Remember those flash cubes from the 1970's? How about flash powder? Well of the two I remember using flash cubes. They worked for a few shots then you toss them. Flash cubes were built on the idea of flash powder and modern strobes still take that concept, but with far more advancements, and try to make it modern. The problem with strobes however is that they can't be used in video and if you're doing any type of hybrid still + motion capture in your workflow, flash just don't work. We have CFL's available which is a step in the right direction, but then you're dealing with the potential of broken glass and what if one bulb is off color compared to the other bulbs in the fixture?
To me both flash and any type of bulb lighting is a bit steampunk in a way. It's like some old world contraption held together in the modern age by technology. Like a DSLR's mirror, flash technology is new-better-different and what we need in photography is real change. Reason why I shoot Lumix is because the whole concept of the system is Changing Photography. The Lumix system takes photography and filmmaking and fuses both worlds together so that a filmmaker can make films but also create stills, a photographer can create beautiful stills yet create films or you can create at the intersection of both film and stills (hybrid) like I do.
I see LED's as a perfect companion to my Lumix system. I can use LED's continuous light for still photos, video and a hybrid of both all in one unit. The problem with LED's is most of them suck. You'll hear about something called CRI thrown around at trade shows and everyone claims to have a high CRI value.
The color rendering index (CRI), sometimes called color rendition index, is a quantitative measure of the ability of a light source to reveal the colors of various objects faithfully in comparison with an ideal or natural light source. - Wikipedia
The reality is that while CRI is a good measure, since any company can claim a high CRI, judging the quality of light on CRI alone is risky.
My first LED's were from Amazon and they were crap. The green cast from these LED's make skin look greenish and it's just not something that can be corrected well in post. So while LED's are the future of lighting not all LED's are created equal.
Out of all the brands of LED lights I've used (about a dozen or so) I've found my happiness with two brands one of which is Fiilex. If the Fiilex LED's were a action star they'd be Bruce Lee - small, fast and kicking ass. Like other companies, Fiilex claim a high CRI but with Fiilex its a number that you can trust and your eyes will back up that claim.
Fiilex LED's come from the parent company DiCon Fiberoptics, INC a leader in developing fiberoptic and photonic components for the optical communications industry. Back in the early 2000's (DiCon has been around since the 1980's) DiCon realized that the future of lighting is LED so they invested heavily into solid state LED technology. Because Fiilex designs and manufactures everything in house they can keep the quality of the their LED's high, pack in usable features like adjustable color tuning (going from daylight to tungsten or green to magenta) while keeping the overall size of the unit small. What's more, the price of a LED is not far off for what you'd spend on a generic light.
Whats in my Fiilex K311 Light Kit
More like what's not in my K311 kit. The Fiilex K311 Kit comes with everything you need to light your scene and then some. Let's take a quick look at what's in the kit:
All this gear fits neatly inside the small rolling hard case which is travel ready. I've flown my K311 kit in checked luggage many times and other than the usual scuffs on the outside of the case the gear was untouched. Here's a gallery showing most (not all) of the goodies that fits in the K311 kit.
There's a lot of goodies in this case yet I've managed to fit even more accessories inside the kit -
Although the K311 comes the amazing P200 Flexjet and 5 foot fiber optic hose called the Fiber Glow, I added a second 20 foot Fiber Glow to the kit as well. I'm told that Fiilex can cut custom Fiber Glow lengths so if you need something like a 50 foot cord you can get it. Impressive!
The K311 Kit comes with three lights - two P360 and one P200 Flex Jet both lights are quite useful and yet the offer unique ways to work together and individually. Both lights for the most part are well thought out and I don't have any complaints but, like everything in tech, there's room for improvement.
The K311 kit comes with two P360 heads. The P360 is a mid sized Fiilex light in between the P180 and Q500 heads. Like all Fiilex LEDs its color tunable from 3000K to 5600K which gives you a full spectrum to easily match daylight or tungsten light sources. Tuning the color temperature is as easy as turning a dial and there's a second dial to adjust power. That said the only way to know exactly what color temperature you selected is to have the temperature dial either at 3000k or 5600K as there is no digital readout. What I do is usually have on P360 on my desired color temp for my main light and using the second P360 as my fill, I adjust the color temp to my liking. While not having a digital kelvin readout is not a deal breaker for me, if I were going for a complicated mixed lighting setup using the P360 it could pose a challenge. Then again if I were a technical photographer I would probably set my sights on the awesome Q500.
Although the P360 is a very small head I was able to push out enough light to consider it equal to a 350W Arri hot light yet the P360 never gets hot. It might get warm and when it does a silent internal fan is engaged but you won't been needing gloves which means the P360 is safe to have around photographers of all skill levels without fear of burning someones hands.
Another thing to note is that looking at the front of the P360 you don't see any LED's. What's good about this approach vs LED panels is in the gradations. With a LED panel, each LED is a individual light source which means that each LED not only projects it's own light but it's own shadow making gradations with visible steps. The P360 acts as a single light source giving the photographer a natural light source and gradations in the shadows.
The P360 draws only 90W of power which opens up the possibilities of using battery packs for locations where AC power is not possible. Another option is to get a good inventor for your car and power your Fiilex lights with it.
Beyond the K311 kit the P360 is also available to purchase separately. If I had to choose one LED light it would be the Fiilex P360.
The Fiilex P200 FlexJet is what I consider a speciality LED. It's really a creative lighting tool with practically unlimited options for lighting. The Flexjet is possibly the most unique, fun and just plane cool LED light I've used and now with the new Color Blender it's an LED that I can't imagine not having with me.
At first glance you'll notice that the P200 is larger than the P360. It's not a big light but it needed to be larger to house all the awesome that lies within.
The Fiilex P200 Flexjet is color tunable with 8 different color settings that are marked and lock the dial in place so you know for sure what your color setting is. Once powered up you can choose from 3000K, 4300K, 5600K, Magenta, Yellow, Aqua, Cyan, Blue, and it can be fully dimmed. The color options alone are great but where the P200 comes into its own is with the accessories!
The K311 kit comes with a 5 foot fiber optic hose called Fiber Glow. Because the Fiber Glow is fiber optic, the Fiber Glow will light up in any color you set the P200 to. So if you want a 5 foot magenta LED light you got it. Want to do some light painting in yellow or cyan or blue? You got it, and you can get the Fiber Glow in longer lengths too. As I mentioned above I pack a 20 foot Fiber Glow in my kit along with the 5 footer. The P200 with Fiber Glow is so much fun you can't help but to be inspired to play when you turn it on. It's so fun and simple to understand that a photographer with any skill level can be creating with the P200 (and the P360 for that matter) in minutes.
In the event you don't want to use the Fiber Glow you can add on the Color Blender which converts the P200 into a fully functioning head that can use all other Fiilex accessories like barn doors, diffusion dome and more...plus you can still completely adjust the color too!
All in all the Fiilex K311 kit is hard to beat. The creative possibilities with the kit are huge, overall its easy to use, the quality of the light is industry leading, the lights are photographer and novice friendly and the icing on the cake - the kit is small and light!
Consider what you would really need for a location kit, how much gear you have now vs how much you really need. Modern photographers are capturing hybrid media for assignments within the same time you would normally shoot only stills. This means you need to move fast and travel light and shoot smart. Capturing hybrid media is not only fun but it's simply essential for photographers wanting to maximize photographic opportunities on assignments commissioned or personal. The Fiilex K311 kit has everything you need and more to capture hybrid media in the age of screens. If you're in the market for LED lights I highly recommend that you look at these lights. In the LED world I consider these to be the Profoto in the market place. Oh and by the way you can use Profoto accessories on the Fiilex LEDs too.
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