The FotodioX flapjack line of lights have innovative design. They are flexible for studio or field use. Their Dimmable and Bi-light LED has great color making them flexible for many uses. Their biggest shortcoming is their light intensity.
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Lights are a big investment, they’re also paramount to your product looking polished and professional. That’s why choosing the right light is key to your success. The FotodioX flapjack line of LED edge lights are an affordable option for those looking to up their game. The two options we’ll cover in this reviewed are the C-218AS, a small, portable bi colored dimmable LED and the Studio, a larger circular version of the same light. Both have the option to run off of Sony NP-F style batteries and in the case of the flapjack studio, a V-Mount battery.
Both lights are very thin, at their thinnest point they’re only a ½ inche, and are made of thick molded plastic. Their design is unique because the LED’s are around the edge of the light and then are defused by layers of diffusion material. They are bi-colored being capable of being adjusted from 3200k to 5600k. Because of the nature of LED’s this is achieved by having 2 different LED’s for each color temperature and mixing them for smooth transition through the color range. The C-218A comes with a cold shoe mount, battery, AC adapter, battery, battery charger and case. It also comes with a price of $230. The Studio comes equally equipped minus the cold shoe mount and with 2 larger batteries rather than 1.
For most of our tests, we focused on the flapjack studio. Because of its larger size, it lends itself to more applications plus, we had a few lights of similar form and function to use as a baseline for our testing. Those lights are the celeb 200 from Kino Flo and the Astra 1x1 soft by Light Panels. It’s important to note that the kino flow and light pannels are $3,000 and $1,800 respectively, whereas the flapjack Studio is just $550.
For our first test, we used only one light at a time to light a subject from 4 feet away at 45 degrees from the subject. Using the same stand, and matching intensity we shot with each light, using the same camera and exposure to keep consistency. For this first application, we used each light at 3200k to see their color quality. Using a waveform scope we compared all three setups side by side. To our amazement they did not perform as we expected. We thought the most expensive kino flo would be the best, but it came in last. We rated the color reproduction in this order: Light Panels, FotodioX and then the kino flo. The Light Panels had a slight red shift, the FotodioX a blue shift and the kino flo a red shift.
We then changed to 5600k and repeated the same test. Although the performance order didn’t change, the information we gathered did. The Light Panels light now had a slight blue shift, the FotodioX a slight blue and green shift and the kino flo a larger blue shift. We then confirmed our findings by shooting a gray scale and color charts.
If you’re scratching your head as to why a $550 light is keeping up with lights 3 to 6 times more expensive, there is an answer: light intensity. Comparing the brightest setting on the kino flo to the FotodioX it’s apparent that the volume of light is far greater with the more expensive light. To test the light intensity, we thought it best to use direct sun as a key light and using the lights as a fill. The kino flo was by far the brightest with the light panels coming in just behind it and the FotodioX last. Infact, the flapjack would be a poor choice for this application. Going one step further we shot with diffused sunlight as the fill and each light as the key. All 3 lights were able to do an acceptable job, but the kino flo was far better than the FotodioX with the light panels doing a fine job.
This review wouldn’t be complete if we didn't talk about the performance of the C-218AS. Testing was a bit different for this light, as we wanted to know what it was capable of by itself. When mounted to the cold shoe of the camera, and being about 4 feet away, the light was able to light a subject. The fall off was quick and wouldn't be a good choice for lighting a scene. When mounted to a stand, 4 feet away at 45 degrees away from the subject, on the face the opposite side of the light was very dark. Lastly, we put the two lights together, using the flapjack studio as our key light and the C-218AS as the fill. This was a nice set up and did a fine job. However the background was very dark as the fall off is quite quick for both lights.
Results and Recommendations
The big question is, are they a good value and what are they good for? Now it’s easy to find a low price LED, but typically you get what you pay for. In this case, the lower price comes with shortcomings in light intensity. The color is very good for the money, but would require owning multiple lights to keep up with their more costly competition. Not everyone has the need for a LED, so if you’re on a budget, there are many different and more affordable options than LED lights, if you have a short view. However, LED’s typically have a much longer life than other types of lights, so if you have a long view, then the added cost could be marginalized over time. Would we recommend these lights? Yes. If you have a small budget and need a good looking light, the Flapjack studio will fit your need. If you have a bigger budget, don't think you’re saving money buying something more affordable, in the long run, the added intensity will make the light far more usable.