Sunday, 18 March 2012

Rosco LitePad Review and Competition

Rosco to most of us are the team behind the gels we get for our speedlights, to either add some creativity or to help balance our flash lights with the ambient or artificial lighting in the location we are shooting in.   

But they are much more than that, ask any movie maker and they will tell you all about the other stuff Rosco do.  I was new to their other stuff but wanted to test it out and see if it would be of any use to a photographer and budding videographer like myself.  They sent me the  Digital Shooters Kit  (you can check out their other kits here

This was a surprisingly large and heavy box and being a photographer who use to 4 Nikon speedlights packed in his rucksack to cover all the lighting situations I need, I thought it was excessive.  But then comes the good bit, this is continuous lighting.  In a number of music videos I have helped make or made myself the lighting (rented from in Edinburgh) Is usually in the form of 4 bank kinoflo which are pretty big and quite delicate or HMIs running at 800-2k watts. Which A) use up a lot of power and B) get bliming hot, both in the studio but also when you turn them off to move them to another angle or location, easily burn your hands. (both of which weigh quite a bit) and take up a lot more space.

I also find out that in this kit is not 3 lights but acutally 6!  

o    3 x 12”x12” which you are using
o    1 x 6”x12”
o    1 x 3” circle
o    1 x 3”x6”

The three 12 inch by 12 inch lights are the bomb! …. Sorry must be more objective

When you unpack the kit you will look at the lightpads… sorry litepads and think, where the hell is the light?  Where they are is at the sides.  The pads are Rim Lit meaning that the light from them is potentially less directional and thus 'softer'  the light from the LEDs then runs along something inside the pad, that holds the light. a bit like optical fiber,  I suspect it is cut groves in some form of composite material that transmit the light along the length and also forward to the viewer.  However the best way to describe it is … MAGIC!.

The digital shooters kit comes with some sweet extras the small 3 inch circle will be great for long exposure photography ideas such as this photo I did with it.
I had the 3 inch circular light as the white energy beam coming out of Jenny's hand. and as you can see it gives off a heck of a lot more light than the 24leds in the Circular ring light from asda.

The kit comes with everything you need, it has 3 light stands with the jointed mounts and quick release brackets so you can quickly... you can guess what they do.
it has 2 dimmer controls which can be attached to any of the lights, either the big ones or the smaller ones.
It has all the power cables and extra wires you would need.
It also has the battery pack which takes 8AA batteries (the normal size) so you can power any of the lights from that as well, It even has a splitter cable so you can in fact power 2 lights with just the little battery pack.  This in fact is a brilliant light weight portable, low power, low heat light sourse.  It could be use to great creative effect where an assistant is walking side by side the videographer with the 12inch litepad illuminating your subject, all hand held.  SWEET.

The box also contains all the colour filters you would need for the lights if you want to colour match it with a locations current ambient light.
You also get grids to make the light more directional and have less spill light on the background
and it also comes with a sheet of... Magic 
Its called a full spot lens. No idea how it works but you place it over the litepad and it focuses the light into a spot light, yet it does this while being completely flat. No doubt you will be equally amazed by this magic / witchcraft when you first try it out.

I then also hear that another benefit is that the litepads are effectively splash proof….Don't think I'll ever try and test that one out.  They are also pretty darn hard and shock resistant. They are surrounded in metal and the led lights are, well, led lights, so you are not going to be busting a big bulb like with HMI lights.

The smaller pads that come with can be very useful for creative shots but also for getting lighting in locations where you just wouldn't be able to get lighting into normally. You can put the 3x6 in the dashboard of your car, you can put it behind a laptops screen the 3 inch spot you could put inside a wallet or a handbag so it looks like there is something of interest in the bag.
If doing club videos the 3x6 would be great as a on crowd light.  The opportunities are endless.

There is just so much that is right about this stuff it is hard to fault.

So to recap:

Light weight (relatively)
Lots of kit (6 Lights and stands)
Easily adjustable power (dimmer switches)
Soft light
Runs cold (so no burning models, assistants or getting sweaty in the studio)
Very low power consumption
Can be run of AA batteries
Directional light which can be easily and cleanly colour corrected
Very small (only about an inch thick)
The smaller units can be put in all sorts of places
Look cool (Clients will be impressed)
Quick to assemble.

For video work this stuff rocks my world.

One of my biggest worries was that it wouldnt be very bright.  I have done a video in the past where I show the power of Flash lights compared to big banks of studio lights (see below)

So I wanted to test out what shutter and aperture I could use with a 3 light setup.  What if any is the advantage of continuous light compared to flash?

The first thing is that you get to see the lighting look that you are making as you are making it. You don't need to fire of a shot and then re-adjust.

Blinkers!  Ever had a client or model who some how has lightning quick reactions to the speedlights and manages to have their eyes completely closed in every shot? I did once, so in the end I just shot them with a full shadow over their face so you couldnt see that they had blinked , but that doesnt work for all jobs.

Also baby photography would be good with this lighting. No dangerous hot lights to worry about, and also you can have the light very close to the baby and no need for additional softboxes etc as the light is big and soft when close up for baby shots already.

Ok but what about the amount of light? what kind of camera settings can I use with these?

I went and shot head shots of the members of the acting group Creative Electric.
Shooting with the Nikon D700 at iso 800 with the 70-200mm f2.8 lens set at f/4 I was getting a shutter speed of 1/180th
at f/2.8 I was happily shooting at the normal max sync speed of 1/250th

The shot below is an example shot at f/4 iso 800, 1/180th, 4400k white balance, 100mm on the nikon 70-200vr. metering mode spot

This next shot below, was f2.8, iso 800, 1/350th, 4600k white balance, 100mm, then in lightroom a plus 0.25 on exposure and +60 on brightness and a 0 on blacks. No added vignette or removal.

then this final shot is f/4 iso 800, 1/180th of a second, 78mm in camera black and white.

Now of course if you are doing high end portraits you really want your iso to be as low as possible and 200 is where you really want it.  but with a 200mm lens that is definitly going to incur some blur into your images.  The Nikon D700 has amazing iso abilities and shotting at iso 800 I would consider to be as good as iso 200 on my D300 or iso 100 on the D200.  
To get a faster shutterspeed either move the lights closer to your subjects or get more lights or increase your iso or give yourself a bigger aperture thus decreasing your depth of field. simple.

Now down to the nitty gritty
the Competition
sorry I think I need to introduce that a bit better


Rosco have put up a prize for the winner of the competition.

1 x 12”x12” LitePad Axiom with transformer
 They will send the prize direct to the winner

So what is needed you ask?

To enter this competition you need to submit a Video showing your ability with natural lighting.  please make the video between  1,30s to 3minutes.
It can be a set up film
A music video
A montage
A stop motion

For copyright free/creative commons music ideas visit 
Upload your video to youtube with the title and details and copy the page link and email it to me for submission.

1 On the title of the video please put in brackets (Rosco Competition) so that it is searchable.
2 Email your finished video to my email address or submit to the facebook page 
3 All content must be your own work and not infringe on the rights of others, including copyright and privacy.
4 Please provide your Name and E-mail address and also delivery address in the email when submitting your video. Please also provide a contact telephone number.

Here is the first video submitted

My new photography book. click below

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The link for UK photographers check out

For the US buyers click below

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