USER REVIEW: Rotolight NEO On-Camera Light

Posted on Mar 19, 2015 by Definition Magazine

“The tuneability was crucial to both projects I tried NEO on. Being able to accurately match the additional lighting (ANOVA 2, HMI, fluorescent and tungsten) that we have been using has been really useful.” Lighting cameraman and Guild of Television Cameramen council member SIMON EDWARDS.

We caught up with Simon who gave us a run down of his recent projects and  how he believes the Neo might change the industry:

So, what are your first impressions of the Rotolight Neo? 

“I think that Rotolight has moved the world of portable LED lighting on again with the Neo. It is a feature-rich lamp with excellent output in terms of both colour and power”.

What makes it different from the other on-camera lighting systems?

“The Neo differs from other systems not only in the trademark Rotolight form factor but also its flexibility, build quality and quality and consistency of light. On the most basic level you have a lamp with tuneable colour and power, but start digging into the menu and you soon find the ability to match the lamp to your cameras settings and also perform fades up and down!”

Rotolight are known for excellent build quality and ‘usability’ in terms of design, what are your initial thoughts? 

“I have been shooting outside with the Neo this week and I have really appreciated the large, easy to use dimmer and colour temperature controls. I’ve been able to use it easily wearing gloves and not having to push tiny switches and buttons to make it work has been a great help.

The multiple powering options have been great too, allowing me to use it both on my camera and also on a camera being used by a member of the cast for video diaries (see below).”

What applications would you use the Neo for? ENG, Run ‘n’ Gun, interviews?

“I can see so many uses for the Neo, from an on-camera light to use in a three point lighting set up. I have been lucky enough to try the pre-production units and have had great fun pushing it to its limits, either trying to ‘beat’ mixed sodium and mercury sources at an exhibition or using it in tight spots that we couldn’t get a lamp in to highlight a feature on a corporate production.”

Tell us about your recent projects on location and what issues you came across.

“Anyone who has ever shot at exhibitions will know how terrible the lighting can be. I was very keen to see how Neo would cope with the competing ambient light at the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) and was very happy with the results. No longer were the skin tones muddy orange or unearthly blue, the results were significantly better than my existing (soon to be previous) on-camera light. The other cameramen I was working with were equally complimentary about the Neo, commenting on how it dealt with the ambient light in the halls.

The second project was a short corporate drama that involved teenagers creating video diary entries. It was decided that the majority would be shot on my camera so Neo found a home on top of my Sony PMW-500 either on the shoe or on a cine arm while the actors simulated a ‘Video selfie’ by hanging on to my matte box as we moved around in an attempt at co-ordination! We also used it attached to the shoe of a domestic video camera to help the pictures out on that when the actors needed to create video diary entries. It is the mark of a groundbreaking product when both production and actors comment on its design!

The Neo’s brightness and bi-colour tuneability is a key feature, how useful was it for you?

“The tuneability was crucial to both projects I tried NEO on. Being able to accurately match the additional lighting (ANOVA 2, HMI, fluorescent and tungsten) that we have been using has been really useful. I think that we are now at a stage with LED lighting where tuneable colour temperature is becoming an increasingly usable option rather than a gimmick and Rotolight with the Anova and now NEO are at the forefront of that technology.”

As an on-camera lighting system, portability and battery power is paramount, how did it hold up in the field? 

“Not many years ago we were used to lugging battery belts around for our battery lights and the lights themselves were pretty brutal things to use. Thankfully we no longer need to do that! I used the NEO primarily as a battery powered light, either on AA batteries or using a D-Tap adaptor from the output on the camera. Obviously it draws very little power and certainly made no difference to the running time of my camera. The AAs certainly seemed like an economical option too and of course being a universally available battery there would be no problem sourcing extra batteries in the field. I didn’t time the life of the AAs, I just let it run and run. It went on for hours!“

blank ‘I have really appreciated the large, easy to use dimmer and colour temperature controls.

Which 3 features are you most impressed with? 

“I’ve said it before and I will say it again; output, colour and build quality. In an age where it is possible to buy inexpensive imported LED lighting, we are seeing more and more products come to market that are built down to a price and exhibit none of the qualities that NEO displays. There is definitely a desire amongst camera people for high quality LED fixtures and the NEO is up there with the best.“

So to conclude, what are your final thoughts?

“I think NEO offers so much to so many people; stills and moving pictures, experienced camera people and those at the start of their careers, DSLR or full size cameras. NEO truly is a light for everyone and with Rotolight’s pro-active approach to customer feedback and development I can see this being the beginning of the next generation of LED lighting coming from their Pinewood manufacturing base. I can’t recommend NEO highly enough – I see it becoming an industry standard unit.”


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