Earlier this year my friends at MacGroup US sent me some of their new constant lighting products to check out – the Limelite Mosaic LED Panel and the SL255DMX version of their Studiolite Fluorescent fixtures. These are both extremely well made products that both say “by Bowens” on the units. Bowens is a respected name in the lighting business, so these aren’t some cheap no-name products for sure.
Now I’m not a huge fan of constant lighting and I despise doing video, so I won’t bore you with an ugly video that highlights my lack of video skills. However, I will offer some insight on the quality of these products based on my basic testing of them.
I liked the Mosaic with 576 super bright powered LED’s because even after being on for an hour it was cool to the touch. It also didn’t heat up the room so this is really what you want if you are doing constant lighting. I probably would have been happier if I had the Chimera LED Lightbank that goes with it, but I only had the Limelite Barn-Door Set. The barn doors were great, but as a photographer I’m a big fan of light boxes so my testing was hampered by not having the light bank!
The Mosaic comes in various color balanced versions, but I had the bicolor which allows you to switch between daylight (5600k) and tungsten (2800k). I hadn’t seen any light panels that did this before so I really liked this feature!
I also loved that I could adjust the light intensity from 1 to 255 so I could use wider apertures (smaller f-stop numbers) than I typically can with traditional studio lights or strobes (without the aid of ND filters).
Limelite Studiolite SL255DMX 2-Tube DMX Fluorescent Fixture
(also available in 4 & 8 tube variants)
The Limelite Studiolite SL255DMX 2-Tube DMX Fluorescent Fixture was less impressive to me because I’m not a fan of fluorescent lights. While it’s true that these are daylight balanced, I was wishing for a gel to warm them up and I didn’t have one this large handy. What’s more I couldn’t get these in daylight balanced mode to match the Mosaic in the same mode. While it was probably user error, it left me frustrated trying to get these two different light systems to work together. If I was going to invest in this system I’d definitely do either the fluorescent on the LED system, but not mix and match them both.
My test unit came with the Limelite Studiolite Honeycomb Grid for SL255DMX which was excellent and very well built. The accessory slot it slides in to was well designed and thought out too. This is basically a strip light while its shown in landscape orientation, I found myself either using it like a hair light or in portrait orientation as a vertical strip light.
While these lights also featured adjustable light output levels just like the Mosaic, I found they ran hotter than LED’s – but not super hot like tungsten. The also were painful to have pointing at a human subject (unlike the Mosaic) so I found them less useful for people unless they were used as hair lights or for environmental lighting in the background.
Mosaic for your DSLR
I didn’t get a chance to test one of these, but this looks great for on-camera lighting. Based on the quality and performance of the bigger Mosaic, and the wealth of really bad LED light products I’ve seen, I’d expect a solid performance from this product. If you get one then be sure to share your thoughts in the comments!
These are very well made products that deliver on all of their promises featured online. They run cool and are reasonably priced compared to what I’ve seen for some competing products of similar build quality. If you know you need LED or Fluorescent lighting, I’d recommend these. If you are unsure which you should go with, my advice would be to go with all LED and be sure to get the bi-color variant and accessories (like the lightbank).
Maybe I’m old school, but I much prefer studio strobes for my photography needs and tungsten lighting (like this) for my video needs. While they didn’t meet my needs, it’s not because there was anything wrong with these products. In fact, when they first arrived I was so excited I was considering buying them. In the end I just didn’t care for the subjective feel of the light temperature from these and the lack of accessories I’m used to as a photographer turned me off to this class of lights (by any manufacturer).
If you are unsure what your needs are then I’d encourage you to call B&H at 877-679-0736 or 212-444-6772 to discuss your needs and which units are right for you. However, please come back and load your cart after using my links if you found this article to be helpful.
Where to order
Click the photos or links in the article to go to B&H to learn more about or purchase these products.
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