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Review: Adorama Flashpoint CL-1300 LED Panel Light

Adorama's Flashpoint 1300 LED Panel light is powerful, flexible and well-featured as a standalone light and can be easily integrated into two- and four-light panels should the need arise.

If you’re looking for a light for shooting video, producing webinars and other general-purpose use, you should definitely consider LED lighting as a category. LED lights run cool and provide a nice, soft light. Prices have dropped dramatically, build quality has improved, and the small form factor delivers convenience and usability that compact fluorescent softboxes (CFL) just can’t match.

If you’re sold on the LED category, you should strongly consider the Flashpoint CL-1300 LED Panel Light from Adorama ($409 after $40 instant rebate), which is powerful, flexible, and well-featured as a standalone light and can be easily integrated into two- and four-light panels should the need arise.

Standalone Operation

Adorama ships the panel light with a portable case (Figure 1, below) and power supply, but no stand. Unlike softboxes, setup is a breeze, you just take the unit out of the case and pop it on a stand. You can run off AC power, or with a V-lock battery (not supplied). The unit weighs about 7 pounds, including power supply, and is a bit less than 2" wide, so it’s easy to deploy even in tight spaces.

Figure 1. The unit comes with a shoulder carrying case and is exceptionally portable.

The CL-1300 is named for the 1296 LED lamps contained in its 1'x1' array (Figure 2, below). I’ve previously worked with 500 lamp units, which generally felt anemic, producing a little less light than the five CFL softboxes that I’ve used for the last few years. With 1296 lamps, the CL-1300 produces more than twice as much light as these softboxes, which should translate to a much greater throw distance than the 500 lamp units I’ve worked with previously.

Figure 2. The unit is about 1’x1’x2” with slots for a diffuser (not shown) and 3200k gel.

The unit I tested was rated at 5600 color temperature and comes with two color filters: one a diffuser to smooth the multiple shadow effect sometimes experienced with LED lights, and the other to convert the color temperature to 3200k. The light fixture comes with slots for both, so you can use them both at the same time.

A slider on the back of the unit controls lighting intensity, which you can reduce to as little as 10% of power (Figure 3, below). This is a nice feature that makes the light usable for a range of shoots, from Skyping with a webcam to formal interviews. There’s also an optional wired remote controller for $24 that connects to the unit’s RG45 jack, though it’s only 5' long.

Figure 3. The back of the unit features the intensity slider, a battery hookup, on/off switch, power in and out and screw holes to integrate the light into a multi-unit panel.

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