At NAB this year, Zacuto introduced their PlaZma 1x1, which is brighter and softer than equivalent 1x1 LEDs. The new light uses relatively new charged microplasma technology, which is also being used in products from companies like Hive lighting. They were originally set to release the light by the summer, but production has been held up so that color rendition and reliability could be improved, and it looks like the light will begin shipping early next year. Here is a video interview with Steve Weiss from Zacuto about the light -- the PlaZma light portion is at the end (click forward to around 7:40):

Some key features of the light:

  • Puts out an impressive 2000 lumens versus other industry 1×1 LED panels at 1200 lumens and 777 lumens on side lit reflected LEDS.
  • Has a characteristic incandescent curve unlike LEDS that can have a nasty green spike and don’t mix well with practical or tungsten lights.
  • The daylight balanced curve is unwavering at 5800K and mix well with HMIs.
  • Just like traditional soft lights, the PlaZma Light has a wide light pattern as opposed to the spotty nature of an LED. But unlike traditional soft lights, the PlaZma Light has a huge throw.
  • The soft nature of the PlaZma Light enables actors to look directly into it (from 5 inches) without squinting. The light fills the face with beautiful soft light unlike existing lights, including LEDs, which force you to lose light output as they need to be diffused, bounced or have an umbrella attached to it.

Here is the new spec sheet, with the improved CRI (click for a larger image):


There was a lot of buzz about this light at NAB, and it received an award for innovation at the show. Depending on your camera and the shooting situation, the light is definitely strong enough to act as a key light, and since it's already rather soft, it won't take much diffusion to really get a nice looking shot. If they can continue improving CRI with the technology, these are going to be a far nicer option than LEDs, which require diffusion at close range because of the tiny shadows and the ugly source they put out.

I know I'm not the only one that is excited to see what these can really do and how the color rendition will be, but we'll have to wait until the panels get into people's hands next year. These are going to be great fill lights as well, but if you're a documentary filmmaker, they will be perfect interview lights. Rather than having to put up some battery powered LEDs that will more than likely need to be softened (which hurts light output), you could use these and be set up in no time.

Plasma technology is fascinating, and as it improves, we'll start seeing less and less of the power hungry Tungsten lights. If you're in the market for lights, you've got a lot more options than even 5 years ago, and almost everything coming out now has the ability to run on batteries. I'm not a big fan of generators, so anything that throws a ton of light, has good color rendition, and can run on batteries is very exciting.

Head on over to the Zacuto website to sign up for the mailing list and be notified when they are available to purchase.

Link: PlaZma Light – Coming Spring 2013 -- Zacuto

Disclosure: Zacuto is a No Film School advertiser.