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Sola ENG

I’m running some quick tests today on Litepanels Sola ENG lights to see if I can use them to replace my sixteen year old Lowel Omni lights. I have used two of the Omnis on video projects with CTB filters to convert them to daylight when I have needed something beyond my three Litepanel 1x1s. In particular, I have used the Omni+CTB  to light white backdrops while the subjects are lit with the 1x1s but as you’ll see below that setup is a bit of a kludge. It works but the quality of the light from the Omni + CTB combo is limited.

The Sola ENGs now come in a kit which includes barn doors, a few filters, a ball head, a light stand mount, an AC adapter, a DC adapter via a D-Tap connection and a carrying case. *They have a $100 rebate through July 15th  which brings the price per light below $500.

The test is to look at amount of light, beam spread and evenness of the light. All lights are just over 3′ from the wall, ISO 160, 1/50 sec. The photos are via an iPhone so disregard the color and the fringing seen. They are not there in real life.

L to R: Omni set to Flood + CTB = f/5.6; Omni set to flood = f/9, LP 1×1 Flood @ full power = f/5. Click to enlarge.
L to R:  Sola ENG set to flood = f/4; set to mid-point = f/4.5; set to spot = f/6.3. Click to enlarge.

Color temperature readings:

  • ~5600  Litepanel 1×1 Flood
  • ~5600  Litepanel Sola ENG Flood setting
  • ~5600  Litepanel Sola ENG Spot setting
  • 4360  Lowel Omni Light + CTB filter

As you can see the Omni + CTB setup is a bit messy. The usable area is limited and there is bleeding of tungsten light around the edge which always needs to be blocked off.

In moving from two Omnis + CTBs I am taking a small hit in light output but it’s not as much as it appears. The Sola ENG at its mid-point setting pretty well approximates the area of the Omnis, so it’s f/5.6 vs. f/4.5. Two-thirds of a stop – though the Sola ENGs are on the cusp of f/5 so it is very close.

Some notes: The Sola ENG does have a fan, its noise is very low. It does not appear that it will be issue, especially since I am not looking to use these on camera or near a mic. I have had one of the Sola ENGs on at full power for over an hour and have not heard any cycling of the fan or other issues.

I have not tried Litepanels’ ball head, it plus their stand adapter need to be coupled together and that is a bit too rube goldberg. The Sola ENG does have a 1/4-20 screw mount in the bottom so you can connect it to just about anything (e.g. metal swivel adapter or Israeli arm.)

The casing and the fresnel lens of the Sola ENG are plastic.  The two rings which control brightness (plus on/off) and beam spread have a sizeable rubber covering.  My biggest concern is the plastic and the 1/4-20 mounting point. It is a metal thread embedded in a plastic foot.

*It should be noted that an Arri 650 Watt Plus Tungsten Fresnel is less at $389. It’s a world apart in build quality (metal housing, glass fresnel) but also in size, weight and handling.  7.2 lbs and ~800 cu. in. for the Arri vs. 10 oz. and ~80 cu. in. for the Sola ENG. Added heat on set, a bigger power draw and cool time are needed for the Arri. Add a lamp, barn doors, scrims, and filters to the cost of the Arri.

Update 5/9/12 – Sola ENGs on Set.