LumenArc Active Diffusion

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The Lumen Arc Active Diffusion is an electronically adjustable light modifying system that was designed to simplify grip and lighting inventory. Essentially it is a mid-sized diffusion frame that allows you to adjust the amount of diffusion electronically.

The Active Diffusion technology emulates the full range of standard diffusion densities as well as allows you to dial in everything in between.

What sizes are available?

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The LumenArc Active Diffusion is available in two sizes, a 40″ x 40″ / 1.02m x 1.02m frame and a 24″ x 36″ / 60.96cm x 91.44cm frame.

How much diffusion do they provide?

The Active Diffusion allows you to dial in anywhere from 1/16 stop @ ~1% up to 1 1/2 stops @ 100%. Essentially the light transmission loss is 8% when the Active Diffusion is set to 1% and 21% when it is set at 100%. 1.5 stops seems to be the current limitation for this type of technology. LumenArc states that it is best to think of their diffusion as being comparable to LEE Filters Opal Frost Diffusion Filter or Hampshire Frost diffusion.

How are they powered?

The LumenArc Active Diffusion needs to be run via a hand-held controller/power supply. This comes with a detachable V-mount battery plate and a 10′ power cable and an additional 10′ cable that runs from the hand-held controller/power supply to the Active Diffusion panels.

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LumenArc specifies that a 98Wh battery will power the Active Diffusion for up to 20 hours. It is nice that you can power the diffusion vis mains power as well as from a camera battery.

How much do they weigh?

The LumenArc Active Diffusion 40″ x 40″ version weighs 13.1 lbs / 5.94 kg. The 24″ x 36″ version weighs 4.2 lbs / 1.9 kg. The 24″ x 36″ version is a lot lighter because it doesn’t have a large yoke frame. Both Diffusion Panels are 1″ / 2.54 cm thick.

The Active Diffusion frames are made out of high-grade aluminum, fiberglass, and scratch-resistant polycarbonate. According to LumenArc, they will hold up in challenging weather conditions.

This is certainly interesting technology that has its pros and cons. On the one hand, it is nice to be able to alter the amount of diffusion quickly without needing to change the diffusion that you are using. On the other hand, because this is a solid diffusion screen, it is going to be a lot heavier and not as easy to transport. It is also going to be more expensive than buying a diffusion frame and diffusion.

Who is LumenArc?

LumenArc is a relatively new company that actually doesn’t sell any other products, at least that I can find.

Two years ago LumenArc launched a crowdfunding campaign for PHOTON, a compact all-in-one utility light. According to the company, it was designed to replace all lighting tools that currently exist in the market. They went on to say that it was versatile enough to replace common flashlights, headlamps, and flexible stem lights with spot/flood toggling and the unique ability to magnetically fasten and charge from various accessories such as a flex arm or head strap. At least to my knowledge, this project never got off the ground.

Hold on, hasn’t this been done before?

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Well, yes and no. You may well remember way back at NAB 2017, Zylight and Chimera partnered up to create what they were calling Active Diffusion. In fact, even that wasn’t the first time something like this had been shown. If we go way back to NAB 2011, Chimera was showing a prototype of a similar solution that never got off the ground.

Active Diffusion was being touted as a flexible, electronically-controllable LCD screen that can be used with fluorescents or any other cool lights, like LEDs, Zylight’s Active Diffusion panel affixed to gel frames, or precisely-sized Chimera softboxes.

The adjustable opacity of the Active Diffusion panel allowed users to dial in the diffusion from 0-100% through a remote-control handset. The whole concept was that you could change from a hard to a soft source without having to take off lighting modifiers or switch out fixtures.

The unit accepted 9V power and was DMX capable, so you could rig it to a fixture and not have to worry about ladders or access when you want to tweak the opacity level.

While this never made it to market, Zylight did incorporate the technology into its Go-Panel back in 2019, however, this is different from the softbox solution they were first showing.

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Now, while the Active Diffusion panel never got off the ground, the LumenArc Active Diffusion is actually using the same technology developed by Zylight. If you look on the LumenArc Active Diffusion controller box it says ‘Technology by Zylight USA’. This technology also has a US patent.

Rotolight AEOS 2 SmartSoft Box 08 05

Rotolight also has the SmartSoft Box that allows users to electronically adjust diffusion, focus and spread without the need for gels or additional modifiers. It is best to liken it to having a LEE 216 on an adjustable dial.

It provides 1.5 stops of electronically variable diffusion by utilizing
Rotolight’s patented technology.

Price & Availability

The 40 x 40 ACTIVE DIFFUSION PACKAGE is now available to pre-order for
$3,299.99 USD. The 24 x 36 ACTIVE DIFFUSION PACKAGE is also available to pre-order for $1,899.99 USD.

Both are expected to start shipping in 2-3 months.

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