LED Light / litra.com / £649 / $649 at time of review
LED lighting is more versatile, accurate, brighter and cheaper than traditional forms of illumination, but, it's not just better, LEDs are so much more. The LitraStudio is at the pinnacle of LED technology with more features packed into the compact form than any other lighting system I've seen. Power, effects, weatherproof and unparalleled colour accuracy, there's little not to like about this compact lamp, except maybe the price.
- Waterproof and robust
- BlueTooth App
Introduction to the LitraStudio
Look at the LitraStudio and at first; you may think that it’s just a compact LED light like many others. Pick it up, and the weight will instantly tell you that it’s something very different, look at the price tag, and you’ll wonder if that difference warrants the cost.
Over the years, I’ve looked at many LEDs lamps, some good, many not, but none, to a point, that would have persuaded me to dump my traditional lighting, and then the NEO II’s arrived.
The Rotolight NEO II’s are small, powerful, feature effects, temperature and brightness adjustment and almost everything I needed. There are, of course, a few shortcomings, but nothing too major.
Now the LiraStudio has arrived, and it leaps LED technology forwards into a new generation. The temperature, brightness and effects are all there along with flash, but this lamp is waterproof, connects to DMX and comes with a fully-featured App.
This lamp offers the same level of features as larger products costing far more and that’s when the price starts to make sense.
The LitraStudio is almost twice as powerful as the NEO II and has more features besides; it can also be used virtually anywhere with nearly unrivalled colour accuracy.
With all this considered the price really isn’t that bad, but then you get back to considering the size, just larger than a weighty book, and you think can it really be that good?
Designed for filmmaking, the LitraStudio is packed with features that will appeal to all levels of videographer.
Litra state that this is the World’s most powerful RGBWW Light, checking this and it’s certainly true for all lights that I’ve looked at over the years and a quick bit of online research and it does appear to be the case.
The RGB stands for full colour, and the WW stands for warm white, you also get lamps attributed with just a W which means white. White is for cooler white LEDs above 5000 Kelvin and Warm White is LEDs below 5000 Kelvin, obviously with a warmer tone.
This means that through the app or on device settings you can manipulate the colours of the lamp is pretty much any way that you like, it’s quite impressive. Either for different colours or whites.
The breadth of colour that you can produce is quite outstanding, but then there’s the brightness which is measured at 2400 lumens or 3000 with the boost. The NEO II for reference is just over 1000 and the AEOS is just under 6000.
As well as the constant lighting the LitraStudio can also be used as a flash and packs 6000 lumens of power.
Colour accuracy with any lamp you use for video is important, and here the LitraStudio is 97 CRI/TLCI which is just about as good as you get.
On some lamps, flicker can be a real issue meaning that you need to adjust the cameras shutter speed to ensure you avoid the effect. Here the lamp is flicker-free from all shutter angles, ensuring you can always accurately set your exposure.
When it comes to brightness despite the huge amount of power, it’s unlikely you’ll need that all the time, so the lamp is fully dimmable from 100-0%.
Powering the lamp is a 9000 mAh rechargeable battery, and while that is contained within the body of the lamp, it can be removed and swapped for a fresh unit if required.
At full power, this battery supplies an hour of life, or on low power, you can get 20 plus hours of use.
The lamp is charged through a USB Type-C port and can also be powered from the mains which is handy.
At the moment these features while impressive are found on other lamps of this size, that being 14 x 10 x 5cm and weighing in at 0.95kg. That weight compares to the NEO II at 528g with batteries loaded.
But, then the LitraStudio is waterproof to 10m and MIL-SPEC 810 tested meaning you can leave it in the rain and knock it over without having to worry too much.
Then there’s the other really impressive features such as DMX connection with an adapter. Bluetooth for the Smart device app, manual onboard OLED display and CCT, HSI, RGBWW, GEL and Effects modes.
It’s unique with that list of features and is finished off with a diffuser, carry bag and handle that screws into the 1/4-inch thread on the base.
Build and Handling
Solid, that’s all you need to know. The exterior is machined aluminium with a tough black anodised coating. All ports are locked or covered with rubber bungs to stop water ingress, and the entire build feels as tough as any photographic equipment I’ve seen or used.
On the front, you can see the array of lights, on the base is the 1/4-inch thread that enables you to mount the lamp on a lighting stand.
On one side is the battery door, sealed and locked and on the back is the small OLED screen and four buttons and three dials that enable you to flick through the settings.
There’s also an app, which is faster and easier to use than the dials and buttons, but their presence here is welcome encase you feel a need re-connect with the analogue World.
Charging is as simple as unlocking the USB port door, Type-C of course, plugging in the cable and letting the mains power do the rest. Once complete, close the door again and the lamps ready to use.
Bluetooth connection is easy, download the app first, of course, follow prompts, connect, and you’re done. Complete lamp control in less than a minute.
As well as being used as a constant or effects lamp for video the LitraStudio can also be used as a flash. The connection to the camera is through a USB Type-C to flash sync cable and once connected you’re ready to start shooting.
On paper, the LitraStudio has everything I could want; power, battery life, portability, additional flash illumination power and Bluetooth connectivity for the app.
The size is pretty much spot on and with a 50º light spread the throw of light is far greater than you would have thought from its physical size. The rubber diffuser does an outstanding job and helps to soften what could be a quite harsh lighting.
Set-up on camera with a small hotshoe ball head and the lamp was easy to position, throwing decent soft light at the subject. Adjustments were easily made to the brightness and colour temperature.
Although there are 2400 lumens of light to play with, I found that between 15-25% was more than enough for most lighting situations.
Used to film simple interviews that were conducted at a 2m distance from the subject the lighting, while simple, worked well.
Shooting indoors, it was easy to adjust the colour temperature of the lamp to match that from light streaming in outside.
Interviews, where I had to rely on indoor fluorescent lighting, was not an issue as there’s more than enough flexibility over the lighting to match in and give a natural throw of light.
Used as a single source of illumination, the LitraStudio did an incredible job of matching in with the existing lighting conditions.
In lower light conditions where the LitraStudio could be used as the dominant light, the use of the warm and cool white light could be used to change the tone easily.
At all times, the easy of the Litra App made adjustments to lighting temperature and brightness quick and easy.
That same ease of use came when the lamp was used for photography. The versatility of the temperature and brightness control through the app was a real benefit.
Is it really waterproof?
Quite often we receive a kit that says its waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof or will do one thing or another we have to test it. It is and will always be nerve-racking.
If that item is a memory card or action camera then you feel it’s part of the course to douse it in water, then freeze it and throw it out of a top story window.
But, this is a high powered lamp, and it’s expensive and the thought of submerging it in water for any length of time didn’t appeal. This is, however, a test and this lamp is waterproof, so into a bucket of water it went.
For the amount of time it took to build up to this moment, the result was anticlimatic; it was a lamp submerged in a foot of water, that was it. I left it for ten very anxious minutes and then extracted it.
It still worked, no difference so I left it to dry. Yes, I can confirm the lamp is waterproof, very… I should have taken a picture but I was too busy composing a letter explaining how I broke the lamp to the manufacturer, but thankfully I never had to send it.
What about the effects
Like the Rotolight NEO II, the lamp has a variety of effects built-in, and these can be selected either through the app or the on-device display.
It’s definitely easier to find and adjust the effects through an app, and the results are impressive, although I did find that a little adjustment was needed to get the effect frequency looking correct.
Final comments on use
During the use of the LitraStudio I was impressed, the build is outstanding and while the on-device buttons and display are a little fiddly the app more than makes up for it. I used the buttons and dials a couple of times and then just used the app.
The main issue I had with the lamp was the weight; you need decent quality accessories to hold the position in exactly the way that you need.
Mounted on a cameras hot shoe and I was a little worried that the weight of the lamp might just be a touch too much, although it seemed to hold OK.
Using a cheaper friction arm to hold the lamp on a tripod and I found the weight was just too much, you had to clamp the arm tight if it was to hold the position. Early on in the test, I realised that only the Manfrotto Friction arms were up to the job.
Other than the weight there really is little else to fault when it came to the use.
I’ve looked at plenty of LED lighting over the years, from the large panels down to small lamps designed to ride shotgun next to a GoPro. Every time the power amazes me, and the LitraStudio has power in abundance.
At 2400 lumens there’s plenty of illumination to light your interview subjects, throw light on to portraits and still lives and even boost the detail of subject with the power of the flash.
The LitraStudio is by far the most powerful and versatile lamp that I have seen, and what’s more, it’s robust and designed to withstand the elements.
While the build quality, materials and robustness are a major selling point they’re also the only real downside for this lamp, they’re a bit heavy, but this is a professional piece of kit.
There was very little not to like about the LitraStudio, aside from I only had one.
The amount of light that it produced meant that I could set it back from the subject a little more than other lights of this size. This increased the light fall and creates beautiful soft illumination when needed.
The rubber diffuser does its job, and the ability to fine-tune the brightness and colour temperature easily through the app is incredible.
In this test, I only had one, but it is possible to add more lamps to the app and control all remotely, and this I like a lot.
My only issue is the price, I can see why they cost what they do, but I’m still struggling with the £650 price tag for a lamp of this size.
However, if you’re looking for the most advanced, robust and accurate colour lamps on the market, with the addition of the cool and warm light options, then the LitraStudio is superb.