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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.

I used three Fiilex P360 heads. These 350w equivalent heads pull only 90w at full power. They feature an external power adapter, internal dimmer, internal fan, and can be changed in color temperature anywhere from 3000k to 5600k, easily matching or contrasting with indoor or outdoor lighting. The heads themselves take 12-28v DC so you can conveniently run them off professional camcorder batteries in the field.

The P360 head is about the size of a can of beans, easily fitting into your hand. Fiilex packages everything you will need to use their lights in the kit. Several lights, doors, accessories, stands, power supply, and the molded/padded case to carry everything. My K301 kit came with three P360 heads, all the necessities, and also a "softbox" that self-expanded and fit over top of a "speedring" pretty easily.

While convenient to have, the softbox needs to be bigger.

While the concept of this lightweight, always-assembled, and "pop out" softbox is to be commended, the one thing I want from a softbox is boxiness. By that I mean a big box to wrap light softly around a person's face. Fiilex's softbox may look big, but that's because the head it attaches to is so small. The face of the softbox is only 15"x15"--a tiny bit wider than a legal sheet of paper is long. I really wanted it to be twice this size, if it were possible that the weight of it wouldn't just pull the face of the light to the floor.

One thing you immediately notice when using the Fiilex heads is the incredible attention to detail. The knobs move very smoothly. The brackets feel solid. The light does not feel like a cheap toy. The face has two magnets on it to make adding a dome or other accessory a "snap"--quite literally. The magnets grab it and it snaps into place. I experienced this also with my F&V Z96 light, and magnets not only make using these tools easier, but they impress the client too.

The Fiilex P380 on set at 3000k.

Plugging the heads into their power adapters immediately lit up the power button on the back. Red means power is there, but the light is off. Pressing it turns the button green and the light comes on.

I had Fiilex also include a P180E lamp head, even though this was not a standard part of the kit I selected. This 200w equivalent with 40w draw is considerably smaller--about the size of a soda can. You could use it on a camera, but it's far more useful as an "inkie" light that offers the same color temperature and dimmability of the larger P360 head. With the addition of an integrated shield, it's actually usable in pouring rain.

5 LED lights running and still plenty of power to spare.

With the low power consumption of the LED lights, I had all five light heads discussed in this article plugged into one 15A power strip and nothing even got warm. However, with all four of the Fiilex heads up and running at full blast, I was able to hear the combined whir of all the fans. While one fan may not be that noticeable, adding more and more heads certainly raises the noise floor in a small room. That's something to be aware of if you need to record audio as well.

While you can't actually "focus" these Fiilex lights, the small doors on the front help to control the light.

Also, these two Fiilex heads are not true fresnels, even though they are shaped like that. The larger Fiilex Q500 is a focusable light. These smaller lights have the LED emitter close to the front of the head, which means that you narrow your "beam" with the barn doors. While effective to a point, it is just not the same as actually moving the lighting element behind a fresnel lens. An advantage to this is simplified design is that you can use the Fiilex dome head to dramatically spread out the light to cover a large area. This, as opposed to a lot of diffusion on the doors of a traditional fresnel.