HIVE Makes a Compelling Case for LED

Hive Wasp 100-C LEDCredit: Hive
Plasma light manufacturer Hive moves into the LED space with their new Wasp 100-C, bringing a new approach to a very competitive field.

There are a lot of LED lights manufactured for the film industry, at a variety of price points and qualities, making for a very full field. For most of its existence, Hive has stayed away from LED and stuck with the technology it knows best (and has an exclusive license to), which is Plasma lighting. Plasma lights offer daylight color balance while being both more power efficient than HMIs and offering a more even spectral distribution, leading to more flattering skin tone reproduction. As a bonus, they are flicker-free, so great for slow motion work.

So why move into the LED space? Primarily, to offer better control and lower cost. The spectrum that plasmas emit is at a certain color temperature, and when you want to change the temperature, you use traditional gels to dial in your light. Additionally, the least expensive plasma light it was able to offer was $3000, and while that's not unreasonable expensive for the quality on offer, it's still out of the affordable range for many independent filmmakers.

Hive Wasp 100-C Rear ControlsCredit: Hive
However, if your brand is built on one technology, expanding into another technology had better be worth it. With its LED, it's clear that HIVE has put a tremendous amount of research and development into building a light that is not only a suitable addition to their plasma line but would also fit well in pretty much any filmmaker's kit.

With a planned price point in the $1000 range, the Wasp 100-C is off to a good start, but there are obviously many even cheaper LED units available, so HIVE had to develop something new to make the light a compelling choice. The company did that by developing the LED board from scratch, using five different color LED chips together to create the most even, widest spectrum, and most controllable unit possible.

The 5 color LED chips combine in a variety of waysCredit: HIVE

The operator can take control of the unit in three ways, either using the knobs on the back of the light, through a Bluetooth app for iOs (with Android available soon), or, most interestingly, through Digital Multiplex (DMX) for remote control. Some TV productions have been reluctant to try out LED considering not only the limited spectral response, but also the lack of DMX control interfaces, and it'll be interesting to see if Hive is able to use these units to get a foothold into live broadcast television.

Normally, when evaluating a new lighting source, especially an LED light, we discuss the CRI value. With the new Hive LED, we need to talk a bit about CRI in general before we can discuss the CRI of this particular unit. CRI stands for Color Rendering Index, and it's a way of discussing how accurately a color looks under that lighting. For instance, if you’ve ever looked over at a person or down at a product under certain street lights, you might have noticed how inaccurate some light can be, often giving a dramatic blue or orange cast that doesn't accurately reproduce  what you know reality to be.

Wasp 100-C rear controls with diagramCredit: Hive

That inaccuracy is what CRI set out to measure. Unfortunately, that’s a hard thing to nail down. CRI does it by analyzing 15 color chips and comparing how they look in a light source, versus how they should look in an ideal light source.

The problem with that is that CRI is then an average of those chips. So, for instance, you could have a very low reading on a flesh tone chip, but then a very high reading everywhere else and still have a technically "good" CRI, but a light that makes people look weird. Since we tend to shoot people regularly, that's generally something we would want to avoid. This is why the LED tests you see generally focus more on the spectrum of the light, and especially on how flesh tones are captured, since it can be hard to color correct an image if the skin tone is wildly inaccurate from the start.

The Hive is a light with a very sophisticated set of color adjustment tools, and because of that, it's hard to say precisely what its CRI is. In my testing of the protoype, it was capable of CRI response as high as 98, but you might not want to use the light with that setting. For instance, if you were lighting a scene in a grocery store lit with overhead floroscents, and you were using the Hive LED to light the foreground actors, you might dial in the light to match the color cast of the overhead lights, especially if you don't have the budget to rebulb the entire space.

HIVE CRI Marketing ReleaseCredit: HIVE
In this case, the Hive will likely be giving out a lower CRI value, but if it is capable of matching the lights of the world you are working in, it could be said to be more accurate. Since matching the lights of the scene will make the color grade easier (the actors will be lit the same as the background, requiring less keying to make the grade work), this will be an incredibly useful tool.

One thing we did notice is testing was that the Hive tends to give out a very slight "batman" spectrum, with spikes around 3200K and 5600K, but this is a short eared batman not a long eared batman, and more importantly, it's a smooth spectrum otherwise as opposed to the spikes you see with other sources. 

The head unit itself is lightweight and sturdy in your hand, compatible with an available chimera soft box. It was designed not just for motion picture work but also for still photo use, and is also compatible with most popular still photo accessories. The LED board is expected to last around 50,000 hours, so if you were shooting 12 hours a day, six days a week, 50 days a year, and left it on full time, it would last around 13 years. Of course, considering the rapid pace of lighting technology development, you will have likely replaced them before they even have a chance to wear out.

Hive Wasp 100-C PhotometricsCredit: Hive
Hive has started a Kickstarter today offering a $300 discount on the light for early backers. The light, which should list for $1099 when it hits stores in March, is available for $799 through the Kickstarter, with additional discounts if purchasing multiple units together. We don't often cover products at the Kickstarter stage here, but Hive has a solid history of delivering functional lights to the motion picture industry, and we were very impressed when we got our hands on the prototype.

Hive Wasp 100-C side viewCredit: Hive

The Wasp 100-C will ship through normal distribution in March, but is available for discounted pre-purchase through Kickstarter starting today.

Tech Specs:

  • 98 CRI, 97TCLI
  • 5 color LEDs: red, amber, lime, cyan, and sapphire
  • Millions of colors
  • 5 lbs.
  • 4" x 7" body, 5" face when reflector is on
  • 0-100% dimming
  • 1650K-8000K color temp in 25k increments
  • 360° hue control in 6° increments
  • 0-100% saturation control
  • 100-240VAC input, 4-pin XLR (compatible with most camera block batteries)
  • Kit includes 100-C head unit, 100-C power supply, HDP lenses Super Wide, Wide, Medium, Spot
  • 5" barn doors

Your Comment


Very clever stuff but, I wonder about how the new incandescent technology will alter the lighting landscape in the near future which, claims CRI 100 and better efficiency than LED's.

November 15, 2016 at 8:40AM, Edited November 15, 8:42AM

Richard Krall

No need to "claim", all incandescent lights are CRI 100 by definition since they are the closest possible to a black body radiator.

November 16, 2016 at 6:44AM

Ezi Seel

100 foot candles at 10 feet? You've got to be kidding me. All of the lights they compare themselves to are at least 10x brighter - and in the case of ETC's Desire line, only 2x more expensive. Also, ETC Desire LED fixtures are extremely robust with a great user interface. This thing looks like a high school science project. When these are actually available to the public at $1100 (after the kickstarter campaign concludes) it will be very hard to beat a $1700 light which offers the same color gamut at 10x the output (ETC Desire D40). Good luck fellas!!

November 15, 2016 at 8:47AM


Hi Chest,
I think you are making a small mistake, looking at the specs above the Wasp 100-C has a 22 degree beam angle and the D40 has an 8 degree beam angle. So if you compared apples to apples (or in this case beam angle to beam angle) the Wasp 100-C will actually have the same amount of light.

As for color space:
Wasp 100-C: 98 CRI
D40: 93CRI
Wasp 100-C: 1650K - 8000K
D40: 2700K - 6500K

November 15, 2016 at 6:18PM


Incidentally, the Photometric Data graph for the Wasp 100-C (above) is a good illustration of the "Inverse Square Law of Light".

When the distance from the light to the subject doubles, the light must be quadrupled to maintain the same exposure. True for any light source.

Just mentioning

November 15, 2016 at 4:05PM, Edited November 15, 4:08PM

Richard Krall

I wonder if hive is moving away from plasma?. I had 2 cases where we rented the 1000 watt wasps and both times a few of the crew that were working in close proximity for a couple weeks straight became strangely ill, hands swelling , crazy migraines and random pains in their arms. We had an engineer friend of ours come out with a RF meter, the amount of stray radiation within 3 feet of the unit was very alarming, he also picked up a ton of rfi's and emi's. Has anyone else had this experience?

November 17, 2016 at 3:02PM

Matt Davis
Film OG


Hi my name is Jon Miller I am one of the owners here at Hive Lighting and I was sent a link to your comment. First I want to say we take the safety of our product and the safety of our customers very seriously.

The scenario you are describing does not match with any of the scientific testing or or research we have done on this product or on plasma technology in general. First I would like to assure everyone that we do a wide variety of testing on all of our equipment, including RF and EMI emissions and they are shielded systems. Also the symptoms you are describing have never been attributed to RF or EMI and sound more like radiation sickness which cannot possibly be associated with our product. In fact there was any leaking of RF energy at any high level it would prevent the light from functioning at all. Having said that we do not take such rumors lightly.

I want to be clear we have never heard any reports like this from any customer, any dealer, any production, rental house or user ever before. We have never had any experience like this in our rentals or manufacturing where we have had plasma lights on daily for over five years. We would like to know more about the experience you are describing. Can you please let us know the rental house you rented these lights from, the dates of the production and if at all possible any of the crew who were effected? Please call us directly 310 773 4362 or email us at or email me directly


Jon Miller

November 18, 2016 at 1:40PM


Would be great to see the power pack, I assume this light is portable? But, it likely does not come with a battery? How do you think it would compare to a b1? 500 watts? I'd like to have this for location work. Can you comment on batteries and power as compared to say the b1? Thank you. And great blog sight!

November 26, 2016 at 9:33AM