The Bright Tangerine Prodigy Air Deflector was designed to keep rain, dust, dirt, snow, etc. off the front of your lens, to provide you with a clear shot in any conditions.
Bright Tangerine was showing the final shipping version of its Prodigy Rain Deflector at Interbee 2022 in Japan. We first saw a prototype of this product way back in June 2019 at CineGear.
Since we first saw the Prodigy it has undergone quite a few changes. There is now a different control mechanism and compressor. The controller can now be set to three different speeds.
Yes, Rain Deflectors/Spinners are fairly niche products, but they do serve a real purpose, and they can be very useful when specialty shots are required or when the camera needs to be used in adverse conditions where keeping water, snow, dust, dirt, etc. off the front of the lens is crucial.
Rain Deflectors have historically been expensive. Products like the SCHULZ Sprayoff Rain Deflectors, GSS Rain Deflector , ZERO Rain Deflector, just to name a few, have been around for quite a while, and even though you can purchase them, they are usually rental products. They also relied on moving parts to spin the glass, rather than have high-pressure air forced across the front of the lens as we see on the Movmax Hurricane and the Bright Tangerine Prodigy.
There have been attempts in the past to make more affordable options. The Innovision Optics DSLR Spintec Rain Deflector was introduced way back in 2010. It could be mounted on 75 to 105mm diameter lenses with either internal or external focus. If you needed to use it with internal focus lenses the Spintec could be attached directly to a lens. If you were using external focus lenses they needed to be mounted via special brackets attached to standard 15mm rods. The basic kit retailed for $1,995 USD.
I recently reviewed the competing Movmax Hurricane, so I was keen to see how the Bright Tangerine Prodigy performed. Without further ado, let’s get on with the review.
What do you get?
The Bright Tangerine Prodigy Production Kit comes with the following items:
This essentially gives you almost everything you need without having to purchase any other extra components. Bright Tangerine doesn’t give you any type of hard case with the Prodigy which I think is an oversight given its cost.
The competing Movmax Hurricane comes included with a hard case.
Ok, so let’s now look at the key components of the Prodigy.
The Air Head is based around the Misfit Kick matte box. This enables the Air Head to also be used as a standalone matte box. The large field of view makes it ideal for wide-angle lenses, and the Reveal stage mechanism allows you to add a third stage without the need for any additional accessories.
It’s light enough to use in a clip-on configuration or with rod supports on a 15mm LWS or 15/19 Studio setup. The top flag is made of carbon fiber, which aids with flare control and adds further protection from the weather.
The main component of the Misfit Kick matte box is the Core, which features Bright Tangerine’s patented Reveal Stage, which allows for tool-free conversion between a 2-stage and 3-stage. All you need is a third filter tray.
A 2-stage matte box will always have a wider field of view compared to a 3-stage, as a third stage will push the shade further out from the lens. So when you don’t need to use three filters, you gain the extra coverage without having to spend time removing the third stage, it simply collapses into the core.
Another reason why you may want to have 3-stages is to use a diopter or Rota Pola. These filters may not be needed all the time compared to an ND and diffusion/FX filter that may stay loaded for a whole shoot, so having the ability to drop in a third filter when needed is always handy.
I previously looked in-depth at the Reveal system when I reviewed the Misfit Kick and you can see how it works below.
The Reveal system uses what I would describe as a two-stage locking mechanism. It has primarily been designed to make sure that your filter stages and clamp adapter can’t move around or come loose.
The way that the filter trays load in has also been changed. Rather than use ball bearings like traditional matte boxes, the Misfit Kick uses a new leaf-spring system in combination with a protruding ridge to secure the filter trays, creating a positive locking position.
For even more security, a filter guard can be mounted onto the bottom of the sunshade.
The Reveal system on the Air Head works in the exact same way as the Misfit Kick.
The second key component of the Prodigy system is the compressor. The Compressor is the engine of the Prodigy Air Deflector. It filters and compresses the air, accelerating it to 300+ mph.
It was designed in a way that it sucks in air from four separate sides.
The compressor needs to be powered via the 24V (2-pin Lemo), and it also has R/S connectivity (3-pin Fischer).
You need to rig it to your camera, and that can be done using arms, rod brackets, clamp, etc.
The compressor has multiple 3/8″ and 1/4-20″ mounting holes with locating pins on 3 sides. This allows you to mount the compressor in a variety of different ways depending on your requirements.
The controls for operating the Prodigy are located on the compressor unit.
The air filter in the compressor is user replaceable and I will talk about that further down in the build quality section of the review.
How does it work?
The Prodigy doesn’t use any moving or spinning parts like a traditional rain spinner. Instead, it uses a compressor that pushes air down through a hose and then over a special piece of glass.
The air from the compressor is forced over the front of the glass at 300mph. Because of the pressure of the air, water gets removed before it can settle on the glass.
The downward force is identical to gravity and natural rainfall and particle movement. The special piece of glass is optically clear with no effect on image quality or exposure and has excellent impact resistance )I will test this further down in the review). Any water or liquid on the surface slides off and doesn’t bead up after being treated with a superhydrophobic coating.
Unlike when you use a spinner, you won’t get a dead spot in the middle of the lens if you are tilting your camera up or down. The other benefit is that if you are operating handheld you-you won’t be fighting a centrifugal force.
The Prodigy is made with the same attention to detail that you would expect from any Bright Tangerine product.
It is machined and hand-finished in Bright Tangerine’s factory in Church Crookham from high-grade materials and it comes with a 2-year warranty.
The Air Head is solidly made and well constructed.
The separate compressor/power unit is housed in milled lightweight aluminum and it features professional connectors. The buttons are easy to see and they are well-made.
The Prodigy has undergone rigorous waterproof testing, achieving an IP66 rating. Not only is it completely dust-proof, but it can withstand powerful water jets without a problem. The only higher rating is reserved for full submersion. Furthermore, it has obtained CE certification, demonstrating its full compliance with an extensive range of vital regulations throughout the entire European Union.
For a product, at this price point, that is aimed at professional users, I wouldn’t expect to see any build quality issues.
To protect the glass when you are carrying the camera around you can use the top flag that comes in both the Base Kit and the Production Kit.
Bright Tangerine has made the Prodigy Air Head Glass replaceable, in case it gets broken or damaged. You actually get a spare piece of glass in the Production Pack. This is nice to see because if you break the glass on set then you can quickly put in a replacement. This is something you can’t do with the competing Movmax Hurricane.
Bright Tangerine has also made the air filter in the Prodigy compressor user replaceable. Compressors such in air and with that air can come all sorts of particles and much that can quickly build up on the filter.
The Prodigy Filter uses Military-grade filtration that purifies to 1 micron blocking out dust particles and debris from entering the compressor. It is robust, waterproof, and designed to operate in a wide temperature range (-40 to +50°C). Bright Tangerine recommends that the filter in the Prodigy Compressor needs to be replaced every 12 months or sooner so that you can maintain the highest possible level of performance.
On the competing Movmax Hurricane, you can’t replace the filter, because it doesn’t actually even have one. Given the amount of air it is sucking in, that could lead to issues after continued use.
I do have to warn you though, a replacement filter costs $199 USD.
Size & Weight
The Prodigy isn’t what I would describe as lightweight because it consists of two individual components. The Prodigy Air Head, top flag, two filter trays, 15mm support, hose, and compressor weigh in at 2.4 kg / 5 lb.
You also have to factor in the weight of a monitor arm or similar device that is required to mount to the compressor.
As a comparison, the competing Movmax Hurricane with a 4 x 5.65″ filter tray and a lens adapter plate weighs 1070g / 2.35 lb. The Hurricane is arguably easier to use on smaller to mid-sized digital cinema cameras because of its all-in-one design and ability to be powered via a 12V source.
On a small to mid-sized digital camera, the Prodigy does feel a little on the heavy side and you need to work out where to mount the compressor. At least in my opinion, it is better suited for use on larger digital cinema camera packages. While you could place it on a mirrorless hybrid, you would end up with a very large and awkward-to-use rig.
The way it has been designed does mean that the balance is going to be even on the front of the camera, however, you need to think carefully about where to place the compressor if you wanted to get good balance if you were shoulder operating a camera.
Now, here is the caveat you need to be very aware of if you plan on purchasing a Prodigy. The Prodigy is powered by 24V and it uses an industry-standard 2-pin LEMO input with built-in automatic polarity switching preventing any chance of shorting out and damaging the compressor when using different cable standards.
The power input allows for a voltage range of 21-33V. In case of any power issues, a warning light illuminates, indicating potential issues and enabling quick troubleshooting. In situations where the voltage goes outside of the recommended range, your power warning symbol will illuminate. An amber light will signal if it drops below 21V or exceeds 33V. Should the voltage drop below 19V or be above 35V, the warning light will turn red, and the Prodigy will shut off.
As it requires a 21-33V you can’t run it directly from your camera or onboard battery. Unless you come up with your own option, you need to use the 2-pin LEMO to 3-pin power adapter cable that comes with the Prodigy. This does limit your options as it requires that you have the correct type of powering solution available. On large productions, this will probably mean running a block battery.
I ended up powering the Prodigy using a Litepanels Dual Battery Bracket for Gemini 2 x 1 Soft LED Panel (V-Mount) (it is also available in Gold mount) with two AB V-mount batteries.
This is a big and clunky solution and it requires you to spend $479.75 USD and have access to two identical batteries. This is far from ideal, and it does limit your ability to use the Prodigy in a hand-held configuration.
You could also use something like the Anton/Bauer 26V Dual Mounting Plate for Litepanels Gemini Series (Gold Mount Plus), but then you need to fork over $474.05 USD as well as needing to buy 26V batteries if you don’t own any.
Now, I reached out to Bright Tangerine to ask them why they chose to go with 24V and they told me the following:
“There are a few reasons. To get the performance that we want, it needs a higher voltage. 24V is already an industry standard and battery companies are already releasing more dual voltage batteries 14/28 or 26V.“
“For handheld, smaller cameras we understand that 24V may be an issue for now, we may look at a 12V option that can run directly from a battery.”
“7 times out of 10 a separate on-board battery for the prodigy is the most sensible option. This could be a stand-alone single fitting with fly lead or chassis mount or a dual stand-alone adaptor with batteries ganged up to share the load. These types of plates can usually be mounted to a tripod leg, etc.”
“3-pin XLR is native 24v, so that’s just a given on floor batteries, on standalone fittings, there are options out there with fly leads on chassis-mounted XLR3s.”
“You don’t necessarily need to use XLR3 at the battery end, so if you have something non-standard to the industry you can get a cable made up to suit, as long as your supply the Prodigy the correct voltage. And the connector you are coming from is up to spec for the current, you’re all good.”
While I get the rationale for going with 24V it is not an ideal solution for smaller-sized crews or anybody who doesn’t want to carry around a Block Battery or adapter plate and extra batteries. I would have personally preferred to have seen a powering solution where you could run the Prodigy directly from your camera or on-board battery.
Lens Adapter Plates
Bright Tangerine gives you a 143mm Frame Safe Clamp Adapter in the kit. This clamp adapter lets you clip on the Prodigy Air Haed directly onto lenses, donuts & clamp-on rings which have a 143mm outer diameter.
Bright Tangerine Frame Safe Clamp Adapters are available in eleven sizes from 80 to 143mm. Swapping out clamp adapters only takes a few seconds without the need for tools. They cost $175 USD each.
The Frame Safe design not only has the standard circular cut-out but an additional rectangular aperture to maximize the field of view to prevent vignetting, even when using wide lenses with large format sensors.
Each Frame Safe Clamp Adapter is configurable for fixed rod support. Depending on the clamp adapter size, you may require a support extension that attaches the clamp adapter to the 15mm LWS support bracket. The 114mm and 143mm clamp adapters can be used with Bright Tangerine’s wide range of clamp-on rings and rubber donuts. The Frame Safe Clamp Adapters are also compatible with the ARRI LMB 4×5, LMB-25, LMB15 & LMB-5.
As a comparison, the competing Movmax Hurricane comes with 80mm, 95mm, 110mm, and 114mm lens adapter plates in the kit. While this covers quite a lot of lenses, there isn’t an adjustable rubber donut available.
There are a couple of ways of installing the Prodigy on your camera rig. The first way is to simply attach it directly to your lens by utilizing one of the optional Frame Safe Clamp Adapters.
Changing out Frame Safe Clamp Adapters is a very quick process that takes no more than 30 seconds.
The second way, which is going to be the easiest for most people, is to attach the 15mm LWS Support Bracket (Misfit Kick) to the Prodigy Air Head. You could also use an optional 19MM Studio Bracket (Misfit Kick).
My preferred method, if it’s not going to be mounted on a vehicle, is to use the 15mm or 19mm rod bracket and the 143mm Frame Safe Clamp Adapter with the donut. This allows you to change over lenses quickly without having to change out Frame Safe Clamp Adapters.
Personally, if I was running the Prodigy on a vehicle-mounted camera or anything traveling at speed I would want to use a combination of the Frame Safe Clamp Adapter and the 15mm or 19mm rod bracket so I had two points of contact. While you could probably just use the lens adapter ring if you wanted, safety should always come first.
Speaking of safety, Bright Tangerine has included a lanyard hook mechanism on the Air Head so you can attach an extra safety line.
There is also one on the compressor.
Once you have put the Prodigy Air Head on your camera, you then need to mount the compressor.
Where you place this is up to you, but you need to think about balance, whether or not you need to access the onboard controls, and where you can put it that will be out of the way.
You also need to factor in the length of the Prodigy Hose. Bright Tangerine does give you 75cm (30″) and 50cm (20″) lengths in the kit.
If you use the shorter 50cm, (20″) Prodigy Hose, it isn’t going to allow you to place the compressor too far back on your camera rig, although that does depend on what side of the compressor you want facing up.
I found that with the 50cm (20″) Prodigy Hose if I had the controls of the compressor facing toward the back of the camera and the Prodigy Hose attachment facing up, the distance I could place the compressor back was limited. If you need to place the compressor further back you would need to face the side where the Prodigy Hose attaches towards the front of the camera.
The best option is to probably just use the longer 75cm (30″) Prodigy Hose as it allows you to mount the compressor further back on your camera rig.
You may be asking why doesn’t Bright Tangerine offer a longer Prodigy Hose so that you could take the compressor completely off your camera rig. That is a good question, but I imagine that having to send the air through a longer hose could ultimately affect the performance of the system.
After you have the Air Head and compressor attached the next step is to connect up the Prodigy Hose between both components. This is quick and easy to do.
The next step is to attach the 2-pin LEMO to 3-pin power adapter cable that comes with the Prodigy to the compressor and then to your 24V battery solution.
The set-up time for the Prodigy is probably at least 5 minutes, and this is because there are multiple components that need to be attached and you have to mount the compressor and then think about where you are going to mount or place your powering solution. This is where the competing Movmax Hurricane has an edge because it is a lot faster to set-up as it is an all-in-one unit.
The Prodigy has an On/Off button and three different power settings.
These are straightforward and easy to use, however, for a product at this price, it would have been nice to have seen a variable power setting where you could dial in the exact amount you want.
The Prodigy doesn’t come with a remote control like the Movmax Hurricane, however, it does feature an industry-standard 3-pin Fischer Run/Stop port that allows the Prodigy to be triggered using compatible hand units and remotes.
The Prodigy does feature a compressor, so yes there will be some noise. The good news is, it isn’t nearly as noisy as the competing Moxmax Hurricane.
There are a series of warning lights below the Fan Speed setting that will illuminate if there is any issue detected.
Because the Prodigy is using a separate compressor, the fan is considerably larger and therefore it isn’t going to generate as much noise as the Movmax Hurricane which has a rather small fan and compressor.
I would say that the Prodigy even when set at its highest setting is quieter than the Movmax Hurricane at its lowest setting.
With the competing Hurricane it sounds like you are standing in a Hurricane! It is very loud and you need to be aware of this as an operator. If you are hand-holding the camera or have it on your shoulder you really need to use ear protection.
The noise the Movmax Hurricane generates makes it completely unsuitable for use anywhere you need to record audio. This limits its usability and certainly makes it a very niche product that can only be used for select applications.
With the Prodigy, you could certainly use it in certain situations where audio was being recorded, as long as that audio isn’t being recorded close to where the camera is located.
For wildlife or nature shoots you could use it with a long lens like the Canon CINE-SERVO 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9, although it would depend on the type of shoot you were doing. The noise could certainly spook certain animals depending on how close they were to your camera. I know there are certainly times when I would have loved to have had the Prodigy to keep snow and rain off the front of my lens.
Does it optically affect the image?
Anytime you are putting something in front of your lens it is important to know if that is affecting sharpness, exposure, colors, etc.
I did a test where I white balanced on an 18% grey card without the Prodigy attached and then shot a color checker chart. I then put the Prodigy Air Head on and shot the same color checker chart under the exact same conditions. I wanted to see if the exposure changed and whether there was any real-world noticeable color shift.
So what did I discover? I did find that the Prodigy does slightly affect light transmission. It also very mildly changes the colors, but not in any big significant way.
If you look at a split screen image above where the Prodigy is being used on the right-hand side you can see that the image is slightly darker.
Above if we have a look at the RGB parade for both images, we can see that the Prodigy is removing some information in the blue channel.
If we look at a waveform of both images you can see You can also see that the exposure drops slightly when using the Prodigy.
If we look at a vectorscope for both images we can see that they are very close, however, the Prodigy is pushing the image a slight bit warmer.
What I did find with the competing Movmax Hurricane is that I was seeing visible chromatic aberration, while with the Prodigy, there wasn’t any. You can see this clearly in some of the example footage further down in the review.
My tests showed me that the Prodigy isn’t going to replicate exposure and colors exactly the same, but the changes are only very slight and are not of any major concern. The color push is so marginal that unless you are really looking at something closely you are not going to see any difference.
Real World Use
I don’t have any upcoming projects where I could put this through its paces, so I was more interested in just seeing how it actually works and the results you could obtain. All you should be looking at in the tests I did is how well it keeps rain and water off the lens.
I went outside in the pouring rain to do some quick tests. I also aimed the camera up toward the sky so that the maximum amount of rain would be able to come in contact with the front of the lens. I also did some examples with the Prodigy both on and off so you can clearly see the differences.
I found that you really need to use the Prodigy at one of its higher speed settings if you don’t want to get any water on the lens. While it certainly works as advertised when I pointed the camera directly up towards the rain I could still see the rain beading on the front of the lens even when it was being used in its highest setting. This is something I didn’t find as noticeable when I used the Movmax Hurricane.
The Prodigy does do a very good job of removing rain or water off the glass once it is turned on.
The best part about the Prodigy is it doesn’t hurt your ears like the Movmax Hurricane as it isn’t nearly as loud.
As a comparison, above you can see some tests I did with the Movmax Hurricane.
Despite some of the issues, the Movmax Hurricane works really well and I found even with it in its lowest speed setting it was easily able to deal with pouring rain.
Ok, back to the Prodigy.
I like the fact that the Air Head can be used as a matte box in the same way as a Misfit Kick. That added ability allows it to pull double-duty. Yes, you can do that with the Movmax Hurricane, but because the compressor is physically attached to the matte box, it does throw the weight balance off.
Yes, this is a niche product and its primary use is going to be on larger productions where it is mounted on cranes, car rigs, etc. However, I could actually see it being used when shooting nature shots in adverse conditions, and even if you needed to go out and grab some shots when it was raining or snowing, etc.
For certain action sports it could also work well.
The Prodigy was used extensively in Batman and the Bright Tangerine team received a lot of feedback that led to small changes that found their way into the final shipping unit.
Above you can see some scenes in this BTS video where the Prodigy was used.
Prodigy has also been used in numerous movies, commercials, and TV shows and it was also used on the set of Dune 2.
Price & Availability
The Bright Tangerine Prodigy Air Deflector Production Kit retails for $7,999.99 USD.
You can also get the Prodigy Air Deflector Base Kit for $6,999.99 USD.
Above you can see what comes in the base Kit.
As I have mentioned numerous times in this review, competition comes in the form of the Movmax Hurricane which I have previously reviewed on the site.
The Movmax Hurricane is a lot more affordable at $4,199 USD and it was designed to do a similar job.
The Hurricane is an all-in-one unit, and it is lighter and easier to power than the Prodigy. It also comes in a hard case and with numerous backing plates.
The Prodigy, at least in my opinion, is better built, and because it uses a separate compressor that is a lot larger, it is a lot quieter and more efficient. It also has a filter while the Hurricane doesn’t. This is a big deal because a compressor is going to such all sorts of things in and if you don’t have a filter, where do you think that is going to go!
Not only does the Prodigy have a filter, but it is user replaceable, just like the glass that sits inside the Air Head. Again, and this is just my opinion, I feel like the Prodigy has been built for tougher conditions and with longevity in mind. I am not sure how long the Movmax Hurricane is going to last with no filter.
There is no doubt that the Prodigy is a more professional and well-made product, but that does come with the additional caveats of being a lot more expensive, heavier and needing to be powered via a 24V source.
While the Movmax Hurricane is a decent solution, the Prodigy is going to be a better long term solution. If you are a rental house, having the ability to swap out filters and the front glass is going to prolong your investment.