My review of the Flashpoint LED lights by Adorama.
Without a doubt, one of the most important tools for any filmmaker is light. Light is the basis and foundation for the work we create. Particularly if, like me, you conduct a lot of head and shoulder interviews for documentary-style films and videos.
Now, if you’re relatively new to video production, you might be shocked at the price tags of decent lighting kits. You can easily spend thousands of dollars on mid to high-end light kits. Even a relatively low to mid-level 3-light LED kit can run you over $1500. So what’s a hard-working, budget constrained filmmaker to do?
One option is to rent the lights you need for any particular job. I am a huge proponent of renting vs. buying, especially if you don’t have the funds in your back to buy the gear you need. Do NOT go into debt to start or run your business!
As fond as I am of renting, I recognize there are times when you just don’t have time to rent. Or, you’d like to do more personal work, and having your own equipment would be more convenient. If that’s your case, I’d love to offer two great solutions. Adorama’s Flashpoint brand of lights could be just what you’re looking for. I had a chance to try out their 1144R Circular light and their CL-1300 Panel Light.
I’ve had the opportunity to play around with these bad boys for a while, and I love them. There are three main reasons: Power, Portability, and Price.
These lights may be relatively small, but they pack a powerful punch, with over 1144 and 1296 LED lights, respectively. There were times when my subject commented on them being too bright. No worries. I just used the dimmer. Allows you to adjust the output from 10 to 100%. Speaking of adjusting, you can also get the CL-1300 panel light in a bicolor model that allows you to switch from the cooler 5600k daylight temperature to a warmer 3200k tungsten (to this day, I still don’t get why the higher the kelvin temp, the cooler the color temperature. Sometimes science just makes no sense.)
Another aspect of their power is how easy they are to use. If you can plug-in a cord, turn on a switch, and turn a dimmer, you’re already a pro at these lights. Also, the CL-1300 panel light has the option to be powered by a standard V-Mount battery, so they can go on location as well without cords.
Lastly, are the accessories that come with each. The circular 1144R comes with a translucent diffusion sock you can wrap over the light to make the output softer (like a softbox). The CL-1300 comes with both a color filter and a diffuser. If you’re into simplicity and quick setup, the 1144R Circular light also allows you to mount an umbrella.
Each light comes with a nice, compact carrying case with strap and pockets for all the accessories. These lights are perfect for 1-man bands, so having something easy to pack and light enough to carry around will make your working day so much easier.
As I mentioned above, the price tag on the 1144R and the CL-1300 are just the right amount of bang for your buck. They are by no means the cheapest. If you want a real dirt-cheap light set, you can get a 3-light Cowboy kit on Amazon for under $200. I would not fault you if you did. But I’ve had experience with those lights, and they WILL break on you within a year.
What I like about the Flashpoints is that they have the durability and professional look, but at only $229 and $299 for the 1144R and CL-1300, respectively, they won’t break your bank. A good set to compare these to are iKan’s 500 LED light unit, which go for about $500 a piece. One upside of the iKans are the barn doors (but that is an option you can add to the CL-1300). But having used both in the field, you will be hard pressed to find a significant difference in the lighting results.
The only possible downside I can see to these lights is that some people aren’t a fan of the LED look. I know of one colleague who’s a stickler for looks and light, who has sworn off LEDs forever. But I think it’s a subjective thing. The nice thing is, with Adorama’s return policy, you can try ‘em out, and if they’re not for you, return them.
(Editor’s note: I was given these lights to review. But I have used them prior to writing this review and have been a proponent for a while.)