One of the most important and useful tools in the lighting arsenal is the Fresnel light, a flexible fixture that offers a soft light with a focusable beam—you can go from flood to spot and back again with the twist of a knob—and a relatively consistent intensity across the width of the beam. There are some drawbacks to using a conventional Fresnel fixture, though. You lose some of the light output because of the lens in front of the lamp, and the fixture generates lots of heat and consumes lots of power.
Zylight F8 LED Fresnel
Zylight has based its new F8 Fresnel fixture on LED technology, however, thereby eliminating most of the problems associated with conventional Fresnel devices such as high power consumption, excessive heat generation, expensive lamp bulbs with a short life, and a large physical footprint.
LED technology is not new; many manufacturers are utilizing LEDs in lighting instruments. The only real drawback to LED technology is that light falloff is very rapid. LEDs function well close to the subject, but once you move a few feet away, the light’s output is drastically reduced. Zylight has overcome this problem in the design of the F8 as well, with what they call Quantum Dot LED technology.
Zylight’s F8 LED fixture is unconventional in that it’s quite compact and thin for a Fresnel. The LED is fixed in place, while the lens, an 8” round traditional Schott glass Fresnel lens, is mounted on a bellows that moves back and forth to deliver 70° flood and 16° spot at its extremes. This focusing system provides all the functionality of a traditional Fresnel and the ability to collapse down to a compact size that is easy to pack and travel with. When changing from flood to spot, the unit’s bellows extends the light from 4.6” to 9”. The F8 extends out to be rigid, able to hold the weight of barndoors, gels and diffusion.
Zylight F8-D LED Fresnel photometrics
The F8 is available in two models: F8-D is the daylight color temperature (5,600° K) model and F8-T is tungsten balanced (3,200° K). Its associated four-blade barndoor mounts and dismounts easily to shape the light.
The unit’s LED module ensures excellent skin tones and rich, accurate color rendition. The color rendering index (CRI) of the F8 is listed at 97.
In the studio, all functionality of the Zylight F8 can be controlled via DMX or remotely via the built-in ZyLink wireless link.
Directly below the Zylight nameplate on the unit is an OLED screen that displays the unit’s output in percent. At the center of the back is a 14.4 volt battery plate for Anton/Bauer type batteries. There’s also a four-pin AC/DC input for feeding power from either a battery pack cable or the included AC adapter.
The F8 is water resistant (IP54 rating) and well built. It weighs 10.9 lb. with yoke. The F8 delivers the equivalent output of a traditional 650W tungsten instrument or a 200W HMI Fresnel but only draws about 90W, which means run time off a typical camera battery can be over an hour.
I received the daylight model for review. I found the F8 easy to set up and use. I began my testing by shooting some footage at 60 fps with a Canon EOS C100 and using the F8 as my only source of illumination. Some of my work required early morning sunlight, midday light and moonlight indoor illumination. The F8 handled all of these flawlessly.
Outdoors, the F8 was perfect as a fill light as it is daylight balanced. I used makeshift cardboard venetian blinds as a cookie, with the Zylight acting as the sun. Changing the color temperature on the camera and focusing the F8’s beam to spot or flood allowed me to act as a one-man crew.
I also shot a documentary with the Zylight F8 as the only lighting unit. The talent, a 103-year-old woman, had experienced discomfort with the bright lights that other video crews had used around her when recording and asked me not to point the light directly at her. I set up the F8 about 8’ from her and dimmed its output to 40 percent. I got great images and she was thrilled.
I really couldn’t find much not to like about this lighting instrument. If you only have one light with which to illuminate your environment, make sure it’s a Fresnel, and make sure that Fresnel is the Zylight F8.
Product:Zylight F8 LED Fresnel
Pros: Low power consumption, bright output, long-life LED light source, adjustable barndoors. Produces very little heat, daylight- or tungsten-balanced models available. Versatile (dimmable without changing color temperature, focusable and quiet).
Cons: A bit pricy.
Bottom Line: If you only have one light with which to illuminate your environment, make sure it’s a Fresnel, and make sure that Fresnel is the Zylight F8.