At first glance, you might think the Pipeline is a fluorescent tube fixture. On closer inspection, you’d discover it’s a completely new form of LED lighting instrument. The pipe-shaped fixture inspires the name. Let’s explore the kit’s intended use.
You’ve seen the shots on the evening news. The reporter is sitting in a fluorescent-lit office, in front of a window, conducting a Skype interview via the camera on a laptop. The resulting image is flat, lifeless and color skewed. The problem with the reporter’s video image is typically not the camera, it’s the lack of quality lighting. The Reporter Kit is aimed directly at solving that problem.
The kit includes two high-performance LED lights designed to sit on both sides of a laptop. Light is soft, smooth and pure — a huge improvement over the available light in a typical office. The Reporter Kit simply makes people look good — including accurate skin tones, and soft shadows. The magic behind the purity of light produced is remote phosphor technology.
Remote Phosphor Advantage
All LED bulbs actually emit blue light. The conversion of blue to white light is thanks to the magic of phosphor. Traditional LEDs use integrated phosphor methodology, which places a tiny spot of phosphor on top of the bulb — the phosphor glows as a result of being excited by the blue light. Though this method produces light good enough for a flashlight, it typically lacks the purity needed for quality video work.
There are two design shortcomings of integrated phosphor LED lights. First, heat produced by the bulb alters the phosphor and changes the light’s purity. Second, the tiny size of the phosphor makes getting a precise mixture of phosphor a difficult task — this reduces the chances of producing the purity of light required for quality video.
BBS has overcome the shortcomings of integrated phosphor LED lighting by distancing the phosphor from the LED bulb. There are several advantages to this design. It allows for a larger area of phosphor that yields better results. Any heat created by the bulb is dissipated in the space between the bulb and phosphor. Since the source of the light is the phosphor, and it coats the entire tube, the light is diffused and even — yet very bright.
BBS has overcome the shortcomings of integrated phosphor LED lighting by distancing the phosphor from the LED bulb.
Lighting engineers use a new measuring scale called the Television Lighting Consistency Index (TLCI) to describe a light source’s ability to faithfully reproduce the entire spectrum of light. The sun and tungsten lights earn a perfect 100. TLCI is poised to replace the older, less accurate, measuring scale called the Color Rendering Index. BBS claims the Pipeline has a TLCI of 95.
The Lighting Instrument
The LED lights sit atop a Manfrotto-built (MTPIXI-B) tripod via an industry standard 1/4” threaded connector. Grippy feet hold the flat black tripod in place — the attractive three-leg design assures stability.
Height is adjustable by adding or removing a 5-inch threaded extender. A button releases the tripod to tilt the instrument. Unfortunately, with the extender installed, the light falls over upon full tilt. Damage to the light, however, is not an issue since the sturdy aluminum-backed fixture can endure considerable abuse. In fact, we transported a light, sans case, in a shoulder bag without any worries of damage.
Each light draws only 10 watts, yet produces about 1000 Lumens of 180 degree output — good for about 10 feet. The sturdy plastic tubes are available in three color temperatures: 3200K, 4300K and 5600K. An on-board control provides flicker-free dimming with no visible color shift. Unfortunately, the dimming knobs wiggle and lack the smooth dampening one expects from a high-end lighting instrument.
Included in Kit
The 12-volt DC power supply ships with four swappable wall outlet modules to assist the globe trotting filmmaker. A ‘Y’ cable splits power for each fixture. However, the lightweight power cables do not inspire confidence to withstand the rigor of travel — BBS promises a fix for the ‘Y’ cable. Optional power sources come from eight AA batteries and various camera batteries.
The kit ships in a sturdy plastic case with foam cutouts for all pieces, and room for a few accessories. Absent from the kit is paperwork of any kind — instructions, specifications or warranty information. A BBS representative assures that the kit includes a two-year warranty.
The Reporter Kit’s diminutive size makes concealing the light easy — like behind a potted plant while recording a YouTube video. Additionally, the fixture offers an easy way to light people in tight places, like a car or an elevator.
Whether you’re a video blogger looking to up your game, or a news reporter on assignment halfway around the world, the Pipeline Remote Phosphor Reporter Kit helps make you look better. If you’re able to pay a premium for new technology, then this just might be the light for you.
- Very smooth, soft light
- Sturdy construction
- Low power consumption
- Compact design
- Flimsy power cables
- Knobs wiggle
Number of Lights in Kit: 2
Bulb Type: Remote Phosphor LED
Lumens per Light: 1,000
Carrying Case: Yes
Case dimensions (LxWxH): 4” x 16” x 12”
Handles on Lamps: No
Spot/Flood Adjustable: No
Maximum Height: 22 3/4” with extender
Total Weight of Kit: 3.5 lb. (1.6 kg)
David G. Welton teaches in the Radio/TV/Film Department at Butte College in northern California.