Manfrotto has been doing something pretty cool for a little while now. They’re doing their best to ditch this pattern we see of high quality lighting products that cost a ton of money. They’ve teamed up with their popular and (more importantly) reliable sister company, Litepanels to power their good looking fixtures to give you both style and function in one. By manufacturing high quality lights and selling them at reasonable prices, Manfrotto is allowing any filmmaker access to proper lighting tools for their projects.
One neat innovation that is being boasted by them is what they’re referring to as SMT (Surface Mount Technology). Claims of improved efficiency and better color rendition are the biggest points and that is a great thing. Most of their new fixtures are using their SMT, so expect a common theme and look of the face on the fixture, as a result.
Now that we know that price isn’t going to be the biggest issue here, let’s look at type of light. Manfrotto has on-camera lights, specialty lights, and more traditional panels (with a twist) that are all high-quality and low cost.
While they seem simple in theory, the fact is that a bad on-camera light can just wreak havoc all over your shot. They’re not exactly always necessary, but if you find yourself in a situation where you need a kick from on top of the camera (man on the street interviews, broadcast/sports, etc.), Manfrotto has a few worth looking at.
The starter light is the Spectra2 LED Light. The Spectra2 throws a clean daylight temperature (5600K) light with a brightness of 650 lux (at 1 meter) when at full power (lower, obviously, when dimmed). They have a CRI of 93 and it runs off of 6 AA batteries, an AC adapter, or it can be powered by L-Type Li-ion batteries when the optional battery adapter is attached. SMT is being used on even this entry-level product.
If you need a more powerful light on top of your camera you get two options. If you need just a daylight version, the MicroPro2 LED Light is where you need to check out. If having a Bi-Color light is super important to you, you’re going to want to check out the Croma2 LED Light. Both blast 900+ lux (940 with the MicroPro2) and can be dimmed. They also feature the cool SMT feature that was mentioned earler, so that’s cool.
The same 6 AA batteries, an AC adapter, or L-Type Li-ion battery (when the optional battery adapter is attached) can power the unit, which is a nice because it’s consistent.
While not exactly the first thing filmmakers gravitate towards, specialty lights can be very useful when needing a quick little kick of light or blast of color in your shot. Enter the extremely portable and quite useful Lumie series from Manfrotto.
Coming in 3 different versions, the basics of the Lumie Lights are the same. 3, 6, or 8 individual LED lights blast light at a high CRI of 92 and color temperature of 5600K (daylight). They’re all small enough to fit in your palm and can be put in a non-skinny jean pocket. Ok, maybe a really skinny person’s skinny jean pocket. They’re small. They all have a rechargeable, non-removable battery that lasts up to an hour and can be mounted on a hot shoe or by a ¼”-20 threaded stud. They can be accessorized with color temperature or party-style colored gels that are pre-cut to fit their integrated gel holder.
Lastly, we have the panel lights (thanks for sticking with us on this. Lots to go over for something as simple as lights).
While normal companies would just give you a basic 12×12 (or similar) panel with a yoke and basic knobs, Manfrotto isn’t about that. They’re probably more design-centric with their products than most companies in our space. “Why have a yoke when you can have an actual handle?!?” is probably what they said to themselves when they designed their new LYKOS lights. Yeah. A handle!
Coming in two versions (bi-color & daylight), the side-handled lighting fixture turns out an impressive 1500+ lux (the daylight version throws 1600 lux) at 1 meter with a CRI of 93. You’re basically getting the same output of the original 1×1 panels with a smaller form factor and way more efficiency. Battery life is going to be in the hour range at max power and you get a small scree to give you that info when you need it. An optional soft box has been created to give you the option of softening your look.
They also created a nifty Bluetooth dongle that attaches to the LYKOS lights to give them control via your iphone (using their app) or, more impressively, the Manfrotto Digital Director. Now you can use your iPad to not only monitor your subject, but also adjust and control your lighting.
There you have it. Multiple lights for just about any creative person and their project. Go create something with them!