Cut the Cord: BL’s Best Wireless Lighting Options

Cut the Cord: BL’s Best Wireless Lighting Options

With the exception of Speedlights, portable lighting options are limited. Fortunately, that is starting to change and every year we’re getting more and more powerful, wireless lighting. So cut the cord and try out one of these travel-friendly lights for your next event, reunion, or on-the-road portrait session!


Westcott Ice Light

Icelight_Wireless_BL

Type of Light: Continuous LED

Key Features: Dimmable, has a ¼”-20 mount on both ends for easy attachment to light stand, and is barely over a pound.

How it’s Powered: Internal battery with an included AC wall cable to charge.

The Cons: Only 1 hour of use for about 2.5 hours of charge time. Also, it starts flickering after 1 straight hour of use.

Good For: Product photography, thanks to its ability to stand by itself on a tabletop with very close placement to the product without emitting any heat. It also produces easy, fun edge lighting. Example below.

GoPro_AlexHuff_Icelight

Update: Check out the Westcott Ice Light 2!


 

Profoto B1 500W/s AirTTL Battery Powered Flash

ProfotoB1_Wireless_BL

Type of Light: Strobe

Key Features: Compatible with legacy Profoto speed rings and modifiers, super fast sync speeds (up to 1/19,000th of a second), and long battery life (220 full-powered pops on a 1 hour charge).

How it’s Powered: Lithium-ion battery that latches directly onto the light and is charged with an included AC cable.

The Cons: You can’t have the battery and the AC cable attached to the flash at the same time – so no continuous use with wall power option. Also, each head is over 6 pounds.

Good For: Action photography. You can fire off 20 flashes per second in Quick Burst Mode. There is also a special Freeze Mode that delivers flash durations as fast as 1/19,000 of a second for capturing liquid sprays, bullets firing, and other super high speed effects.


Profoto B2 250W/s AirTTL Location Kit

Profoto-B2_Wireless

Type of Light: Strobe

Key Features: Very lightweight heads (safe for overhead mounting), fast sync speeds (up to 1/8000th of a second), and long battery life (215 full-powered pops on a 45 minute charge).

How it’s Powered: Lithium-ion battery that latches to the bottom of a control pack and is charged with an AC cable.

The Cons: There is a permanent cable that runs from the head and attaches to the control pack. The pack can hang off a light stand or sit on the ground. For those looking for a no-cables-at-all solution, this might be annoying.

Good For: Event photography for its extreme versatility. The 50W-equivalent LED modeling lamp is a nice alternative to the main strobe options and the head is so lightweight you can mount it even on a camera without damage. Sling the control pack over your shoulder and you’re good to go!


 

Lowel Pro Power Daylight LED Kit

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 3.57.41 PM

Type of Light: Continuous LED

Key Features: Sports a fresnel-style lens with a cool-to-the-touch LED light source, which allows maximum power for such a portable continuous light.

How it’s Powered: The kit comes with only AC wall cables but you can rent Lowel batteries to make each light wireless.

The Cons: The daylight kit only has a Color Rendering Index of 90, which might turn off some higher-end videographers who may be looking for something with a CRI of 93+. But for something with a wireless option, 90 is great for almost all uses.

Good For: 3-light setup work, including video interviews and formal head shot portraits.


 

Impact 400W/s LiteTrek Monolight Kit

LG544be93a-f896-40cd-83c6-26ac0c45f5e2

Type of Light: Strobe

Key Features: Very long-lasting (up to 650 full-power pops on a charge) and has a Multi-Mode feature for cool stroboscopic effects.

How it’s Powered: High-voltage double cell NiMH battery pack that connects to the head via a cable. Recharges with an included AC cable.

The Cons: Recharging time takes up to 3 hours so pack a spare Quantum battery. Also, there is no graceful way to attach other-brand softboxes and speed rings to this head so use the umbrella shaft that is drilled into the included reflector (example below).

1442525569000_IMG_535503

Good For: Beginners on a budget. The back-panel interface is intuitive and the rental is about a third of the price of most other strobe options. Here is an example of a quick portrait test I did of a couple in the shade using just an out-of-the-box settings (unretouched):

ImpactBeforeAfterAlexHuff


 

Fiilex 301 and K304 Pro LED Kits

FiilexLights_Wireless_BL

Type of Light: Continuous Dense-Matrix LED

Key Features: Extremely easy to use and produces full-spectrum lighting with no flickering.

How it’s Powered: The kit comes with only AC wall cables but you can rent a FLXA013 Type B1 D-Tap/P-Tap cable for each head to connect to broadcast-quality DC batteries, which last a very long time.

The Cons: These 2 kits can be used in tandem for the ultimate setup but, unfortunately, their modifiers are not interchangeable.

Good For: 3-light setup work, including video interviews, but I have used them a lot for portraits (see below as an example) and recommend them for beginners who want the immediate feedback of continuous lighting.

AlexHuff_FiilexBTS


 

Quantum Omicron OM3 Flash and Video Ringflash

Quantum Omicron OM3 Flash and Video Ringflash

Type of Light: Combination Strobe and Continuous LED

Key Features: Has an Auto-Tracking setting that will dim and brighten the LEDs automatically as you move around your subject.  Switches between being a strobe ringflash and a continuous ringlight.

How it’s Powered: The kit comes with only AC wall cables but you can rent a Quantum battery for wireless shooting (which will power up to 2,000 pops or 90 minutes of continuous lighting).

The Cons: Assembling this light and connecting it to your lens and camera system is not for the faint of heart.

Good For: Mixed media projects where strobe and continuous lighting will be needed.


So there’s your proof that powerful lighting doesn’t have to tie you down to the studio. Get out and experiment (just pack extra batteries).

Check out all of our lighting options for your next shoot!

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Alexandria Huff's photography and lighting tutorials can be found on 500px and her blog. She is a Marketing Coordinator for BorrowLenses.com and also writes for SmugMug. She learned about lighting and teaching while modeling for photographers such as Joe McNally and has since gone on to teach lighting workshops of her own in San Francisco. Previously, she shot motorsports for X-Games, World Rally Cross, and Formula Drift. See her chiaroscuro-style painterly portraits on her website.

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