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Low Power, Lots of Performance: Shooting with Litepanels’ Sola 4 and Inca 6

Fresnels have been around for quite a while. They have evolved with increasing efficiency, reaching a pinnacle of lighting achievement with Litepanels’ Sola 4 and Inca 6. These two Fresnels, distinguished by their size, color temperature and output, are miserly LED fixtures that combine all the features that make LED lights great.

Sola 4

Litepanels Sola

Litepanels’ Sola 4 is the smallest LED Fresnel available that is DMX-controllable. With a 4” lens, this daylight-balanced fixture has the output of a 125W HMI but draws less power than a 40W light bulb. Like all LED units, the Sola 4 can be used on the set for hours without adding heat.

All Fresnels are focusable like the Sola 4, but very few are dimmable without a noticeable change in color temperature. Sola 4 offers color consistent dimming from 100 percent to 0.

If the rest of the lights on your set are tungsten-balanced, use Sola 4’s five-piece CTO (color temperature orange) gels and soft diffusion filter, made of plastic.

The lifespan of an LED fixture approaches the 100,000-hour mark. This unit can be DC-powered for location work.

Sola 4, rear

Older LEDs were known for their rapid light falloff. This limitation does not seem to apply to the Sola 4. Testing the unit in the studio at full flood and spot, I arrived at the following flood readings:

            130 footcandles at 3 ft.

            58 ftc at 6 ft.

            20 ftc at 10 ft.

Spotting the fixture fully:

            690 ftc at 3 ft.

            500 ftc at 6 ft.

            165 ftc at 10 ft.

The back of the unit features a raft of controls: power switch, rotary dimmer and rotary focus, DMX in and out, and the address console for DMX. Listing at $1,345, this is an extremely good value.

Inca 6

Litepanels Inca 6

The Inca 6 shares almost all of the features of the Sola 4, with the exception of being a tungsten-balanced unit. (The “Inca” name comes from “incandescent.”) Weighing more than double the Sola, the 6” Fresnel draws around 100W but has an output comparable to a 650W unit. The features on the Inca 6’s back panel are identical to those on the Sola 4. Being a larger unit, the flood output is greater.

            230 ftc at 3 ft.

            80 ftc at 6 ft.

            38 ftc at 10 ft.

The spot numbers are similar to the Sola 4.

            690 ftc at 3 ft.

            480 ftc at 6 ft.

            320 ftc at 10 ft.

A five-piece CTB (color temperature blue) gel set is available. With an MSRP of $2,895, Inca 6 might seem on the pricey side, but considering the long lifespan of the LED lamp and its versatility, it actually is a better value than a comparable tungsten fixture.

In Use

Inca 6

I used both the Inca 6 and Sola 4 on several shoots, with all other lights being HMIs. The kick of an HMI can sometimes be a little too strong. I used the more subtle Inca gelled with half-CTB as my fill light and a K 5600 200W Joker-Bug as my key. The daylight-balanced Sola 4 was the perfect backlight to separate the actor from his surroundings.

Having been in the business for many years, I remember not being able to plug three lights into the same 15 amp circuit. In this case, all three lights barely made the electric meter spin any faster. In the past I could have sliced deli meat with the meter and had to leave cash behind for the electric bill.

LEDs are cool enough to use very near the talent’s face. Although they’re too bright when used that close at full output, they can easily be dimmed to a more comfortable setting.

Sola 4

Small features like barndoors are essential in getting the light exactly where you want it, and lighter-weight stands can be used instead of heavier C-stands. My students couldn’t believe we had the lights on for over six hours without adding any heat to the set.

The only negative is the slight fan sound coming from the rear of both units. In a few instances the boom operator was too close to the lights and picked up the whirring sound of the fan.

I’m anxious to see if these units can hold up as well as the Mole-Richardson Inkies and Tweenies that they will be living with. We’ve had the older units for decades, each having been relamped dozens of times. The metal fixtures on the Mole-Richardsons get extremely hot in a short period of time. I hope the plastic on the Sola 4 and Inca 6 will hold up as well. I know we will not need to replace the Litepanels’ LEDs. These lights may outlive me.   dv

Products:Litepanels Inca 6 and Sola 4
Score:

Pros: LED technology with less falloff.
Cons: Slightly on the pricey side.
Bottom Line: There is no better way to get light where it’s needed with cool LED Fresnels. All of the benefits of conventional Fresnels without the heat.
MSRP: Inca 6 $2,895, Sola 4 $1,345

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