GEAR REVIEW - LENCARTA LED 1000
Another addition to the AK Photography studio is a pair of the new Lencarta LED 1000 continuous lighting units. These join the Lencarta SuperFast 300 strobe which has been with us for a few months now and performing very well I might add. The LED 1000s have been bought primarily for video use and green screening, although will double equally well for photography too.
I can quickly see these becoming very popular with videographers. Typically, Arri Fresnel lights are deployed for video work. While they are an industry standard and have the ability to be focused, they are not without their limitations. You can't control the output of the light directly on the unit. Light modifiers are ridiculously expensive and few and far between. They're heavy and also get dangerously hot too, which we discovered upon melting the black vinyl backdrop in the studio earlier this year!
The LED 1000 doesn't suffer with these problems. First and foremost the output of the light can be varied via two buttons on the back of the unit ( - / + ). No more messing about with makeshift rigging of ND filters, having to use the Inverse Square Law to control the exposure of your subject or forced to use a different aperture than you'd ideally like. If you want it brighter or dimmer, it's there at the touch of a button. Awesome! When tested with a Sekonic L-758 and no modifier fitted to the lamp, we measured 1 and 8/10th stops of exposure difference between lowest and highest power settings at approximately 1m distance (f/2.8 to f/5.0 +2/10).
The second huge benefit is the ability to use Bowens S fit modifiers, which are widely available on the internet. This enables you to use everything from a 7" reflector with grid for very tight spot lighting, to a mammoth octobox. Anyone who uses modifiers with flash will appreciate the importance of this and no doubt will have videographers chomping at the bit with the unleashing of such creative lighting potential.
Weighing in at just 2.2Kg the LED 1000 is surprisingly lightweight which is great if transporting the lights on location or mounting them on less sturdy light stands. I suspect the body is from the Ultrapro flash series, as I previously had one of these and they look identical. While not as heavy duty as the Superfast strobes, its certainly robust enough for studio life and on site shoots. One thing I would have preferred though is the mounting mechanism from the SF300, so if Lencarta decide to update these lights in the future, it would be nice to see this feature included for the £399 price tag. It would also be nice if there were a glass/perspex guard over the LED array too, just to shield it against any accidental contact when replacing modifiers, etc.
The lack of heat generation is a major plus when using these lights. I had the lamp on for half an hour and when I removed the modifier, it was cool to the touch - as was the heat sink that the LEDs are mounted on. No worrying about scorched fingers when changing modifiers or issues with your model sweating with these babies! They're also considerably cheaper to run than a fresnel with power consumption at just 100w. The only draw back to the cooling system is the noise of the fans which is definitely audible and may present some problems for the sound technicians. Another nice feature is the ability to use the included remote to control all the features of the light from a distance. No stretching or climbing up and down ladders to adjust settings. It can all be done at the click of a button, bringing you time savings and freeing up crew to work on other things.
In summation I'm in no doubt that these lights will shape up to be great performers due to their ease of operation and flexibility of light modifiers. It will give both photographers and videographers who use continuous light another dimension to their work with the ability sculpt it to the heart's desire. At £400 the LED 1000s are considerably more expensive that other continuous lights systems available out there. However you are getting exposure control and Bowens S fitting modifiers making these quite unique and will have the video guys jumping up and down in excitement. They are also backed up by a 3 year warranty, which shows the level of confidence the company has in their products. If you currently use high wattage Arri Fresnel lights, the running cost savings of the LED 1000 will pay for themselves and keep on saving you money too! Lencarta are really carving a good reputation in the market with quality lighting solutions and innovations. Before too long they will be as synonymous within the industry as Bowens and Elinchrom - and deservedly so too.
For full details on the LED 1000, check out the Lencarta Website.