Q8 Travel Review with August Bradley
August Bradley is a filmmaker, photographer, and media entrepreneur. Below are his impressions of the Fiilex Q8 Travel LED Fresnel.
I’ve worked across the spectrum in production – big budget, agency, commercial shoots – as a photographer, as a cinematographer doing TV commercials – tiny, no budget indie films and street shoots.
Across all those different types of productions you really need three things: you need high quality light. Light that can mix with other professional fixtures or the environment – you need really robust solid housings and casings and equipment – cause when things break, everything stops. And you need a ton of control – you need a lot of precision. Because if you can quickly dial in the light temperature, the level of brightness, without doing scrims and gels – you get a lot more done in the day and you just do better work.
So, across the board, the Fiilex line gives me the level of control, the quality of light, and the solid reliable fixtures. And this new Q8 Travel is unprecedented for a mid-sized Fresnel. I have never had this level of control, and I have never had this level of quality in the light beam.
Fiilex does this in a couple ways. One is they have what’s called a Dense Matrix. They take their LEDs and they bring them really tightly together. All LED manufacturers need a large number of LEDs to create the brightness – one is just not enough. But what Fiilex does is they pack them super tight in what they call a Dense Matrix. Other manufacturers have them spread out. Fiilex has achieved this Dense Matrix by creating a proprietary bonding method that that lets them dissipate heat, so you don’t have the cooling problem you typically have when chips are placed very close together.
The benefits are two-fold. One: you get better color-mixing. So you just get a better quality of light coming out that’s more consistent. No fringing, no waves, no color gradients – just a consistent quality light at the color temperature you set it.
Second: the Fresnel. When you’re shining through the Fresnel lens, these lenses are designed to work with a very small point source of light, basically a tungsten bulb. So, when LEDs are spread out wide it doesn’t work as well. By packing them in tight, Fiilex has achieved basically the quality you get from a Fresnel, but then the control you get from an LED. And, astonishingly, it’s actually a more smooth beam, as we’ll see when we do some comparisons. But the beam of light across the Fresnel range, even at the tightest spot level, its consistency is unprecedented, and the reason for that is because the Fresnel itself has been run through endless computer simulations and optimized for the Dense Matrix. Most manufacturers take their tungsten-based fresnel, throw their LED source light in, and they have a new LED unit. Fiilex has optimized and custom built the fresnel for – not just an LED unit – but for their particular Dense Matrix, so the two are optimized in a way no other manufacturer does – creating a really unique combination of optimal light source and optimal magnification – and focusing through the lens.
Then what they do is they have a 192 point calibration process that compensates for any inconsistencies that remain, and compensates for that warm-up period when you first turn it on. So the Fiilex lights are ready to go instantly – no waiting – no warm-up period.
And then finally they have just an unprecedented level of control with the fixtures—this is just the most elegant back control panel that I’ve ever worked with. It’s just well-designed, it’s intuitive, you don’t have to read the manual, you’re ready to go as soon as you take this out of the box. But beyond that, the precision is just extraordinary. Color temperature, brightness—all of it. We have the color at tungsten – the environment here is tungsten so it’s gonna match at the warmer side of the range – as we turn it blue you’ll see it get very blue. Goes from 2800 up to 6500 so it’s the full range that you need.
So bringing it back to our matched environment – now, you also have the ability to change the hue – plus 0.25 to negative 0.25 across the magenta-green scale, which is extremely helpful when you’re trying to match non-professional lights. Say you’re in an office with ugly fluorescents, you can match it—you’re still gonna get great quality of light out of this, but you can match the color a lot closer so you don’t have these aberrations.
The knobs have the perfect amount of friction to really set it exactly where you want it, both with hue and with color adjustment, as well as with brightness. The brightness goes down to 0.1%—that’s just incredible—I’ve just never seen that level of dimming. And sometimes you really need that low intensity, or the smooth roll-off when dimming to 0.
So for the sake of comparison I’ve put two lights up here on the wall, on the left we have the Fiilex Q8 Travel in its tightest twelve degree spot mode—on the right we have a classic junior 2k tungsten fresnel. And you already see a big difference. Both are in their tightest spot mode. The Q8 Travel on the left has a very clearly defined spot – a consistent tonality of light across it – you don’t have a lot of deviations, and the color – you see it in person it’s even more obvious – the color is perfectly even across. With the tungsten fresnel you’ve got basically a hotspot in the middle and then just a gradient fading out, with no real edge to the spot, and when you see it in real life it’s actually even less defined. Really, all you have is a hotspot, and then just a gradient out. With the Q8 Travel you get an actual spot—consistent on the inside and then it stops.
So this has become the fixture I go to when I need a 1000-watt equivalent. Whether I’m bouncing off a wall, or if I’m shooting directly onto a subject—it gives just a beautiful clean light that mixes effortlessly with other fixtures or with the ambience. So it’s perfect in terms of flexibility, control, and quality, and that’s why I’m super excited about the new Q8 Travel from Fiilex.
Learn more about the Fiilex Q8 Travel.