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独一无二的影室光源数码化方案
——JTL Versalight D系列闪光灯

乔纳桑,2004年3月,总268期

影室光源的数子化实践
——感受JTL Versalight D系列数码遥控影室灯

吴凯翔,2005年3月,总279期

定量测试JTL Versalight D系列数码遥控影室灯
怡泓工作室 恩波/图文,2005年4月,总280期




独一无二的影室光源数码化方案 ——JTL Versalight D系列闪光灯

乔纳桑(美),2004年3月,总268期


您可曾想过婚纱摄影的灯光操作可以完全遥控、数码化?您是否愿意在任何角度都看到每套闪光灯的设置显示?您可曾期待影室光源的微调精度高达0.05EV?您是否盼望把各种布光数据存入电脑,日后仅靠键盘、鼠标就能瞬间再现?如果您对上述问题有兴趣的话,美国JTL公司最新研发的电脑化、全数码摄影光源的Versalight D 系列影室闪光灯无疑是您的首选方案。

数码显示
作为一名摄影师,我曾用过10多种不同品牌的影室闪光灯从事各种摄影工作,其中包括人物、静物、产品乃至五光十色的户外广告。不论是用哪一个品牌的闪光灯,都有一个共同的遗憾,即闪光灯无法把我的输出设定数字化地显示在控制板上。因此,我只好一次次地靠测光表的读数来大概推算出闪光灯此时的输出设定值。有时,为了一个特定的光圈读数,我需要花费十几、几十分钟才能把闪光灯的调光钮固定到一个准确的位置。可是,一旦调光钮变换了位置,整个测试、摸索过程又得重新来一遍。尤其当拍照用的不是一套而是一组闪光灯时,你无法想象这种反复无常的测光、调光、再测光、再调光的漫长操作多么令人厌烦。
美国JTL公司最近推出的全新Versalight D数码化影室闪光灯系列,彻底解决了这一困扰我多年的难题。与传统影室闪光灯相比,Versalight D数码闪光灯给我的第一印象就是它的数码显示功能。无论你的输出设定高低,无论你设定的是闪光灯还是造型灯光源,Versalight D都能在你设定完成的那一瞬间准确地将结果显示在控制板的数码荧光屏上。假如不考虑个别附件和配件的具体设置,出现在红色显示屏上的闪光灯输出(W/S)数字就可以替代此时的曝光值。
这一功能的好处在于,摄影师可以无需测光表,借助于闪光灯显示屏的输出功率数字显示,就可以还原先前测定的一套曝光值。譬如说,你选用一支JTL Versalight D 800闪光灯。该灯的最大闪光灯输出功率为800W/S。然后,选择曝光值在f/5.6、 f/8、和 f/11时,记录下该闪光灯的输出功率假设分别为184W/S、232W/S和266W/S。下次,当你需要该闪光灯在相同拍摄环境里再次实现f/5.6的曝光值时,只需把闪光灯的输出功率调回到184W/S即可。这不但易学、易用,而且极为精确、可靠。
更令人意外的是,JTL的Versalight D闪光灯除了在控制板上设有输出功率数字显示屏之外,在灯体的顶端还有一个可自由拆装的大字体显示屏。这个显示屏不但与控制板上的数字显示同步,而且可以360度万向调整、定位(图1)。无论影室有多昏暗,无论你人在哪个位置、何种角度,凭借这一大字体红色数字显示屏,你随时都可以清楚地看到每套Versalight D闪光灯的功率设置以及每一套灯的遥控编号。这对于整个影室的布光与调光工作来说,无疑是提高效率的有效措施。

数码精度
众所周知,灯光摄影的从业人员历来对于光源的输出精确度抱有相当高的期望。遗憾的是,多少年来,传统影室闪光灯却只能为他们提供一个模糊的概率。 这是因为,无论是分挡调光还是连续调光,传统影室闪光灯的功率设定都无一例外地依靠调整电压的机械手法来实现。材料的误差、元件的误差、分电器的误差乃至供电环境的波动因素累计到一起,使得所谓3/4光、1/2光、1/4光等等的输出功率充其量不过都是一些近似值而已。片子拍出来是好是坏,更多地要看摄影师对灯光环境的感觉、采光经验的深浅,而不是依靠光源设备的精准配合。对于传统闪光灯的光源误差拿捏得好,作品出来或许就好一些。拿捏得不好,轻者造成片子偏薄、偏厚,甚者无奈重来,再拍一遍。
美国JTL公司彻底改变了这一局面。他们用微电脑的CPU软件编程取代了老旧的机械方法。摄影师依靠电脑数码化指令来实现操控Versalight D系列闪光灯的各项功能。无论是闪光灯还是造型灯的输出功率,均可以做数字化任选(图2)。从这张图上可以看到,反复按下26号键可以交替出现闪光灯或造型灯的两种调节切换状态。当进入闪光灯调节时,16号(W/S)指示灯亮。当进入造型灯调节时,15号(W)指示灯亮。如果需要两种光源同步调光时,触按28号键使27号同步跟踪指示灯亮即可。
说到调光的跨度,JTL 的Versalight D闪光灯也与众不同地提供了快调、微调两种选择。图2显示的操控板上清楚地划定了1/2和1/10两套调光跨度。仍旧以Versalight D 800为例,如果把全光输出的800W/S作为起点的话,每触按一次1/2快调区的17号键,闪光灯或者造型灯的输出功率便下降50%。对闪光灯而言,即从800W/S降至565W/S,从565W/S降至400W/S,再从400W/S降至282W/S……。对造型灯而言,即从250W降到175W,再从175W降到124W……。如果需要借助微调来实现更严格的曝光值时,可以随时换用1/10为调区。比如,当闪光灯的输出功率在400W/S时做向上微调的话,只需连续揿按1/10区的19号上调键,400W便会变为428W/S、459W/S……。
一般来讲,传统影室闪光灯的调光误差大多在1/10~1/2个光圈不等。而且,如前所述,即使是这样的粗糙范围也还只是个大概统计。因此,与其说它是定量值,不如说是定性值。显然,这是因传统影室闪光灯的落后工艺条件所限。面对这样的技术条件,专业摄影师嫌它精准欠,选择少;初学者嫌它不直观、难控制。而美国JTL公司设计生产的Versalight D闪光灯则完全不同。依靠CPU内存的电脑程序,Versalight D的功率输出划分为6挡,即6级光圈。每一挡光圈为一个EV值。EV值彼此之间的转换是无级可调的。而这种连续调校的精度可以高达±0.05EV值。在实拍时,这种在摄影行业堪称为“零”的量子化闪光灯误差范围简直可以忽略不计了。

数码遥控
D 系列影室闪光灯的遥控连接关系及控制软件界面
   如果说在影室里调光、布光是件苦差事的话,那么最苦的莫过于给吊挂在高处的发灯调光了。谁也不愿意为了一个特定的光圈没完没了地蹬梯爬高去重新设定发灯的输出功率。一不小心,还会碰撞了灯体、附件或是支撑物,因而破坏了整体光源布局。Versalight D型数码闪光灯依靠它的遥控功能为摄影师解除了这一烦恼(图3)。从图3里显而易见,Versalight D的遥控功能分别由两个途径实现:手持遥控器或是个人电脑。
手持遥控器
   从外形来看,JTL的闪光灯手持遥控器很像我们常用的一只电视或空调遥控器。操控板上的功能设置基本上和Versalight D型灯的操作面板相符。所不同的是,这个小小的遥控器却能分步或同步地向最多9组闪光灯发出操作信号,掌控整个影室的布光方案。每一组闪光灯的数量则没有限制:可以是双灯一组,三灯一组,亦可以是“n”套灯一组(只要你的影室能够容得下。)。因此,你可以使用手持遥控器对一套灯、一组灯乃至所有闪光灯同时进行监控。遥控器的功能设置一目了然。即使不看说明书,也很容易学会操作方法。
更令我感兴趣的是JTL的Versalight D型闪光灯最终实现了以电脑为核心的数码化遥控。这是影室灯光摄影业向人工智能化迈进的最新一步。当你把一张光盘送入电脑主机之后,显示器上便同时出现了9个操作平台式的文件夹。每个文件夹代表一组可独立操控的Versalight D型闪光灯。平台上的操控包括设定套灯的型号与编号、闪光灯/造型灯的分布/同步调光、试闪、蜂鸣、信号发送、静止待机等等一应俱全(图4)。
您先需要按照产品使用说明的步骤为您的每一套Versalight D型闪光灯设定电脑编号(每套Versalight D型闪光灯出厂时的预设编号均为1号)。电脑将根据不同的编号向每一台闪光灯分别发出操作指令。接下来便是利用键盘和鼠标在每套/每组闪光灯的文件夹里进行设定。你可以在完成每一个文件设定之后立刻把指令发给具体的某一套/组灯,也可以在完成影室全部闪光灯的设定程序之后,一次性发送给所用闪光灯。 如果需要对其中某一两套灯的指令进行修订的话,只要把其他无关闪光灯的文件夹设定在静止待机(IDLE)状态便可确保不会受其修订指令的干扰。
使用电脑微机来遥控JTL的Versalight D型闪光灯听起来复杂,但操作程序其实非常简单、易学。 这是因为,JTL的工程技术人员在设计软件时,已经参照影室布光现场的上百种操作需求,做出了多种交叉程序设定。人机接口的切点大幅度地向使用者倾斜。除了发出指令之外,操作人无需再去担心其他什么。更何况,万一您对于其中哪一种功能的操作方法不甚明了的话,还可打开软件的“帮助”栏,功能索引说明自会帮您去逐条查找。

数码记忆
我曾有幸到一家使用Versalight D型闪光灯的影楼现场观摩。真是眼界大开。当准新娘和准新郎在接待室里坐下之后,工作人员便送上茶水,同时还捧出了厚厚几大本婚纱相册。那里面的每一页样照均编有号码。经了解才知道,这些号码就是为了日后复制而存入电脑的布光方案档案编号。不出半小时,两位新人便从几大本相册里挑出了喜欢的12张作为自己婚纱照的样板。工作人员把写有12个电脑档案编号的字条交给摄影师,然后将他们请入化妆间做拍摄前的准备。
利用开拍前化妆准备的时间,摄影师打开了影棚里的个人电脑,按照那12张婚纱照样本的档案编号,分别将这12份布光档案浏览了一遍。他选了其中用灯最多、附件最繁的一份作为头一张待拍照片,随即用鼠标向闪光灯发出了功率指令。然后,他把文件夹里的记事本打开,确定每套闪光灯的现场设置细节,诸如:灯光高度,照射角度,配套附件,左右距离,背景要求,相机种类,光圈速度,以及服装道具等等。不一会儿,一切都井井有条地复原到位。摄影师托上一杯茶,安闲地坐下来和我闲聊,单等装扮就绪的一对新人步入影棚了。
据他介绍,自从人像与婚纱摄影使用了Versalight D型闪光灯的电脑存储、记忆功能,至少给影楼带来了三大好处。其一,省事。过去拍人像,不但要现场临时构思方案,还要反复多次测光调试。累得满头大汗不说,结果如何还是个未知数。现在使用了Versalight D型闪光灯的电脑存储、记忆功能,一切都变成拷贝式的操作,简明、精确。其二,省时。过去拍婚纱,一张照片少说要用二三十分钟,多则折腾上一个钟头。一套照片拍下来,没有个大半天时间绝对不够。摄影师累,顾客们烦。有了Versalight D型闪光灯的电脑存储、记忆功能,只要调出每张样照的布光档案来复原到位,便可万事大吉。既快捷,又无差错。其三,省心。过去接待顾客,总要费口舌介绍拍照方案。俗话说,眼见为实。你描绘的再好,不见照片,客人总是不放心。更不待说,一旦结果不理想,即便顾客没有抱怨,这挂羊头卖狗肉的臭名传了出去,哪一家影楼也吃不消。现在依靠Versalight D型闪光灯的电脑存储、记忆功能,顾客在尚未实拍之前就已经看到了拍照结果。只要最后拿到的照片与样片在光线、色泽、布局、角度、场景、服装道具等方方面面一般无二,买卖双方无疑都会满意。
步出这家影楼时我在想,这位摄影师的一番话其实可以归为一点:数码化的Versalight D型闪光灯不仅为摄影界提供了可观的经济效益,也为广大的消费者提供了普遍的社会效益。

美国JTL公司的Versalight D系列闪光灯把数码化(或“电脑化”)的影室光源,从理论的构想变成了市场的现实。光是在中国申请的技术专利就达9项之多。作为消费者来讲,在关注这一高科技产品性能的同时,也会担心其价格是否会大幅上扬。令人宽慰的是,Versalight D系列的售价不过在原有传统闪光灯的基础上提高了15~20%左右。不仅婚纱影楼、专业影室、艺术院校、广告公司负担得起,即便是摄影发烧友、准职业摄影师也会为其出色的性能价格比所吸引。如果需要了解详细的技术参数,您可以上网www.jtlcorp.com或打电话0519-5109960、5122322向JTL设在中国的常州美亚电子有限公司查询。

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影室光源的数子化实践 ——感受JTL Versalight D系列数码遥控影室灯

吴凯翔,2005年3月,总279期


随着数码相机与计算机的普及,摄影技术的数字化革命在影室中已经基本实现。从拍摄、传输、处理一直到输出的全过程完全可以摆脱传 统工艺的束缚,实现数字化便利而快速的操作流程。但是,大家却没有注意灯光使用的数字化。要是用计算机全程精确控制摄影的布光效果, 可以充分解放摄影师,减少工作量,提高工作效率。美国JTL公司研制的Versalight D系列数码遥控影室灯就是这样的产品。
Versalight D系列数码遥控影室灯是由计算机控制、可遥控操作、并有数码功率显示的影室灯。影楼摄影师通过选择不同的附件,既可用 手持遥控器操作,也可同时通过电脑对这种影室灯进行无线遥控,还可把场景布光参数保存在计算机中,如以后拍摄需要时,能够将拍摄场景 的灯光效果瞬息再现。同时加上JTL经典的雾化插拔式闪光管、可调平衡支架设计等,使得Versalight D系列影室灯更趋完美。笔者与北京顶之 酷摄影工作室的三位摄影师试用了这套先进的数码遥控影室灯,亲自感受了它的快捷、便利以及通透的闪光效果。







JTL Versalight D系列数码遥控影室灯在北京顶之酷摄影工作室的拍摄场景。
摄影师正在用一台笔记本计算机操控JTL Versalight D系列数码遥控影室灯。
计算机遥控下的JTL Versalight D系列数码影室灯。左为红外线电脑遥控器,中为控制用的笔记本计算机,右为接收遥控数据的JTL Versalight D系列数码影室灯。
JTL Versalight D系列数码影室灯上方的数码荧光屏,可以准确地、实时地显示当前的闪光输出功率。
装有“影室灯控制软件”的笔记本计算机,软件界面操控非常方便。
JTL Mobilight 300 Kit外拍移动电池灯套件在室外的拍摄场景。
方便的数码遥控功能
JTL Versalight D系列数码遥控影室灯能够实现计算机对闪灯的遥控。摄影师可以操控一台装有“影室灯控制软件”的PC计算机,通过串 口数据线,向一个365度红外线电脑遥控器传输控制信号,然后由这个无线遥控器,分别向影室中各盏已编号的闪光灯,发出红外线控制信号, 以控制每一盏灯的闪光效果,从而实现对影室布光的轻松控制。这样,摄影师能够用鼠标操作计算机所安装的影室灯控制软件,设定一系列闪 灯的型号与编号、闪光灯与造型灯的分步或同步调光、试闪、蜂鸣、信号发送、静止待机、开启与闭合等几乎所有的闪光控制参数。
有过影楼人像实践的摄影师都会有这样的体会,在影室里布光,调整光源是一件既费力又费神的苦差事,常常需要摄影师与助手反复调整 各盏灯的闪光值,爬上爬下,跑来跑去是常有的事。由于模特儿出场的拍摄时间往往是有限制的,所以摄影师的布光与拍摄时间就变得极为紧 张。有了这套JTL Versalight D系列数码遥控影室灯,摄影师可以不再需要助手了,除了手中的相机外,身边只需一台计算机就够了。摄影师 确定各盏闪灯的位置后,只要操作计算机的软件界面,实现对每一盏闪灯的光源调整,造型灯功率与闪光功率还可分别或等比例调节,精度最 高可达0.05EV。你可以根据自己的经验在计算机中完成整体布光的设定,一次性向整个影室的全部闪光灯发出控制指令。完成首次试拍后,又 在计算机上分析数码相机拍摄后传回的数码照片,直接观察当前的布光在照片上的表现效果,从而再次向各盏闪光灯分别发出更为精细的调光 指令,最终获得完美的布光效果。
经过亲自试用,笔者感觉计算机的直接遥控非常方便,中文的软件界面很人性化,操作很简易,很快就驾轻就熟,完全不必担心使用软件 的障碍。这样一个现代化的数字影楼,摄影师可以不再需要助手,计算机成了布光与调光的好助手,而且摄影师不再需要跑到每一盏闪灯面前 动手调整光源,只要操作身边的计算机。这可以说是对影室布光工作的大解放,减少了体力消耗,减少了成本开支,提高了工作效率。而且这 样便利而快捷的布光方式,也有利于摄影师与模特儿的交流,能使摄影师更加全心投入拍摄,不被繁杂的布光操作分心。
另外,JTL Versalight D系列数码遥控影室灯还配有一个手持闪光遥控器,它的形状很像电视遥控器。遥控器上功能设置按钮与闪光灯后 背上的操作按钮相符,摄影师也可以用这个小小的遥控器分步或同步向最多9组闪光灯发出操作指令,掌控整个影室的布光效果。这样使得操控 影室灯就如同遥控电视、空调那样方便。无论计算机遥控或手持遥控,都能使摄影师自由而便捷地控制闪光效果,获得最佳的布光与拍摄。

精确的显示与控制
从光学成像原理来讲,闪光灯就是影楼摄影师的“快门”,它在一定时间内提供一定量的光度。精确地控制闪光灯的闪光值,是摄影师控 制布光并获得准确曝光的关键。JTL Versalight D系列数码遥控影室灯数码显示功能,与传统影室灯相比,可以在摄影师完成闪灯设置的瞬间 ,就准确地将结果显示在闪光灯上方的数码荧光屏上。而且这个荧光屏可以任意方向旋转,便于摄影师在任何拍摄机位直接观察数据。通过观 察这个荧光屏的显示参数,摄影师可以随时轻松地知道每盏闪灯的编号与输出功率,做到心中有数。这对于整个影室的布光与调光工作来说, 是减少工作量的好办法,有效地减少了摄影师反复调光与测光的过程。
对于专业人像摄影师,光源的输出精度要求是很高的,精确的输出是曝光准确的可靠保证。这套数码遥控影室灯内置了计算机芯片,由程 序控制闪光输出取代老式的机械控制。所以,无论是闪光灯还是造型灯的输出功率都可以实现数字化任意精确控制。为方便摄影师更为精细地 调整输出光量,该灯可以实现每级1/2EV(快调)或1/10EV(微调)两种调光跨度输出功率的调整。熟练运用这款数字闪光灯后,摄影师可以精 确地控制闪光效果,与数码相机配合,能够摆脱对测光表的依赖,其实国外新一代数码摄影师已经不用测光表了。用了这套数码遥控影室灯后 ,摄影师可以从频繁的闪光、测光、调光操作中解脱出来,把精力集中投入到影像的创意中去。

软件记忆所带来的便利
在一个投入紧张运营的商业人像影楼中,重复性的拍摄是常有的工作。摄影师常常需要拍摄模版或样张中的画面,重复同样的布光,但每 次都要根据经验重新布光与测光,这是一个很费时的过程。JTL Versalight D系列数码遥控影室灯拥有数码记忆功能,能用电脑存储布光数据 ,以便随时发送给闪光灯组复原参数,这是影室灯数码化带来的又一个强大功能。这套闪光灯所配备的影室灯控制软件,可以轻松存储每次布 光的参数,并保存在计算机中,当你需要还原当时的布光场景时,只要简单的几步软件操作就可以轻松实现。
可能有人会问,闪光灯的光位如何准确恢复?其实这很简单,只要摄影师用数码相机在完成布光效果时,实时拍几张影室的布光全景照, 就能清晰地记录下每一盏闪灯的光位,与影室灯控制软件存储的布光参数共同保存在一个文件夹。当需要还原时,摄影师就可以按照当时数码 照片显示的布光图与记录参数,轻松摆放每一盏闪灯的位置。这可能会对商业婚纱影楼的经营方式或拍摄流程产生较大的变革。摄影师前期可 能不再需要直接面对客户,当用户选定样张后,摄影师可以迅速完成布光,准确再现样张的拍摄效果,大大缩减拍摄时间。拍摄婚纱照将不再 是折腾人的费心事,而拍摄出来的照片效果也会更加接近客户的要求。相信这些优势会使这套数码遥控闪灯受到影楼用户的欢迎。而从另一个 角度看,闪灯的数码记忆功能能够帮助商业摄影师保存自己的创意成果,积累布光经验,尝试与探索新的拍摄技巧。

可靠的性能与丰富的附件
其实,可靠的使用性能与出色的闪光效果,是摄影师选用影室闪光灯的关键所在。顶之酷工作室的三位摄影师试用后,感受到JTL Versalight D系列所配的雾化插拔式闪光管的数码遥控影室灯,具有出色的闪光效果。首先,他们认为这款闪灯具有高档闪灯的闪光质感。用 它拍出的照片画面通透,光感很好,层次丰富,不会发闷。其次,他们感觉这款闪灯的色温极准。它的标称色温为5600K,只要把数码相机的白 平衡值设在5600K处就可以获得出色的色温还原,特别是对于皮肤的还原,略微偏暖,使肤色的质感极佳。最后,闪灯的回电快,闪光可靠性高 ,标称的输出量与实际输出功率严格相符,闪光输出功率稳定,闪光灯与造型灯的平衡好,操控起来感觉很自信。另外,这款闪灯还拥有故障 自检并声光报警,同时自动安全泄放电,并且使用5V低电压安全触发,电器安全性好。
JTL Versalight D系列数码遥控影室灯不但有300w/s、500 w/s、800 w/s、1000 w/s四款灯可选功率影室套灯,而且拥有丰富的附件。这 些附件包括连续光、闪光测光表,各种类型背景架支撑架,各种类型柔光反光附件等。它的柔光箱的设计与制作很专业,不跑光,造型灯软硬 适中。其中有一个细长条的柔光箱,用它来补眼神光的效果特有精神。另一款大柔光箱的外围还加有蜂巢型网格,从而在柔和的散光光源上又 增加了直射效果。这是高档闪灯才有的柔光效果,使柔和的散光与直射光之间获得了统一。这对影视人像的拍摄较为重要,直射光能够照亮人 ,增加人物的立体感,而柔光箱所柔化的散光能拍出皮肤的质感与层次,两者统一后,能够获得几乎完美的人像布光效果。可调整重心平衡的 JTL专利平衡支架,便于闪灯光位的调整。倒是JTL原厂无线触发器的使用兼容性不够理想,不便于影室中几台相机同时使用。好在它的电源接 口和同步线插口与市面上的大多数产品是通用的,用市面上流通的引闪触发器就能解决多机同时拍摄的问题。
这次顶之酷摄影工作室还试用了JTL Mobilight 300 Kit外拍移动电池灯套件,在室外拍摄了一些人像照片。他们总体感觉这款闪灯的光源 质感不错,电池盒非常轻便,很适合摄影师外拍时携带。但是,在用电池的直流电供电时不能使用造型灯,只有连上交流电源时才能亮起造型 光,而且电池的供电略显不足,这次试用的样机没能坚持完一整天的拍摄。
总之,这套JTL Versalight D系列数码遥控影室灯采用全新数字化光源系统,闪光质感好,遥控便捷,控制精确,并拥有场景记忆等先进 功能,将成为当今影楼、摄影工作室中婚纱、人像、广告、艺术造型摄影师新的最佳选择之一。


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定量测试JTL Versalight D系列数码遥控影室灯

怡泓工作室 恩波/图文,2005年4月,总280期


摄影是光与影的艺术,除了自然光以外,就是灯光或闪光灯。现代影室闪光灯技术是对传统摄影技术的一项重要发展,推动了商业影楼的技术 进步。从某种程度上讲,闪光灯是影楼摄影师的“快门”,它是塑造光影的关键设备,它的质量直接决定了影室照片的画质。Versalight D系 列数码遥控影室灯是美国JTL公司新推出的由计算机控制、可遥控操作、并有数码功率显示的影室灯,已经在中国市场有一定的影响。怡泓工作 室对这款新的影室闪光灯进行了全面测试与试用。
这次测试着重对JTL Versalight D系列中输出功率分别为300瓦和1000瓦的Versalight D300和Versalight D1000两款产品进行数据量化测试。 首先,我们做了回电时间测试,分别测试这两款闪光灯在一次拍摄后可再次拍摄的时间,和闪光灯在允许再拍声响起后一段时间内的输出功率 变化,测试结果如下:

Versalight D300的回电时间为2秒。
持续时间          输出功率
无限长等时间后输出功率    100%
允许拍摄声响后立即      97%
声响后2秒           100%
声响后5秒           100%

Versalight D1000的回电时间为2.6秒
持续时间          输出功率
无限长等时间后输出功率      100%
允许拍摄声响后立即        96%
声响后2秒            99%
声响后5秒            100%

对于这个结果,我们的感觉是较为满意的,说明?Versalight D系列闪光灯的回电输出功率稳定可靠,允许拍摄声响后的3 %~4%输出功率误差是 完全可以接受的。我们建议用户,可以在听到允许拍摄的响声后立即拍摄。还有2秒与2.6秒的回电时间也令人满意,所以用户可以放心地自由 拍摄。
其次,我们测试了JTL Versalight D系列闪光灯用不同快门速度拍摄所得的闪光灯功率。如果这个功率与快门速度严重相关,则拍摄结果很可 能会与拍摄曝光不符,往往会产生曝光不足,这是一个考量闪光灯性能的关键指数。测试结果如下:

闪光灯型号 1/1000秒 1/500秒 1/250秒 1/125秒 1/60秒
Versalight D 300 7% 65% 91% 99% 100%
Versalight D 1000 6% 46% 75% 91% 100%

对于这个结果,我们作如下建议,如用Versalight D 1000全开功率拍摄,且用测光表测光,则应该使用1/125秒的快门同步速度拍摄,否则会 曝光不足;如用Versalight D 300全开功率拍摄,则可以使用1/250秒的快门同步速度拍摄。
闪光灯的全部光能的释放时间应该越短越好,这个结果虽然表明Versalight D系列闪光灯的能量释放不够快,在高端影室闪光灯中不算是突出 的,但是一般影楼已足够用。而且一般1000瓦的影室闪光灯都在中大画幅相机下使用,对能量释放速度要求不高。
第三,我们测试了Versalight D系列闪光灯的多次闪光功率输出误差值,结果表明在2%以内。这说明这款闪光灯的输出能量比较稳定,这个误 差与上面测试的回电误差叠加后也不到5%,所以用户可以用它放心地拍,不必频繁地用测光表测光或拍试样。
另外,我们对这款闪光灯数字化定量的精确功率控制与显示很是喜欢。无论是闪光灯还是造型灯的输出功率,都能数字化任意精确控制,可以 实现每级1/2EV(快调)或1/10EV(微调)两种调光精度调整输出功率。这样摄影师可以精细地调整输出光量,准确地控制闪光效果。利用这种 数字化的定量方式,便于未来再现相同的曝光条件。任意方向数码显示、遥控、计算机软件控制等方便的操控功能使Versalight D系列闪光灯 在使用时倍感轻松自如,使摄影师免受爬上爬下调灯之苦。
为了能够测试Versalight D系列闪光灯的色谱表现效果,我们专门试拍了几组不同色彩构成的静物作品,有红绿等鲜有色彩对比的画面,也有 暖色调灰褐对比的画面。拍摄的设备使用佳能顶级的EOS-1Ds MarkⅡ全画幅数码单反相机,以获得最好的色彩再现。从最后的样片来看,这款 影室闪光灯的色彩表现令人满意,光感好。这说明它的输出光谱比较接近自然光,光谱的完整性好,分布比例精确,5600K的闪光色温也很准确 ,相信这是雾化插拔式闪光管的出色发光效果所致。
经过综合测试,我们认为Versalight D系列闪光灯是一种闪光功率输出稳定、操控方便、色谱表现好的数码遥控影室闪光灯。在获得满意闪光 效果的同时,可以大大减轻摄影师的工作量,相信这种来自美国的产品,会在中国获得满意的市场反应。

蔬菜。佳能EOS-1Ds MarkⅡ机身,镜头EF 24~70毫米f/2.8L USM(48毫米端),手动曝光,f/16、1/200秒,感光度ISO 100,色彩模式 sRGB,文件质量CR2(4992×3328像素),手动白平衡,手持拍摄(此照片用eHong软件系统做了色饱和度平衡)。  
面包。佳能EOS-1Ds MarkⅡ机身,镜头EF 24~70毫米f/2.8L USM(48毫米端),手动曝光,f/16、1/200秒,感光度ISO 100,色彩模式 sRGB,文件质量CR2(4992×3328像素),手动白平衡,手持拍摄(此照片用eHong软件系统做了色饱和度平衡)。





JTL's Mobilight DC-600; Have Light, Will Travel
Steve Anchell, November, 2007

Portraits to go with JTL's Mobilight 300 : Page 1 of 1
Joe Farace March, 2005

The JTL Versalight D Digital Monolights : Page 1 of 1
Jay Abend April, 2004

JTL Web Lite Kit : Page 1 of 1
Bob Shell April, 2003

JTL Mobilights : Page 1 of 1
Bob Shell January, 2003

Two New JTL Light Meters : Page 1 of 1
Bob Shell December, 2002

JTL Superlights Are Hot : Page 1 of 1
Robert E. Mayer March, 2001

JTL Studio Flash And Accessories : Page 1 of 1
Bob Shell November, 2000




JTL's Mobilight DC-600; Have Light, Will Travel

Steve Anchell, November, 2007

The kind of photography I do can take me almost anywhere. Today I could be photographing in my studio, tomorrow on the streets. I can often "get away" with available light or a Speedlite mounted on a flash bracket—and sometimes I do just that. But getting away with something is not always the best way to get the results my clients need.

On location assignments I invariably take one or two monolights and Avenger C-stands with me. If I am able to access a wall socket I most often choose to use them over the often more expedient flash-on-bracket. But even with extension cords I have found that this is not always feasible or possible. An example that immediately comes to mind is bathing suit photographs on location, something I was often called on to do when I had a studio in Hollywood, California. There aren’t a lot of wall sockets in the sand on Malibu Beach—and if there are I never found them.

JTL’s Mobilight DC-600 with Lithium Battery Pack and a DRR on an Avenger C-stand.

Well, I’m not in Hollywood anymore; I’m in the mini-megalopolis of Salem, Oregon. Many of my assignments take me on location around the city. Renting a generator for these outdoor locations is not an option—the budget for the local wine merchant who needs a promo piece isn’t the same as it is for advertising agencies in Los Angeles.

So, what do you do when you find yourself outside without a generator? I was recently approached to test a new studio light made by JTL. I was told it was entirely digitalized and ran off a portable battery pack. This interested me for two reasons. First, I did not have a clue what a digitalized light was and, second, with as much location work as I have been doing in Salem the idea of a studio-quality light that didn’t need an extension cord was appealing.

It turns out that by "digitalized" JTL means the light is entirely controlled by an internal computer with three distinct programs for the various functions. The lights I am accustomed to using, and probably you are, too, are controlled by mechanical means, potentiometers and slider switches to increase or decrease light output, and so on. By digitizing the controls they are 100 percent accurate and repeatable. In other words, if you set a power output on the LCD screen to say, a level of 398, it will always produce exactly the same amount of light at that setting. Contrast this to a slider. You move it to the 1/2 stop position, but the next time will you be able to move it to precisely the same position? I have had that problem with the lights I use. Although the variation may be minor, when I’m attempting to adjust the lighting ratio, especially for close-up tabletop work, I like to be able to get back to my last output level as closely as possible. That kind of precision may be a small matter, but it is nice to know that it is available.

An outdoor photo assignment using the Mobilight DC-600, a Photoflex umbrella, and an Avenger C-stand.
All Photos ? 2007, Steve Anchell, All Rights Reserved

Another feature of the DC-600 is the Digital Remote Receiver (DRR) and Digital Remote Controller (DRC). By mounting a DRR on the back of each light and pointing the rotating face toward the camera position it is possible to use the DRC to change the power output on individual lights to control the ratio, pre-flash the light, and other functions. Due to the large LCD, the information displayed on the DRR (power output and the channel the unit is on, 1-9) can be seen from yards away even in bright sunlight. One DRR comes bundled with each lamp head. The DRC, which increases the DRR’s functionality, is available as an optional accessory though only one is required to control up to nine lamp heads.


The DRR and DRC system is very similar, though not exactly, to the wireless remote transmitters I have written about elsewhere in this issue. The difference is that the JTL units are infrared controlled and require line-of-sight to use, whereas wireless remotes are radio controlled and can work around corners and from behind other obstacles.

(Above): Mobilight DC-600 flash tube showing the difference in size. (Top): White Lightning flash tube.

But digitalized controls aside, the real beauty of the JTL Mobilight DC-600 is the battery power supply. The JTL Lithium Battery Pack is claimed to be environmentally safe. Instead of lead-acid, which is an extremely nasty substance, it uses lithium powder, which is non-polluting. For someone, such as myself, who recycles AA and AAA batteries, this is a good thing. (The DC-600 head can only be used with the Lithium Battery Pack, the 200/300 Mobilight head can also be used with AC power, which means longer life for the battery.)

The Lithium Battery Pack will power one DC-600 head or two 200/300 heads for up to 500, 1400, or 2000 flashes respectively per full charge. And because the battery quickly and easily separates from the output box you can carry as many extra batteries as you require to the location. Not only that, but unlike conventional rechargeable batteries the JTL battery has no charge memory. That means you can keep it fully charged without having to let it run down before recharging.

There are only two real weaknesses of this unit. The first is the modeling light, which I felt was underpowered when used with an umbrella. The second is the recycle time, which I found to be slower than I am accustomed to. I spoke to JTL about this and was told a faster recycle time was possible but it would mean shorter battery life—not charge life but actual battery life. After a while I got used to it, at least with the subjects I was photographing. Perhaps if I were working with the bathing suit models on the beach, who are constantly in motion, it might present a problem.

Tammee Stump, product development manager for Truitt Bros. Inc., on location assignment lit with the Mobilight DC-600.

The flash tube is smaller than any I have ever seen. The smaller the tube, the more concentrated the light. This equates to greater power output. I tested this against my own White Lightning (WL) lamps. Adjusting the power levels to be the same at 10 ft and ISO 100, the WL lamp head produced an f/stop of 16.1 while the JTL read 16.5, 4/10 of a stop difference. Not earth-shattering but notable. At full power the JTL produced f/22 at 10 ft and ISO 100.

Power adjustments can be made in 1/10 or 1/2 unit increments. In future units I would like to see the ability to make one unit adjustment instead of 1/10. For me, this would be a greater asset for tabletops. Especially in light of the precision digital control.

When the DC-600 arrived all that came with it was the lamp head and the DRR and DRC for me to try. I visited their website, www.jtlcorp.com, to see what, if any, accessories were available for the DC-600. I was surprised to find an extensive line of light modifiers and accessories. Softboxes, strip lights, hairlights, umbrellas, barn doors, gels—all the things I require to create and modify light on my varied assignments, both in the studio and on location. I also discovered that accessories from other manufacturers, such as Photoflex, which I use, will also work with JTL lamp heads.

With the two caveats, recycle time and the intensity of the model light, I found this to be a well designed flash unit and a welcome solution to location lighting without the need to rent or own a generator. It can also be used with confidence in a studio setting—f/22 at 10 ft is a healthy output for any monolight. My only question was: Where was the DC-600 when I was chasing bathing suits up and down Malibu Beach?

The JTL Mobilight DC-600 Kit has an MSRP of $829, and includes a DC-600 lamp head, battery, DRR, reflector, power cable, and sync cord.

For more information, contact JTL Corporation, 14747 Artesia Blvd., 3-G, La Mirada, CA 90638; (714) 670-6626; www.jtlcorp.com.




Portraits To Go With JTL's Mobilite 300 Wireless Triggering For The Location Photographer

Joe Farace, March, 2005

(Above, middle): Unlike infrared strobe triggers, DigiFirer can shoot through walls and around corners and is useful up to 120 ft. With eight different channels available for up to eight different lights or "groups" of lights, it won't interfere with other lights in your studio-as long as they are on "different" channels.

(Above, bottom): JTL's DigiFirer system consists of a Radio Trigger (transmitter) and Radio Receiver that can be used for all kinds of lighting equipment. Similar devices from other manufacturers combine the receiver and transmitter into "one" unit, but JTL's DigiFirer has two. Here the Radio Trigger is mounted (correctly) on the hot shoe of a Canon EOS 20D. A PC connection and cord are provided, too.

Riddle me this: What's the hardest thing to find on any location shoot? If you said, "clients who were on time," that would be partially true, but the correct answer is-an AC power outlet. They're even more difficult to find if you're at the beach, in a park, or as I often find myself, on a racetrack somewhere. One of the niftiest solutions I've found for on-location portraiture is JTL's Mobilights.

On The Road Again
The Mobilight is the battery-powered version of JTL's Versalight monolight. The Mobilight series consists of three models, including the 110, 200, and 300, whose numbers correspond to each model's output power in watt seconds (ws). JTL's rechargeable battery pack powers the Mobilight 110 for more than 180 full-power flashes, the Mobilight 200 for 150 full-power flashes, and the Mobilight 300 for 100 full-power flashes. The 200 and 300 models also have a standard AC connection so you can power it with one of those elusive AC outlets. The Mobilight can be used as a main light, fill light, hairlight, or backlight on a variety of photo locations with or without the battery pack.

All of the Mobilights feature a dual voltage power inlet, continuous power setting adjuster, car accessory (we used to call them cigarette lighter) adapter, and low battery alarm. (See the accompanying specifications for what features match up with which model.) A variety of accessories are available, including an 18x18 light bank, four-leaf barn doors, honeycomb, color filters, and a snoot.

The JTL battery pack requires an initial charge of 14 hours before using, so start charging it as soon as you unpack the box. To charge, connect the AC power cord and turn the three-position (Bat-Off-Car) to Off. OK, I agree, that's not too intuitive but when the battery is set to On or Car, a green LED lights, but when it's charging a red LED glows until fully charged. Then, the light changes to green to indicate a full charge.

Inquiring minds want to know if they can mix and match the JTL gear with other battery packs, such as the Quantum Turbo 2x2. The first thing I did was plug the power cord from a Turbo 2x2 into the Mobilight 300. Bingo! All cords fit and power flowed. That also means JTL's power pack can power my Photogenic StudioMax II monolight.

Wireless, Too
If you've been reading any of my recent lighting tests you already know I hate PC cords and love wireless control, mainly because it eliminates the hassle and tangle of cords. JTL's DigiFirer is a radio-controlled trigger system for use in the studio or on location. The Radio Trigger (transmitter) and Radio Receiver work with all kinds of studio lighting equipment, from monolights to separate power pack and head units. Similar devices from other manufacturers combine receiver and transmitter into one device, but JTL's DigiFirer are separate units, resulting in a kit price (for both Radio Trigger and Radio Receiver) of less than $200 instead of the $300-$400 for competing units. With a price tag of around $100, you can purchase many different Radio Receivers-one for all of your flash units.

Unlike infrared strobe trippers, DigiFirer can shoot through walls and around corners and works up to 120 ft, which was a big help when shooting portraits outdoors with a 300mm lens. Indoors, with eight different channels available for up to eight different lights or groups of lights, you won't interfere with any other lights in your studio as long as they are on different channels.

The DigiFirer trips the lights in 1/1500 sec. Putting that in perspective, your camera requires a shutter speed of 1/2000 sec to freeze a hummingbird's wings in flight. Two of the less than ubiquitous AAA batteries should power the Radio Receiver for up to 20,000 triggers, but the ultimate number depends on environmental considerations, as I discovered.

In The Field
Unlike many lighting products I've tested, you can actually take the Mobilight into a field-any field. The Mobilight 300, DigiFirer Radio Trigger and Radio Receiver have a "build quality" that far exceeds what you might expect from their affordable price. Fit and finish is to a high standard as befits more expensive lighting units. Light stand mounting and adjustment fixtures are rugged and intuitive to use. A slot, complete with locking knob, is provided for umbrellas or the F.J. Westcott (www.fjwestcott.com) Apollo and Halo light banks I used during testing.

Controls work in a logical fashion. The Mobilight's big, round variable power output knob has click stops, which was a big help to me because of the way I work. After taking a meter reading, I use a flash unit's variable power controls to change exposure rather than adjusting anything on the camera. This ensures that my chosen depth of field and balance between flash and ambient light remain the same. Having click stops on the Mobilight 300's power control makes it easy to increase or decrease exposure by one or two "clicks" to hone in on my preferred exposure, which these days I determine by looking at the histogram on my digital SLR. Other controls include modeling light and built-in slave on-off buttons and an illuminated ready light that also functions as a flash test button.

Because of these lights' solid heft, you're gonna need a real light stand, not that cheapie, spindly thing you bought at Crazy Charlie's Flea Market. I use the 9-foot Manfrotto (www.bogenimaging.us) model 3333 and it fits the Mobilight 300 like a glove, although JTL manufactures some nice light stands at attractive prices.

Attaching the DigiFirer Radio Receiver is a snap using the elastic strap that hugs the Mobilight like a toddler on his first day of preschool clinging to his Mommy. Two tips on making sure that the DigiFirer works the way it should: 1) Make sure you put the Radio Trigger on the camera's hot shoe so that the controls face you. If not, the unit may not make full contact with the hot shoe's electrical contact. 2) Use new batteries. JTL includes batteries for both units, but if they are not fresh, the system may trip intermittently. I installed a pair of brand-new Energizer lithiums in the Radio Receiver and it worked like a champ. These batteries are a good choice for cold weather use, such as when shooting outdoors in Colorado during November.

Whether shooting indoors or out under all kinds of wired and wireless conditions, the JTL Mobilight is a great package for the location photographer on a budget. While you might consider the battery pack and DigiFirer wireless trigger to be accessories, their purchase prices make them a no-brainer; they are must-have options for on-location portraits.

 

(Above): As Snoopy once wrote, "it was a dark and stormy day," and while the rain hadn't started yet, it was cold and dreary with absolutely no light to make any kind of decent-looking on-location portrait. I was able to make this portrait of model Ashley Rae armed only with a trusty JTL Mobilight 300, battery pack, and F.J. Westcott Halo light bank. Camera was a Canon EOS-1D Mark II with EF 100-300mm zoom lens. Exposure was 1/80 sec at f/18 in Manual mode at ISO 200. File captured recorded as a Large JPEG.  Photos ©2004, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved

 
 
(Above): Changing the lighting by moving the JTL Mobilight to the other side-camera right this time-and shooting at only 1/2 power, I was able to make 3/4 and full-length shots of Ashley Rae. When using the Canon EF 100-300mm zoom, especially at 300mm, the advantage of using DigiFirer became obvious. There were no long cords to cause mayhem and the wireless trigger system worked flawlessly-as long as the Radio Receiver had fresh batteries. Photos ©2004, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved
 
     

JTL DigiFirer Wireless Flash Triggering System

 

Radio Trigger

Radio Receiver

Power Supply

1.5v (button battery included)

1.5v (2-AAA batteries included)

Sync Speed

1/500 sec

1/500 sec

Range

120 ft

120ft

Radio Channels Available

8 (0-7)

8 (0-7)

Trigger/Receiving Indicator

LED

LED

Channel Display

(Unmarked) Channel Wheel

Digital Display

Dimensions

1.75x3.25x1.5"

3.5x2.25x1.25"

Weight

0.8oz

1.5oz

Price (Per Set)

Less than $200

 
   

JTL Mobilight Monolights

  Monolight 110 Monolight 200 Monolight 300
Maximum Power Output 110WS 200WS 300WS
Power Supply DC Battery Pack DC Battery Pack DC Battery Pack
AC 110-130v/60Hz and 220-240/50Hz (multi-voltage)
Color Temperature 5600K 5600K 5600K
Flash Tube Life 8000 cycles 15,000 cycles 15,000 cycles
Sync Slave, sync cord, test Slave, sync cord, test Slave, sync cord, test
Built-in Slave up to 30 ft up to 30 ft up to 30 ft
Flash Duration 1/600-1/1000 sec 1/600-1/1000 sec 1/600-1/1000 sec
Recycle Times 1.5-3 seconds 2-4 seconds 2-4 seconds
Modeling Lamp No 150W-110V AC
10W-5V DC
150W-110V AC
10W-5V DC
Modeling Lamp Base No E27/screw E27/screw
Power Settings 1/2, Full 1/8 - Full Continuous 1/8 - Full Continuous
Guide Number
(ISO 100)
105 180 200
Dimensions 5.11x3.93x7.09" 5.11x4.96x8.26" 5.11x4.96x8.26"
Weight 21 oz 3.3 lbs 3.8 lbs
Built-in Slave Yes Yes Yes
 
Flashing capacity
(when fully charged)
180 flashes 150 flashes 120 flashes
Cigarette Lighter
Adapter
Included Included Included
Dimensions 8.26x5.11x2.95" 8.26x5.11x2.95" 8.26x5.11x2.95"
Weight 2 lbs 3 lbs 4 lbs
Price $159 $199 $239

Before I take any lighting equipment out on location, I check it out in the "bat cave" a.k.a. my basement. This test shot of my wife Mary turned out so well I wanted to share it with all of you. The image was captured using her camera, an Olympus E-1, in Manual mode at 1/60 sec and f/9 at an ISO of 200. Lens was a 14-54mm Zuiko Digital at 54mm. Lighting was from a JTL Mobilight 300, running on battery power, with a 28" F.J. Westcott Apollo light bank mounted. A 30" F.J. Westcott Illuminator gold/white reflector was placed at camera right to fill any shadows.  Photos ©2004, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved


 

A parking lot may not be the most glamorous location for a photo shoot, but it sure provides some interesting backgrounds. Not surprisingly, there are "no" AC outlets to plug in a monolight. Here's where the JTL Mobilight and power pack come into their own. You can't see the Mobilight in this shot because it's been swallowed by a F.J. Westcott Halo light bank, but perched on top of the light is JTL's DigiFirer Radio Receiver. My Canon EOS-1D Mark II has a Radio Trigger mounted in its hot shoe. (Read the text to learn the correct way to insert it.)

 

 



The JTL Versalight D Digital Monolights Power, Control, And versatility Priced Right

Jay Abend, April, 2004

“Digital" is a word that has been thrown about a lot recently. MP3 players have given rise to “digital headphones," drugstore minilabs offer “digital prints," and now we're beginning to see the popularization of “digital lighting."

Light, of course, is a purely analog thing. The creation and modification of light, however, is often controlled by digital circuitry. While this kind of “total control" interface has been available on pro-oriented studio strobe lighting packs for over a decade, the combination of super high price and “why do I need this" functionality has hampered their popularity.

That's not to say that digital control of studio lighting is a bad thing. In fact, the ability to set each of your lights to an exact watt-second rating, and have some finite measure of control, can be a tremendous tool in a busy commercial or portrait studio. Of course writing down your settings on the back of envelopes and on pieces of gray duct tape isn't exactly the most high-tech solution, so creating a way to store those digital settings makes a digital strobe unit that much more useful.

As appealing as the digital, computer controlled pack and head systems seem, I've often had a hard time justifying the multi-thousand dollar price tags. In the past few years I've seen some really enticing monolight setups that include digitally controlled monolight units, wireless TV-remote style control units, and even completely wireless PC control of all the lighting units set up in the studio. The monolights prove to be a far more cost-effective setup, though many of the European-designed setups will be in the $4000-$6000 range for a rig consisting of four light heads and the necessary control hardware and software. While that may be a lot less than the $10,000+ of a high-end pack and head digital setup, it's still a decent investment.

I took to using the JTL lights, softboxes, and light stands with no problem. Pro model Bonnie Griffin never looked lovelier, lit by a pair of JTL softboxes.
Photos © 2003, Jay Abend, All Rights Reserved

Pro Monolight Options
One of the real up-and-coming companies in the lighting world is the California-based JTL Corporation. When they started out roughly 10 years ago, JTL offered the typical Chinese-sourced, low-end AC-powered slave strobe units, very similar to those offered by a half dozen other companies. While the other Asian strobe companies have devoted much of their attention to the low to medium end of the lighting business, JTL has gone after the prosumer and professional market with a vengeance. At a recent photo trade show I noticed that JTL was now offering a very pro-looking monolight system with complete computer-based digital control of all lighting units. It looked “pro" enough, so I thought I'd give it a try.

JTL arranged for me to try out their new Versalight “D" series lights for several weeks in my own commercial studio. I asked for a decent cross-section of the Versalight “D" line, which is offered in power ratings from 300 actual watt seconds all the way up to 1000 ws.

Build And Fit
The Versalight “D" series is the same basic design as JTL's popular Versalight series. As is the custom on the high-end Euro monolight systems these days, the “D" series are housed in an aluminum chassis, with polycarbonate front and rear ends. JTL does the right thing though, and the reflector-mounting ring is a large piece of cast metal—not plastic or flimsy aluminum…nice. The Versalights are large, very solid units with some extremely clever design features. First of all, the flash tubes are plug-in user replaceable units, with frosted glass covers. JTL seems unconcerned with the aggressive “watt-second" games that some manufacturers play. By including frosted covers with the units as stock, they should know that some far lower powered units with no glass shields at all will pop out similar f/stops.

JTL also offers clear glass units for those more interested in raw power, but I like the look of the frosted glass. The units also come stock with beefy frosted 250w halogen bulbs. Although they have standard U.S.A. Edison bases, they are double-glass enclosed, so you can handle them with your fingers without damage. Also included in every box is a very nice long U.S.A. power cord, a long sync cord, and a very nice gray powder-coated, multifaceted 7" silver reflector. It's a very robust and professional package, and certainly surprising given the pricing. An 800 ws unit sells for about $550, roughly half of the closest digitally-controlled competitor and as much as $1000 less than some on the market.

Don't confuse this software with high-end offerings from Broncolor and Hensel—this is basic stuff here. However, everything you need is here: the light head numbers, their position, their accessories. You can adjust “everything" from your easy chair—strobe output, modeling lamp output, and even switch a head to “Idle" to temporarily disable it. This kind of functionality used to cost thousands of dollars.

In The Studio
Once we had all of the boxes unpacked, it was time to integrate them into my studio for some paying customer shoots. One of the big surprises when I checked out the great AlienBees monolight units last year was the remarkable value of the accessories. The Bees' Chinese-sourced light stands, reflectors, and monolights were hundreds of dollars cheaper than the pro-oriented American and European units I had been using.

While I do prefer the good stuff for my main units and certainly for travel, it never hurts to have more light stands and softboxes than you need. JTL takes it one step farther by offering copies of nearly every item offered by Chimera, Photoflex, Manfrotto, and Matthews, made in China, at fire-sale prices. (Even the huge Matthews cine-style “Silks"!) Zero points for originality, but a solid “10" for value.

JTL sent along a couple of very large silver-lined softboxes, and a pair of egg-crate grids to keep light from spilling into the lens. These are super quality units at ridiculous prices. The nice 36" square unit sells for a starling $69, and the normally pricey egg crate is only $100. Even better, these softboxes are designed to handle JTL's hot light series as well, so they're heat-resistant and feature a pair of touch-fastener flaps to release heat. A similar unit from a name brand will set you back about $360, plus another $200 for the egg crate.

Now it was time to put everything together and do some shooting. Assembling a studio full of this stuff is a breeze. Each JTL light unit has a small IR receiver unit that also doubles as a large LED read-out panel. While the unit itself is a wonderful size—and the way it attaches to the monolight is brilliant—the fiddly bracket itself is a bit flimsy, but that's what gaffer tape is for! I set up a main light with the 32x48" main light bank, a fill light with the nice 36" square unit, and a backlight with a 7" reflector with a 40Þ grid spot.

Lighting Ratios
Once we got the camera out it was time to figure out our lighting ratios. There are three ways to control these lights. First of all, you have the very well laid out back panel with oversized LED read-outs. You can control the main strobe output in either 1/10 or 1/3 EV steps. You can have the modeling lamps track the strobe output, remain on full, or turn off. There's an audible beep when the strobe is recycled, as well as a full-sized 1/4" strobe connector. It's the full pro-oriented complement of controls, and everything feels really sturdy, including the oversized backlit power switch.

One of the drags of using monolights has always been the tedious process of setting each light head to the desired power output, and then doing a lot of walking to tweak each head as you shoot. The JTL remote control solves this problem nicely. Once you assign each light head its own number, you can access each head from anywhere in the studio, adjust power, and change settings—even set a head to “idle" to disable its flash output for that shot. It's one of the really fun things to stand dozens of feet away from the set, making all of those lights change from the little TV remote in your hand!

As sexy as the remote is, the real power here is in the ability to store an infinite number of “Scenes" on your computer, recalling them instantly. The JTL software is terribly simple, but totally effective. While the handheld remote control is pretty directional—you need to aim accurately to change power levels—the police-car style red IR transmitter is nearly omnidirectional. I bolted it to a 6-foot high light stand over near my Windows XP computer (no Mac version is available), a full 30 ft from the shooting area, yet all three heads saw the transmitter and functioned flawlessly. In fact, even when I dumped the unit on my desk it still worked flawlessly.

Computer Control
A neat feature of the software is the ability to not only set your power levels, but to customize each light head “Block" with its position in the studio, the model of flash unit and the accessory bolted to the front. For commercial shooters like me it's very handy to have a quickly recallable “scene" that includes softboxes, light stands, position, etc. This system isn't perfect though, since there is no provision to link photos of the setup, and you must use the decidedly old-school serial port on your Windows-based computer. After a few days of storing scenes and instantly recalling them I can tell you that it's pretty addictive.

For example, “F8_Product" lets me know that I'm at f/8 on the tabletop setup, while “F11_Head" is my headshot setup, of course at f/11. It's pretty neat. The TV remote and IR transmitter computer package are inexpensively priced—and an even better deal when you realize that the IR receivers come free with each head!

Once I had three of these bolted to light stands I began to appreciate some of the little things. First of all, the sliding rail clamp system, popularized by White Lightning monolights, allows you to instantly balance even the heaviest softboxes on your light stand. The JTL bayonet reflector mounting system is very smart—it provides a solid fool-proof engagement of the reflector or speed ring, and then a solid screw-down lock. Hang a big heavy softbox with no worries. For the big stuff clamps and springs won't do it—you need a solid locking system.

For this image I used a 36" square softbox with an egg-crate grid on the left, a 32x48" softbox on the right (also with egg crate), and a D-1000 head with 7" reflector and 10Þ grid spot.

On Assignment
I used these Versalights for two solid weeks on a number of assignments. While I found the JTL lights about 200Þ Kelvin warmer than my Balcar studio strobes they were consistent from head to head and it's very easy to dial in a custom white balance. These units look and feel like big time pro units. The internal cooling fans are dead quiet and supremely effective. I ran my strobes all day with softboxes mounted, yet the JTL units stayed cool to the touch, and even the front surface of the softboxes stayed cool. The Versalights auto dump power as you go up and down the ws range, so you'll never get that one bogus frame as you dial power down and forget to pre-trigger your strobes. Even the built-in slave eye is on top of the unit, rather than the back. This makes it easier to “see" the other monolights—a nice feature. Power should not be a problem. I typically ran the 1000 ws units dialed way down, so I'd guess that the 800 ws units would be plenty for anyone.

I receive a number of queries every week from pros, amateurs, and hobbyists looking to break into studio photography. Everyone seems interested in good, inexpensive lighting equipment. I have to admit that I really, really like these new JTL units. They combine a well thought-out design, a rugged and durable build quality, and a remarkable feature set for a reasonable price. While the non-digital Versalights offer all of the same lighting features and run roughly $100 less per unit, the digital controls, included IR receiver and optional PC link software really make the “D" series Versalights a tremendous value.

During my several weeks of using the Versalight D's I made them my main strobes, first for a product catalog shoot, then for a series of people shoots. They powered up in the morning, stayed on all day, worked flawlessly, and remained cool to the touch. While the extraordinarily low price for units with this feature set may raise a few eyebrows, in my studio these JTL strobes proved that they are the real deal.

For more information on the Versalight D series, visit JTL's website at http://www.jtlcorp.com/.






JTL Web Lite Kit All In One Lighting For Web Images

Bob Shell, April, 2003
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These days it seems the Internet is everywhere, and like most people I have gotten so I use e-mail for the bulk of my daily communications and find most of my information via web searches. This new medium has produced a major change in how people exchange information, and along with the written word most people also like to send pictures, or put pictures up on web sites. Now that digital cameras have come down in price almost anyone can afford a decent one, and they do OK on family snapshots and general picture taking. But many times we all want to show someone else exactly what some medium or small sized object looks like. The cameras focus close enough in most cases, but the main problem that has always bedeviled such photography remains—good lighting.

Hardware Store Non-Solution
Sure, you can drive to your local hardware store and pick up some clip-on reflectors and light bulbs and use them to light your subject, but these will be very harsh, specular lights. Unless you buy additional controllers you will have only full output and can only change the quantity of the light by changing bulbs. Then you have to figure out a way to support the lights and make a background and find something to support the item you want to photograph. You can certainly do all that and more, but it would eat up a lot of your time. If you're like me, spare time is something you never have enough of anyway. Wouldn't it be a lot easier if rather than wasting all this time jerry-rigging something you could just make one purchase and have all you need at hand?

JTL's Solution
The people at JTL Corporation realized the need for a convenient way to photograph small and medium sized items for web site and e-mail purposes. Their designers put a lot of thought into this and put together their Web.lite kit. It addresses all of the problems you are likely to encounter in doing photography of small subjects with a consumer digital camera.

When you open the cardboard shipping carton that the Web.lite kit comes in you will find a very nicely made aluminum case with wheels for easy transportation and a convenient collapsing handle. The kit weighs about 32 lbs, so almost anyone can easily lift it, if necessary. I've carried it around in my car several times and set it up in different locations just to prove to myself that it is easily moved and easy and fast to set up.

Inside the case is a very complete photography kit, lacking only the camera. First are two JTL Digi-Lites. These are compact plastic lamp heads with built-in metal reflectors that accept 250w tungsten-halogen lamps which produce light of about 3200K color temperature. Each Digi-Lite can be switched from full power to half power or quarter power as required. When specular light is desired the Digi-Lites can be used alone, but most of the time you will want a softer, more diffuse light so that reflections do not destroy subject detail and shadow detail doesn't get lost. For those needs the Web.lite kit comes with two 18x18" softboxes, made of heat-resistant fabric with metal support rods and a plastic rear ring. These go together quickly and easily and attach to the Digi-Lites by just slipping the mounting ring onto the front and locking in place by tightening four set screws in the ring. The kit also includes one set of barn doors for those times when you want a mix of specular and diffuse light and want to control where the specular light falls. These attach just like the softboxes.

Light And Background Support
Of course, nice lights are of little use without something to support them, so two 5-foot aluminum folding light stands are also included in the kit. For backgrounds the kit comes with a two-sided cloth velour background measuring 40x60". This background fabric is black on one side and Color-Key green on the other. The green side makes it easy to drop out the background with any number of software applications. All you need do in most cases is just select the green and the object will be perfectly silhouetted. Of course you can also supply your own fabric backgrounds in a variety of colors via a quick visit to a fabric shop.

Support for the background comes from a set of two more stands and a crossbar. These stands also extend up to 5 ft, and the crossbar extends to 5 ft. For larger items you can just let the background extend onto the floor and place the items on it. You could do this with small items, too, but to save your back it is better to have a support table of some sort. Once again JTL comes to the rescue with a very cleverly designed folding table that comes in the kit case. One end of it fastens to the kit case securely and the other end is held up by a fifth short stand that allows some adjustment of the table if you don't want it level. This produces a table strong enough for most things you would be likely to photograph.

Everything goes back into the carrying case just as easily as it came out, which I found somewhat novel after dealing with so many things that don't want to go back into their original packaging. There is even enough extra room for you to store most digital cameras and some other accessories inside.

Should you feel the need for more lights for more elaborate lighting setups, you can buy additional Digi-Lites individually or in another kit that includes a light stand and a 33" white umbrella.

The Web.lite kit sells for about $300 at JTL dealers. You can find additional information on their web site at http://www.jtlcorp.com/.

Photos © 2002, Bob Shell, All Rights Reserved

A Few Words About Lighting
Now it may seem that an 18x18" softbox isn't very big, but there is an important rule of lighting that you need to understand when using softboxes and other diffuse light sources. It is simply that the actual size of the softbox is not what matters. It is the apparent size of the softbox from the subject's position that matters. So an 18x18" softbox can provide light just as soft as that from a much bigger one, but you just have to get it in closer to the subject. The closer it is, the softer the light will be. For the test shots of the flower arrangement and camera shown here I brought the two softboxes in as close as possible without actually getting them in the picture.

Generally this is the best way to light small subjects if you want saturated colors and maximum subject detail. Some subjects may require a harder light, particularly if they have no shiny surfaces. You can experiment with different lighting positions, different power ratios between the two lights, and with and without softboxes until you find what is perfect for your subject. I suggest making some distance measurements to lights and drawing simple diagrams so you can duplicate setups that work for you.

Also remember that you will need to set your digital camera's white balance to either its tungsten or 3200K setting, depending on the camera, to get accurate colors in your images. Some cameras lack these settings and only offer automatic white balance. In that case it will not perform well when using the black or green backgrounds, but if you have any good image-editing software application like Photoshop Elements or Photoshop you can easily fix this.







JTL Mobilights Lightweight Studio And Location Lighting

Bob Shell, January, 2003

The Mobilight flash system is at much at home outdoors as in the studio, giving you the full versatility of a studio monolight away from AC power. I used a JTL C Stand to support the flash head for this outdoor session.
© 2001, Bob Shell, All Rights Reserved

Just about every photographer who has worked in a studio has wished that the full lighting system of the studio could be easily used outdoors. There have been battery-powered versions of some studio lighting systems available for some time, but they suffered from high cost and were generally quite heavy and not as convenient to operate as their full-fledged studio flash cousins. I've hoped for years for a system which would give me the same versatility outdoors as I have in my studio and would not break my bank account, or my back.

At this year's photo trade show I made my usual visit to the JTL lighting booth to see what was new. Jonathan Zhou of JTL pointed to a battery pack that was connected to one of their studio flash heads and told me to pick it up. I reached down to pick it up and realized immediately that it must be just a display dummy because it didn't weigh anything at all. It was like picking up an empty box.

Zhou assured me that it was not just a dummy but a fully functional battery pack using a new type of super light battery that allowed the whole pack to weigh only about 2 lbs. The flash units can also be used as regular studio lights with AC power, or can be powered from a car cigarette lighter socket. With all of these features, there was no question at that point that these were products I just had to try. So I asked JTL to send me a couple of these new units to try out.

Three Mobilight Models
There are three Mobilight models, the Mobilight 110 which is very basic and useful for situations not requiring much light or control, and the Mobilight 200 and 300, which are very full-featured professional studio type flash units, accepting a wide range of accessories from JTL. Each Mobilight comes complete with an AC power cord and can be used as a regular studio flash by disconnecting the battery pack and running from AC. The only real difference between AC and battery pack operation is that the modeling light does not work when running from the battery pack as this would run the batteries down in no time at all. Outdoors you can check the effect to make sure it is what you want with Polaroid or digital.

Unfortunately, when the units arrived we were fully into a summer heat wave here in Virginia and the heat and humidity made outdoor shooting unattractive for some time, so I only did a few short shoots with the new units. Since then we've had a few breaks in the weather and I have been able to do some more lengthy shoots and to experiment with their versatility. I've also worked with them in my studio, in which case they work just like regular studio monolights.

Even though the sun was very bright in the early afternoon, I wanted to make the shadows on Aubrey's face less harsh, so I set up a Mobilight 300 to add fill. Since I was shooting with a digital camera it was easy to see when the balance was right even though the modeling light on the flash does not work from the battery pack. If shooting on film I could check the effect with a digital camera or by shooting Polaroids.
© 2001, Bob Shell, All Rights Reserved

Into The Woods
For the test shoot I took a Mobilight 300 outfit and an extra charged battery pack out into the woods. I brought along one of my JTL C Stands to provide an extra sturdy but lightweight support for the flash. I was working with Aubrey Goss, a new model I have made many photos of this year, and wanted to just do some simple and informal shots to try out the fill flash possibilities of the Mobilight 300.

It was a terribly hot and humid day and photographer and model both wilted pretty quickly once we got out of the air-conditioned Ford Explorer I use for location work. I had planned to work for a couple of hours, but after less than an hour we were ready to call it a day. I hadn't run down the first battery pack, much less needed the backup.

My camera that time was a Canon EOS D30 with the Canon 28-80mm L series lens that has long been my favorite. I really thought the shoot was a complete bust as we drove back, but it turned out that the Mobilight had performed much better in the heat than we had, and I had gotten some images that showed how well it worked in the field. I expect that I will be using the Mobilights outdoors a lot now that the heat wave has come to an end, at least for this year.

The Model 110
The Mobilight 110 has a plastic housing and is exceptionally lightweight at 21 oz. It makes an excellent kicker light, hairlight, product light for small products, etc. At 110 ws it is powerful enough for serious photography as well. It has a basic guide number of 105 and recycles in 1.5-3 sec on its half and full power settings. You get about 180 full power flashes from a full battery charge.

Models 200 & 300
The Mobilight 200 and 300 look similar and have attractive metal housings with all controls on the flat back panel. They look just like the JTL Versalight series on which they are based and use all the same reflectors and accessories. Like the Versalights, they have a sliding mounting fixture which enables you to balance the light on the stand regardless of what sort of accessories you put on the front. They have four power settings—1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and full power, for added control. Power level is indicated by LEDs on the back panel, which are easy to see from a distance. They have built-in slave sensors for triggering from other flash units or infrared triggering systems. Recycle times are from 2-4 sec. The 200 weighs 3.3 lbs and the 300 weighs 3.8 lbs, and they offer guide numbers of 180 and 200 respectively. The battery pack will give you about 150 and 100 full power flashes respectively with these flash units.

The Mobilight 200 and 300 can be used worldwide with the battery pack, since their battery charger is auto-sensing and will work on voltages from 80-240v, 50 or 60Hz. However, powering them directly from AC requires 110-130v at 60Hz. The battery pack has a low power indicator which will warn you before the battery is exhausted and comes housed in a nice nylon carrying case with both a hanging loop and touch-fastener straps on the back for attaching to light stands.

For more information on these and all JTL products, go to their web site at: http://www.jtlcorp.com/.







Two New JTL Light Meters Getting The Right Exposure At An Affordable Price

Bob Shell, December, 2002

Getting the best possible exposure has always been a quest for serious photographers. If you are shooting negative films you can sometimes make up for poor exposure after the fact by compensating in printing, but the best prints always come from properly exposed negatives. If you are shooting slide film you really have no choice but to get the exposure right, since these films have very little exposure latitude. And even with digital cameras it is important to get the correct exposure to prevent highlights from being blown out, something which cannot be corrected. This makes good metering vital to good photography, but in camera meters are not ideal because they can be fooled so easily by subject reflectance. Even the most sophisticated in camera meters are not right 100 percent of the time, and the problem is that you won't know when the camera could not meter properly until after you have taken the photo and had the film processed. No matter what camera I am using or how good its meter may be, I always carry a hand meter to confirm exposure.

Incident Accuracy
As I have said many times in print and in my lectures on metering, I feel that the best kind of light meter is a good incident meter. I've used incident meters since the 1970s and you just can't beat one for reliable, accurate exposures in most lighting situations. While there are many good incident meters on the market today, good ones can be costly, so I was very excited when the people at JTL showed me a couple of new ones at PMA which looked great and were priced remarkably reasonable. I've now had a chance to work with both of them. The two meters are models JTL LM-6 and JTL LM-8, and are similar in overall appearance and operation, but with some important differences in features. Both read flash and ambient light.

The LM-6
The LM-6 is the less expensive of the two with an expected street price of around $170. As you can see from the photo it is a very clean design with simple controls. On the right side is a sliding on/off switch. All other settings are controlled by the innovative four-way rocker switch on the front of the meter and the button in the middle of the switch. The left side of the rocker switch, marked mode, lets you cycle through the meter's modes, which are ambient, flash, flash with PC connection, and cine. The chosen mode is indicated by a small icon along the bottom of the large LCD panel on the meter. The right side of the rocker switch lets you set the ISO by holding it down until the display changes to ISO and using the upper and lower parts of the rocker switch to select the ISO. Once selected it is locked in by depressing the right side of the rocker switch until the display switches back to metering mode. The ISO range is from 3 to 8000, certainly adequate for most photographers.
Although primarily an incident meter, you can also take reflected readings with a 55Þ angle of view by sliding the incident dome away from its position over the silicon photo cell. You can also turn the black collar on the dome to retract it if you wish to emulate a flat diffuser. The meter's head swivels through 270Þ for convenience.

Making Readings
To make an ambient light reading you just hold the meter in the proper place, depending on whether you are taking an incident or reflected reading, point the head, and press the big button in the center of the rocker switch. Once you have the reading you can use the upper and lower portions of the rocker switch to view other equivalent shutter speed and aperture combinations. The meter reads out in full stops and indicates fractional f/stops on a 10-segment bar code to the right of the aperture number on the LCD display.

To meter flash, decide first if you want cordless or PC cord metering and set the correct mode. For cordless flash metering you must first activate the meter by pressing the big button. Active status is indicated by the flashing of the flash mode symbol on the LCD display. You then position the meter, aim the head, and pop the flash or have someone do it for you. For metering using a PC cord, select the mode indicated by a lightning bolt and a C and plug the PC cord into the socket on the bottom of the meter. Pressing the big button then fires the flash and makes the reading.

Users of old cameras will appreciate that this meter has shutter speeds of 1/75, 1/80, 1/90, 1/100, 1/200, and 1/400 in addition to the normal modern shutter speed range from 1 sec to 1/1000 sec for flash, and 30 minutes to 1/8000 sec for ambient light readings. The meter can also read out directly in EV numbers from 6 to 25.9 for those still using the EV system. For movie cameras you can use frame rates of 8, 12, 16, 18, 24, 25, 32, 64, and 120. To preserve the single CR-2 lithium cell (supplied with the meter) which powers the meter, there's an automatic shut off if not used for 10 minutes. The meter's dimensions are approximately 31/3x43/4x1". It weighs a Scant 3.6 oz. I was particularly impressed that so much could be packed into such a light package. Put it around your neck with its lanyard and you will hardly know it's there. It comes with a pouch case for protection as well.

In my studio and outdoor tests the JTL LM-6 agreed with my meters of known accuracy in bright, medium, and dim light. It also gave me accurate flash exposures. This is certainly a meter worth considering if you are looking for a light, inexpensive, and accurate meter primarily for incident metering and for occasional reflected metering use.

The LM-8
The JTL LM-8 is the more advanced model, but it comes at only a slightly higher price of about $200, complete with lanyard, battery, and genuine leather pouch case. It has all of the features of the LM-6, plus adds a number of other very useful features to the mix. First of all, it makes reflected metering easier by adding an optical viewfinder so you can see the area from which you are taking your meter reading. This would be very useful if you expected to do a moderate amount of reflected light metering in addition to incident metering. The optical viewfinder is bright and clear. The optical viewfinder adds a little more than half an inch to the length of the meter and it weighs only 4 grams more than the LM-6.

A nice additional feature is that the LM-8 can store up to four different readings in its memory and you can recall them if you wish to calculate exposure based on multiple meter readings. You could take one highlight reading, one shadow reading, and two intermediate readings. This would also allow you to determine the exposure range of a scene and make sure it is within the latitude of the film you are using. In the studio the LM-8 can compute exposure from multiple pops of a flash giving a cumulative exposure for up to nine flashes. This can be useful when you wish to use a smaller f/stop and use cumulative flashes to build up exposure on slower films.

Perhaps the nicest added feature of the LM-8 is that it offers a backlit LCD display. Above the on/off switch on the side of the meter is a pale gray bar, which looks like a decorative touch. Pressing this bar lights up the display with a blue-green light for 30 sec. I found this very useful in my studio when working behind the flash heads where it tends to be rather dim.

Also, while the LM-6 works as a shutter priority meter, the LM-8 can be switched from shutter priority to aperture priority by simply pressing the on/off switch. This would be very useful if you wanted to maintain a particular aperture, for example to control depth of field.

In my testing I found both of these new light meters worked exceptionally well, giving accurate and consistent readings time after time. I would not hesitate to use them for my photography. For more information and a comparison chart go to http://www.jtlcorp.com/.






JTL Superlights Are Hot

Robert E. Mayer, March, 2001

Incandescent hotlights providing continuous lighting for constant viewing of the subject with the effects of the lighting always visible are particularly popular for video and motion picture situations as well as still photography being done on black and white or tungsten-balanced color films. The JTL Superlight is a recently introduced light of this type that combines moderate price along with four versions accepting long-lived bulbs up to 1000w in intensity for brighter illumination when used inside a large softbox for soft, diffused lighting.

The incandescent JTL Superlight is a hotlight fixture intended primarily for working with tungsten-balanced color films or any black and white film. Although motion picture and videographers would probably use this type of light most, still photographers would also find it helpful in their studios when they need continuous light falling on the subject for a constant visualization of the lighting effect. As nice as electronic flash lighting is, especially when there is a modeling light, the final balance of all of the lighting being used is often difficult to determine. Of course, hotlights can also be used with daylight-balanced color material when the proper filter is placed on the camera lens.

Four Versions Offered
This type of light is frequently used inside a large softbox for soft, diffused lighting, so it is offered in four versions accepting bulbs up to 1000w in intensity. The elongated nickel-lined aluminum metal chassis looks deceptively like a monolight electronic flash, but it's not. The design is unlike any I have ever seen before. The long narrow 1000w quartz bulb protrudes from the front of the porcelain socket to emit bright light in all directions. The reflective sides of typical softboxes direct the light forward through a diffusion panel onto the subject to provide soft, wraparound lighting which is very flattering for glamour poses and female subjects of all ages, as well as many other types of commercial objects. Four versions of the JTL Superlight are offered with the number in the name indicating the wattage of the bulb. The models are: Superlight 1000; 500; 250; and 150. The bulbs can be interchanged whenever a different maximum intensity is needed, but a base adapter is required to change a 1000/500w unit to accept the smaller base of a 250/150w bulb. A built-in fan efficiently cools the lamp, keeping the metal body cool enough to touch even after it has been burning for many minutes. The fan cooling is particularly useful when the light is used inside a softbox when heat build-up often is a problem.

Light Modifiers
If direct light is desired, a long reflective neck can be placed over the bulb to completely enclose and protect it. There is an optional folding reflector at the front end which looks like a six-sided barn door. This hexagon turreted reflector produces typical flood lighting when the leaves are spread wide open. But, when they are folding in toward the bulb, the output pattern becomes similar to that of a focus-adjustable spotlight. Each reflector leaf has a heat-resistant coating inside and a non-reflective flat black finish outside.

The JTL Superlight comes complete with a carrying case having a handle and shoulder strap plus a three-way tilt, swivel, and turn device which is easily loosened with one knob for different adjustment modes somewhat similar to the type of control unit found on most tripod tilt-tops.

Sturdy, Yet Lightweight
It appears to be sturdily constructed for years of use yet is lightweight for portability. All of the operating controls are conveniently positioned on the rear of the cylinder. There is a power cord socket, two rocker on/off switches (with an indicator light directly above each), plus a continuously variable rotary switch to adjust the power level and light output from full down to off. The left switch is the primary power switch while the right one turns the built-in fan on or off.

Once the power is on, the rotary switch must be turned clockwise to turn on the bulb. As would be expected, when set for lower power levels the bulb visibly emits a warmer color balance than when set for half or full power. I imagine the color balance would be decidedly warmer when used at less than half brightness intensities, but I didn't have a color temperature meter to check this out.

Even Lighting
The light produced by the Superlight appears to be very even when lighting a plain white wall without any hot spots or edge falloff. When the optional hexagon reflector is added, the light pattern is noticeably altered from a broad even light to a concentrated spot. It is truly a multipurpose light.

One especially nice feature is the extremely long life quartz bulb with 2000 hour expected lifetime, so you should not be concerned about changing the bulb for a considerable length of time. With any quartz bulb, it is recommended that you do not touch it with bare fingers since they always contain oils, which can adversely affect the glass envelope and cut down on the normal life expectancy. You should first allow the bulb to cool then grasp it with a cloth whenever you must touch it.

Optional accessories include the hexagon reflector; two sizes of square softboxes; softbox louvers; softbox stripmasks; softbox circle masks; and a universal connector to use the Superlight with other brands of softboxes. Naturally, the different wattage bulbs and bulb adapters are also available. The reasonable price is one of its prime features. A 1000w JTL Superlight complete with tilting stand adapter lists for under $300.

To obtain more data on the JTL Superlight and a catalog showing the many other studio products available from this firm, contact JTL Corp., 14747 Artesia Blvd., La Mirada, CA 90638; (714) 670-6626; fax: (714) 670-8836; or web site at: http://www.jtlcorp.com/.

Technical Specifications
Power Input:
110-125v, 50/60Hz
Fits On: 3/8 and 5/8" stud
Power Cable: Removable 16'
Cooling: Blast cooling with air
Color Temperature: 3200K
Wattage: 1000w, 500w, 250w, or 150w (depending upon model)
Fuse: 10amp, 5amp, or 3amp (depending upon model)
Power Setting: Continuous variable with detents
Lamp Style: Quartz-halogen, single screw base
Lamp Life: Consistent 2000 hours
Dimensions: 51/2" diameter, 9" long
Weight: 2.2 lbs
Finish: Electrophoresis coating
Materials: Primarily nickel-lined aluminum and steel






JTL Studio Flash And Accessories

Bob Shell, November, 2000
After setting things up to use the JTL flash units with my existing softboxes I shot a series of head and shoulders portraits of Clarissa Murphy, a new model I am working with. Details are in the text. Shot on Fuji RDP III 120 in the Mamiya 645 AF camera.
Photos © Bob Shell, 2000

Regular readers of Shutterbug have no doubt noticed the large advertisements from JTL Studio Systems. From the ads it looks like they sell everything you could possibly need to equip a studio, and if you realize that their ads show only a small fraction of the product line in their full catalog you will be as amazed as I was at the number of products they carry. In fact the sheer size of their product offering made it difficult for me to decide on just a few products to borrow from them for this test report. I finally settled on three flash units, enough for a basic studio setup, and a small assortment of accessories.

Since "C" stands are a basic piece of equipment for any studio to support everything from flash heads to backgrounds, I was interested in taking a look at JTL's version of this popular type of stand. The main difference in the JTL stand and others I have used over the years is in the rubber handgrip on the stand column which makes it easier to carry, and in the spring inserts which prevent the stand sections from collapsing suddenly under weight when released. These sections go down smoothly and softly due to the use of these springs. I found the stand was quick and easy to set up since the legs quickly swing into position and click into place. These would be excellent stands for travel since they fold and unfold so rapidly, and equally at home as more or less permanent fixtures in the studio. The one I tested was just over 6' in height (No. 5035) when fully extended.

This is one of a series of photos I did in my studio with model Kim Franklin using the JTL studio flash units. Details are in the text.

Also available for the C stands is a support arm with clips, called a 5 in 1 Holder Kit by JTL, which is used to hold the JTL folding reflectors, available in a wide variety of colors and sizes.

The flash units I was most interested in are from the Prolite Series, which offer digital read-outs of flash power on the side panel and easy power adjustment via up and down buttons. The first thing I noticed when unpacking the flash from its shipping box is that it has a very substantial metal housing which looks like it would take a lot of abuse. The flash is supplied with a standard dish reflector for general use. The reflector bayonets quickly onto the front of the flash housing and has an integral umbrella holder. The unit I received for testing was the Prolite L-800, the 800 ws model. I liked the digital display side panel with its push button controls of all functions. You can turn the audible ready signal on and off, turn the slave sensor on and off, adjust modeling light tracking, adjust flash output, all at the touch of a finger. I found this flash very "user friendly" to borrow a computer term and among the easiest to use I have worked with.

On the JTL studio flash units the numerical part of the model number is the power output in watt seconds. When comparing units from different manufacturers remember that raw watt seconds of power is only part of the picture, and that flash tube and reflector efficiency can be just as important. I found the JTL flash units had plenty of power for anything I would be likely to do in my studio.

The second series of flash units which interested me is called the Versalite J-700A and uses a dial to control light output rather than the buttons and digital read-out of the Prolite Series. One thing I particularly liked about the Versalite J-700A that I used is that the stand mounting bracket can be attached to a groove in the light and can be moved backward or forward to balance the light depending on what sort of reflector or other accessory is mounted on the front.

Also, you can mount it on either the "top" or "bottom" of the flash to put the controls on whichever side suits you best. This flash also offers an audible ready signal which can be switched off, built-in slave trigger which can also be switched off when not needed, and variable modeling light tracking. The Versalite flash units also come with the standard reflector and accept umbrellas.

JTL also makes some simpler and less expensive flash units in their Versalite Series and they sent me one of their Versalite J-300A models for my third light in my three light studio setup. It has most of the features of the other JTL flash units but is simplified with full, 1/2, and 1/4 power settings instead of continuously variable power. It also comes with a standard reflector and will accept umbrellas.

I used this one as a background light for a series of high key photos with model Kim Franklin and found it very satisfactory when fitted with the standard reflector supplied with it.

For my first session with the JTL lights I set up the Prolite L-800 to camera left and set it up to shoot through a white diffusion screen. This was my fill light. To camera right I set up the Versalite J-700A with standard reflector as my key, using no diffusion on this one. As mentioned, I used the Versalite J-300A to camera right to light up my white background. After setting my two main lights for a 2:1 lighting ratio, key to fill, and background one stop hotter, I shot several rolls of test film using Fuji RDP III. Exposure was determined with my Sekonic L-508 meter in incident mode, and was set to f/8. When I picked these test shots up from the lab I was happy to see that everything had worked perfectly. I then shot more film using the same setup and you see one of the resulting photos here in this article. This testing was done with a Canon EOS-1V fitted with the Canon IS 28-135mm lens.

Generally, though, I am a softbox kind of guy, so I had to see how these JTL lights would work with softboxes. I put the Prolite into a large Chimera softbox to camera left and the Versalite into a smaller Photoflex softbox to camera right. Once again I set a 2:1 light ratio for an overall exposure of f/8 at ISO 100 and set the background light for the same, since I did not want the background overly "hot" in these photos. I was doing a test shoot with a new model on the day I had this setup working, so I did a series of headshots of her using the Mamiya 645 AF camera and the Mamiya AF ULD 210mm f/4 IF lens. An example from this shoot is with this article.

I found the JTL flash units very easy to work with. They all have plenty of power and I never needed more than half power on any of them for what I was doing. I was also pleased to find that the light output of the three units was consistent from flash to flash, never deviating even a tenth of a stop in my meter reading during continuous shooting. The many rolls of perfectly exposed slide film are the proof in this pudding. I also found the color balance of the light matched well among the three test flash units and seemed to be very neutral. I did not notice any color shift in my film.

Would I use and recommend the JTL flash units after my tests? Absolutely. You can learn more about JTL products by visiting their web site at: http://www.jtlcorp.com/ where you will find a complete product listing and details as well as dealer information. If you do not have Internet access you can call JTL at (714) 670-6626 to find out the name of your nearest dealer. JTL does not sell direct to the consumer but through a network of dealers around the country. Prices are determined by the dealer, so check with your dealer for current prices on products that interest you.



Copyright © JTL CORP. 2008. All rights are reserved.