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Review: BBS Lighting Pipeline Reporter LED Kit

The BBS Pipeline Reporter Kit ($849) consists of two small, rugged, durable, pipe-shaped, ultra-white "remote phosphor" LEDs plus supports that can provide high-lumen-level lighting in tight spots with minimal power requirements and setup time.

Denmark-based Brother, Brother and Sons (BBS) lighting company is now selling a series of unique LED lights for production professionals. They use a patented technology known as remote phosphor. These “Pipes,” as BBS refers to them, currently come in 1' lengths and are a svelte 1" in diameter.

Soon, BBS will offer 2', 3', and 4' lengths at the same 1" diameter. They feature a 180º lens/diffuser combo emitting a pleasing soft blanket of light to a short range. Think of these as an evolution of fluorescent tube lighting like those offered by Kino Flo and Lowel. You’re probably asking, “What is remote phosphor?” It’s simpler than it sounds.

Introducing Remote Phosphor LED Technology

Remote phosphor technology has been developed as a way to reduce or eliminate issues found in typical LED lights. Many LED lights for production have some sort of diffusion added to eliminate harsh spots in the coverage. This helps to a certain degree, but it’s a band-aid on a symptom rather than a fix to a more serious problem.

Another battle waged in the world of LED lights is getting consistent color temperature. Lighting technicians will look for the CRI or TLCI to determine how accurate and consistent the color temperature will be on a given light. Even with this number, many lights will tend to drift over time.

Remote phosphor attempts to eliminate these issues, as well as flickering, by redirecting the source of the light. Instead of the subject being lit directly by the diodes, the diodes fire at a lens coated with a phosphorescent material. This, in turn, charges like a fluorescent tube and emits the light from the fixture.

Pipeline Recorder Kit Contents

The kit I received for review is called the Pipeline Reporter Kit (Figure 1, below). The padded case includes two (2) 5600k 1' pipes, (2) Manfrotto PIXI mini stands (MTPIXI-B), power supply, and international AC adapters. Also included with the table-top stands are optional 4" risers. These risers put the Pipes right at head level when set on a standard table height. The built-in dimmer knobs allow you go from dim glow to sunglasses-bright in a quick spin. I tested the physical temperature levels on the lights after leaving them on full-tilt for about an hour and found them pleasantly warm but not hot.

Figure 1. The BBS Pipeline Reporter Kit

The power supply consists of a wall wart with a single cable. There is an additional cable that splits into two Sony-style male connectors to power the lights. By default, you can power both lights from a single wall source, but they can be powered by battery as well since they have a standardized connection.

Built Rugged and Tough

BBS’s Toby Sali explained to me on a phone call about these lights that “rugged” is the name of the game in the construction of these lights. Imagine my surprise when he told me to take out one of the lights and bang it against any hard object as hard as I could. He waited patiently while I abused the lights against all manner of wood or metal, of which I have plenty as I’m in the middle of a huge house renovation. After the banging ceased, Toby chuckled while he expounded on what has gone into the design to ensure maximum durability and borderline indestructibility.

The lens plastic is about 1/10" thick while the metal parts are solid aluminum. Since the face of the light is the most vulnerable part of traditional lights, BBS wanted to be sure that their diodes and coated lens would be protected from anything a production could throw at it… literally. Having banged these Pipes in front of a half-dozen other production professionals in the last few weeks and not seen any permanent marks or problems, I can testify that these are some seriously tough lights. That’s saying a lot since “tough” isn’t often a description used when discussing lights.