Photographers: Are you looking to augment your lighting kit? Great. Aside from hoarding glass, lighting is probably the next item on the list that eats up much of your equipment budget. F.J. Westcott has a new LED fixture that you need to add to the mix. It's called the Solix, and it's a great little fixture.
LED has grown by leaps and bounds, since it first began to make its way onto the scene over ten years ago. Back then, I was selling lighting for a company in the visual arts industry and LED had far too many drawbacks to recommend to clients, but that would eventually change. The biggest knocks were on output levels and color rendering. But a couple of big advantages that made the technology desirable were low power consumption and low heat output. Add to that the longevity of the LEDs, themselves, and one could see why so much promise existed.
The technology has since reached the point where the level of output and ability to reach high CRI (color rendering index) numbers make the addition of LED to your lighting kit a must. Westcott's Solix Compact Kit ($449.90 on Westcott's website) provides plenty of punch, which is dimmable, and also comes with magnetic barn doors, diffusion cap, power strap, and a carrying case. The monolight has an integrated speed ring, enabling the use of existing softboxes you may already have in your kit, as well as a stand mount that accepts umbrella-style modifiers. Output reaches 2,125 lux at 1m, and the unit can be run on AC or DC. An added bonus that Westcott is currently running as a special on their website is the inclusion of an Apollo or Halo softbox at no additional charge ($129 value).
I picked one up for my kit last week, having seen it in action at Barbizon's showroom in Atlanta. I was very impressed with the output the fixture provides, as well as the flexibility it offers. The quality of the light it
produces is very nice, indeed. The image you see here, a self-portrait, was photographed using the Solix, ramped-up to full-intensity. Attached to the Solix was the Halo softbox. No other light sources, including reflectors, were used. The transition between light and shadow is silky smooth, and the setup creates a very nice catch-light in the eyes.
Having spent a lot of my career working in the film and video industry, I'm quite attached to working with continuous light sources. It's nice to see what the light is going to do for me prior to taking the shot. Nothing against strobes and speedlights - it's just a preference. I also enjoy working with single-light setups, challenging myself to create multiple moods using just one light. The Solix opens up the creative possibilities, depending on the way its configured, positioned, and the power output selected. If you like your shadows to be a bit more dramatic, not to worry. You can run the Solix with just the diffusion cap attached, or you can run it bare, for an even edgier look. The barn doors give you even further control over the light, making the setup quite flexible for the price.
To wrap things up, you should pick one up. For the money, it's really sort of a no-brainer. When you combine the quality of light with the flexibility of configuration, low power draw, low heat output, portability, and longevity of the LEDs, it's really hard to find a reason not to purchase a Solix.
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