The Zylight F8 in use
In my humble opinion, one of the most important and useful tools in the lighting arsenal is the Fresnel light.
One of the unique features of the Fresnel is ability of the lens in front of the light to diffuse the illumination. Focusability also goes hand-in-hand with the Fresnel, as you’re able to go from flood to spot and back again with the twist of a knob.
There are some drawbacks with the Fresnel fixture though: you lose some of the light output due to the lens, they generate lots of heat, and they consume lots of power.
However, that has all changed with the introduction of Zylight’s new F8 Fresnel. The instrument uses LED technology to eliminate most all of the problems associated with conventional Fresnel devices such as high power consumption, talent discomfort due to the heat generated, expensive lamp bulbs with a short life, and a large physical footprint.
Light emitting diode technology is not new; many manufacturers are using LEDs in lighting instruments. The only real drawback to this technology is that the LED falloff is very rapid. LEDs function well close to the subject, but once you move a few feet away, the light’s output is drastically reduced.
Zylight has overcome this problem with the introduction of their first LED Fresnel, the F8. All LED fixtures aren’t created equal. Zylight utilizes Quantum Dot LED technology, which in layman’s terms, means that the LED’s illumination is more accurate in producing lifelike skin tones and greater color depth retention. The color retention index (CRI) of the F8 is listed at 97.
The F8 (named for the diameter of the unit) is 8-inches in diameter and is available in either daylight (5600 degree K) or tungsten (3200 degree K) color temperatures. Its associated four-blade barn door mounts and dismounts easily to shape the light pattern. The F8 itself is extremely compact in that it is a mere 3.5-inches deep. When changing from flood to spot, the unit’s “bellows” extends the light from 3.5 to 9-inches.
The glass lens in the front of the instrument is just that—real glass that diffuses the light for the softer look for which Fresnel lights are known.
At the rear top of the light is the focusing knob which easily changes the light beam emitted from flood to spot. As the focus knob is rotated, the bellows extends or contracts to move the light source closer to or farther from the lens.
There’s a five-pin DMX input with a rotary adjustment knob directly above it. The unit also can be controlled remotely via the wireless Zylink link.
Directly below the Zylight nameplate is an OLED screen for displaying the unit’s output in percent. At the center of the back is a 14.4 Volt battery plate for Anton/Bauer-type batteries. There’s also a four-pin AC/ DC input for feeding power from either a battery pack cable or the included AC adapter.
The F8 is water resistant and extremely well built. It weighs only 12 pounds, including the yoke. The power input is 90 Watts and with that you get more light output than with a 650 Watt tungsten bulb fixture. This makes for an extremely bright light with miniscule power consumption.
The focus range of the F8 is 16–70 degrees.
The F8 unit I received for review was the daylight model. Most lighting units at our school are daylight balanced, allowing their use with window illumination.
I found the F8 easy to use and set up directly out of the box. My testing began by shooting some footage at 60 fps with a Canon EOS C100 and using the F8 as my only source of illumination.
Some of my work required early morning sunlight, midday light, and moonlight indoor illumination. The F8 handled all of these flawlessly.
Outdoors, the F8 was perfect as a fill light as it was daylight balanced. I used makeshift cardboard venetian blinds as a cookie, with the Zylight acting as the sun. Changing the color temperature on the camera and focusing the F8’s beam to spot or flood allowed me to be a one man crew.
I was fortunate to also be able to shoot a documentary with the Zylight F8 as the only lighting unit. The talent, a 103-year old woman, had had difficulty with the bright lights that most video crews had used around her when recording, and asked me not to point the light directly at her. I set up the F8 about eight feet from her and dimed its output down to 40 percent. I got great images and she was thrilled. (I suppose that Zylight could use her testimonial in their brochures saying that the Zylight F8 is recommended and approved by a 103-year old.)
I really couldn’t find much not to like about this lighting instrument. If you only have one light with which to illuminate your environment, make sure it’s a Fresnel, and make sure that that Fresnel is the Zylight F8.
Chuck Gloman is chair and associate professor of the TV/Film department at DeSales University. He may be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any studio or location shooting where a compact, very bright, noise-free and low-heat focusable lighting fixture is required
Low power consumption, light weight, long-life LED light source, produces very little heat, adjustable barn doors, daylight- or tungsten-balanced models available
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