professional product that would stand the test of time. The light is as well made as other Rotolight products and doesn’t have the cheap plasticky feel of so many other lights on the market. The dials and switches have been well designed and feel solid to use.

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 LED light yoke adjustment

My only gripe is that I didn’t feel like the yolk angle adjustment knobs tightened sufficiently enough. No matter how hard I tried to tighten them I could still always move the light. This is something that shouldn’t happen with a light of this quality.

The barn doors attach via four heavy duty locking knobs so there is no chance of them rattling around or falling off.

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 LED light back panel

The light weighs in at 3.34 kg/ 7.36 lb (Including Yoke). As a comparison, the Litepanels Astra Bi-color weighs 3.4kg (7.6lb), and the KinoFlo Celeb 200 weighs 6.8kg (15lb). The Lupo Superpanel 1×1 Full Color 30 RGBW weighs 3.7kg (8.15lb), and the Luxli Timpani 1×1 RGBAW tips the scales at 3.15 kg (6.96lb)

Filters

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 LED light filter holders

Rotolight uses a nice quick solution for installing and securing filters. A wire ring with six inward-facing metal rods holds the filters in place. A small removable pin on the latches allows for the ring to be lifted and a filter inserted. Once the filter is in place you just push the frame down and secure the pins. I found from using the light I only had to remove one pin to put a filter in. This makes it very quick and convenient for swapping filters in and out.

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 LED light diffusion filter

The nice thing about the filters is that you can easily stack multiple filters together if you need to. The filters themselves are very thin and quite fragile. While they do the job they are supposed to do, you need to take care when handling or transporting them. If you do happen to rip or tear any of them Rotolight does sell replacements.

No RGB

With so many manufacturers now moving towards making RGB LED lights I wondered why Rotolight hadn’t decided to go down that route. When I asked Rotolight about this they told me “Rotolight is currently developing other products around the latest RGB technology. We have made so many improvements to the Anova Pro 2, and its user base like the characteristics of the light (Naturally soft light output, round catchlight, exceptional CRI, etc). This is now the 4th generation Anova, and we have been selling them for 5 years now, so we have kept the initial design philosophy, added much to it, improved the output and the color reproduction.”

Whether you actually need an RGB light really depends on the type of work you do, but most of the current offerings feature a host of additional features such as +/- green correction as well as an increased Kelvin color temperature range.

Having the ability to control green and magenta is huge. Being able to match other fixtures as well as getting rid of any green or magenta that you may see when using the light is a very handy real-world feature that I personally use a lot.

As far as the RGB color and effects modes go, while they are great to have available, I don’t tend to use those features that much in my line of work. In saying that, being able to generate different colors is handy for lighting up backdrops or creating color separation during interviews. It’s also nice to be able to use the light to help illuminate green screens very easily.

These are features that you won’t find on the Rotolight Anova Pro 2.

No smartphone/tablet control (yet)

Rotolight used to have an IOS app called Magic Eye that gave you wireless control over your light. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to exist any longer, so the Anova Pro 2 can’t be controlled via an app. This is a real pity as so many of the lights that are now on the market can. I would have liked to have seen an app for controlling the Anova Pro 2. As the light has so many features, it would have been nice to be able to control them and make adjustments without having to physically keep walking back to the light.

In saying that, now that all the Rotolight products have an Elinchrom Skyport chip built in, you can use the Rotolight transmitter to wirelessly control color temperature, brightness, trigger SFX and fades (and get a real-time display of those colors and brightness levels), set up groups etc, which somewhat negates the actual need for the app.

When I asked Rotolight about why there wasn’t an app, I was told “The Magic Eye APP worked with ANOVA V1 and V2, using 802.11b wifi from an iOS controller. In iOS 8.1 Apple broke the rules and changed the way iOS devices negotiate with third-party devices, their system handshakes a couple of identifiers at 802.11b and for no good reason then starts talking only at 12Ghz, which was beyond the range of the wifi chip we used. The exciting news is that we are working on a revised version of the APP which we hope to launch early in the new year, and this will be able to control any of our products wirelessly with a range of 200 meters, as well as third-party products using wired DMX via a nifty Basestation called ‘The Magic Box’. The APP will be a free download.

Low power draw

The low power draw of the Anova Pro 2 is perhaps its most impressive feature. The light draws just 72W watts at 100% output, which gives it a huge advantage over most other battery-powered-capable lights on the market. As a comparison, the Litepanels Astra Bi-color 1×1 draws 110W, the KinoFlo Celeb 200 draws 100W, the Lupo Superpanel 1×1 Full Color 30 RGBW draws 200W, and the Luxli Timpani 1×1 RGBAW draws 120W. This low power draw allows you to run the Anova Pro 2 at full power for a considerable amount of time using a 95Wh battery. This makes the light a very good proposition for news and documentary shooters who often need to set up lights in remote places and run them off camera batteries. Knowing that you can power the light and get sustained runtime gives you piece of mind if you’re shooting live crosses or long interviews.

Rotolight also makes their own 95Wh v-lock batteries with cells sourced from Japan. The battery weighs in at 725g (25.77oz), and has a built-in d-tap output that can also be used to charge the battery. A single battery costs $314.16 USD and a d-tap travel charger can be bought for $64.99 USD. If you buy the masters kit, which includes barn doors and a flight case, there is a nice cutout spot to keep a battery and the charger.

Output

A big factor for a lot of people when buying a light is how much output it can produce. I tested the lights output at 3200K and 5600K using a Sekonic C-700 at a distance of 1m (3.28ft) in a controlled environment; you can see the results below.

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 output at 3200K

At 3200K the Anova Pro 2 (50-degree version) recorded an output of 4480lx at a distance of 1 meter. This was a pretty good output. The original Anova Pro (50-degree beam angle) version that I tested put out 3790lx at the same distance and Kelvin color temperature setting. Rotolight claims that the Anova Pro 2 light is 70% brighter than the original, but from my testing, I found that when used at 3200K, the Anova Pro 2 was only 18.2% brighter than the original 50-degree version that I reviewed.

 

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 output at 5600K

At 5600K it recorded 4600lx, which was a 2.67%% increase over what the light outputs when used at 3200K.  Again, this was a pretty good output for a LED light that can be powered off a camera battery. The original Anova Pro (50-degree beam angle) version that I tested put out 3400lx at the same distance and Kelvin color temperature setting. I found that the output of the Anova Pro 2 (50-degree beam angle) was 35.3% higher than that of the original when used at 5600K. The light’s output at 5600K was impressive given its size and low power consumption.

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 output at 4110K

As the Anova Pro 2 uses a combination of daylight and tungsten LED’s, the lights maximum brightness is obtained when it is set at 4110K. Above you can see that when I tested it at 4110K it produced an output of 7580lx. This is certainly a very impressive output for a light this size, but again you need to keep in mind that this sort of output is only available at this Kelvin color temperature. In saying that, you can still get a similar output if you use the light within a few hundred Kelvin degrees of 4110K. Rotolight claims that the lights output at 4110K when measured at a distance of 3ft. / 0.9m is 10,700lx. When I measured the light at the same distance I found it had an output of 10,000lx.

So how does the output at 3200k and 5600K compare to other competition? Well, below you can see.

3200K
Rotolight Anova Pro Bi-colour 50 degree: 3,790lx
Rotolight Anova Pro 2 Bi-colour 50 degree: 4,480lx
Litepanels Bi-Color Soft 1×1 (90 degree): 2,200lx
KinoFlo Diva Lite 200 (90 degree): 2,980lx
Luxli Timpani 1×1 RGBAW (72 degree): 3,560lx
Lupo Superpanel 1×1 Full Color 30 RGBW (115 degree): 4,150lx

5600K

Rotolight Anova Pro Bi-colour 50 degree: 3,400lx
Rotolight Anova Pro 2 Bi-colour 50 degree: 4,600lx
Litepanels Bi-Color Soft 1×1 (90 degree): 3,000lx
KinoFlo Diva Lite 200 (90 degree): 3,060lx
Luxli Timpani 1×1 RGBAW (72 degree): 3,380lx
Lupo Superpanel 1×1 Full Color 30 RGBW (115 degree): 4,380lx

As you can see, the Rotolight Anova Pro 2 output at both 3200K and 5600K is very impressive. The light even manages to top the high output of the Lupo Superpanel 1×1 Full Color 30 RGBW. In saying that, it is important to note that the Lupo Superpanel 1×1 Full Color 30 RGBW, Litepanels Bi-Color Soft 1×1, and the KinoFlo Diva Lite 200 have built-in diffusion panels and a lot wider beam angle than the Rotolight.

Kelvin Color Temperature Accuracy

As far as color temperature accuracy is concerned, the Anova Pro at 5600K gave me a kelvin reading of 5696K and a ⊿uv (the value to show how much this light is away from being an ideal light source) of -0.0028. At 3200K it recorded 3256K and a ⊿uv of -0.0043. These are excellent results and give you peace of mind that when you set the light at a certain color temperature, that’s the color temperature you’re actually going to get.

Color Rendering

After testing the output and color temperature accuracy I then wanted to test the Anova Pro 2 for color accuracy. Has color accuracy been compromised to deliver more output? Below you can see the results for the light at 3200K.

Rotologht Anova Pro 2 color rendering scores at 3200K

At 3200K the light recorded an average CRI (R1-R8) of 95.6 and an extended CRI (R1-R15) of 93.1. As far as replicating accurate skin tones the Anova Pro recorded 89.3 for R9 (red), 98.4 for R13 (closest to caucasian skin tones), and 98.4 for R15 (closest to Asian skin tones). The score for R12 (blue) was a little lower than I would have expected, but the overall results for proper skin tone reproduction were very good.

Rotologht Anova PRO color rendering scores at 3200K

So how does this compare to the original Anova Pro? Above you can see the results. At 3200K the light recorded an average CRI (R1-R8) of 93.0 and an extended CRI (R1-R15) of 92.09. As far as replicating accurate skin tones the Anova Pro recorded 76.4 for R9 (red), 95 for R13 (closest to caucasian skin tones), and 94.3 for R15 (closest to Asian skin tones). The Anova Pro 2 has a slightly better extended CRI that that of the original, but most importantly, the scores for R9, R13, and R15 have all improved. It’s good to see that Rotolight has been able to improve the color rendering from the original and also increase the power.

Rotologht Anova Pro 2 color rendering scores at 5600K

When I tested the light at 5600K the scores were almost identical to those at 3200K. At 5600K it had an average CRI (R1-R8) of 94.6, and an extended CRI (R1-R15) of 91.9. For replicating accurate skin tones it recorded 97.3 for R9 (red), 98.6 for R13 (closest to caucasian skin tones), and 95.4 for R15 (closest to Asian skin tones). These were excellent results, but again, the light seems to have a problem with R12 (blue), scoring just 61.2. To be fair to Rotolight, the KinoFlo Diva Lite 2000 also struggles with R12 (blue), recording just 72.6. In saying that, I tested the light by shooting a color checker chart and didn’t find that this low score for R12 didn’t make any noticeable difference at all.

Rotologht Anova PRO color rendering scores at 5600K

So how does this compare to the original Anova Pro? Above you can see the results. At 5600K it had an average CRI (R1-R8) of 94.7, and an extended CRI (R1-R15) of 92.09. For replicating accurate skin tones it recorded 97.7 for R9 (red), 98.4 for R13 (closest to caucasian skin tones), and 95.7 for R15 (closest to Asian skin tones). At 5600K the Anova Pro and Anova Pro2’s results are almost identical.

Below you can see a head to head comparison of color accuracy between the Rotolight Anova Pro, Rotolight Anova Pro 2, Litepanels Bi-Color Soft 1×1, Kinoflo Diva Lite 200, Luxli Timpani, and Superpanel 1×1′ Full Color 30 RGBW.

3200K

Rotolight Anova Pro Bi-colour 50 degree
Average CRI (R1-R8) – 93
Extended CRI (R1-R15) – 89.66
R9 (red) – 76.4
R13- (closest to caucasian skin tones) – 95
R15- (closest to asian skin tones) – 94.3

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 Bi-colour 50 degree
Average CRI (R1-R8) – 95.6
Extended CRI (R1-R15) – 93.1
R9 (red) – 89.3
R13- (closest to caucasian skin tones) – 98.4
R15- (closest to asian skin tones) – 98.4

Litepanels Bi-Color Soft 1×1
CRI (R1-R8) – 98.6
Extended CRI (R1-R15) – 97.32
R9- (red) – 95.5
R13- (closest to caucasian skin) – 99.5
R15- (closest to asian skin tones) – 98.4

KinoFlo Diva Lite 200
CRI (R1-R8) – 96.8
Extended CRI (R1-R15) – 95.22
R9- (red) – 91.6
R13- (closest to caucasian skin) – 96.1
R15- (closest to asian skin tones) – 98.5

Luxli Timpani 1×1 RGBAW 
CRI (R1-R8) – 96.5
Extended CRI (R1-R15) – 95.45
R9- (red) – 92.6
R13- (closest to caucasian skin) – 96.1
R15- (closest to asian skin tones) – 96.3

Lupo Superpanel 1×1′ Full Color 30 RGBW
CRI (R1-R8) – 94.3
Extended CRI (R1-R15) – 91.86
R9- (red) – 76.3
R13- (closest to caucasian skin) – 95.1
R15- (closest to asian skin tones) – 93.4

5600K

Rotolight Anova Pro Bi-colour 50 degree
Average CRI (R1-R8) – 94.7
Extended CRI (R1-R15) – 92.09
R9 (red) – 97.9
R13- (closest to caucasian skin tones) – 98.4
R15- (closest to asian skin tones) – 95.7

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 Bi-colour 50 degree
Average CRI (R1-R8) – 94.6
Extended CRI (R1-R15) – 91.9
R9 (red) – 97.3
R13- (closest to caucasian skin tones) – 98.6
R15- (closest to asian skin tones) – 95.4

Litepanels Bi-Color Soft 1×1
CRI (R1-R8) – 94.7
Extended CRI (R1-R15) – 92.51
R9 (red) – 86.9
R13 (closest to caucasian skin) – 95.8
R15 (closest to asian skin tones) – 95.8

KinoFlo Diva Lite 200
CRI (R1-R8) – 96.1
Extended CRI (R1-R15) – 93.09
R9- (red) – 89.7
R13- (closest to caucasian skin) – 94.7
R15- (closest to asian skin tones) – 92.6

Luxli Timpani 1×1 RGBAW 
CRI (R1-R8) – 97.8
Extended CRI (R1-R15) – 96.2
R9- (red) – 97.9
R13- (closest to caucasian skin) – 99.6
R15- (closest to asian skin tones) – 97.0

Lupo Superpanel 1×1 Full Color 30 RGBW
CRI (R1-R8) – 95.3
Extended CRI (R1-R15) – 93.4
R9- (red) – 86.2
R13- (closest to caucasian skin) – 97.3
R15- (closest to asian skin tones) – 94.4

If you look at the data from the head-to-head comparisons, the Rotolight performs extremely well at 5600K when it comes to reproducing accurate skin tones, despite its overall color reproduction numbers being slightly lower than the other lights. Any numbers over 90+ are truly excellent and you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between any light that has average scores in the 90s.

At 3200K the Anova Pro 2 is very comparable to the other lights in this group, and it’s good to see that the lights scores at both 3200K and 5600K are very close. This tells me that the lights overall color rendering performance remains very consistent no matter what Kelvin color temperature you are using.

Spectral distribution

 

Above you can see the Rotolight Anova Pro 2’s spectral distribution when used at 3200K. While the light does have a nice full spectrum it certainly has a slight push towards green.

Above you can see the Rotolight Anova Pro 2’s spectral distribution when used at 5600K. The light has a push towards green as you can see.

Just as a comparison lets look at the Luxli Timpani 1×1 RGBAW light that I recently reviewed. Above you can see its spectral distribution when used at 3200K. Its color spectrum isn’t as full as the Rotolight, but it is a bit more linear.

Above is the Luxli’s spectral distribution when used at 5600K. As you can see the Luxli has a far fuller spectrum at 5600K than the Rotolight and it’s not missing nearly as much information around the 460-500 nm wavelength. The Rotologht’s inability to reproduce information at these wavelengths is evident when you look at both the lights color rendering scores and spectral distribution. Again, as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t find this affected the lights real-world performance in any way.

REAL WORLD PERFORMANCE AND QUALITY OF LIGHT

As I always say, photometric scores only tell you part of the story. So do the scores from the Rotolight Anova Pro 2 translate into real-world performance?

In the example footage that you can see above, I simulated an interview style set up. The Rotolight Anova Pro 2 was used as the key light with the Lupo Superpanel Full Color 30 being used as the backlight. A white poly board was also used on the right-hand side to add some fill. I then filmed the exact same scene with the Luxli Timpani 1×1 RGBAW and the Lupo Superpanel 1×1 Full Color 30 RGBW. I chose the Luxli Timpani as I firmly believe it is one of the best value portable LED lights on the market. I also wanted to see how the Rotolight faired against the Lupo.

For my tests, I kept all the lights in the exact same position, height and distance from my subject. I set all three lights at 5600K and then set the camera to a preset 5600K white balance. I also manually balanced all three lights to see what differences there were. The output of the lights was adjusted accordingly to get the correct exposure.

Even though all three lights looked good, they all had different looks. The Luxli was a little warmer than the Rotolight and the Lupo was a little colder. Technically if you want to go off scopes, the Rotolight was the most neutral of the three. I found that all three lights produced nice results and the skin tones all looked good. With a few minor tweaks, I’m pretty sure even the most novice of colorists could get all three images to match. In saying that, both the Lupo and Luxli offer +/- green adjustment so you could easily make minor adjustments to correct any color casts.

I liked the catch light that you get when using the Rotolight. Being a circular source helps in this regard and I found the catch light looked just a little bit bigger and more pleasing compared to the Lupo and Luxli.

I also did a test where all of the lights were set to their maximum brightness at 5600K so you could see the differences. The Lupo has a much wider beam angle than the Rotolight and the Luxli so it was no real surprise that it was capable of lighting up more of the room.

The Anova Pro 2 does produce a really nice quality of light, but as it doesn’t feature any in-built diffusion, so do you need to use a softbox to create flattering light? I found that even without using a softbox it was very capable of producing nice results. The Lupo Superpanel Full Color 30 has a built-in diffusion panel, and the Luxli Timpani only has a very light diffusion screen (which is there for getting rid of the individual shadows caused by using multiple LEDs).

I tried out Rotolight’s own Anova Softbox Kit with the light and it worked really well. The softbox is nice and large and it creates a really nice source of light that wraps around your subjects face. Unlike most other softbox solutions that are available for 1×1 style panel lights, the Rotolight softbox has a nice amount of depth. This means it is able to create a softer source because of the distance from where the front of the diffusion that goes on the softbox to the actual light source is quite deep.

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 LED light soft box

The softbox comes with both diffusion and frost, as well as an egg crate. I like that Rotolight gives you two different types of diffusion and that the softbox kit is very reasonably priced at $157.49 USD. This is considerably cheaper than a lot of other softboxes that are available on the market.

I did some measurements with the Sekonic C-700 to see how much output the light could produce with the softbox being used. With the frost on and the Anova Pro 2 set at 100% output (5600K) it recorded 2990lx at a distance of 1 meter from the front of the softbox. That’s a 35% decrease in output over using the light with no softbox and the frost. With the diffusion on under the same conditions, it recorded an output of 1830lx, which is 60% less than if used without. Both the frost and the diffusion produce really nice, soft light. I found that the frost was probably the better way to go if you are using the Anova Pro 2 for interviews. The diffusion cuts the output so significantly that you would need to have the light fairly close to your subject in most scenarios.

Rotolight Anova Pro 2 LED light soft box internal

There are, however, two downsides to the softbox. The first is you need to purchase the optional barn doors to be able to use it.

The second is that I found it difficult to put on as it needs to fit over the top of the barn doors and its a very tight fit. This is not a quick or easy process and I don’t like wasting valuable time mucking around trying to get a softbox to fit. Putting on a softbox should be a quick and easy process and if takes longer than a minute to do then there is something wrong with the design.

If you don’t have a high enough output to begin with, and then attempt to heavily diffuse that lighting source, often the brightness of that light is reduced to a point where it’s only usable when placed very close to a subject. If you do use the Anova Pro 2 in this way you will have to have to have it a little closer to your subject, but I still found it had enough output that I didn’t have to put it as close as say the Luxli Timpani. The output of the Anova Pro 2 is pretty impressive for a portable LED solution, especially one that only has a power draw of 72W.

The Anova Pro 2 is a little on the heavy side, but it’s not so heavy that you should rule it out if you are a solo operator or traveling cameraman or woman who needs a light that is quick to set up and can be powered remotely in the field from a camera battery. The lights 50-degree beam angle does make it suitable to use for interviews without the light source spilling everywhere. From my experience using the light, I would still recommend going with a softbox if you are using the fixture for interviews. The beam spread of 50-degrees is a lot narrower than the 115-degrees of the Lupo Superpanel Full Color 30, and the 72-degree beam angle of the Luxli Timpani. I’m not the biggest fan of panel lights with narrow beam angles, I much prefer to have lights that have a wider beam spread, as I find them more versatile.

The Anova Pro 2 also looks also looks like it could be used effectively for news crews doing live crosses as the fixture can be run off a camera battery and it’s powerful enough (as long as you aren’t trying to match a bright background) to provide a nice amount of fill. If you are trying to match a bright background there are better solutions available.

Usability

As I have mentioned in other lighting reviews, the numbers only tell part of the story. You can have the most color accurate light in the world, but if it is difficult to use and operate then you are going to leave it at home. Thankfully, the Anova Pro 2 is very quick and easy to use. I love lights that you can take out of a case, throw a battery on the back and turn on. If you are a solo operator time is always crucial. There is nothing worse than taking 5-10 minutes to set up a light before you can turn it on.

As far as using the lights controls, making changes to the output and color temperature are very straightforward and the LCD display lets you accurately monitor and see any changes that you make.

If you are familiar with any of Rotolight’s other offerings, you will know that the physical design and layout of the controls is standard across all of their models. This is not such a bad thing as you can jump from one model to the next and know exactly how to use and control the light. If you haven’t used a Rotolight before, the control over color temperature and output are easy, but it may take you a little bit of time to get used to using the light’s more advanced features.

Changing filters is quick and hassle-free and the built-in v-lock battery plate and low power consumption allows you to run the light off a camera battery for long periods of time. This also makes it easy to move the light around, as you’re not having to look for power outlets and run long extension cables across the floor.

Getting into the menu is straightforward but I still struggle sometimes with remembering how to make changes to the SFX features. In fairness, this is probably something that could be overcome by using the light on a more regular basis, and news and documentary shooters are unlikely to be using these features that often. This is where a dedicated iOS app would come in very handy.

The light can be adjusted from 3150K up to 6300K in increments of 10. You can also hold the dial down and move it if you need to do it quicker. The light can also be dimmed from 100% to 1% in 1% increments. Again if you hold down the dial and move it does it a lot quicker.

The additional barn doors are nice, but they can’t be moved in a circular rotation around the light as they are locked down. I also found that because there are six doors, instead of the usual four, they can be a little fiddly and awkward to use. The barn doors do tend to end up hitting each other when you start closing them down to control the light. The other minor downside of the barn doors is that if you are using them, they end up hitting the light’s yolk frame if you try and angle the light down. I found this very frustrating when trying to use the light to illuminate something that was lower than the height of the light. The only way to overcome this is to use a light stand where you can place a spigot horizontally and not vertically.

The flight case that comes as part of the Masters Kit is beautifully designed and made. It is a great option for transporting the light around. The only slight negative is that the case is quite large and weighs around 11.5kg with the light inside. Some shooters may find that not to be a problem, but again it really depends on what you’re used to traveling with and how much kit you normally take. The nice thing about the flight case is it actually makes for a nice platform if you need to get you reporter a little higher off the ground for a live cross or piece to camera.

If you want to go lighter, Rotolight does make a Travel Kit that consists of barn doors and a soft bag for $292.49 USD.

Competition

Luxli Timpani RGBAW 1x1 led light set to pink

When the original Anova Pro came onto the market it had a host of features that other lights didn’t have, but the industry has changed a lot since that time. There is now a host of lights on the market that offer features not found on the latest Anova Pro 2. While the Anova Pro 2 is still the only light to feature an HSS mode, just about everyone else now offers special effects. A lot of the current crop of lights are now RGB, and some such as the Luxli Timpani offer inbuilt filters, color picking technology, +/- green adjustment, and very clever iOS apps for controlling the lights features. The Anova Pro 2’s main competition is from lights such as the Litepanels Astra series, KinoFlo Celeb 200, KinoFlo Diva Lite 200, Lupo Superpanels, and the Luxli Timpani.

Price and availability

The Anova Pro 2 ($1,799 USD) is around $500 US more than the original Anova Pro. This makes it quite expensive, especially compared to some of the competition. I asked Rotolight why the price had increased so much and was told, “I think that the extra 384 LEDs , extra beefy PSU, and built-in Elinchrom Skyport HSS receiver are fairly good value. You also need to bear in mind that the UK£ dropped in value from $1.55 down to $1.30 against the $USD during the Anova Pro 2’s development making many of our components 16% more expensive.”

As I mentioned earlier, the Anova Pro 2 comes in three different versions. There is a standard Bi-colour 110- degree beam spread, which is the one I have been testing, a Bi-colour 50-degree beam version, and a 5600K fixed daylight version. All three of the lights can be purchased separately and there are various accessories that are also available. These include barn doors, flight case, soft case, v-lock batteries, softbox kit, rain cover, and a diffuser. The 50-degree Bi-color, 110-degree Bi-color, and 5600K only versions are all $1799 USD. The Masters Kit is an additional $433.87 USD.

Rotolight also makes a light stand that has a maximum load carrying capacity of >15KG and a height capacity of 285cm. At $71.99 USD it makes for a nice option for the Anova Pro 2.

As a price comparison, the Litepanels Astra Bi-color Soft 1×1 is now available for $999 USD  (it was $1350 US). The Litepanels Astra Bi-color Soft 1×1  doesn’t come with an inbuilt V-lock battery plate, that is extra. The Kinoflo Celeb 200 retails for $2373 US, and barn doors are $398.50. The Luxli Timpani retails for $999 USD, and the Lupo Superpanel 1×1′ Full Color 30 RGBW is $1,598 USD.

Conclusion

The Anova Pro 2 certainly does offer a lot of functionality, but it is considerably more expensive than the original. The build quality is superb, and the power output is exceptionally good given the light’s small power draw. For news and documentary shooters, the ability to run the Anova Pro 2 off camera batteries that are under 100Wh for long periods of time is a huge selling point.

The light isn’t RGB like a lot of other 1×1 panel options that are now on the market, and that is something you have to carefully consider these days when making a purchase. The Anova Pro was ahead of its time, but now there are plenty of other lights on the market that offer a lot of features that the Anova Pro 2 has to compete against.

The light is color accurate and very good at replicating skin tones correctly. It is also excellent at reproducing the correct color temperature across its 3150-6300K range. It’s good to see a company not follow the market trends and stick to creating a good old fashioned light that is color accurate, has good output and is reliable and robust. Not everyone needs an RGB light. The only downside for me is the price. At $1,799 USD it is expensive considering that lights such as the Luxli Timpani are almost half of the price.

Despite the increased competition from other lights that are now on the market, I still like the Anova Pro 2. The low power draw and high output are both killer features that should make the light a very popular choice with news and documentary shooters. It’s also a very good option if you are doing a lot of multimedia work where both stills and video are required.

With good functionality, color accuracy, and a strong output, the Anova Pro 2 is a light that is worth considering if you are looking for a portable LED solution that can be run off smaller, travel safe v-lock batteries.

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