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Review: Litepanels-Micro

Febuary, 2008






Review by Steve Douglas

Litepanel's newest offering capitalizes on the latest LED technology providing softlight production in an extraordinarily efficient and compact package. Quality light is no longer limited to those who have the deep pockets to afford it.

When I first unpacked the Litepanels Micro system I was surprised not only by the small size of the unit but by its' light weight. Coming in at just under four ounces, at first handling, I was not impressed. Its lightweight plastic construction initially led me to believe that this was not a light that would stand up to long usage in and out of production and over time. That said, it has come through several shooting situations just fine and without any real problems or difficulties. I still have my doubts however as to how rugged the Litepanels will prove to be.

The Litepanels unit fits easily to your camcorders' hot shoe and did not affect the balance of the small Sony A1-U upon which I tested it. At 3.3" wide x 3.3" high x 1.5" deep, the small size did not interfere with sightlines when using either the camcorders' LCD panel or viewfinder. Though I did not receive it for testing, there is an optional base plate for off camera usage or on an extension arm.


The Litepanel was unobtrusive whenever in use
and did not affect the balance when performing a hand held shot.

It is powered by 4 AA batteries which, when used, lasted at full brightness for 70 minutes after which the light output began to drop off slowly. Rechargeable batteries worked just as well. Heat from the light was just about non-existent, and the unit remained cool to the touch throughout.

On the top of the Litepanel is a power control-dimming knob, which turns freely from 0%-100%. There are no indentations in the knob so exact settings from shoot to shoot may not always be constant. Full light temperature is claimed to be 5600ºK and a 3200ºK tungsten conversion filter. Diffusion and warming filters are included with the Litepanel. The front of the Litepanels Micro has an attached flip down holder for the filters. However, the filters would sometimes slip down and pop out. While the flip down holder is a good idea, it cannot be relied upon to always keep the filter securely in place.

The most important aspect of the Litepanels Micro is the very good quality of the light itself. I detected no flicker in the light output, even after the batteries had been run for a significant amount of time. An even spread of light over the subject is how I would characterize it, though there was a hint of center hot spot when not using any of the filters or gels. When turning down the dimmer knob I noticed that all the LEDs did not dim all at the same time. Some came down quicker than others and I am not sure whether this is by design or not. At half power, the light spread was still smooth, constant and balanced. With the optional stand, I would imagine that the Litepanel would serve well as a small fill light.

The long lasting continuous output and light weight make the Litepanels Micro package an excellent light for the on the go shooter who needs to film unencumbered by cables, and heavy battery belts. The low cost makes it a tempting and practical accessory.

Steve Douglas is a certified Apple Pro for Final Cut Pro 6 and underwater videographer. A winner of the 1999 Pacific Coast Underwater Film Competition, 2003 IVIE competition, 2004 Los Angeles Underwater Photographic competition, and the prestigious 2005 International Beneath the Sea Film Competition, where he also won the Stan Waterman Award for Excellence in Underwater Videography and 'Diver of the Year', Steve was a safety diver on the feature film "The Deep Blue Sea", contributed footage to the Seaworld Park's Atlantis production, the History channel's MegaDisaster show and other networks. Steve is one of the founding organizers of the San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition and leads both underwater filming expeditions and African safaris with upcoming excursions to Indonesia and the Coco Islands, Costa Rica in 2008, Kenyan safari in Africa and the Red Sea for 2009, and Truk Lagoon in Micronesia for 2010. Feel free to contact him if you are interested in joining Steve on any of these exciting trips.


copyright © Steve Douglas 2008

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