Ringlights have been used in still photography for decades, but finding suitable ringlights for video is a bit more challenging because they need to stay lit, and bright, the entire time, without blinding the person in front of the camera. It’s not a fast strobe that goes away, it stays on the entire time. The value of the ringlight is a soft, even fill light that illuminates the face in a way that is very hard to achieve with off-camera lights.
I was loaned a Rosck LitePad Loop which is a Ringlight system designed for DSLRs but with the 15mm rails, it could easily be adapted to any video system. In fact, it’s reliance solely on a 12v source makes it more adaptable to professional setups than the DSLR crowd which are using 7v or 8v batteries for everything.
The kit comes in an embroidered, padded bag/case. The ringlight, AA battery case, AC adapter, worldwide plug pieces, DC extension cable, DC dimmer, DSLR mounting plate, two short rails, two long rails, short Loop mounting bracket, long loop mounting bracket, screw bracket to mount the loop elsewhere, and two filterpacks, one with color correction filters and a second with lighting effects. It’s quite a lot of stuff in the case.
In just a few minutes I had my DSLR mounted on the very grippy camera plate and cinched down so it wouldn’t rotate. The plate is not keyed, but the grip plate is among the best I’ve seen. Not cheap cork, but a very grippy rubber surface. Right in front of this is the short bracket for the Loop. The Loop “connects” to the bracket with very strong magnets so it quite nearly “pops” into place and stays there. If you really fear it will fall off, maybe you’re shooting a boxing sequence from inside the ring, it comes with a tether so it only falls a couple inches before the tether stops it.
This magnet system also allows you to easily scoot the loop up and down to exactly where you need it. There are no specific locking points so you can slide up up or down about 2″ along the bracket, and you can mount the bracket on the rail system in different ways to get additional range as well. If you have a really unique mounting situation, the stand alone mounting plate is 1/4-20 threaded so you can use an adjustable arm and put it wherever you need it.
If you have a 12v camera, then you can extend your existing power setup to plug into the Loop. I did not see a D-tap to 12v coaxial plug adapter cable and given that the market for this is very likely to be using D-tap 12v sources, it’s a small, but important omission. Another issue I had, and you may consider this a personal beef, is that the Loop comes with an integrated power switch, but an external dimmer.
Almost all the other LED lights I’m currently using just one one power/dimmer switch. This way, you always have your dimmer built in. Rosco’s dimmer is an external item about the size of a small cigarette lighter and, in certain configurations, like mine, it doesn’t fit very well into the space available. So I really wanted to see an integrated dimmer where the Loop’s power switch was.
In actual use, once the level is set, the loop produces a beautiful light. You light even call it “modelific” s it is most often seen for still photos of models, or music videos. Seldom in the corporate world, which makes it quite interesting to see. Unlike typical camera top lights, there is quite nearly no shadow at all. The face just seems to glow brighter than anything further back in the frame.
It illuminates under a hat, around hair that partially covers the face, and more. That’s because the light comes from all around the lens instead of just one place. It’s also large enough that the specular highlight that appears in the eye is quite noticeable. Even if you turn it all the way down and use traditional lights, the twinkle you’ll get in the eye is quite noticeable. I liked it a lot as it tended to make the corporate stand-ups look more interested and energetic than usual. For older subjects, it does a very nice job hiding wrinkles & lines.
It’s a bit thick, and it doesn’t use the 7.2v Sony Infolithium-L batteries that my other LED lights use, but I found the light it gave was well worth the effort to use it. It’s not a long-throw light because the LEDs inside it do not point outward, but instead bounce around inside and have a soft reflection out of the loop itself.
On the front of the loop is a ring with several magnets that you can easily twist off and then use to hold one or several colored or effect filters that come with the loop. Rosco noted that it can appear ever so slightly green because of the LEDs so they include some “minusgreen” filters, in addition to tungsten correction. These come in varying strengths so after a couple tries, you’ll know what works best for you.
Despite the challenges for a small DSLR operator, I found the usefulness of Rosco’s LitePad Loop to be well worth the effort. I have to send the review unit back but put me in line for the next version with the built-in dimmer.
This article was originally published January 25, 2013 at Streaming Media Producer, for whom I am a paid Contributing Editor. They have 90 day exclusivity to my articles, then I am free to republish them.
There was no compensation or consideration by anyone else for this review. There is no relationship between myself and Rosco. The product was shipped to me, and returned to them, at their expense. It was on loan to me for 30 days to test and report on without restraint. The opinions here are mine alone.
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