Litepanels Sola ENG Fresnel Review

Litepanels’ new, camera mounted, LED Fresnel brings greater versatility and control to portable lighting.

Traveling Light

At less than a pound in weight and the approximate size of a coffee cup the Sola ENG is certainly well suited for travel. It comes with a simple-to-install two-leaf barn door. Snap its wire frame into the groove around the front lens and it’s ready to go. A set of three gels that are installed by slipping their corners under the corners of the barn door wire frame are included. When you’re finished using them, simply pull the attached tab for easy removal. The set consists of one diffusion gel, one 1/4 Correction color-temperature-orange (CTO) gel and one Full Correction CTO gel.

A ball head shoe mount is included for on-camera mounting purposes. A locking lever releases the ball to allow for a considerable amount of swivel room and then locks it securely in place at the desired angle. Opposite the locking lever a slot in the mount allows the light to be pointed up or down making for a maximum number of positioning options. A light stand adapter bracket is also included to allow for off-camera mounting.

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Power is provided to the Sola ENG via a detachable 2-Pin D-tap DC power cable by plugging directly into your camera’s 12-24VDC-output terminal, or into any number of portable power sources such as those by Frezzi or Anton/Bauer. Having neither of these options available at the time we used the included AC power adapter.

Everything fits nicely into a thoughtfully provided soft carrying case (except the AC power adapter). A separately purchased protective hard case would be a good investment though; at this price you wouldn’t want to trust soft padding to keep your valuable equipment from harm.

Light ’em Up

At the rear of the body is the Dimmer Dial, a large, rotary dial with rubberized grips for easy gripping. Rotate the dial to the right to turn the light on. First, you’ll hear a click and the faint sound of the cooling fan starting up. A green LED will appear indicating that the Sola ENG is powered on. Though the sound from the cooling fan is faint, it may still be picked up by sensitive mics or microphones placed in close proximity to the light. As you slowly rotate the dial to the right the light intensity will gradually increase from 0% to 100% with no noticeable color shift.

Located immediately in front of the Dimmer Dial is the Focus Dial. Controlling the throw of the light is reminiscent of focusing a lens on a camera. Rotating the Focus Dial right narrows the beam while rotating left broadens the beam. In this manner the beam may be focused from 10 degrees to 70 degrees. According to Litepanels’ photometric data, the Sola ENG illuminates to the tune of 161.2 foot-candles (1735 lux) at 6 feet and 40.3 foot-candles (434 lux) at 12 feet in spot mode (10 degrees). Broadening the beam to 70 degrees (flood) reduces output to 34.2 foot-candles (368 lux) at 6 feet and 8.6 foot-candles (92 lux) at 12 feet.

Now all that foot-candles and lux type stuff is great for comparison purposes, but what does it really mean? For fun the light was tested as the sole light source in a homemade karaoke lounge. The venue was a rather large living room with enough space to easily accommodate twelve to fifteen people, perhaps more.

The Sola ENG was placed on a light stand and raised to an appropriate height. At first we were concerned as to whether this small LED light would produce enough illumination for the task at hand. When we switched it on, however, we found to our considerable amazement that the amount of light was much more than adequate. In fact, to achieve the sort of mood lighting we were after we had to dim it down quite a bit. We were able to easily switch between soft-lighting our performers, to fully-lighting the entire room, with a simple twist of the dial. Use of the barn doors, diffusion gel and swivel mount positioning greatly increased our creative options.

Even with output equivalent to that of a 250W tungsten light, the Sola ENG only draws about 30W which results in much cooler operation. After about three hours of continuous use the light was cool to the touch and able to be packed up and carried away immediately, without the usual cooling off time you have with conventional lights.

The Sola ENG is great for use outdoors as well. It’s daylight-balanced and packs enough punch to add some nice fill to your subjects while out in the sun light. An extremely versatile lighting source, the Sola ENG is suitable for any number of shooting situations and will be a welcome addition to most any video producer’s production toolkit.

Tech Specs

Size: 4″ x 4″ x 5″

Weight: 15 ounces

Fresnel lens: 3 inches

Power: 30W draw

Light output: 250W tungsten equivalent

Power requirements: 10-20VDC (traditional ENG batteries) via 2-pin D-Tap power cable or included AC power adapter

Cooling fan: ultra low decibel

Strengths

  • High output
  • Low power consumption; low heat
  • Dimmable
  • Focusable

Weaknesses

  • an noise may be picked up by microphone

Summary

Priced for the enthusiast or professional the Litepanels Sola ENG camera-mountable Fresnel light delivers serious performance in a lightweight package.

Litepanels, Inc.

16152 Saticoy Street

Van Nuys, CA 91406

www.litepanels.com

$675

Mark Holder is a video producer and trainer.

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.