For many shooters today, the watchword is “compact.” Cameras are smaller and, unfortunately, limited budgets mean crews are smaller as well. Throw a DSLR and a couple of lenses in a backpack, add some cards and a few extra batteries, strap your tripod to the backpack and all you need is lighting. The run-and-gun shooter may find himself in a variety of lighting environments over the course of the day and needs a kit that can accommodate them all.
Lowel Blender Three-Light Kit
Enter the Lowel Blender Three-Light Kit, which consists of three Lowel Blender LED fixtures (with power cables and diffusers for each) and three Lowel Uni-Stands in a Slim Litebag that’s less than 2’ long. The kit weighs about 17 lb.
The Blender light itself comprises six 5,000° K LEDs (daylight) and six 3,000° K LEDs (tungsten), with rear dimmers for each set of bulbs. The daylight and tungsten LEDs may be blended to achieve the optimal color output for a given environment. Diffusers vary the character of the light. One Blender weighs 1.2 lb. without cable.
Lowel provides an AC power adapter. Battery sleds for Panasonic, Canon and Sony batteries are available as options. Additionally, Lowel sells a cigarette plug cable (5’), a 4-pin XLR cable (5’) and an Anton/Bauer D-Tap cable (5’).
The Blender three-light kit includes three Lowel light stands. I would ordinarily not recommend these stands because they are so lightweight, but they are more than adequate to hold the Blender even when fully extended. Each Blender in the kit ships with three diffusers that fit into a slot on the front of the light.
These charts show footcandle readings for Lowel Blender, at full combined brightness (both daylight and tungsten LEDs), as well as daylight and tungsten LEDs separately at full brightness. Readings are shown with and without supplied lite frost front diffuser attached.
I used the three-light kit during my evaluation period specifically for one-shot interviews and found them adequate in some situations but less than adequate in others. In a room with window illumination and other light sources, the Blenders provided great facial fill and backlight. In that mixed lighting situation, I was able to blend the daylight and tungsten to achieve good balance and then manually white balance the camera.
In another interview in a room with less ambient light, the Blenders demonstrated their limitations. Since Lowel does not offer barndoors for the Blender, I had to rely on the old standby black foil to provide more directed light on the subject. With full tungsten intensity and a little daylight to reduce the red, I needed to supplement with the room’s overhead tungsten BR40 recessed lighting. While the mixed lighting and the skin tones looked quite pleasant after minimal grading, the Blenders alone were not enough illumination in that instance.
The Blender’s build quality is excellent. The fixture is constructed of aluminum steel and thermo plastic, with the same Lowel light stand foot that users expect. Blender feels sturdier than bargain-basement LEDs and even some higher-priced lights.
Unlike those bargain-basement LEDs, I detected no green spike from the Blender fixture. I confirmed it by shooting a gray card illuminated by a Blender and verifying on a vectorscope.
The bottom line: Lowel has produced a high-quality compact light at a reasonable price point. Whether used individually or in a kit, Blender is versatile. It’s a superb addition to the toolkit of any on-the-run shooter. It isn’t the solution for every situation and doesn’t provide the illumination that a larger light can provide. But with any shoot, you should scout out the location first to ensure you bring the right lighting for the job.
Product:Lowel Blender Three-Light Kit
Pros: Compact. Well constructed. Offers ability to blend daylight and tungsten light or use either of the color temps separately.
Cons: No barndoors or lighting control other than diffusers. No color temperature readouts to show the exact temperature of your blend. Insufficient punch for darker environments.
Bottom Line: A great kit for the videographer on the run. Solidly built lights with apparent high CRI. Everything packs into a light bag just 23” long.
MSRP: $2,050 for three-light kit. Also available as individual lights or in one- or two-light kits.