I’ve been anticipating getting my hands on a ring light for quite a while. Having a dimmable source of illumination right next to your lens is a perfect lighting solution for many situations. Not only will you add a bit of brightness, you’ll also be putting a sparkle in your talent’s eye. Recently I was offered Rosco’s new LitePad Loop Pro Kit for review.
The LitePad Loop is a 9.1” diameter ring light that installs around the lens of a camera for on-axis lighting. The LitePad light engine consists of 5,800° K LEDs beneath a white plastic ring. Consuming just 24 watts of power, it may be powered by AC adapter, cigarette lighter adapter or an eight-AA-battery DC power supply. The bulb in the 2.4 lb. unit has a lifespan of some 60,000 hours.
LitePad Loop is available individually and as a kit, which offers additional power and mounting accessories. I tested the kit, which includes the LitePad Loop with mounting assembly, a color filter pack with eight filters (CTO and diffusion), a single fader dimmer, AA battery pack, 4” L-bracket and 8” rods, a light stand plate, 10’ extension cable, and a 2.5 amp AC transformer with an assortment of power plugs for international travel.
Loop’s opening is large enough to accommodate almost any lens that’s less than 300mm in focal length. The mounting bracket attaches firmly to the Loop via a powerful magnet. Loop’s dimmability means it can be used full strength outdoors and at partial strength indoors or near talent.
I used the LitePad Loop for several photo shoots and on a video project. Its soft, diffused light is perfect for shooting people. For the photo portion of my evaluation, I used a Nikon D700 with a 24-120mm lens. The shorter rods supplied with the kit allowed the lens to poke through the Loop, and I was able to add CTO filter rings easily when shooting indoors.
Attaching the Loop to the camera couldn’t be easier. The strong magnet instantly grabs the mounting assembly, and sliding the thumbscrew up or down creates a perfect fit with the Loop itself. The camera lens should be positioned flush with the face of the LitePad Loop.
I appreciated the on/off switch on the AA battery holder and the on/off toggle on the Loop itself as aides in preventing unnecessary battery drain. Instant power-up with no color temperature shift when dimming reminded me again how much I enjoy working with LED lighting devices.
On an indoor shoot on a tungsten-balanced set, I added the one-half CTO gel to shift the Loop’s daylight color temperature closer to tungsten. At a distance of 6’ from the talent, I needed the Loop at full power (10 on the dimmer control) to compensate for the light loss from the CTO filter. The telltale ring of LEDs appeared in the talent’s eyes and the partial CTO was just warm enough to enhance her skin tone. I was aware going into the shoot that LEDs have a rapid falloff, but what other type of light can you use all day without baking the talent?
Outside, it was another story. Using AA battery power for the Loop and at a distance of 3’ from the talent, our shaded location was still too bright for the Loop to make any difference except perhaps to add a twinkle in the talent’s eyes. It helped to move the rig closer, but even in full shade the Loop doesn’t really have enough punch to compete outdoors.
On my video shoot, I switched to a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 24-70mm and 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses. When I changed cameras, I needed to switch to the 8” rods because of the longer lens. The only lighting in the scene came from a 200W Inky and a 750W Tweenie. With the actors lit, I mounted the Loop and used it without diffusion (even though the color temperature was cooler) at full power. The blue cast of the Loop added a cooler quality to the actors in the tense scene I was shooting. Here the Loop was perfect, offering both a cooler cast and an eyelight for the actors. This is the reason I wanted a ring light in the first place. When you are close to your talent and need a little extra soft illumination, mounting something around the lens of the camera is really the only way to go.
The LitePad Loop is designed to add a little extra fill illumination. With the extra filters, it becomes a variable color temperature source that works flawlessly in close quarters.
Product: Rosco Labs LitePad Loop Pro Kit
Pros: Small size, easy to pack, dims without color temperature shift, minimal heat output. Indoors it is the perfect fill light because of its location so close to the subject. You can’t get much closer than mounting a light on the lens. The option of AC or DC power makes the unit even more versatile.
Cons: Large and slightly cumbersome. It takes a while to mount and the type of rails you’ll use depends on your camera. Not enough punch outdoors.
Bottom Line: A small kit that travels anywhere for fill light or eye sparkle.
MSRP: $1,099 as supplied for this review