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LEDs Lead the Pack

Litepanels 1x1 Bi-Color LED fixtureBOSTON
The mighty quartz lamp may soon join Edison's carbon filament bulb in the pages of television lighting history as advances in technology offer videographers, gaffers and lighting directors an ever increasing number of attractive alternatives to this once ubiquitous light source. The past decade has seen the quartz-halogen lamp, a mainstay of location and studio lighting systems since the '70's, replaced with fluorescents in studios seeking to minimize power consumption and heat loads. And just as they began to migrate into the field and gain acceptance as location lighting instruments, fluorescent-fueled fixtures are now being supplanted by those illuminated with LEDs.

The advantages of LED luminaires are significant. They offer dependable constant color temperatures (even when dimmed), are flicker-free, require little power, offer extremely long life, give off almost no heat, are not subject to catastrophic failure, and can be fabricated in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.


The latest 12-inch-square units from LED lighting pioneer Litepanels offer a unique Bi-Color option—employing both 3200 degree K and 5000 degree K LEDs—allowing the user to dial in a range of color temperatures with the twist of a knob. This both simplifies and speeds lighting setups as gels are no longer needed to fine tune color temperature and a single set of fixtures can do double duty, both indoors and out.

Anton Bauer EledZ Litepanels also offers Bi-Focus, an innovative focusing option that employs two independent sets of LEDS—spots and flood—in a single fixture along with an electronic cross-fader to vary the intensity and beam spread in a manner similar to that achieved by turning the focusing knob on a conventional open-faced tungsten or HMI unit. Both the Bi-Focus and Bi-Color fixtures can also be remotely operated with industry-standard DMX lighting controllers.


A number of manufacturers are offering smaller LED fixtures for use as on-board camera lights or for hideaway duty in automobiles and other tight locations. Anton Bauer's EledZ, designed to complement their ElipZ 10K battery system for small cameras, provides 100 fc (at 2 feet) of 5000 degree K light while drawing only 6 watts, far less than a comparable tungsten-based bulb. The EledZ mounts to the camera's accessory shoe and features an integral folding arm to position the light in virtually any position.

Anton Bauer's current catalog also features an LED fixture that is directly interchangeable with their existing UltraLight head modules. The 8-watt ULHM-LED can be instantly snapped onto an UltraLight on-camera base in place of a tungsten or HMI head module. Both LED units are dimmable and draw power from the camera battery.

Powered by internal batteries, Litepanels' Micro Pro offers location shooters another option by requiring no external wiring. This dimmable light will run for up to six hours on a single set of six AA lithium batteries; expect 1 to 1.5 hours using heavy duty alkalines or connect it to any 5-12 volt DC source via the external power jack. The Micro Pro comes equipped with an integrated camera shoe featuring an adjustable tilt mechanism or can be mounted via an optional base plate for off-camera use.


Another LED camera lighting option is available from Frezzolini, a company whose innovative designs in the service of news photography go back to the earliest days of television. Current owners of Frezzi Energy Systems' popular Mini Fill camera-top lightheads can retrofit existing Standard and Dimmer Mini Fills with Frezzi's 8-watt MFLED bulb. Available in color temperatures of 3200 degrees K and 5000 degrees K, these LED luminaires are built to the same form factor as industry standard MR-16 reflector bulbs, such as the BAB, allowing existing Mini Fills to be relamped as LED fixtures at minimal expense.

K 5600 Focal Spot
Frezzi also credits advances in lighting technology as the key to their new MRAX2 Dimmable Micro-Sun Gun 15-watt camera top HMI. The result of 10 years of design work and research, Frezzi calls their new daylight fill-light the "world's smallest and lightest HMI." Weighing in at only eight ounces including the integrated high-efficiency ballast, this tiny light provides 150 fc (at 5 feet) of 5600 degree K illumination with a beam spread of 25 degrees.

Dimmable without changing color temperature, the Micro-Sun Gun runs off of any 12-16 volt DC source and offers the convenience of hot re-strike capability. An all-aluminum design and rugged heat sink are intended to help this mighty miniature stand up to the rigors of daily field use.


The trend toward miniaturization in location lighting gear is also evident in the newest addition to K 5600's Joker-Bug modular HMI lighting system, the Focal Spot, which converts any current Joker-Bug 200W, 400W, or 800W unit into a projector capable of any number of projection lighting effects.

Made from machined aluminum, the compact (less than 10 inches long) and lightweight (under 1.5 pound) Focal Spot can adapt to any Joker-Bug wattage by removing the optical beamer with a simple twist of a thumb screw. No tools or further disassembly of the Joker-Bug are necessary. Standard M-sized gobos can be used to project patterns while the supplied 20 and 40 degree lenses can be focused to create either a hard or soft look.