How many times have you found yourself in a situation in which you wish you had a truly portable light, a little more light or a slightly different color temperature, to get the perfect shot? On planned shoots, this probably isn't the case since lighting and other considerations have been thought out and prepared for in advance. But what about those spontaneous, unscripted moments when inspiration and opportunity reach out and grab you? Those are the times that the TorchLED Bolt 220 portable light will be most appreciated and can really save the day.
Stuff It Comes With
The light comes with a snap-on cover with slots for the included diffusion filter, a 1/4-inch-20 swivel shoe mount for on-camera mounting and a lightweight cloth bag to keep it scratch-free when not in use. Power is supplied via the built in battery sled and the included battery. The back of the light will accept any Sony L-series battery. To power the light off of a standard 14.4V brick battery, a powertap cable has also been included.
The Bolt 220 weighs in at a noticeable 1.2lb. (without the battery), even though the housing is constructed of plastic. The ABS housing helps keep the weight down while being impact resistant and very tough. Though a little heavy for handheld use, particularly with its large battery in place, it provides a great deal of power and decent battery life, which makes it a great choice as a portable light.
The face of the Bolt 220 has a diffuse plastic panel held in place by one screw in each corner. The real business is handled behind this panel where 16 individual LED lamps reside. Eight of these are set to tungsten (color temperature 3200K) with the remaining eight set to daylight (color temperature 5600K).
There are times that the TorchLED Bolt 220 portable light can really save the day.
The Bolt 220 boasts a Color Rendering Index value (CRI) of 91. The Color Rendering Index is a measure of a light source's ability to reveal the colors of an object when compared to an ideal light source. This is different from color temperature, which has to do with the color quality of the light. The highest possible CRI value is 100 with some lights showing no listing of CRI. If you've ever noticed the funky strange colors of clothing and other objects when stepping out of a well-lit store into a parking lot full of low-pressure sodium lights, then you've seen the results of negative CRI values. With a CRI value of 91, the Bolt 220 brings out colors quite accurately.
Around the back of the light, two dials control the output. The Color dial changes the temperature from 3200K to 5600K, and any color temperature in between. Adjusting the Brightness dial gradually changes the intensity from all the way off to very bright. It can be as bright as the equivalent of a traditional light with 220-watt output, and without creating any noticeable change in the color temperature. This makes the Bolt 220 great for use indoors, outdoors and in mixed lighting environments.
Also on the rear are the power switch and DC power port, with the bulk of the area reserved for the built-in battery sled. A 1/4-inch-20 threaded mount on the bottom attaches the light to a stand or on-camera using the swivel shoe mount. As an added plus and due to the low heat output of LED lighting, the Bolt 220 can also be used handheld. Place a battery in the sled, line up the two sled pins with the corresponding holes in the battery and push them together. Now you're all powered up and ready to go. Switch the light on, adjust the dials for the desired result and shoot away.
To get an appreciation for the real utility of the Bolt 220, we tried it out in a variety of scenarios. First, we headed out to a beautiful field of poppies on a fairly bright, though somewhat overcast day. We wanted to see if the Bolt 220 was powerful enough to provide a nice daylight fill. We sat our subject in the midst of the poppies, without any shade whatsoever, then set the color temperature to daylight, 5600K, and turned the intensity up to full. As we directed the light toward and away from our subject at a distance of about 3-4 feet away, we were able to see the distinct difference as the side of her face brightened with the nice, beautiful fill light. Then we realized that we still had the diffuser panel attached to the front! We tried it again with the diffuser off and found that the light is actually powerful enough to provide key light on a somewhat bright, slightly overcast day.
Next, we tried using it as a night time key light. Sometimes our fits of inspiration find us in a darkened alley, a parking lot with sodium lights buzzing all around us, or in front of a store or restaurant with only the light from a window to illuminate our evening exploits. The Bolt 220, with its adjustable color temperature and battery-powered portability proved to be the perfect tool for the job in every situation.
Finally, it was off to the studio for a mixed lighting test. With a traditional lighting setup, a daylight key and fluorescents overhead would spell disaster and require lots of setup time with copious use of correction gels. With the Bolt 220 as the fill, we were able to match the color temperature to our mixed light scenario, custom white balance our camera and achieve a beautiful result.
Material of Light Housing: Black, ABS
Light Source: LED
Electrical Consumption: 13W
Color Temperature: 3200K-5600K
Illumination: Approx. 2100LUX (3200K, 1m); 2600LUX (5600K, 1m); combined over 220W output equivalent
Power Supply: DC 7.2V-16.8V; Sony DV Battery
Dimming Range: 0-100%
- Plenty of power
- Variable color temperature and intensity
- Color Rendering Index value of 91
- Battery power; portable light, low heat
- Heavy for handheld/on-camera use
Contributing Editor Mark Holder is a video producer and trainer.