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Header image for article In the Field: Litepanels Astras

In the Field: Litepanels Astras

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The Litepanels Astra 1x1 Panel lineup now consists of eight models, with the latest being the Astra 1x1 Soft Bi-Color LED Panel that was announced at NAB 2016. The Astra 1x1 family is known as being extremely portable, which DPs know means faster lighting setups and potentially more scenes completed in one day. They are also extremely flexible due to their bi-color settings, battery options, and light modifiers.

With all of these models having specific applications, I wanted to take a closer look at two of them the Astra 1x1 Bi-Color and the Astra 1x1 Soft Bi-Color to see how they worked as a pair. I chose to focus on these two as the Astra 1x1 Bi-Color has the strongest output, and the Astra 1x1 Soft Bi-Color is the newest and softest source. I wanted to see if they complimented each other in a kit for multiple shooting applications and environments, so I put them to the test.

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The first location I shot in was a kitchen. It had decent ambient diffused sunlight, but not enough to light the scene. So I used the daylight to my advantage, instead of having to start from scratch. However, the kitchen lighting uses LEDs. If I had to strike all the lights and start from scratch it would have taken too much time. With the Astra 1x1 Bi-Color, I dialed in a white balance of 4200K, putting it between daylight and tungsten, which allowed me to balance out the sources. I used the Astra 1x1 Bi-Color to bring up the ambient light by bouncing it onto the ceiling, and the new Astra 1x1 Soft Bi-Color as my model's key lightgiving him a nice eyelight. The Astra 1x1 Bi-Color was at 80% intensity, and the Astra 1x1 Soft Bi-Color was at about 75% intensity. Both lights were used without additional modifiers, as I wanted to see what they looked like as open sources.

This video first shows the ambient light with no additional lighting, then the bounced Astra 1x1 Bi-Color turns on, and lastly the Astra 1x1 Soft Bi-Color key light turns on. 

Another option, due to the light modifiers available, would have been to leave the background as is and use the Astra 1x1 Bi-Color Soft as fill, with the Astra 1x1 Bi-Color as a softer key light by adding the snap-on grid accessory. This makes both lights very adaptable, and location friendly, to the look you want to create. 

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The second hallway location normally has a decent amount of ambient sunlight, but on my shoot day it was really overcast and dark. I had to bring up the ambient light again, so I bounced the Astra 1x1 Bi-Color onto the ceiling. As you can see in the BTS still, this time I used the Litepanels 1x1 4-Way Barndoors in order to make sure it was only hitting the ceiling and not the floor or the talent. I also used the Wide Flood Horizontal lens from the Litepanels Nanoptic Lens Set. I was really impressed with how well the Astra 1x1 Soft Bi-Color works as a key light without any additional modifiers, making it extremely fast for a set up. Both lights were set to 5600K in this set up, with the ambient at 75% and the key light at 100%.

This video first shows the ambient light with no additional lighting, then the bounced Astra 1x1 Bi-Color turned on, then the Astra 1x1 Soft Bi-Color key light turned on.

Litepanels' 1x1 accessories also expand the capabilities of these panels. Modular accessories that can be applied to all of the 1x1s include the Bluetooth Module, the 5-pin XLR Communications Module, and the RJ45 Communications Module. All three of these modules easily slide onto the back of the panels. The Bluetooth Module enables wireless control with the Litepanels Smartlite app (available for Apple iOS), which can connect to more than 10 light fixtures and control their temperature and brightness simultaneously, a perfect setup for a studio or remote configuration. For DMX applications, you can utilize either the 5-Pin XLR Communications Module or RJ-45 Communications Module. I've often used the XLR Module to control lights on a grid simultaneously or strung together, giving me the ability to change lighting within a shot.

In terms of controlling the light, you can use the panel with 1x1 4-Way Barndoors, Snapbag Softbox, additional 1x1 Honeycomb Grid (available in 30 Degree, 45 Degree and 60 Degree), or the Adapter Frame to slide gels in and out easily. Also, all Astras can be used with an Anton Bauer adapter for onboard power.

These two lights proved to be a good pair, and as a DP myself I value their flexibility and ease of set up -- for both this type of run and gun shoot, as well as studio work.

If you're seeking for more comparison information between each model, be sure to look at our Astra comparison chart.

Megan Donnelly
Training Manager / Camera Tech Specialist, AbelCine Chicago

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