I was working on a book when I shot this.
Didn't make it into the book but I always loved
the control and previsualization the
big LED panels gave me.
It's a dangerous time for me when I'm in the final throes of finishing up a big project. Yesterday I was processing images for the client who hired me to shoot at and around the F1 race here in Austin for the previous five days. The images were really good. My appreciation for all the cameras I used is genuine. They all focus quickly (none of them focus fast enough to lock on to a race car whipping past on a straightaway) for social photography and, for the most part the colors are wonderfully accurate---or at least very pretty. As I processed I started thinking about what I wanted to play with next. And then I can across the LED Lighting for Photographers book.
I remembered how intrigued I was when I started that project and, while I probably burned myself out a bit cramming in tons of shooting for the book, I still feel that LEDs represent a mow mainstream and very efficient way to light lots and lots of different photographs.
Five years ago, when I first got interested in the LEDs the big issue was the relatively poor color spectrum, especially when compared to inexpensive flash units. Oh sure, you could get well corrected LEDs but you can also get a Bentley automobile if you have enough spare change rattling around...
Now it seems that the landscape of lighting is different. It seems that the green/magenta spectrum issues have been largely fixed and that most of the newer, inexpensive lights on the market are boasting CRI (color rendering index) scores of 92 and better. A big leap from the 82 and 85 scores that were prevalent just a few years ago. Since I get a lot of use out of the Fotodiox 312AS lights I thought I'd see if those had been upgraded. They have. The CRI is now a braggable 92+ and the lights have more functional accessories such as barn doors and a digital interface on the back of the light that reads out color temperature and levels. The new model is the 312DS (color temp. adjustable, that's what the DS stands for).
The 312DS looks very cool, comes with two, big Sony style rechargeable batteries and smart charger plus a case. I'll buy a couple one of these days to start replacing the older AS versions--- but only if the color tests out to be much better. To that end I've ordered one of the 312DS's bigger siblings, the 508AS.
The Fotodiox 508AS uses 508 (duh!) LEDs, half tungsten balanced and half daylight balanced, to make light. While it doesn't have the highly groovy digital readout on the back it mimics the same basic specs everywhere else. Especially in the all important color spectrum area where the sellers are stating a 92+ CRI as well. I figured I could use a big panel and if it checks out really well it's the perfect foundation for a new family of highly portable LED units. Just as I envisioned when I wrote the first (and still unique) book on LEDs for photographers.
The first light, the Fotodiox 508AS arrives here tomorrow and I'll get right to work testing it. My #1 test will be to see if I can get a close match to daylight in both color temperature and LB. If I can nail that then I'll move on to the smaller, support lights.
Should be fun. Almost as fun as reading The Lisbon Portfolio.