Over the last few months, I’ve had occasion to use three major LED lights, the
The common factor among these three are:
- They are all 2×1 panels, generally speaking.
- They are industry heavyweights, and have been around for long.
- They are available for rent in India, where I work!
I wanted to share my experiences, thoughts and comparisons between these three LED panel lights for cinematography. Usually I call for two LED panels in my kit. I speak more from a user’s perspective rather than owner’s one.
I’ll be focusing on:
- Size, weight and price
- Type and quality of light
- Special effects
- Accessories and modifiers
- Range of lights in the family
- Best light for cinematography trucks
- Best light for an owner (for high-end commercials or corporate videos)
Let’s get started!
Size, weight and price
Here’s a chart comparing the size, weight and price:
|Model||Price*||Size (inches)||Weight (kg)||Weight of Power Supply (kg)|
|Skypanel 60-C||$5,850||25.4″ x 11.8″ x 5.2″**||13 kg||4 kg|
|Gemini 2×1||$4,655||25″ x 12.5″ x 6.5″||10.1 kg||Built-in|
|Celeb 250||$2,330||24″ x 14″ x 5″||6.8 kg||Built-in|
*For light, mount (stand or center yoke) and power supply only. With the 60-C you get a standard diffuser, and with the Celeb you get a 90° honeycomb grid
**Excludes the power supply and mount. With it the Skypanel is deeper than the Gemini.
|Model||Temperature||IP Rating||Lamp Rated Lifetime||Rear LCD|
|Skypanel 60-C||-20 to 45° C||IP 20||50,000 hours||Yes|
|Gemini 2×1||-20 to 45°C||N/A (Dry only)||N/A||Yes|
It is amazing these lights are built to last, and the Arri Skypanel 60-C (Amazon, B&H) and Litepanels Gemini 2×1 (Amazon, B&H) are both designed to work in the extreme cold – but not when it’s snowing or raining.
In fact, moisture is a major problem for all three panels. I would only recommend them in totally dry environments. There are several cities where the humidity levels reach 100%, and I’m not sure about the long-term durability of these lights under such conditions.
The rear LCD story
Regarding the rear LCD, I find the differences fascinating. So from a user’s perspective, having watched light men struggle:
- The Arri is the worst positioned. You can’t see it from below if you want to do a quick check. I guess that’s why they have remotes.
- The Gemini is better, but the LCD is too small. I had trouble reading it when the light was at 8 feet on a stand. Also, when the orientation changes you lose the LCD.
- The Kino Flo Celeb 250 (Amazon, B&H) has the best position, because the back is flat and the rear LCD is visible no matter what the orientation.
|Model||AC Voltage||Power Draw||Connectors||Battery Solution|
|Skypanel 60-C||100-250V||420 W Nominal, 450 W Maximum||3-Pin XLR – 15 Amp||23 to 36 V DC*|
|Gemini 2×1||100-240V||325 W Nominal, 350 W Maximum||3-Pin XLR||28V DC**|
|Celeb 250||100-240V||150 W Maximum||3-Pin XLR – 6.25 Amp||18 to 36 V DC|
*50 % of total output with battery | **100% output with battery
I told you there was a catch, and this is it. The Celeb is less than half the power of the other two. That explains the price and weight difference.
Between the Arri and the Litepanels, the Litepanels Gemini 2×1 (Amazon, B&H) wins, because it gives you 100% power in battery operation, while the SkyPanel only gives you 50% power. It’s clearly not at its best battery operated. Imagine having to carry around that beast for just 50% power! “Why didn’t you just get a Celeb instead?”
Of course, this is not the whole story.
Type and quality of light
|Model||Beam Angle||Tilt Angle||Dimming|
|Skypanel 60-C||115°||+/- 90°||0 to 100% continuous|
|Gemini 2×1||90° to 93°||N/A||0 to 100% continuous|
|Celeb 250||N/A||N/A||1% to 100% continuous|
I’m assuming these lights don’t shift colors when dimming – at least I didn’t see any. I didn’t see any green color casts either.
The all-important photometrics data:
|Model||Lux at 10 feet (5600K)||Lux at 10 feet (3200K)|
|Celeb 250||488 (color unavailable)||488 (color unavailable)|
*With standard diffusion.
Let’s compare the lux/watt:
|Model||Lux/watt at 10 feet (5600K)||Lux/watt at 10 feet (3200K)|
There are differences, but they are negligible for a regular-size film operation. If you’re stacking together hundreds of these lights then the power draw makes a difference.
What’s instructive is the ratio between the Celeb 250 to the other two. E.g. to get 1100 lux you’ll need 2.25 Celebs, at $5,252. So from a purely light output standpoint the Arri Skypanel 60-C (Amazon, B&H) and the Litepanels Gemini 2×1 (Amazon, B&H) are neck and neck.
Why? This data is using a standard diffusion on the Arri vs the regular Gemini. You can change that for even more power on the SkyPanel.
|Model||Hue-Saturation||White Balance||Green-Magenta Control|
|Skypanel 60-C||Full RGB+W Color Gamut||2800K to 10,000K||Fully Adjustable|
|Gemini 2×1||Full RGB+W Color Gamut||2700K to 6000K||Fully Adjustable|
|Celeb 250||Full RGB+W Color Gamut||2700K to 6500K (2500K to 9900K*)||Fully Adjustable|
*In the extended Gel mode
|Skypanel 60-C||> 95 Average||> 90 Average||Yes|
|Gemini 2×1||97 @5600K, 99 @3200K||97 @5600K, 99 @3200K||Yes|
At this level it’s pointless to look at CRI/TLCI levels. Cinematographers can see if something’s wrong immediately. I’ve lit faces with all of them and have had no green casts.
All three lights have options for gels. Whatever differences there are between the gels supported is not something I should be complaining about at my level.
Here are a couple of ungraded stills from Man May Love using both Celeb and Gemini (but not together!):
Man May Love was shot on the Red Monstro with Arri Master Anamorphic Primes. Read my review here.
|Model||Fire/Candle||Emergency (Blue-Red)||Other Notable|
|Skypanel 60-C||Yes||Yes||Paparazzi, Party Lights and more|
|Gemini 2×1||Yes||Yes||Paparazzi, Party Lights and more|
|Celeb 250||Yes||Yes||Paparazzi, Lightning and more|
They all have special effect presets. I’ve only used the one on the Arri Skypanel 60-C (Amazon, B&H) and the Litepanels Gemini 2×1 (Amazon, B&H) and they work fine. Watching videos of the Celeb I have no doubt it works great as well.
Who dare complain? What’s the alternative?
Accessories and modifiers
All lights have remote control, DMX and wireless features. This is beyond my range of experience.
When it comes to mounts we have a clearer picture of why the light was made:
|Skypanel 60-C||28 mm Spigot (Junior Pin), Pole, Center-mounted yoke, Side handles, and more|
|Gemini 2×1||Junior Pin, Pole, Floor Standing|
|Celeb 250||Junior Pin, Pole, Center-mount (interchangeable, with offset), 4-point rope hanging, and more|
The Litepanels Gemini 2×1 (Amazon, B&H) is clearly the weakest here. The Kino Flo Celeb 250 (Amazon, B&H) has its standard (and world-loved) center-mount lollipop system. It’s light enough to be hung from the ceiling.
They all have proprietary modifiers. The grids and egg crates are extremely useful. I’ve used them often. The softboxes are only really useful in large sizes.
Range of lights in the family
When you have an entire product line to scale up or down to, you know the manufacturer has really thought this through.
And more importantly, they are committed to the line.
|Model||Range in size (feet) and power (watts)|
|Skypanel 60-C||30-C (1×1, 220 W) to 360-C (4×3, 1600 W)|
|Gemini 2×1||Gemini 1×1 (1×1, 200 W)|
|Celeb 250||To Celeb 850 (4×2, 575 W)|
The Litepanels Gemini 2×1 (Amazon, B&H) has just one sibling, the 1×1, and by far this is its greatest weakness. I can fully understand it, of course. They have just entered this highly competitive space.
But, as a rental solution, they were my last choice, and will remain so unless I have a family I can depend on.
The Kino Flo Celeb 250 (Amazon, B&H) has two bigger siblings. The 850 is particularly interesting. At 575 Watts the power is good enough for any AC outlet worldwide, and the size (4×2) is great for lighting faces. At about $7K the price is amazing as well.
Best light for cinematography grip and lighting trucks
Here’s a short film shot using one Skypanel 60-C and a couple of 1.2K HMIs (Red Dragon, Arri Master Primes):
And here’s another one, where the night forest and candle scene at the end were keyed using 60-Cs; HMIs for the ambience (Arri Alexa LF, Zeiss Supreme Primes):
Best light for an owner (for high-end commercials or corporate videos)
For these reasons:
- Kino Flo lights and accessories are available worldwide for rent or purchase. If you need something, you’ll probably find it easiest and fastest.
- The power output is good enough for interview setups, except when you have windows and need to match.
- Great as hair lights or rim lights.
- It’s lightweight. Easy for one-person crews, flying, transportation and mounting.
- That center-mount system is fast and painless to reposition your light in any orientation.
- The lower power helps in battery operation. It becomes practical.
- Every accessory you can think of is already available. The system just gets out of your way.
- You can buy two of them!
- Easier to recover your investment when budgets are going south.
- Because I told you so.
I hope you found this comparison useful. I do realize there are other options in the market – some cheaper and some not so cheap. These are the ones available to me, and the ones I would trust with my career.
That makes all the difference.