There are endless benefits to using strobes over continuous hot lights, but there is one drawback: sometimes, you may actually want to capture motion blur.
A couple weeks ago, Patrick and I filmed a video where we competed to take the best photo of the same model. For my shot, I decided to capture a moody portrait of Meg with some extremely windy hair.
The shot turned out alright, but both Patrick and I agreed that the hair was a bit distracting. Part of the problem is that the hair was so sharp (due to our strobes' extremely fast flash duration) that you could see every imperfection perfectly and attempting to fix it in post was a nightmare.
CAME-TV recently sent us over a few of their new LED video lights for review and I decided it might be fun to try to attempt to replicate the exact same shot with these lights. Because these lights are constant, I assumed that I would be able to shoot at less than 1/100th of a second and blur Meg's hair while keeping her face and body sharp.
Let's first talk about these lights. CAME-TV sent us three different models: the Botltzen 100W Bi-Color, the Boltzen 100W Daylight, and the Boltzen 150W Daylight. These lights are relatively affordable at $698, $498, and $598, respectively. Each of these lights comes with a focusable Fresnel lens and barn doors out of the box. CAME-TV also sent us the optional Bowens speedring adapter and softbox kits.
I ended up using softboxes on my key and hair light while I used the focusable Fresnel lens of the 150W unit to blast into the ceiling for overall fill. In the end, I was able to come away with a shot that I think is superior to the first shot, and because I didn't have to deal with flashing or refresh rates, the shot was easier to capture as well. For this final shot, I chose an image that was shot at 1/60th of a second.
My Thoughts on the Boltzen lights
The Boltzen lights by CAME-TV are an amazing value for the price. For comparison, the similar ARRI L7-C lights are over $3,000 each. These Boltzen lights have the ability to add a Wi-Fi dongle that will allow wireless control of the lights via a smartphone, but I didn't have the dongle, and therefore, I was not able to test this feature. The larger 150W unit also comes with the DMX jacks necessary to control this over a network with a physical DMX board. This is the gear you might see at a concert or soundstage where lights are permanently fixed to the ceiling. If you're looking for a light with this option, the Boltzen 150W Daylight may be the best value in lighting today, but for Fstoppers, this feature isn't really useful. Not only do we not have a DMX controller, but we also don't have the room to build a permanent set to use it.
Some of the other "features" of these lights like the Fresnel lens and speedring adapter that "slides" into place were more cumbersome to use than the lights that we currently own. The small LED light that we have been using for the last few years has been the Fiilex p360ex. This little light appears to be just as powerful as the 100W Boltzen system, it's significantly smaller, and $200 cheaper. The only downside is that the Fiilex doesn't have a focusable lens or the ability for Wi-Fi control. What the Fiilex does have, though, is the ability to accept all Profoto accessories. We use Profoto reflector dishes, speedrings, and grids with our Fiilex all the time to shape the light. If you already have Profoto accessories, I would suggest the Fiilex, but if you're starting from scratch, the Boltzen lights are a great choice. Although LEDs in general do run cooler than older hot lights, they are also usually less bright. If the size and weight isn't an issue for you, I would highly suggest the Boltzen 150W unit as the extra output will be extremely useful.