The B&H Guide to High-End Lighting


High end is a subjective term, and in terms of high-end lighting for film and video, you will be able to find such light fixtures in use on a variety of productions, in the middle of a cornfield on the next indie smash, or hanging in a studio grid for next summer’s blockbuster. Really, the best definition for what makes a light high end is that whatever it does, it does it well, without hiccups or failures, and is clear and simple to use, with good ergonomics. If you need to tape a gel to the light fixture, then you’re either not using it the way it is intended, or it isn’t a high-end fixture.

What exactly do we mean by high end? Is it a matter of cost, or fit and finish? Features, perhaps? Size? Durability? Is it something more esoteric, like a secret club whose members are the only ones with the answer? Perhaps you know it when you see it—something like this, for example.

ARRI SkyPanel

But maybe not this.

Fine for what it is, but not high end

Soft Lights

Let’s look at the ARRI SkyPanel light fixture. Overbuilt and ready to work, and work, and work. ARRI was late to the game with its SKYPanel lights, but that time seems to have been well spent in R&D. The lights feature a beautiful, soft output, 2800 to 10000K color temperature, full-gamut color mixing with hue and saturation control. Creating this fixture certainly wasn’t a matter of grabbing some LEDs and cramming them into as small a space as possible to get the most output. Plus and minus green adjustments, as well as 0-100% dimming and DMX control expand the usefulness of this fixture, and the design and construction of the fixture itself makes this a solid piece that will last. ARRI, however, isn’t alone when it comes to high-end soft lights. The Litepanels Gemini 2 x 1 is also at home on location and in the studio. Litepanels virtually started the LED revolution with its original 1 x 1 fixtures, but they have come a long way since then. The sleek black design aesthetic of the Gemini is a far cry from the pseudo-industrial chassis of the original 1 x 1, and it disguises the well thought out cooling system. Color temperature is adjustable from 2700 to 6000K, using six factory presets or six user presets, which you can adjust and tweak. Plus and minus green control is a necessity for matching to other light sources in the scene. As with the SkyPanels, full adjustment of hue and saturation are possible, and dimming at normal filming speeds, of course, without flicker or color shift.

Litepanels Gemini 2x1 Bi-Color LED Soft Panel

Kino Flo, originally the name for fluorescent cinema and television lighting, also took time to jump into the LED lighting fixture game. Simply put, the company needed to make sure its LED fixtures were at least on a par with the capabilities of its fluorescent units. The Kino Celeb fixtures are on par. Though you could argue that the center mounting system and barndoor arrangement are more appropriate for indie production, the quality of the light, and control—DMX or LumenRadio Wireless DMX—means that no one will think twice about using a Kino Flo on set or in the studio. It is worth pointing out that the Celeb’s center mounting system is a far more stable mounting solution than the original stand mount, and that the Celeb is available with a traditional yoke if you so desire.

Kino Flo Celeb 201 DMX LED Light

On-Camera Light

The Luxli Viola 2 is small, lightweight, and smartly designed. While the Viola 2 may not look much different from other on-camera lights, it is a hidden gem. It is durable, and the quality of its LEDs and software control deliver far more than you might expect from an on-camera light. The LEDs are RGBAW, which provides nearly the entire spectrum of light. It is adjustable, by color temperature, from 3000 to 10000K, and RGB, and features 150 Lee-equivalent digital gel filters, providing you with a tremendously adjustable on camera light suitable for virtually any situation.

Luxli Viola² 5" On-Camera RGBAW LED Light


The world isn’t all soft lights and candy. It is a tough place, and these Fresnel fixtures hold up to the rigors of your production day. Once Again, ARRI is included, with its L7-C-LE2 and L10-C LED fixtures. Available for location or studio work, the L7-C features a 7" lens, while the L10-C features a 10" Fresnel. These fixtures feature a flood-spot adjustment of 50 to 15° with color temperature control from 2800 to 10000K, and plus/minus green control. DeSisti features an industrial look to its lights, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they are poorly built. It is an aesthetic choice that hails from the company’s old tungsten fixture days, because DeSisti has been around for quite a long time, making Fresnel fixtures for studio use. Its LED Fresnel fixtures use less power than a comparable HMI or tungsten light fixture, and they feature either tungsten or daylight balance, with 0 to 100% dimming and DMX control. Available in standard configuration or pole operated, DeSisti is an under-the-radar fixture that is worth knowing about.

ARRI L7-C LE2 LED Fresnel with powerCON Cable

Mole-Richardson, on the other hand, is not what anyone would refer to as under the radar. Known for years in the studio lighting business, its offerings were solid and heavy, but tended to feature design elements from the 1950s and earlier. Embracing LED technology has led to some updates in style, without sacrificing performance, quality, or brand recognition. Certainly, more utilitarian than glitzy, the Mole-Richardson LED Fresnel fixtures are designed to be workhorses, and are available in tungsten or daylight balanced, as well as in variable color temperature. While the above Fresnel fixtures are suitable for studio and large location work, if you are looking for something for those more intimate sets and locations, Fiilex makes several Fresnel fixtures in location kits, with variable color temperature and able to work with batteries or AC power. For more information on what a Fresnel is, please check out this article: Lensing your Light: Continuous Lighting and the Fresnel Lens.

Mole-Richardson JuniorLED 200W 8" Fresnel

Is it time for you to move up from the ubiquitous LED array light fixture that casts multiple shadows and limits you and what you shoot? Only you can answer that, but I hope this article may shine a light on some of the options available. Check out the variety of lighting units we have in the B&H SuperStore, and take a gander at the B&H Photo website for more of the light fixtures we offer.