— LED technology has revolutionized our
industry with cooler, lighter, brighter,
softer and more efficient lighting than
is feasible with traditional sources. However,
not all LED instruments are created equal.
The majority owe much of their special luminosity
to phosphors coating their diode
A new variety, however—remote phosphor
technology fixtures—provides a
brighter, more efficient light source, with
a color temperature that depends on the
phosphor panel selected, and without the
loss of one to two ƒ stops due to filters.
BBS Lighting has pioneered the development
of interchangeable phosphor panels.
These move the phosphor away from the
LED to provide greater efficiency, more light,
better color fidelity and cooler operation.
The BBS Area 48 demonstrates the great
potential of this unique LED technology
for professional lighting applications. The
light head itself is built around 48 high-capacity
LEDs. There’s an interchangeable
phosphor panel that’s excited by the LED
array and provides the actual illumination.
With suitable phosphor panels, the Area
48 can provide color temperatures ranging
from 2700–6500K. (Panels are available
for 2700K, 4300K, and 6500K; there’s also
a green phosphor for chromakey green
The light’s housing is constructed with
a sturdy textured black metal alloy. It’s rectangular,
measuring approximately 11 x 14
x 4.5-inches. Onboard barn doors are available
to limit light dispersion at angles of up
to 160 degrees. At full capacity, the unit’s
light output is equivalent to that obtained
from a 1 kW soft incandescent instrument.
There’s an onboard digital dimmer that
provides flicker-free dimming from zero to
100 percent in one-degree increments. It
also includes an internal DMX 512 interface
for remote control in studio applications.
Due to the cooler LED/phosphor panel
technology (along with some wide metal
fins on the back to help with heat dispersion),
the Area 48 has no need for a cooling
fan and operates silently.
The housing includes an angled yoke,
which enables the fixture to be tilted up or
down within a 180-degree arc for optimum
versatility. The instrument may be powered
by a 160-watt AC power supply (adapter)
or from 14.6 V Pro DC camera batteries.
It is equipped with an Anton/Bauer Gold
Mount, but can also use V-lock batteries
by adding an adapter.
At 100 percent output the Area 48
draws around 160 watts, so a 100 Watthour
battery should power it at nearly
full output for around 45 minutes
and for more than an hour when it’s
dimmed to 50–60 percent of capacity.
According to a BBS data sheet, the
Area 48 provides an impressive 4147
Lux at 1 meter, 1037 Lux at 2 meters,
and 96 Lux at six meters. Other
screens may be added to the softbox
to diffuse and shape the light. Also,
one or even two pairs of Area 48 lights
can be strapped together with special
brackets to create an even beefier
soft light with an output equivalent
to that from a 4 kW tungsten fixture.
The Area 48 I reviewed arrived
with the barn doors onboard and
the mounting yoke pre-attached. A
number one on the LCD screen indicated
that the illumination level was at
one percent (in manual model the level is
boosted or lowered in discrete one percent
increments). Each one percent increment
corresponds roughly to 10 watts of
illumination from an incandescent source.
Hence, boosting output by 20 percent is
equivalent to adding a 200-watt incandescent
light. Taking it to 100 percent is the
equivalent of switching on 1000 watts of
With that in mind, I ran a series of simple
tests with the light in fairly close quarters
and at levels varying between 30 and 70
percent. I worked in a variety of situations,
intermixing its output with ambient daylight
illumination and placing the Area 48
between three and 21 feet from the subject.
It quickly became apparent that the
Area 48 was much easier to work with than
many other lights I’d used. This was partly
due to its soft light, which creates less of a
challenge when eliminating shadows. This
meant that I could move it around fairly
freely without always worrying about casting
new shadows. And as it runs so cool,
pushing it close to the subject wasn’t a
problem either. Thus, I was able to concentrate
on getting the best illumination and
“look” vs. dealing with all the tradeoffs involved
with other lighting instruments.
In general, I found that lighting scenes
in a typical home interior was much easier
and faster than with an equivalent incandescent
light—especially where supplying
power to a lighting instrument is a concern.
The maximum current drawn by the
Area 48 doesn’t come anywhere near to
tripping breakers on a home lighting circuit
and there’s always the option for slapping
on a 100-watt camera battery.
While a pair of Area 48’s might be ideal,
I was able to light most typical “tight”
scenes with only one Area 48 as the fill,
and a different fixture for key lighting. Although
the camera I used didn’t gauge and
display color temperature, I can confirm
that whenever I had ample light on the
subject—even when it was very dark—the
colors in the electronic viewfinder corresponded
very closely to what I was seeing
with my own eyes, thus informally confirming
the fixture’s published color rendering
index (CRI) of 95 with the 5600K
I quickly learned that a single Area 48—
even when used with a “soft box” to boost
its output—will not adequately illuminate
a really large dark space. Nevertheless, I did
manage to grab some grainy (18 dB gain) cutaways
of subjects located 70 or so feet away.
Footage shot at a closer range—where
there was at least some ambient lighting—
had better color fidelity and contrast, especially
when using a camera with an ISO
less than 600.
I was able to grab enough decently lit
shots in less than two hours to create an
interesting montage of a nocturnal night
light exhibition. The color in the closer
shots was actually remarkable, considering
how dark the scene looked. I was even
more impressed with the absence of harsh
shadows, especially on faces and with the
amount of “black stretch.”
And even though AC outlets were scarce
and overloaded, I never had to worry about
running short of juice.
The Area 48 smashes two key barriers
associated with most Pro LED lights—limited
output and less-than-perfect color rendering
quality. Working with Area 48 was
much like having the lighting capacity of a
very large incandescent soft light, but without
the heat and power issues. It also provided
amazing mobility and setup speed.
This instrument blows away all other
LED lights I’ve worked with so far. Once I
got used to its few quirks, it rewarded me
with low-stress operation and provided
smoothly lit video with faithful color rendering—
even when it was the primary
light source in otherwise very dark settings.
Adding just one Area 48 to a medium-
capacity LED lighting kit can quickly
transform it into an all-purpose kit ready
for far greater challenges than just tightly
controlled daylight interviews.
Carl Mrozek operates Eagle Eye Media,
and specializes in wildlife and outdoor
subjects. His work regularly appears
on the Discovery Channel, The Weather
Channel, CBS, PBS and other networks.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ENG, TV and film studios,
and location shooting
High efficiency, soft lighting,
interchangeable phosphor panels
for different color temperatures,
operation with AC and DC
Basic kit with one phosphor panel,
barn doors, yoke and power supply,
$2,295; options include a softbox
with diffusion, $330; 40-degree grid;
Gold/V-Mount battery plate, $235