Anthem is a new company. So we didn’t know what to expect when we sat down with their new LED light that promises to far outlast any HMI while promising the implied savings that could drive down production costs.
The Anthem One isn’t just any continuous LED light source. Every aspect has been designed to perform at its highest level. Heat is the enemy of long-lasting LEDs, so Anthem designed their debut light system to dissipate heat better than other lights do.
Unique to the Anthem One is that it doesn’t use bulbs; it uses a light card. These cards are interchangeable. And while it’s recommended to apply a tiny amount of thermal paste to the new card upon replacement, this step isn’t necessarily required, but does help keep your LED light card working for over 50,000 hours.
Furthermore, these LEDs undergo a stringent binning process, which is the process by which the best and most stable-performing LEDs out of the entire lineup are selected for use in the final manufacturing process. Other low-cost and mid-range LEDs bring costs down by having a wider acceptance rate. The result of Anthem’s process is a light that throws an extremely uniform beam in both brightness and color temperature.
Another neat part about Anthem One is its ability to scale well. As a cube, this light can snap together with others thanks to an easy-to-apply mounting bracket to hold it all together. Four Anthem Ones snapped together can supposedly go head-to-head with a 10K HMI light in terms of lumen output.
While the cost of an Anthem One might not be that far off from what you would pay for a similarly powerful HMI, the savings begin when you don’t have to replace the bulb in the first few hundred hours. Instead, of buying a $200-$500 bulb every 400 hours, you will only need to get a single $170 light card every 50,000 hours. And while an HMI bulb will drastically change color temperature and power output as it nears and reaches end of life, the Anthem’s light card still puts out 70 percent of its light output and maintains color temperature once it reaches its “end of life.” Even if the specifications shift slightly, that’s hardly unusable.
The flexibility of switching light cards to other color temperatures, brightnesses, and even wavelengths is another huge benefit. Ultraviolet and infrared light cards will also be available for military, industrial, scientific, and agricultural applications, but even for the filming applications alone — on which Anthem is concentrating the most — the potential is impressive.
While the light card obviously gets quite hot, the light as a whole stays cool with a fan that I couldn’t hear unless I held my ear to the unit. I didn’t want to fully test the durability of the Anthem One by dropping it, but the company’s founder and chief engineer, Justin Evans, certainly didn’t have an issue with that:
Anthem Power Plus
Since the Anthem One is based on LED technology, it comes with the same power savings of other LEDs, which means it’s a perfect candidate for a battery-based power delivery system. With Anthem Power Plus, Anthem One can run for up to three hours at full power or six hours at half power. The Anthem Power unit itself includes the power supply that comes with the regular Anthem One kit and is similar in size, but only slightly longer to accommodate the battery. While we couldn’t test this unit, the specifications make sense for the power output, and a few of these alongside a few Anthem One lights could impressively power an entire grip truck worth of equipment for far less than the cost of the truck itself — and it can all fit in the trunk of your hatchback.
Apart from various light cards offering cooler, warmer, and brighter light output, the system offers a series of accessories including barn doors, short and tight spot Fresnel lenses, a Bowens speed ring adapter, and more. Naturally, development of future accessories is promised as well.
What I Liked
- Great price-to-performance ratio
- Small, lightweight, silent, and cool to the touch (for the outside casing)
- Flexibility of interchangeable light cards
- Build quality
- Fully dimmable
- Remembers last power position
- Accessories make it easy to use with existing systems (i.e. Profoto, Broncolor, Elinchrom, Bowens) with more on the way
What I Didn’t Like
- Non-marked, non-hard-stopped dimming knob makes it hard to perfectly repeat settings
- Anthem Power ballast/power supply is a bit bulky, but par for the course
- Proprietary power cables
There are a few things I didn’t love, such as the proprietary power cables, which were supposedly created to keep costs down while still ensuring the proper certifications could be met. But while Anthem’s cables seem to be feature similar or slightly better pricing, it’s difficult to make a case for this decision that will require propriety cables going forward. Of course, when considering the overall cost savings of the system, the requirement of getting a few extra cables is hardly worth being bothered over. And compared to other industry-standard setups, it’s nice that these cables are at least user-replaceable.
Issues such as the non-hard-stopped dimmer are also small. It’s nice to be able to dim the light to the degree that you can to begin with. But Evans also mentioned this is something that can be changed in the future, as it’s easy enough to do (even for existing units) with a simple swap-out of this knob. The dedication to improving the product in both large and small ways such as this is something that has to instill some trust at the very least.
Anthem One is already available and shipping today with everything you need to get started in black or silver metal housings from B&H for $1,499. While Anthem Power Plus is available separately for $999, the kit that includes this and the Anthem One light ships for $2,499. B&H will also have a hands-on event May 8 at 8:00 PM.
Of course, the value added by the Anthem Power Plus makes quite a bit of sense. But we recommend getting the kit separately so you get the Anthem One, Anthem Power (smaller for when you’re in the studio), and Anthem Power Plus together instead of just the Anthem Power Plus. Admittedly, this is a bit of an odd pricing mishap, but it’s likely to be corrected in the near-future.