Shortly after my first close encounter with a Rotolight Aeos, Rotolight announced the Neo 2, successor to the original Neo LED light, three of which I have in the form of a Rotolight Neo 3 Light Kit.
That kit was great in its day and I use it still but with the two new and even more powerful and versatile Rotolight LED lights that appeared after the original Neo surely something even better would be possible.
One Aeos light, two Neo 2 lights, high speed synchronization (HSS) to control all three and for flash sync with my Fujifilm and Panasonic cameras, three light stands, a soft case to carry them in and barndoors and soft boxes as needed, now that would be the perfect lighting kit for on-location portraiture and video projects, it seemed to me.
Oddly enough, Rotolight has yet to come up with such a lighting kit but even more oddly enough Park Cameras, a retailer with outlets in London’s Fitzrovia and Burgess Hill in West Sussex has beaten them to it.
I have a particular interest in finding optimal solutions for storing, carrying and holding my photography and video production gear, so it is rewarding to come across new and unfamiliar product ranges, with the latest being the HPRCbrand, the initials standing for High Performance Resin Cases.
HPRC is a brand of Plaber Srl, an Italian manufacturer based in Bassano del Grappa, a city and commune in Vicenza province in the northern Italian region of Veneto, and the company’s products are distributed in many parts of the world.
Until recently I had not come across HPRC cases, hardly surprising given we no longer have an annual photography trade show in Sydney nor well-stocked photography and video superstores the like of which exist in other world class cities.
Instead my introduction to HPRC came via a Fujifilm X-E3 review loaner camera and Fujinon XF 50mm f/2.0 R WR and 35mm f2.0 R WR “Fujicron” lenses kindly sent over by Fujifilm Australia, all contained in a beautiful little HPRC hard case with internal zippered soft case, illustrated at right.
The padded soft case could be used as a camera case in its right, but in combination with the external hard case is a potent solution for protecting and transporting equipment like the camera and lenses.
It is a much better alternative to the customary way in which review loaners are sent via couriers, inside boxes inside taped-up corrugated cardboard boxes.
I am familiar with several brands of hard cases, most notably the Pelican brand due to relying on several of its memory card cases for some years as well as some mid-sized Pelican cases for storing items of non-photographic equipment.
My history with hard and soft cases of all types and brands for carrying photography and video production equipment of all sorts, sizes and weights is a long and not always a happy one.
Looking back on the myriad of custom-made and off-the-shelf bags, backpacks and cases I have used over the years, most especially during the analog years when I was working in corporate and magazine photography with a sideline in cinematography, I wonder how my equipment managed to get by without too much major damage.
Much of my travel for work involved small hire cars, small airplanes and understaffed regional airports where I often watched luggage handlers hurl my precious gear on and off trailers and carousels with no thought for safety, their own or that of my precious camera gear.
None of those bags and cases could be described as optimal in their design and manufacturing, often failing miserably at keeping the dust, fluids and salt out of the equipment contained within.
Mind you, I did subject them to some harsh conditions in deserts, at the edge of oceans, down mines and in massive open-cuts as well as traipsing up and down stairs and in and out of elevators, not to forget hauling them in and out of taxi cabs’ back seats and boots in the inner city and suburbs near and far.
Nowadays I tend to travel alone and with the more minimalist kits that the digital age permits, but my own safety and that of my equipment remains paramount and the soft shoulder bags and backpacks that I have used so far have acquitted themselves better than any I had in my analog days.
One big difference between then and now though is in the realm of tripods.
Carbon fibre is a relatively recent innovation and currently I have two carbon fibre-legged tripods for location work, one for video and the other for stills.
There is no way I would undertake extensive travel with either in the soft bags that came them, so my chance discovery of the HPRC brand took on a serious note given I am now looking at upgrading both tripods with more recently-made carbon fibre tripods for environmental portraiture and documentary moviemaking.
An enquiry to HPRC received the feedback that the best hard case for the Sachtler tripod kit will be the HPRC 6400W case, and my choice of hard case for a small stills tripod depends on which of the two 3 Legged Thing tripods I choose.
I like the look of the HPRC 6200 hard case for small tripods and other HPRC items look appealing for other reasons.
I have been needing a smaller, safer memory card carrying solution for some time, and the HPRC1100 looks like it could fill the bill.
The HPRC 5400W would have been perfect when I was carrying light stands and lighting and microphone booms all over the planet and I like that it can take two internal soft bags inside to keep items separate.
The HPRC 2550W2017 is worth serious consideration as wheeled carry-on cabin luggage should interstate and foreign travel plans come to fruition.
For more local travel the HPRC GH52460-01 customized case looks great should I choose to upgrade to a Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 or GH5S for video, though Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K aka P4K looks very attractive right now given its ability to shoot high-quality raw or ProRes video while being portable enough for handholding with the right stabilized lenses or gimbal stabilizer.
Given it will not be released until laster in the year questions remain about the BMPCC 4K but one thing is known for sure right now, that its dimensions are very different to those of any other cinema cameras or camcorders and so we may need to rethink how we are going to transport and store it and its lenses and accessories.
HPRC’s customized hard case for the GH5 and GH5S is also available in a version for Sony’s A7, A7R, A7S, A7II, A7III, A7RII, A7SII and a6300 mirrorless hybrid cameras, the HPRC ALP2460-01 for Sony Alpha 7.
I wonder if the HPRC folks are working on a custom case solution for the BMPCC 4K or the coming DJIRonin-S?
A pre-production Ronin-S was being shown off with the BMPCC 4K and non-stabilized Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens attached at the recent NAB 2018 trade show in Los Angeles and it looked like a perfect fit.
All these decisions as to camera, tripods, stabilizers and cases depend on being able to actually see and try these items in order to make well-informed decisions though and that remains the biggest obstacle of all right now.
Lest I forget, another HPRC custom case that has a great deal of appeal is the HPRC MAC4800W-01 for carrying and storing my production iMac 27-incher while away on my travels and needing to store all our non-travelling possessions in lockup while away.
Keeping expensive gear in cardboard boxes or other low-end storage products is not recommended when relying on removalists or storage services especially now that radical climate change has brought the threat of mould and insect infestations to the fore here like never before.
A selection of cases for photography and video production equipment by HPRC | High Performance Resin Cases
HPRC HPRC6200 case for small tripods.
HPRC HPRC6200 case for small tripods, foam interior.
HPRC’s HPRC6400W case, one of a range of hard cases suitable for safely transporting tripods.
“We went along to Rotolight’s HQ in Pinewood to have a look at the new Neo 2 light, announced this week. Dave sat down with Luke Curtis, Rotolight’s Sales Manager to find out more, not only about the Neo 2, but also Rotolight’s other light[s] – the Aeos and An[n]ova.”
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“In honor of the world wide launch of the Tile Light we are offering a special introduction offer of 20% off. For a limited time only.
Open the window on to the world with the Tile Light. Blind Spot Gears single surface emitting technology, creates an even throw of light that combines beauty, flexibility, portability and power like no other product.”
“Over the years my lighting kit has evolved from one system to another. I’d have this brand of hotshoe flashes and this brand of strobes. This one worked great, that one was ok, etc. I’ve been searching for one cohesive system and I finally settled on Phottix gear.
The one thing that has really simplified my life is having one trigger that works seamlessly between hotshoe flash and strobes. I know there are several systems out there these days and I looked at all of them and settled on Phottix for the balance of price, durability, and ease of use.
In this video I walk through my lights and modifiers that I use for location photography. Here’s a list of the most important parts of the kit….”
Pioneering LED movie and stills LED lighting maker Rotolight has launched an amazing new portable, powerful LED lighting system for moviemakers and stills photographers, Aeos. Aeos is “a bi-colour, location LED light with a unique ‘ultra-thin’design concept” and it “delivers a powerful light output of 5,750 lux at three feet”, “one of the most energy efficient LEDs on the market, able to run for three hours at 100% power on a single 95W battery”.
Both LED lighting systems remain in constant use here for shooting video and stills, with the Neo lights being my first choice for stand and camera-mounted lighting especially with barndoors and softbox attached.
The Neos are small and light enough to handhold yet have enough power and fine control of colour and output to make for a versatile, classical three-point lighting set-up.
Rotolight’ Aeos Portable LED Lighting System and Accessories
Now, Rotolight’s Aeos system looks set to provide the sort of highly colour accurate high TLCI light that is a standout feature of the Neo and Anova systems, along with handhold-ability and portability that may well make it an excellent single-light for stills portraits or video interviews.
I look forward to seeing examples of the Aeos lights in use for cinematography and photography very soon.
My family background is part-Scots on my mother’s side so I am always keen to follow creativity, innovation and success stories occurring in Scotland, especially in the fields of moviemaking and photography. One such recent Scottish success story is Glasgow-based Blind Spot Gear and their Scorpion lighting system, recently used in Danny Boyle‘s feature film T2: Trainspotting.
T2: Trainspotting is the sequel, set twenty years later, to Trainspotting, a black comedy that was key to the underdog culture and music of the years around 1996 in the UK. I was there at the time. It was brilliant.
Trainspotting and T2: Trainspotting are based on two novels by Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting and Porno, the latter now republished as T2 Trainspotting. T2: Trainspotting hit the cinemas in the UK and elsewhere on 27th January 2017.
Blind Spot Gear Publicity Photographs
Photographs for the T2: Trainspotting feature film, lit with Blind Spot Gear Scorpion lights.
Blind Spot’s Innovations
That deep background done with for now, let’s turn our attention to Blind Spot Gear’s lighting innovations.
For me the ideal core lighting kit for stills photography and videography is affordable, portable, controllable, LED-based, and includes a range of light-shaping options from narrow to broad, hard to soft.
The component lights may not come from the same manufacturers’ stable but they need to be able to work together, in unison, and have high CRI ratings so their light output is as close as possible to full-spectrum.
Sometimes I will need to use one or more narrow lights, sometimes several soft lights and sometimes a mix of the two types of lights. Some lights need to be focusable, and others need to at least be barndoored to narrow the light beam down for a sense of intimacy, even mystery.
Sometimes, just sometimes, product shots and certain types of portraits benefit from soft light devices like soft boxes or chinese lanterns. The ideal kit is something of a chimera, but luckily for digital moviemaking and photography, light output does not have to be as high as it needed to be for shooting with the slow films of the analog era due to the sensitivity of contemporary sensors.
Blind Spot Gear’s Scorpion Light fills the bill in several different ways – affordable, portable, powerful for its size, barndoorable and, uniquely, bendable given its LED light is mounted on a high quality brass gooseneck that can be clamped to almost anything on-set with what the Blind Spot Gear team claims is “one the sturdiest of all the super clamps on the market”. I have experienced a few that aren’t so that will be a relief.
Not to be left behind by demands for other forms of LED lights, particularly with broader light output, Blind Spot Gear has been working on The Tile Light, a flat, rectangular light that can be used alone or in a six-light rig available in two versions, The Light Petal and The Light Petal Pro.
I have yet to try out Blind Spot Gear’s The Scorpion Light, but a kit is on my wish list.