I got the RPS Studio light (pictured left) with an optional set of barn doors that have a built-in Fresnel lens and a speed ring to attach a soft box. The RPS Studio also comes with a round reflector on the front and a small, round cloth diffuser. While this works pretty well, it can still cast a pretty harsh shadow. With the addition of a Westcott 24x32-inch soft box, the RPS Studio LED became much softer. But if you want harder edges and more control, the Fresnel and barn doors really help to focus and control the light when you need specular “hard” light. I found that two RPS Studio lights was better than one. I used one with the Fresnel and barn doors as a backlight/hair light, and one with a soft box to softly light the front.
RPS Studio lights are amazingly bright, but since they have a dimmer, you can easily dial in the lighting you need. The good news is that they maintain a constant 5200K color temperature as they’re dimmed. The thing I had to get used to was how the lights remained cool to the touch — even after several hours of constant use — and I could adjust them or put them away without burning my hands. They also seem to be rugged enough to work in the real world. On one shoot, someone left the light case unlatched, so, when I lifted it up, the lights tumbled out and took a pretty good hit. Luckily, RPS Studio lights come with a metal cover that protects the LEDs, so no damage occurred. Overall, these are great lights for the money, especially if you work in a hot environment and don’t want to heat up the room. Retailing at only $349.95, they rock.
The second light I tested is DLC’s DV320C (pictured right), and it’s now my new best friend. Sized at only 10x3.5x1.8 inches, I keep it in my camera case for unexpected occasions when I need to add some light. It puts out approximately 200 watts of light and has a variable color temperature knob that goes from 2800K to 6500K. This makes it easy to blend the 320 LEDs with whatever existing light is available. I currently use a Blackmagic Design Cinema camera with a Metabones Speed adapter (which adds a stop of light) and Rokinon T1.5 lenses, so I’m usually shooting in available light at around f1. At this f-stop, I use the DV320C LED on its lowest setting, and the light will get amazingly bright.
Last week I was shooting a music video for B.B. King’s daughter Claudette King, and I needed a bit of fill light for a cooking scene. My assistant grabbed the DV320C LED, dialed in a color temperature to match the available light, dimmed it until it looked natural, and we started shooting. As you can see from the uncorrected before and after frame grabs, it made a huge difference. Dot Line’s DV320C is powered by a Sony battery or a 5- to 12-volt power source. It also comes with a diffusion filter that slides onto the front of the light (and works so well that I just leave it there). At only $369.95, the DV320C is great light to always have in your camera case.