Top critical review
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I'm excited, jury still out on how well it performs day to day. UPDATE 12/2014
on September 26, 2014
2 star deduction 12/2014. No satisfactory lithium battery solution found, no response to questions addressed to seller. More info at end of review. Light is good otherwise, but AA batteries do not last long and rechargeable lithium the only viable solution.
First off, I have used all kinds of different lighting solutions. None to date have been perfect. The sun moves and changes, and incandescent and/or halogen bulbs get extremely hot. Flash systems are very complex and expensive requiring things like modeling lights, reflectors, umbrellas and so on.
Most people do not realize the importance of good lighting in photographs or video. The tiny little flash in the camera is almost useless as is the light on the cell phone. You almost have to have something like this or a bigger flash, and when I say flash, I am not talking about a 19$ hot shoe flash, I'm talking about something thats a few hundred dollars. Thats really what it takes to get professional looking photos. Obviously with video, a flash is worthless and a flash cannot stay on all the time because of the heat and battery drain.
Enter LED technology. Its been around for 50 years but only recently (past 10 or so) has it really evolved to a point that its practical and economical to use in flashlights and things such as this. Just now automakers are using LEDs for headlamps and other automotive purposes, the advantages are huge. #1 is very little heat, and #2 is high efficiency. You can use LEDs for hours and not begin to drain the battery where an incandescent bulb would drain it rapidly.
This unit is awesome. It has adjustable power (dimming), various screens of different colors, I presume to use for different lighting conditions, fluorescent etc, and also to diffuse the light so its not so harsh, and the shadows are less "black and white", not such a visible line between light and shadow.
You can use either a rechargeable camera battery or 6 AA batteries. I cannot report on how long they last but will update and adjust if necessary the review accordingly after I have used it. There is also a lighted scale to let you know the charge left in your batteries, you push a button and up to 4 leds light up (small red leds on back) to provide status on batteries.
There is a hot shoe adapter to use on a camera, and also a 1/4" hole in both hot shoe and bottom of the light for mounting on light stand or tripod.
I'm very excited about this and HOPE it lives up to the expectations I have for it. Sometimes these things are fantastic and other times they are a huge disappointment. The jury is out on this still. See the video for further information.
UPDATE 12/13/2014== I have TRIED all of the SONY lithium batteries that the seller recommends and they say "complete list coming soon" which has been there for a long time--what does ---what is coming soon ---mean? Anyway, NONE work right---the np550 works, but it doens't "snap in", and wouldn't last. I have tried to email the seller--or I did email the seller, but have received exactly ZERO answers. I just want to know what battery to use. The AA go fast and 6 at a crack is too expensive. HELP?