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LED Fresnels: Two Takes on Design

For location lighting, moving around a lot, and travel, the Fiilex LED kits offer amazing capability and flexibility in a small and light package. Designed for use as a fixed solution, for a small sound stage, or grip truck, the Gus 41 makes a perfect solution. It is very wide and soft or small and focused as needed.

LEDs were once the "new" kid on the block but now they are very established lighting tools in their own right--being molded into shapes and designs that simply weren't possible before. Initial LED technologies had several issues, including low color rendition index (CRI), and flickering visible at certain shutter speeds.

Today's LEDs have overcome both of those issues and are now being engineered into time-tested and established lighting designs, such as the fresnel. This closed-face light has been around for nearly 100 years and is a standard in the production and theatrical industries. The size of individual LEDs, however, initially made it a challenge to implement LED technolgies into fresnel-type lights.

Two Takes on LED Fresnels - Prime Time Lighting's Gus 41 and Fiilex. Click the image to see it at full size.

The solution is to redesign the diode so you can squeeze lots of light-emitting diodes into a small area. You try to keep it about the size as the filament of a tungsten lamp. The advantage with LEDs here is that they emit light in one direction, while a filamented lamp emits in all directions and needs a reflector to try and redirect some of the wayward light to the lens. However, there is still a good potion of light emitted up, down, and sideways that merely serves to heat up the housing.

LEDs run cooler, and all the light exits in one direction, but they--and their support electronics--still generate heat and how the manufacturers deal with this heat is a key difference in the two lights I'm reviewing here: The Fiilex P360 and P180, and PrimeTime Lighting's Gus 41.


Fiilex is a relatively new name to the video production community, but they have been around for many years, primarily in the fiber optics and communications fields. They released their first LED light in 2007 and recent advancements have enabled them to dramatically broaden their product line.

I selected two lights that can be found in their selection of pre-packaged kits. And while these kits may seem expensive initially, they are comparatively priced to a similarly packaged ARRI frenel kit. The Fiilex kit, however, is much smaller, lighter, and the lights have no bulb, heat, or energy consumption issues. There's also no color change while dimming LEDs. I have an open-face Lowell kit that I have used and added to for 20 years. Lights are an investment that pays off for many years to come.

The Fiilex 301 Kit. Three heads, power supplies, stands, a softbox, and a padded case.