NAB 2019: The New Litepanels Gemini 1 x 1 Soft Light

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It seems like only last year that Litepanels released the Gemini, a 2 x 1 soft light with high output, RGB control of hue and saturation, and built-in gel match and effects. It quickly became a popular choice. Now, Litepanels strikes again with the Gemini 1 x 1 Soft, in a variety of configurations, to match the Gemini 2 x 1. Using LED emitters like those in the original Gemini, the 1 x 1 uses a different spacing for the emitters and delivers about 60% of the brightness of the original Gemini (according to Litepanels) in something that is half the size. The light is bright, dimmable to 0.1%, with RGB control and gel matching. The removable diffusion panel provides light output with beautiful drop-off. Please note: even though the diffusion panel is removable, do not use the light without it in place, since it is required for safety and for the LEDs to function properly. The image below of the LEDs is for illustrative purposes only.

Do not operate the light without the diffusion panel in place.

In the short time I spent with the Gemini 1 x 1, I found it extremely well thought out and well built. You could say it’s overbuilt, but it isn’t heavy, despite it being built like a tank. It ships with a power supply that mounts on either side of the yoke, which is nice. I expect V-mount and Gold mount battery-mounting plates will be available, but my sources can’t confirm exactly when (I expect soon after the light is released, if not concurrently). The fixture features a built-in cooling fan, and if you turn off the fan, the fixture’s output is cut by 50%. The fan is quiet and, if you aren’t putting the mic right behind the fan, I wouldn’t expect it to be an issue. I couldn’t hear the fan when standing in front of the light, although I’m not an audio recordist. It is worth noting that the light, which features a splendidly simple menu system, allows you to select from a variety of fan settings, including auto and delayed, so you can run the light at full power without the fan running—unless the Gemini 1 x 1 starts to get too warm. Remember: although LEDs are efficient and do not produce as much heat as an equivalent tungsten or HMI fixture, they still produce some heat, and heat is the enemy of the phosphors used in the LEDs. So, for maximum LED life, don’t turn the fan off unless it’s crucial.

Just look at the light in his eyes.
Just look at the light in his eyes.

The quality of the light is just what I want, soft but directional, as you can see from the still image where our model is wearing a black shirt and standing in front of a black background. The fixture is set at 3200K and dimmed to about 12%, while the subject is standing about 4' from the light itself. 12% is down low on the dimming scale, and it wasn’t uncomfortable to have the light that close to the subject in the photo. The quality of the light is the most important aspect; the next most important aspect is how powerful the light’s output is. Remember, this photo was shot with the fixture’s output at 12%, but I could easily have cranked it up to 100%, although it would have been hard on the subject’s eyes. So, output is not an issue here. High marks for quality of light and brightness and, if that is all there was to recommend this light, then that would be enough. However, this light fixture is so much more than just a nice bright light.

Clear labeling, simple interface
Clear labeling, simple interface

I mentioned that the Gemini 1 x 1 Soft was well thought out, and it is. The fixture itself is simple to use, with a single power switch, three knobs with detents as you turn, and the controls are labeled. There are also six-preset buttons, from 2700 to 6000K, which light up when activated. If one of the presets is near to what you want, but not quite there, you can adjust color temperature with the middle knob—the lit preset button will extinguish, but the LCD screen will give you a readout of the color temperature. Need to adjust plus or minus green? Just use the knob on the left. If you press that knob in, you access the menu, which allows you to choose from Color Temperature, HSI, GEL Mode, RGBW Mode, and Lite Character (with which you can control the saturation curves). HSI mode gives you independent Hue and Saturation control, and please note that turning saturation to zero will not make your subjects appear as black-and-white. Gel mode allows you to “add” any of the Roscoe or LEE “preset gels” to either daylight or tungsten output (just turn the middle knob one click left or right to change the color temp of the output.) RGBW mode, by far, gives you the most precise control, if you understand it. You can change the color temperature of the output and then individually adjust the red, blue, green, and white LEDs. Adjustments show from 0.1 to 100, in tenths, for each R, G, B, and W. Dimming is available in all modes from 0 to 100, as well, and it is controllable and repeatable in increments of tenths. There are nine effects settings, each one customizable.

CCT Base Menu
CCT Base Menu

The menu system is clear and simple, but if you do get lost, a handy dedicated cancel button is built in to back you out. In addition to fan speed, the menu lets you select from Wired DMX, Wireless DMX (optional), Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth (Bluetooth requires a dongle). As a side note, when DMX is connected, it will deactivate the local control. I know this because I tested it with a small 12-channel DMX board.

Working with DMX? Don’t worry, it is displayed.
Working with DMX? Don’t worry, it’s displayed.

You can even select effects, and adjust their parameters using DMX.

In addition to being built like a tank, the design allows you to sit the 1 x 1 Soft on the floor or other smooth surface, with no need for a stand, arm, or sandbag to set the fixture at floor height. The yoke is sturdy enough to support the light on the floor for those times you need a specific angle. You can even lay the Gemini 1 x1 on its back so the light points straight up, perfect for those shots in a cinematic bar where the table is lighting the scene. When laid flat on its back, the fan sits above the floor, and the cooling air flow isn’t obstructed. Not only that, but the local controls are still accessible, thanks to the angled design of the sides of the fixture. The power supply (and the future battery plates) mounts on either side of the yoke with two thumbscrews. You can also mount the power supply directly on the fixture itself because it has mounting-screw holes on the top, bottom, and both sides. However, mounting on either side of the fixture would require removing the yoke itself, which will require a little bit of mechanical savvy, so probably not recommended, even though possible.

Adjusting the position of the yoke along the length of the fixture is possible, though it requires a tool.
Adjusting the position of the yoke along the length of the fixture is possible, though it requires a tool.

This light is detail oriented because it is flexible and easy to use, from a mechanical standpoint, as well as an electronic one. Local control is simple yet fully featured, and not only do the preset buttons light up, they are made of a soft rubbery material, which is easy on the fingers. In addition to the built-in six color-temperature presets, you can also program six user presets.

Setting up the User Preset
Setting up the user preset

Just set the light the way you want it, then put the preset selector into User mode, press and hold any of the six pre-set buttons, and it programs it to that setting no matter what mode you are in. So, if you program a Gel mode of, say, Tokyo Blue into Preset 4, and then go into CCT mode, pressing the User preset 4 will put the light back into Gel mode and bring up your selection. The display screen supplies you with all the information you need about what the light is doing. If you turn the light off, or lose power, your settings are saved and the light powers up in the last mode you were using.

I must hand it to Litepanels. The Gemini 1 x 1 is a fine piece of gear, suitable for location or studio, and one that keeps on impressing me the more I use it. When you’re in New York, be sure to check it out in the B&H Photo SuperStore. If you have any thoughts or comments on the Gemini either the 1 x 1 or the original 2 x 1, please feel free to share them below.

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4 Comments

Why don't you mention the power (Watts) of the light? This is perhaps the most useful piece of info for gaffers and LDs when evaluating a light. It's the first thing we want to know when comparing a $3k light to a $500 light. Yes, luminous efficiency varys a bit between LED manufacturers, but these days it's really not much at all (a few percent), and power is a critically important piece of info. The first thing out of the gate I want to know is are we looking at, say, a 20W light, or a 200W light? At this price point if it's a 100W light then it's a quick pass. If it's a 400W light then it's SUPER exciting. Honestly, we really want to know the power of the white diodes, the max power of mixed white diodes, and the power of the RGB etc diodes. And at this point where LED has eclipsed tungsten, we don't really care about "tungsten equivalent" especially when you may say "equivalent to a 2k softbox" - which box? which light? what field pattern? The best product descriptions will not only list power but will list total lumens (luminous flux) and photometric data (how bright at a particular distance a light is and how big the field is at that distance) - this info allows us to compare lights technically, and find what we need. But at the very, very bare minimum EVERY LED light should list power right in the first list of features because that is the number that gives us the most info about how bright the light will be and allows us easy comparison between fixtures of the same form factor and reasonable comparison between different types of fixtures.

As indicated under the Specifications tab on our website for the Litepanels Gemini 1 x 1 Bi-Color LED Soft Panel (Pole-Operated Yoke, EU Power Cord), B&H # LI9451111, under "Power: Max Power Consumption," it states the power consumption is 200W.  Wattage is a measurement of power, not brightness.  When incandescent/tungsten/halogen lights were the predominant options concerning lights, as they all were hot body lights and the brightness of the light was correlated to its power draw, and bulbs of different types had the same brightness when drawing the same amount of power, it was easier to say “a lamp of [x] wattage is brighter than a lamp of [y] wattage.”  However, LED lights are much more efficient, and they output light with similar brightness using less power than older hot lights.  Also, LED lights from different manufacturers have different efficiency, so you could take five LED light fixtures that measure the same brightness, and they can all have different power draw with different wattages.  While wattage can be moderately relative, it is not exact to determine output.  Also, incandescent/tungsten/halogen lights all radiate light relatively omni-directionally, whereas LED lights use lenses in front of the light, so the beam angle of the lens, the distance from the fixture, and the distance from center all affect the brightness, and wattage takes none of this into account.  That is why photometric information is used for describing light output (photometric is the measurement of light in terms of perceived brightness to the human eye), and not wattage.  However, if wattage information is given by the manufacturer, it is typically listed under the Specifications tab on our website, or you may contact the manufacturer directly to inquire about wattage draw.

For battery-powered light fixtures, wattage is used as batteries draw power, and knowing the wattage draw of a fixture and the watt-hour capacity of the battery, you can determine the length of time a fully-charged battery will be able to power the fixture.  As such, we do mention wattage when talking about power, where it is designed for discussion, but do not mention power when talking about brightness/photometrics, as wattage does not measure brightness.

Was this product made in 2019?  From the look of that model photo the noise looks like ISO 96,000.  Can these light panels not have greater output, as to enable a lower ISO?

Hi James, thanks for asking. I was a bit rushed taking the self-portrait – it  was a still pulled from a video shot on a Panasonic G7. As I mentioned in the article, the light was set at 12% of its maximum brightness for that shot. The Gemini 1 x 1  gets much much brighter,  about 60% the output of a Gemini 2 x 1. Hope this helps

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