It’s been a long while since I used LED lighting for photography! In fact, it was the 6th of April, 2010. Reading back over that review, I can confirm that LED technology has come a long way! I have a great little kit on loan from ProTog here in Melbourne that consists of four LED panels, 150 LEDs each, lithium batteries, charger, AA battery adaptors, four gel packs to colour up your lights and mounting hardware, too.
I first saw this little kit (which comes in different forms with various sized panels) when working with Jeff and the team from ProTog at the recent Digital Show here in Melbourne, I had a few chances to play with it as I was working the booth at the show. I noticed a massive difference by comparison to the LED panels I’d tried before (and I sound like a laundry detergent commercial, but…) whiter whites (5600k Daylight Balanced Output) and brighter brights! I could see right away that these little panels had the ability to put out a decent amount of the good stuff! And, at the same time it can be so nicely controlled. A photograph below of something I’m playing with right now, the Sony QX100, but more on that later…
So, I’ve been using the kit for three weeks now, I’ve used it for macro, portraits, fill lighting (in a boardroom on a boom) mixed with daylight and to say I’m very impressed is a tiny little massive understatement! It’s not that I can’t achieve the lighting I’m getting from the LedGo kit with a conventional flash, it’s that I can really quickly light a scene or even hand a light to a seven year old and say “here, point it at the side of your head” without them burning themselves or having to use two hands to hold the lights up.
The individual panels with battery attached weigh in at 334 grams (0.75 lbs) as per my kitchen scales, so easily within the realm of what a model can hold if you need to take a portrait. You can very quickly and easily gang two of the 150 panels together to give you plenty of light for a standard portrait, but remember that you have four panels in the kit, so you can use two as your key light and two as a hair light or… well, the possibilities are many.
If you’re not confident with your ‘mastering light’ something you may find appealing is the “forgiveness factor”. It’s very easy to grab a LedGo panel, pop it on a stand, or as I did so many times, a NastyClamp, and turn it on and flick my camera into “live View” mode – What You See is What You Get – this means it’s very easy to see exactly what effect you will have on your scene and subject if you have the light in the wrong spot. Shifting your hand, stand, or clamp an inch to the left will make your subject more backlit, moving it forward gives less shadow etc. All of this is right there in front of you and you can set up your scene as you like it and shoot it. Of course you can do this with flash too, but constant light may be easier for you to deal with if you’re just starting out.
I’ve only had the gear for three to four weeks, but it’s been used a lot! By me AND (don’t worry ProTog!) by my 4 year old. It’s very sturdy and very easy to use! My little man likes to copy what I do and so, I found him lighting his dinosaurs one morning and taking photographs with my 5D MK3! I was somewhere between super impressed, and a little amused by the fact that he’d used the light as “the Dino door” — My point is that the LED panels can be handled by a 4 year old with no issues (for the light or the child).
The first images I took with the kit were a small handful of product type shots – I’m not a product photographer but I liked the results…
Above, the Led Lenser P7 is lit with two lights, one on each side. Same with the espresso below…
The photograph below of the memory cards is one single LedGo panel over the top, in nice and close to give me a bit of dramatic fall off.
I can’t fault the LedGo LED kit – the 150 led panels are rated at 90+ CRI (colour rendering index) which means that they’re very color accurate – the clip together and clip apart feature, the gels clip on and off very easily as do the feet that allow you to use a single light in the hotshoe of your camera or you can flip the bracket around and mount it to anything with a 1/4 20″ threaded mount. (like a tripod plate, so you can stick a panel(s) on a tripod very easily)
- ease of use
- not silly expensive
- The gels need to go on and the lights need to go together a certain way – the guys at ProTog told me how, so I knew, but it’s not in the instructions so you could damage a mounting tab if you’re a bit gung-ho about putting them together. (It’s pretty obvious, you’d have to be a bit of a muppet)
I have since picked up my own LedGo panel for myself from ProTog and do not hesitate in suggesting you pop out and try one – they’re not for everything, but for video, product, and spontaneous selfies (no, really) they’re utterly fantastic!
I rate the LedGo 4 x 150 LED Panel kit a Nine of a possible Eleven stars. Clearer instructions and iIll hand those stars back to you…