Photon Beard may be located on the far side of the pond, but they are certain to make quite a splash here with their new fluorescent light, simply dubbed: the Square One. Located in Leighton Buzzard, UK, Photon Beard has been around a long time and is a leading specialist manufacturer of lighting equipment.
What You Get
Our Square One came with daylight tubes installed, a stirrup for easy tilting, detachable 16mm mounting socket and barn doors. Also included were the AC adapter, nice long power cord (about 16-feet), detachable AC adapter holder with hook-and-eye strips to keep the adapter in place and a detachable V-Mount battery pack adapter for use with optional V-Mount batteries.
The advantages of fluorescents over conventional tungsten lights are numerous. Powerful tungsten lights capable of matching the luminescence of a fluorescent light are typically heavy and require large, heavy stands and sand bags for safety, making them a pain to lug around from location to location. Tungsten lights also requires a great deal of power, resulting in an increased drain on the power grid and the ever present possibility of blown circuits. Tungsten lights are hot … really hot. Gloves must be used when handling them and great care must be taken to avoid burning the drapes, the props and the talent.
Unlike the harsh light and crisp shadows produced by such lamps, a fluorescent light throws out a broad wash of beautifully soft light, illuminating a relatively large area with ease. Large banks of fluorescent tubes can still be heavy and awkward but the Square One is unique in that it throws off a lot of light while only being one square foot and weighing five and a half pounds. Fluorescents also require considerably less power. No more blown circuits and they can be powered using lightweight batteries. Finally, fluorescents run much cooler, very cool in fact, and may be used in close proximity to your talent without the usual dangers of excessive sweating or burning.
LEDs are very popular these days because they too, produce lots of light, are lighter in weight, require less power to run and are cool to the touch. On the other hand they are a much more expensive technology with comparable panels costing considerably more. In addition to lower cost, fluorescents are more suited to soft-lighting large areas and produce consistent color, so important in video production, with fewer spikes and spectral variations sometimes found with LEDs.
The name, Square One, comes from the fact that it measures one square foot. Unlike many LED panels in the marketplace today the Square One utilizes eight 12-inch x 5/8-inch diameter 8W (64W total) Osram broadcast quality fluorescent tubes to deliver its enlightening payload, which it does quite well as a matter of fact, at less than $1,000. In addition to the DC-in port and power switch on the back of the unit, the Photon Beard Square One also has a rotary dimmer dial which lets you vary the intensity of the light.
Designed for the ENG user, the Square One is meant to be portable as well as powerful. The fluorescent tubes are available balanced in two flavors of color temperature, either daylight or tungsten. If you're doing a lot of outdoorsy shoots go with the daylight tubes, but if the bulk of your work will be indoors, then you'll probably want to go with the tungsten balanced tubes. Or, have a set of each on hand and swap them out as necessary.
A fluorescent light throws out a broad wash of beautifully soft light, illuminating a relatively large area with ease.
The Square One is sure be quite at home whether in the studio or out on the road. Mobile producers will love it because it produces a large amount of soft, even light, while being compact, lightweight and capable of running on battery power. Fluorescents generate enough heat to be mildly warm but are nowhere near hot. Their cool running nature combined with the unit's light weight makes it possible to use "human light stands" for those times when conventional stands, or space, are in short supply. Remove the stirrups and the barn doors for use in extra tight spaces such as automobile interiors. The 16mm mounting socket can be detached from the stirrup and attached directly to the side of the light for even more compact mounting options.
The barn doors consist of four leaves attached to a wire framework. The whole unit slides easily into and out of tracks built into the light's frame. A locking bar ensures the unit stays in place. The leaves have a flat black exterior to minimize unwanted reflections and a bright, textured interior to help reflect the light. Light is contained at the corners where the leaves meet with a triangular softbox-like material also having a black exterior and reflective interior. Hook-and-eye strips attach these to the edges of the barndoors to help contain and direct light as desired. The top and bottom leaf each have a pair of clips attached to them for use with gels, filters and diffusion materials. The barndoor leaves also serve an important purpose during transportation; folded down, they form a solid, protective cover for the glass tubes.
If you’re looking for a portable lighting solution with lots of oomph for the money, be sure to check out the Square One by Photon Beard.
Photon Beard Ltd.
Type: 5/8” diameter, 12” Osram fluorescent tubes (8) (Tungsten or Daylight)
Power Draw: 64W
Powered By: 90-260V 50/60Hz AC or 12V DC via optional battery power
Mounting: 16mm socket
Size (LxHxD): 12.8" x 13" x 2.8" (325.1mm x 330.2mm x 71.1mm)
Weight: 5.5 lb.
- Even, soft light
- Variable intensity
- Lightweight, compact, may be handheld
- Low power requirements
- AC or battery power
- Padded case would be nice
Contributing Editor Mark Holder is a video producer and trainer.