Review of Kinoflo Celeb 200


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Good quality lighting is at the heart of all great photography, when we use the sun we are at the mercy of the weather and need to take into consideration all the variables from time of day to position of sun to name a few, importantly however we can trust the source to provide a complete spectrum. However when we are shooting with tungsten or with any artificial source we need to be very aware of the properties of these sources (and how closely they match a blackbody radiator) if we want to produce colours faithfully on camera and control colour temperature if we are to be the masters of our craft.
With all the recent hype about LEDs over the last few years I have been involved with the development and tested many fixtures and attempted to specify units for jobs with some very disappointing results and in doing this I have come to realise several truths:
1) Almost all LEDs ("white" single and multi source) are deficient in the red end of the spectrum (where skin sits) and will produce very substandard results in this crucial area - and when it is very poor it cannot be fixed in post as crucial spectral information is missing.
2) Fixtures vary in supposed calibrated colour from unit to unit and from the same manufacturer, so a reasonable unit will not guarantee the same from a sister unit making matching a potential nightmare.
3) The brighter the unit almost certainly the worse the colour - units that are over-cranked to maximise output also create heat issues that ultimately degrade the life, output and quality of the source prematurely.
4) Manufacturers claims should be viewed with caution - especially when quoting CRI figures (Colour Rendering Index) as this does not provide a reference for cameras.
5) Multi source fixtures create multi shadow issues and offer a harsh unpleasant quality of light in comparison to a true softlight - plus they are very uncomfortable for the talent to perform under as they are essentially lots of point sources crammed together.
So what does the Celeb 200 do differently?

This is a beautifully diffuse soft panel of light with no hotspots or point sources on display. The light has a very useful output similar to a 2K open face with diffusion and showed on careful camera tests a very accurate and close light rendition to all of its correlated colour temperatures as shown on the display at the rear of the unit. Tests also showed excellent dimming properties without any discernible colour shift all the way down to an impressive solidly held 3%.
The Celeb also matches the Kino Flo KF55 & FK32 tubes commonly in use, so use as a documentary lamp or studio fixture is possible in a totally seamless way. The "Celeb" reproduces skin tones beautifully similar to Kino Flo tubes and tungsten.
The control panel on the back is intuitive and easy to navigate allowing the user to store custom colour presets similar to car a radio memory.
Other features include DMX capability and light shaping honeycombs available in three different angles of attenuation of 90 and 60 and 45degrees. My favourite being 60 degrees for general use, creating a soft edged Fresnel look to the beam.
Build Quality
This unit looks and feels like it has been built to withstand the road and rental company life, to this end there are four chunky cornor blocks that protect the unit as well as provide a neat spring loaded accessory system for the gel frames and honeycombs. The unit also sports a centre mount typical on a Kino Flo unit, this allows for lots of articulation plus there are also mounting options for yokes and alternative spigots.
Power
The Celeb 200 is rated at 100w and comes with a built in universal mains voltage or 24V battery input that should give it global versatility - I have been informed that there will also be a V-Loc adaptor available that will gang two standard 12v batteries together to run the unit remotely for over two hours.
Verdict
I feel this is an essential lamp not only for feature and commercial work where it will surely find a home but also for News and Documentary Cameramen as it allows shooting anywhere at any time with any colour temperature (dawn to dusk and into the night). In my opinion that is not possible with this quality of light with anything else in its class at the moment.
This is a breakthrough product standing out in a world full of badly conceived circuit boards populated with Christmas tree lights that emanate a spectrum that bears no relation to the light quality serious image makers need to create professional compelling images.

All in all, this is a great "Must Have" lighting tool that is a made to last finished and polished product, that is streets ahead of the competition and importantly creates a beautiful quality of light. But then again, what else would you expect from Kinoflo!

Jonathan Harrison. (D.o.P. & Specialist Lighting Consultant.)
12/09/12

Tags: iss070 | kinoflo | kino flo | celeb 200 | lighting | N/A
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