When the name Anton/Bauer comes to mind, most think of batteries, but the company does a whole lot more than make portable power sources. The Ultra DAYlight is a small, camera-mounted light which features switchable daylight and tungsten balanced modules (head units). There's no more bulb pulling and tugging to change color temperatures as would be required in other instruments.
The review kit I received contained a Dionic 90 Lithium-Ion battery, Tandem Gold Mount battery charger/power supply, an Ultralight 2 (UL-2) tungsten module, an Ultra DAYlight HMI light module, a QR PD HDV adapter for connecting the camera to the power supply, and Anton/Bauer's UL SoftBox for diffusing the HMI light source. This kit contains everything for the shooter to illuminate scenes either indoors or out.
The Anton/Bauer Ultra DAYlight fixture in use atop a Sony HVR-Z1 Setup takes just a few seconds. The 10 ounce UL-2 mounts to either the camera's hot shoe or a 1/4-inch screw mount. The UL-2 module contains a 25 W halogen lamp that can be aimed directly at talent or tilted up to 90 degrees (bounce lighting). A glass diffuser softens the output and prevents anyone from touching of the lamp. There's also an on/off switch for activating the head module.
A 42-inch cable plugs connects the power supply to the camera's battery port (in my case was a Sony HVR-Z1). Mounts are available for a number of cameras. The Dionic 90 battery attaches to the plate and slides neatly into a pouch that may be worn on the shooter's waist. This combo will power the camera and the light for several hours.
The most amazing feature is that UL-2 head module easily slides off to either change a burned out lamp or to replace it with another module—in our case the Ultra DAYlight.
This 25 W HMI head module weights in at one pound, and, according to Anton/Bauer, consumes half the power of a standard HMI. This head module slides directly into the UL-2 base plate and has the same range of motion.
When activated, it takes a few moments for the light to come up to full intensity. The ballast in the circuit keeps the 5600 degree K color temperature accurate throughout the bulb's life. And, as might be expected, the output is much greater than the UL-2. The HMI provides 350 foot-candles at three feet. This is roughly four and a half times more than what you get with the tungsten head. And at a distance of three feet, 350 foot-candles is too strong for anything except competing with the sun. The UL Softbox comes in handy here and in my opinion needs to be mounted and used for almost all lighting purposes. It's attached to the Ultra DAYlight's head module via two screws and provides plenty of necessary diffusion. HMIs may make whites "pop" in video, but their undiffused illumination is too strong for a camera-mounted light.
I should note that a fully discharged Dionic 90 battery takes approximately two hours to charge. When it's ready, the red "charge" light extinguishes and the green "ready" LED illuminates.
I was able to test both the halogen and HMI heads on a recent shoot. I used the halogen head for a two and a half hour interview, with the unit tilted to bounce from the ceiling. The only other illumination in the room was from a recessed fixture and my on-camera light added the needed bounce fill. Both the Sony HVR-Z1 and the head unit were on for the entire time with no discernable change in the battery level. The light on the camera was too hot to touch for 10 minutes after the shoot, but did provide plenty of illumination, allowing me to shoot at fF3.2 aperture.
Fast Facts Application
Illumination for indoor and outdoor video shooting.
Interchangeable HMI and tungsten modules
MSRP as tested, $2,632.
Anton/Bauer Inc. | 800-422-3473 | www.antonbauer.com I later used the HVR-Z1 on an outdoor shoot and found the Ultra DAYlight to be a perfect outdoor source of fill light. This was a one and a half hour piece, with me walking with the talent through his garden. I had the Dionic 90 battery strapped around my waist, a wireless microphone receiver in my back pocket and the Ultra DAYlight enclosed in the softbox. The direct overhead sunlight was properly balanced with the softened HMI pointed directly at the subject. After this shoot in which the HMI and camera were on constantly, the battery indicator was still sitting on level three. At this rate a full day of shooting would not be impossible with a fully charged battery.
I've been using lighting instruments for 28 years and Anton/Bauer's package is one of the most versatile I have seen. HMI lights are difficult to beat; Hollywood has been using them for years. The interchangeability of the head units is its greatest feature. Whatever the shooting environment, you now have the correct light without worrying about mixing color temperatures. This transformation happens in seconds.
Other strengths include extremely long battery life (at least with smaller camcorders) and head interchangeability.
The negatives I experienced are few. I do wish that both units were dimmable, as indoors, the direct lighting is too strong. And although Anton/Bauer suggests leaving the units mounted on the camera when it's stored, it takes quite some time for each to cool after shooting, making it so that no one could put them away and just rush off to the next location. I also need to comment on the Dionic 90. You can't see the battery's charge state in the camera's viewfinder; instead you have to look at the battery itself. I know that this is a minor inconvenience, but old habits die hard. Lastly, if you are in an environment where multiple users will be using the Ultralight package (for instance, a news department or at a school), extra care must be taken in changing the head modules; otherwise the pins could get damaged. In such situations each user need to take the time to practice changing the head modules—this will add years to the unit's service life.
Other than these minor complaints, this is exciting lighting package and one that will certainly brighten anyone's day.
Chuck Gloman is a producer/director of photography with more than 800 commercials to his credit, and is program director of the TV/film department, as well as a member of the faculty, at DeSales University. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.