Review: BBS Lighting Area 48 LED Fixture

July 21, 2016

LED technology has taken over the industry as more people want long lasting lamps stingy on power. But with LED’s efficiency there have also been tradeoffs, such as inferior color accuracy. BBS Lighting’s new Area 48 LED fixture’s output is more consistent with better color accuracy than conventional LEDs because BBS Lighting has moved the phosphors away from the light emitting diodes. Forty-eight blue diodes behind a polycarbonate diffusion panel creates the softlight you desire.

FEATURES
The Area 48 LED fixture has four interchangeable Phosphor panels: 3200-degree K (CRI 97 panel, 361 footcandles at 3 feet), 5600-degree K (CRI 96 panel, 385 footcandles at 3 feet); 3200-degree K with DP Choice Softbox (657 footcandles at 3 feet), and 5600-degree K with DP Choice Softbox (736 footcandles at 3 feet). This 11-pound light has the same output as a 1200W softlight but pulls only 160W.

The only fill illumination needed was a piece of foam core.
Powered by conventional AC or with a Gold or V-mount DC battery, it is a light you can use anywhere and power all day long with a single battery. The LED light can dim from 100 percent to 1 percent without flicker or the color balance changing. The fanless light can be used without fear of being heard and features a strobing mode. The unit may be daisy chained to others and you can expect about 50,000 hours from the LEDs.

The standard spread of the Area 48’s beam is 160 degrees. Donning the softbox compresses that to 90, and the Snap Grid lowers it to 40 degrees. Accessories for the Area 48 LED include: 93 CRI 5600-degree K panel; 95 CRI 2700-degree K and 4300-degree K panels; 95 CRI 6500-degree K panel; Chroma Green 525n or Chroma Blue panels

It also offers a softbox with diffusion, a Snapgrid for the barn doors, a Snapgrid SX for the softbox, Phosphor panel pouches, and carrying case.

IN USE
I was anxious to review BBS’s Area 48 light because of its 1K output with a 160 W power drain on battery.

My first shoot was in a studio environment with the Area 48 at 3200-degree K with the softbox as the key source 3 feet from the talent. Dimmed to 66 percent and placed camera left, the only fill illumination was a piece of foam core camera right. I adjusted the light’s output via the display panel on its backside and the image looked perfect. At that distance, I read 455 footcandles on my meter. The project was only 60 seconds long, but I achieved the soft light I desired.

The next film required an outdoor shoot with the Area 48 LED providing fill illumination with a V-mount Anton Bauer battery. One of the grips held the LED fixture 4 feet from the talent to add a warm fill on an overcast day. At full output with the softbox, the light created no harsh shadows. A quarter mile from a power source, having a DC supply helped because we needed the additional lighting, although it was heavy to hold for an extended period of time.

We spent much of our time in a concrete sewer pipe. Outside the temperature was 22 degrees with a 30 mph wind and blowing snow. Because of our location and safety concerns, I chose again to use the Area 48 unit DC powered to illuminate the “sewer” with a warm glow—this is one versatile light.

For our third project, we supplied key illumination for an outdoor shoot of the fashions from the mid 1600’s to the 1960’s. Always supplying a soft light, the talent would be lit with a warmer or cooler light depending on their costume and time period. The same battery supplied power for the entire 12-hour shooting period over several days.

The only issue was Area 48’s weight. Indoors I used a C-Stand, but lugging a C-Stand to cramped locations where space was tight required handholding to achieve a follow fill or key light. Camera-mounted lights are fine, but none of them had the punch this BBS Lighting unit did. Also, knowing that it would outlive all of our tungsten fixtures, the initial price does not seem quite that high.

SUMMARY
The Area 48 is the perfect LED for indoors or out and functions extremely well on DC power. From now on, with every exterior shoot I’m on, the Area 48 LED light will be there with a V-mount battery (or Gold Mount if you prefer).

FAST FACTS

APPLICATION
Punch of a 1K, but the appetite of a 160 W incandescent light bulb.

KEY FEATURES
AC or DC powered, tungsten or daylight balanced phosphors, diffused softbox, snap grid, low power consumption, long lamp life, small footprint, dimmable, and accessories to customize to your needs.

SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE
$2,499

CONTACT
BBS Lighting
1-800-820-6610
[email protected]

Chuck Gloman is an Associate Professor and Chair of the TV/Film Department at DeSales University. He may be reached [email protected].

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