In a previous entry I posted about my first experience with the SoftPanels LED lights at NAB. These lights really intrigued me, so for the past couple of weeks I’ve been nagging Kevin to let me shoot some comparison videos of the unit against other panels. He finally arrived back to LA from a couple of business trips and we were able to get together for an hour and a half to shoot some quick tests. For the authenticity of this post I will state that I have no affiliation with SoftPanels and was not paid to promote their products and all opinions are 100% my own. SoftPanels was involved in this test but did not have any hands on and did not manipulate the test in any way shape or form. We took several meter readings for each panel to ensure accuracy.
Here's the Highlights:
Spectral Response Curves (The real magic):
Do you remember me mentioning that CRI is only a small part of the larger equation? Well CRI does not take into account green spikes, something that is definitely unwanted in your lighting. A green spike can immediately be visualized when you imagine practical fluorescent lights that have a greenish, sickly tint. If you have a green spike, it can wreak havoc on most importantly, skin. Sure you can work in post to remove this (and sometimes be unable to), but wouldn’t it be better not to deal with it in the first place? Of course.
The following response curves will give you an indication of the panels color response and a look to see if there happens to be a green spike. This might surprise you.
If you look at the color spectrum on the SkyPanel for daylight (5600K), you will notice a green peak and several valleys or “dips” in the curve. The valleys or dips mean color information is missing. Whats most interesting in here is how much more color there appears to be in the SoftPanels curve as well as a lack of green spike like the SkyPanel has. You will also notice the red spectrum coverage is much wider than the SkyPanel. This is what helps get you those nice skin tones
In Tungsten the SoftPanels is again the winner. Once more it has a full color response and way more red spectrum coverage than the SkyPanel. The SkyPanel once more is missing color info in those valleys and has a green spike with less red spectrum coverage. Like I said earlier, CRI rating is only part of the equation.
It’s hard to see these results and not come away thinking about how impressive the SoftPanels is. We’re putting it head to head with the industry leading SkyPanel which retails for twice the price. To me, the SoftPanels is a no brainer if color accuracy at all times is critical to you. Not having to spend time in post fixing color casts or skin tone issues means money and time saved. That’s a huge benefit in todays rushed shooting environments. The built in color meter on the SoftPanels is excellent and like I mentioned earlier, regardless of your dimmer setting, you will always have accurate color. The ability to also match the color temperature of any other light or ambient lighting of your location is a HUGE bonus. At the press of a button (AutoColor) you can balance a location and be ready to shoot without having to use any gels. That to me is mind blowing.