Aside from your camera, lights are one of the most important aspects of any video shoot. It’s what separates professional quality video from the amateurs. This innovative kit is affordable, very portable, and provides multiple professional lighting options that are hard to pass up.
My primary light kit up till now, the Lowell Tota light kit, is a set of relatively compact lights that throw out a massive amount of light. I picked mine up at a garage sale for an incredibly low price and it’s served me well for the past year and a half. My two biggest complaints about the kit though are how hot the lights get and my inability to change the color temperature. Numerous times I’ve had clients complain about how hot they are and any gel you try to add on to them begins to melt almost immediately.
That’s why I knew my next light kit had to be LED. LED lights are extremely popular among filmmakers and have become relatively inexpensive. They don’t run hot, use very little energy compared to tungsten fluorescent bulbs, like the Tota lights, and they’re much more difficult to damage.
The RotoLight RL48 Light Kit seemed to be one of the best starter LED light kits. It provides an incredible amount of professional features at an affordable price of $249.00. RotoLight is a company that’s headquartered at UK’s prestigious Pinewood Studios, home of the James Bond franchise, so quality and customer support are high on their priority list. I’m excited to start on the ground floor with this innovative company and grow into their more professional lighting kits in the future.
RL48 lights are built mostly from plastic, extremely lightweight, and ring shaped with 48 indirect daylight balanced LEDs. The ring structure is meant to provide shadowless light and can be mounted on your boom mic, on a light stand, or on your camera’s hotshoe mount with the included lightstand adapters. A clear plastic housing on front holds custom Lee filters that help control color temperature and output of the light. Lee filters are the top of the line when it comes to light manipulation and it makes me feel good to know that this is the primary method for controlling the light.
Yes, it would be nice to have a simple dial that controls light temperature and dimness, but with Lee filters you can feel rest assured that the color temperatures are pleasing and accurate. The kit includes gels that produce color temperatures at 6300K, 4300K, and 3200K, a set of neutral density filters and light diffusion, and a pack of party gels.
RotoLight RL48 Lee Gels Review
My main complaint is the inability to quickly replace the light gels. The front clear plastic housing is hard to remove and replace a gel. I can forgive the fact that I have to use gels to manipulate the light each time but the fact that I have to wrestle with removing the clear plastic housing is a bit annoying to me. Hopefully, the housing will loosen over time to allow for easy access to and from the gel holder.
Each RL48 runs off of 3 AA batteries boasting a four-hour battery life. The 48 LEDs provide an 80 watt total output with a range of about 15 feet before you begin to notice light falloff. This kit is perfect with the addition of natural ambient light but I wouldn’t suggest using this kit as your main lighting source. If you need a more powerful light kit then expect to pay $500 or more for a good, durable LED kit.
Also, I’d suggest purchasing a pair of CowboyStudio light stands with this kit if you’d like to use it in a true interview setup. I bought both of these stands for about $25 which will make it much easier to move the lights around for the best setup. The ability to attach a ringlight to your boom mic is a nice feature, but I don’t see myself doing that on a regular basis for sit down interviews.
Overall, this is a great professional lighting kit to start off with. Aside from the finicky housing for the included gels my only other complaint is the fact that there are no barn doors included. I’d imagine a set of barn doors are relatively inexpensive to manufacture and they are extremely helpful to direct all available light at the source your shooting. It seems like there’s a lot of wasted light produced from these RL48s.
Other than that, the RotoLight RL48 interview kit is a great piece of equipment to have on you at all times. Don’t expect it to light your entire scene, but it provides exceptional accent lighting within your shooting location. I’m very impressed with the overall quality of this product and will be considering buying more light kits from RotoLight in the future.