December 8, 2012

Ice Light Mini Review

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If you are interested in wedding or portrait photography you should follow the amazing artistry of Jerry Ghionis. I think Jerry is one of the best wedding photographers in the world. He may be THE best. I’ve learned more from just watching him shoot than I have in three-day workshops with other photographers.

He’s worked with a major lighting company to create a product which he himself uses called the Westcott Ice Light. It’s 20″ long, LED light source that can be used for just about any kind of photography. I’ve used it for head shots and light painting. I’ve used it for product shots and even video interviews.

The Ice Light looks like a light saber from Star Wars. It works similar magic. It’s portable, provides a consistent color temperature (5500 kelvin,) weighs just 1.3 pounds, runs on a self-contained battery, has a built-in dimmer, can be hand-held or mount on a light stand or tripod. You can use it horizontally or vertically depending on how much specularity you want.

The light takes about three hours to fully charge and in my tests consistently delivered 90 minutes of continuous use. It has a battery meter that tells you when you need to recharge the battery. If you have access to power, you can use it while connected to a power source.

The package comes with a case, strap, charger, and gel clips.

In every day use, the Ice Light couldn’t be easier to deal with. Since it’s a constant light source, it offers What You See is What You Get lighting. As you move the Ice Light closer or further from your subject, you’ll see how soft or harsh it is and how much light fall-off you’re dealing with.

Like all LED lights I’ve used, the Ice Light doesn’t have a very long throw. You will have to work with it fairly close to the subject. The rated output is only 150 watts. That means that five feet should probably be the furthest you put this light from the subject. I personally didn’t find that a limitation. Some will.

I’ve torture tested my Ice Light. I did a drop test – four and one half feet on a carpeted floor (while in the case) and no damage. Works like a charm. I’ve done a few accidental drop tests and bang tests. Each time I think I must have damaged the light – it turns out there was no problem.

The Ice Light’s real value comes in knowing when, where and how to use it. Sometimes I use it as a fill. It has a beautiful quality to it that a reflector can’t match. Sometimes I use it as a kicker. But mostly I use one or two Ice Lights as mains, very close (just outside the camera frame) and LOVE the look.

The only downside to this product is the price. Everyone wants good, fast, and cheap but the old saying goes, pick any two. At $499 the Ice Light is not inexpensive. You get what you pay for. If you’re working in situations where you need something that will fit in a camera bag and work anywhere in the world as a primary or secondary light source without power, it’s worth every penny.

Highly Recommended.

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