Going into production of my Columbia College thesis film, The Jog (facebook.com), I knew I was going to be needing something a little different for lighting.
Most of the film takes place outdoors, which means using natural light or having a generator. We wanted to have lights for making the punch ins easier, but also didn’t want to hassle with running lines and dealing with noise from the generator; meaning that our lights had to be battery-powered. The first thing that came to mind were LED panel lights.
There are a lot of options for LED lights out there. LitePanels is probably the most well-known of the offerings, but they’re a tad out of my price range. After looking around on the interwebs and talking with some twitter folks, I found the Ikan IFB 1024 LED Bi-Color light (ikancorp.com).
The 1024 seemed like a great light on paper; durable, strong output, temperature and brightness control, and a LOT cheaper than the LitePanels. Once we got on set, everything I had thought about the IFB1024′s was confirmed.
The 1024′s give you the option to dial in your color temp anywhere from 3200-5600K. What I’ve noticed on other bi-color lights is that the ability to dial in temperature affects the overall output; the 1024′s seem to not be effected by this. To give you a comparison of the light’s output, on the low-end it’s the equivalent of a 60w bulb, and on the high-end it falls in just short of a 1K light. At its highest setting the light fall off starts at ~3ft. But, unlike a standard tungsten light, which draws a lot of power, LED lights draw very minimal power; and the IFB1024 pulls about 90watts, less than a single amp on a standard US socket.
The one feature that I really missed from the 1024′s is the lack of focus control. With fresnel lights, and with other LED models, you have the ability to switch between spot and flood, and you can dial in the focus. The IFB1024 doesn’t have that ability, so you have to shape the light with barn doors and blackwrap.
Because we were shooting outdoors, and had to trek some of the gear to the location, we wanted something that would be light weight and still be able to handle a fall. The 1024 was the perfect solution. It’s made of a strong vented metal, instead of hard plastic like other lights in its price range, and comes in at just about 7lbs. I’m glad they ended up being a durable model, because these lights did in fact end up getting dropped onto hard rock. The built-in barn doors formed a nice protective shield for the actual LED panel, and they came back up with little more than scratches on the metal; they still operated beautifully.
Since we were running solely on battery power the question of power draw became a big concern. We wanted to get enough juice out of the batteries to last us all day without being overladen with spare batteries. I opted for the Anton Bauer mount on the 1024′s, but Ikan also offers them with a Sony V-Mount. We used a set of AB Hytron50 batteries and got ~3 hours (give or take 30minutes) out of each brick. The nice thing about working with LED lights is that the low power draw means that batteries last longer, but if it came down to it, you could run a power line from the light to a car with a power inverter (our backup if the batteries died) and still be able to use the light.
With LED and fluorescent lights, you have to apply gels (usually -green or magenta) to the lights to get an exact color match and to reduce the flicker effect. Ikan’s IFB1024′s aren’t any different; adding a bit of magenta rectifies the LED off put. What’s different about the 1024 is that it doesn’t require a full stop of the gel. When I gel a LitePanel I have to use multiple layers of magenta to balance out the light, which ends up cutting down the light’s output. With the 1024′s I only need a single layer, which means the light maintains more output. *note: applying gels to the lights does cut down the output, but is usually a small difference depending on your gels. It is worth noting here because it’s a big difference between the IFB1024 and other 1×1 bi-color panels.
I must preface this section by saying that I got a great deal on a set of the Ikan IFB-1024′s. But even without the discount, the Ikan lights fall FAR below the average price of a 1×1 bi-color panel. Ikan lists a single 1024 at $1099, and a kit of 3 for $3299. An equivalent light from LitePanels will run you $2399 on B&H (bhphotovideo.com). Other low-cost brands like Limelite (bhphotovideo.com) and Dedolight (bhphotovideo.com) are both still more than the Ikan. Other people may say that the IFB-1024′s don’t hold up to the quality of more expensive brands; but they far exceed their price point and offer great quality for a fraction of the cost.
I couldn’t be happier with my purchase of the Ikan IFB-1024 LED Bi-Color panel lights. Like most other Ikan products, they offer a solid solution for sets of all sizes, and they do it for a fraction of the cost of “bigger” brands. The flexibility of using them indoors and outdoors, durability, and great functionality of the 1024′s has made these light well worth the price. I’m sure I’ll be using these lights on all of my shoots from here on out.
To learn more about how we used the Ikan IFB1024 lights on the set of The Jog “like” us on facebook and follow the blog posts here: widenmedia.com/category/the-jog. For more information on any Ikan products, please visit their website at www.ikancorp.com
Jeremy Widen is a film and video professional now living in Chicago, Illinois. The creation of digital media is his passion. Movies, TV, animation, and gear feed Jeremy's hunger to stay creative. He graduated from the Art Institute of California- San Francisco with a B.Sc. in Digital Filmmaking and Video Production. While there he received a top of the line education and a tremendous amount of hands on training which resulted in his feeling comfortable in any role on set. Widen moved to Chicago to further his education; and is currently a student in Columbia College’s MFA program for Creative Production.