Spiffy Gear Spekular Light Review

Erik with Spekular light

Lighting is constantly changing. We have so many options from basic 1×1 panels to flexible large mats and tubes lights too. Spiffy Gear has yet another designed to add to the mix. Interlocking LED lights. With Spiffy Gear Spekular your Lego building inner child can be released!

Something to note the Speckular system was designed with stills photographers in mind. Not to say they can’t be used effectively for video production. Lights are lights.

At IBC 2018 I met up with Spiffy Gear.
Spekular four with joiners

The Spiffy Gear Spekular are 30cm (11.8 inches) long and 4cm (1.5 inches) wide LED lights. The design is very unique in how the lights connect. They can be used as one dimmable source or four lights attached together in multiple configurations. You can also separate the LED sections with an expansion kit ($99.00US). Unfortunately, you have only one section with a dimmer on/off switch. This means they can’t be dimmed individually if separated with the expansion kit. If you need more control a second kit is necessary.

Spekular Kit in case

Basic Kit Includes

  • Four LED sections – 4cm x 30cm per section
  • Four hinged connectors
  • Power supply,- 110V-240V, 50-60Hz, 24V out
  • Mounting gear (1/4-20″)
  • Eight gel holders
  • Spiffy carry case
  • Instructions
  • Color temperature: 5600K
  • beam angle: 120°
  • Dimming range: 10%-100%
  • $499.00US

Joiners

Spekular and joiners

Since each individual (30cm or 11.8 inches) section is fairly bright at 263 LUX they can be used for a fill or very low light soft keys. It really depends on the mood of the shot however when combined they basically quadruple in output for 935 LUX. Very usable as a key without diffusion. Add a large RoadRag or 4×4 with diffusion in front and it’s a nice soft source.

Spekular joiner
Each corner is adjustable and locks down to create different shapes

I like the versatility of the sections and the joiners while being plastic they seem to be durable in feel. Parts that need the strength of metal are used such as the small circular mount that slides into the back of the light and attaches the joint. I could see this being a weak spot if it was not metal. Being plastic also keeps the overall weight down. The Spekular lights themselves are solid with all-metal housing.

Spekular into joiner
StrapMoore
Tether Tools StrapMoore

Having so many options sometimes can be problematic. You have more cables and mounting hardware to deal with. Fortunately, the four light kit comes with enough to get your creative mind wrapped around the simple possibilities of using and configuring and you don’t need any extra cables if you use them all together. The only cable needed is the AC cable that plugs into the light with the dimmer and on/off switch. The AC cable from the ballast is on the short side at 1.5 meters or 4.9 feet. I used a Tether Tools StrapMoore to attach the ballast to the stand for a nice clean setup.

Spekular mount
1/4 20″ mounting hardware.

While being able to create a lot of different type of shapes with a kit you need to mount the lights to a stand. For that, the Spekular light comes with one 1/4 20″ mount that slides onto the light and locks down. The mount can be used on any section.

Spekular mount with baby pin
mounting hardware with baby pin.
Swivel Umbrella Adapter
Manfrotto Lite-Tite Swivel Umbrella Adapter

At first, I wasn’t sure how I wanted to mount it. I figured using a 1/4 20″ baby pin into a grip head would work and it does or a Swivel Umbrella Adapter also works well. One issue is the baby pin tends to loosen while using the light if you are making adjustments. To avoid damaging the plastic mount I didn’t want too over tighten the baby pin. I would like to see a little more from the mounting system. As is it works but you have to take an end off to move it to another section since the kit comes with only one.

Expansion kit

Spekular Expansion Kit

The ability to separate the lights and tie them together is also very cool. With the Spiffy Gear expansion kit, the four lights can be spread apart and controlled with one master section that has the on/off and dimmer. This opens up the possibility to have either two pairs stacked or end to end or two singles lights on one dimmer. The kit comes with two light stand mounts with 1/4 20″ taps, two cables and two straight gap-free connectors. Unfortunately, when tied together the lights will all be at the same output since they are tied together with the main dimmer.

Spekular cable
Spiffy Gear expansion cable plugs into either end of the light.

Spekular Expansion Kit includes two of the following

  • Light Stand Mounting Units
  • Section-to-Section Extension Cords
  • Straight Gap-Free Connectors

Gel Clips

Spekular gel clip

Each light component comes with two gel holders, so you can balance them with tungsten lights, add diffusion, or use filters just for creative effects. At IBC they had a really nice softbox as well. I found black wrap also attached easily to the back with the clips to make a barn door for controlling spill. No gaffers tape needed. That’s a first!

Spekular Battery Adapter

Spekular Battery Adapter

Spiffy Gear has a Speckular Battery Adapter that is simply a ballast and a D-tap connector cable that goes to a V-Mount or Gold Mount battery that includes a D-tap output. This makes shooting in remote locations much easier. It comes with a pouch for the battery and adapter that can be hung on the light stand.

  • Use the Spekular kit anywhere with battery power
  • Perfect for location shoots – declare independence from power sockets
  • Battery mounts on a light stand with the included battery case
  • Uses a standard V-mount DTAP-enabled battery

Spekular Star Adapter

Spekular Star adapter
Spekular Star Adapter

If you need a bright soft broad beam source the Start Adapter is really cool. You can use as many lights as you want in any configuration as well. Up to two Core Kits can be added for eight Spekular lights. Simply insert the Spekular lights into the mount and tighten it down. Works just like the adjustable joints. Add a second Core Kit to create an open-centered, eight-pointed star that measures approximately 25″ in diameter  You can shoot through the center of this arrangement like a ring light, or use it as a large soft light bank with the bonus of unusual and surprising star-shaped catchlights in the eyes of your subject. At IBC they had a softbox with the star adapter. The Start Adapter retails for $99

Spiffy Gear Spekular Output

Spekular four stacked
All four Spekular lights in a panel setup.

When combined it’s bright enough for headshots and interviews no problem. They can also be dimmed.

Sekonic C 700 Spectromaster

The Spiffy Gear Spekular lights aren’t insanely bright per section. I stacked four of them together and created a panel and took some readings with a Sekonic C-700-U Spectromaster from 1 meter.

935 Lux
86.9 Foot Candles

SPIFFY SPEK 4 01 5665K
Color temperature is very close to advertised at 5665K

The Spekular lights are daylight 5600K and the Sekonic C-700-U Spectromaster shows they are pretty spot on at 5665K.

Spiffy Gear Spekular Color

CRI

SPIFFY SPEK 4 01 5665K ColorRendering
Average CRI 95.5

The CRI is very good with an average rating of 95.5 and extended rating of 93.1. The important skin tone readings for R13 at 94.7 and R15 at 90.7 is also very good and will render skin tone very well.

Specular Distribution

SPIFFY SPEK 4 01 5665K SpectralDistribution
Specular Distribution

The specular distribution looks good with a very slight green and orange hump. Included and to be expected for daylight lights is a large blue spike. These lights will play well with other 5600K daylight color accurate lights on set.

Spiffy Gear Spekular Usability

I see these lights being used for both stills and video. They are soft enough for portrait work and interviews with the milky white panels that cover the LED’s. The sections are easy to put together and adjust. A simple square is a popular first run. While it acts similar to a ring light the catch light pattern is different in the eyes.

Spekular

The size of the square with a single kit is a little small if you’re looking for a ring light type setup. More of a tight headshot framing. Of course, with a second kit, a much larger ring can be achieved. I think we’re all used to seeing a circle catch in the eyes and since our eyes are also round it feels more natural. Nevertheless, I kind of like it because it’s different. If you have two kits you can combine them and make a pretty large almost circular ring light.

Product shot with Spekular
Product shot for a review of the C200 Bright Tangerine cage

For the shot above I used four Spekular lights in a square configuration and shot through it to light the front of the C200 with Bright Tangerine cage and three Spekular lights low and behind the camera. For the overhead, I used an Intellytech LC-160 in a Chimera lantern. This setup only took a few minutes to achieve and the lighting to me looks pretty good. Another way to use them is to separate them and bounce the lights off white foam core for a very soft wrapping look. Since the lights are so small getting them in place is fairly easy.

Erik shot with Spekular
Tough to find models these days 😀 Shot at f4 1/125 second shutter at 800 ISO

For interviews, the expansion kit would really come in handy. Use two for a key and the other two bouncing off a white card or pare it down to a single Spekular for a fill. Lots of options. You will need to have several stands handy and work with the 5-meter length of the cables to achieve the look you want.

Erik shot with Spekular light setup
Here is the three light setup for the portrait. I used two Spekular lights for the key and bounced in for fill. One stick for a back/side light. Nothing to fancy. I do love the overhead Chimera Lantern in the Intellytech LC-160 LiteCloth

Similar Products

I couldn’t find any real similar products to the Spekular lights. LED tube lights are growing fast but the interlocking system is unique to Spiffy Gear. Quasar Science, Cole LED, Digital Sputnik, to name a few are popular options for 2′ and 4′ LED tubes. They also have mounting challenges that you need to figure out as opposed to the Spekular lights. Yes, they too require a different approach depending on how you want to use them but I do find them easy to work with minimal extra hardware.

Conclusion

Spekular Configurations 1

The Spiffy Gear Spekular light is interesting and very different than any other light I’ve used. While still being similar to tube lighting it’s easier to use out of the box than say a T8 or T12 LED tube light that requires you to figure out how to mount them. The Spekular light comes with everything you need to configure and mount them to a stand. Singularly they are fairly bright however when all four are used together as a panel they create a nice soft key.

Spekular wide configuration
Going wide with the Spekular kit.

Need a wider longer source? Take 2 sets and put them end to end for a two foot long light. The square or triangle setup is great to shoot through for those flat direct head-on shots similar to a ring light.

spekular promo

Secondly, they can be used as practicals or background elements in a scene or interview. As I mentioned at the top of the review let your inner Lego builder out and have some fun creating interesting designs for product shots.

I like the kit and the light quality and output are very good. The sections being somewhat short helps get them into smaller spaces for bouncing. The Spekular Core LED Kit retails for $499. I feel they are not overly expensive for the many options the kit gives you. I would look into the Spekular Interview Kit that includes the Extension kit for $598 at B&H. This way you have a lot more options when using them as individual lights.

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