LED lighting instruments have become enormously popular during the past several years and are now available in many sizes. Their small weight, cool operation, and low power consumption make them ideal for both location and studio applications. Rosco Laboratories is not a name that is well known in television lighting circles, but the company is now offering several LED fixtures that can hold their own with more established names. Rosco's LED products range from a three-inch diameter circular light up to their two-foot square Axiom, which is the subject of this review. They're available in daylight or tungsten color temperatures and may be powered from AC or DC sources. These dimmable lights may be just what you're looking for if you need more LED punch on your set without the heat or power demands that most other lights require.
The Rosco 24 x 24 Axom LitePads in use
Rosco's LitePads 24 x 24 Axiom fixture is the largest LED light I have seen. There are 200 LEDs surrounding the perimeter of the aluminum and steel unit, with each reflecting off the shiny white surface of the 4-foot square instrument. The bottom of the light has an interior female receptacle that appears to be quite rugged and unlikely to be accidentally disconnected. The angled power cable which connects to the optional dimmer firmly rests in the interior housing where the opposite end connects to a wall outlet or DC source. The back of the light has a metal housing which accepts the quick-release mounting system consisting of a 1/4-inch bolt, baby pin, and a wall plate. This allows the mounting bracket's baby pin to clamp into a knuckled C-stand arm. The light, although somewhat bulky at about 15 pounds, can be supported on a sandbagged light stand, or a stronger C-stand.
The thumb dimmer has a rotary dial with illuminated numbers showing its output and is the only way of actually turning the light on or off without simply plugging/unplugging it from a power source. Dimming an LED does not change the color temperature; it simple lessens or increases the light's output. With the dimmer attached to the 10-foot cable to the light and 10-foot AC power cable, you can keep the Axiom a good distance from the power source.
If powered by the optional DC power source, the 24 x 24 can be used anywhere.
Many other optional features are available including a Pelican case to transport the unit, a wall plate bracket and a 5/8-inch receiver bracket.
I was fortunate enough to obtain my 24 x 24 in time for a huge documentary I needed to complete. I had to capture dozens of interviews in a log cabin in the middle of the woods, and needed a dependable bright light source that didn't consume too much power.
Illuminated by ambient daylight spilling in through the 30 windows of the 70-foot-long cabin, we began the interview process. With the Axiom as our key source and the window light as our fill, the unit was placed three feet from the interviewee's right and was dimmed to "level 7." Having a daylight-balanced source helped, and we kept the fixture illuminated for a four-hour stretch without any overheating or drawing too much power. (The 24 x 24 consumes 51 Watts, making it relatively stingy in that respect.)
At a distance of three feet from the subject, the 24 x 24's output was 80 foot-candles at full power. As with all LED units, the falloff is rapid and it dropped off to 40 foot-candles when the fixture was moved six feet away from the subject. However, one of the benefits of an LED instrument is that you can place it close to the talent without fear of setting them on fire or even overexposing your shot.
On another indoor shoot, I employed a second 24 x 24 Axiom as my fill illumination and totally lit the subject with just the two units.
The lighting instruments evaluated in the review served me well in my documentary project—they provided good color rendition, were comfortable when placed in close proximity to talent, and operated with no hiccups whatsoever. If you need a sizeable lighting instrument that consumes little power and delivers some very useable illumination, then Rosco's LitePads 24 x 24 Axiom is a very logical choice.
Chuck Gloman is chair and associate professor of the TV/Film department at DeSales University. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.