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Lights are a great resource when shooting interviews, or indoors, or basically with any camera other than the Sony A7s. I kid, I even need lights with the A7s sometimes; for example, if I was shooting an interview with an open window behind my subject. Now if I want to have what’s outside the window well-exposed and not completely blown out as well as my subject in front of the window so under-exposed you can barely see them, I need lights. Having lights for video interviews and photography portraits is not just very handy, but more like essential.
But one of the challenges is that they can be heavy and a real pain to cart around. The introduction of LED lights has helped massively as they are lighter and also don’t produce as much heat as “traditional lights” so they are easier to handle. You can move them without needing gloves as you should with older style lights. But most LEDs still take up a fair bit of space, which can put people off adding them to their gear.
Enter the Wescott Flex LEDs: wafer-thin, bendable LED lights. These are a 10’x’10’ LED light that comes in either daylight or tungsten. I got the daylight models as I tend to prefer that colour temperature most when I shoot. You can get bi-colour ones too which allow you to change the temperature if you find that you shoot in both temperatures often enough.
They’re available as individual lights or in a kit which includes a mounting option. I bought mine with the kit so that I have the mounting option to easily attach them to my light stands. A nice touch of the mounting option is that they also have a kind of a clamp, so you can just clamp the lights onto objects if you don’t have stands or have a convenient object that would work better than a stand. They also come with a little diffuser attachment which is nice to have, but really not that good as it sits way too close to the light.
Two big issues I’ve had with LED lights up till now is how they render colour and that they aren’t generally very bright, which means I then had to place them very close to my subjects. The Wescott Flex LEDs have a 95CRI, which will give very decent colour rendition and they are so bright that I actually can’t use them at full brightness with some people, as they find them blinding. Of course, that’s with the lights about 1.5 meters away. Once you get to about 2-3 meters away, the light drops off dramatically. But you wouldn’t really need them that far away in most interview situations so it’s not too bad.
Being so thin, the lights allow you to put them in all sorts of places. For example, if you were doing a shoot in a car – always a challenge for space – you could stick one light to the ceiling or bend it and have it in the dashboard. Being bendable also adds very interesting options; options you wouldn’t have with traditional lights or even other LEDs.
Something to be aware of is that the lights are not battery-powered out of the box but there is a battery powered option. It isn’t cheap, costing about half of what one of the lights costs, but it is an option if that’s something you need.
One shortcoming of the lights is that they don’t have any sort of barn door system so it’s not that easy to direct their light. I am sure I could put some DIY solution together, but it would be nice to have some option you can buy, because it really isn’t safe handing me a hammer or any kind of power tools.
So would I recommend these?
They’re really ticking the boxes for me overall – portability, accurate colour and brightness. I’m really enjoying the ability to take a three-light setup with me that takes up less space than a single light setup used to in my bags. And as lights go, the colour out of them is pretty accurate and pleasing and if you diffuse it, it’s even nicer.
Since I got my hands on my set about a month ago, the company has already come out with a whole range of different sizes and models. This is a good time to grab a set with all the options you could need.