Groundbreaking Rotolight NEO 3 Light Kit Arrives & Immediately Impresses

by Karin GottschalkLeave a Comment

Rotolight has just released its groundbreaking NEO 3 Light Kit and one arrived late last week. Although I have not had time nor the best subject matter to really put it to the test yet, what I have seen so far is impressive. It looks like the NEO lives up to the not inconsiderable hype and it really should become “the next industry standard”.

Although the NEO is also described as “the next evolution of on-camera LED lighting”, my prime interest in it is as a reasonably powerful but subtle portable stand-mounted light for on-location portraits and documentaries. Hence the three-light kit, for versatility and to cover a range of lighting situations.

I can see the attraction of always carrying at least one NEO light in one backpack when the whole kit would be overkill and so am considering rigging up my new f-stop Satori backpack with a couple of tripod bags – when the f-stop online store has them back in stock – to better protect and carry a MeFoto WalkAbout monopod or a RØDE Micro Boompole.

Pod or pole, microphones or small lights can be attached to both. Some field tests will tell me which I can hand hold better while also shooting with a tripod-mounted camera. I am not so sure I want to handhold a camera and light on a pole like photographer Jason Lanier does in his videos for Rotolight!

Until Neo’s appearance at NAB 2015, I had been keeping an eye on Rotolight’s Anova lighting range but hadn’t seen or tried one out. The Anova product shots showing off its 6-bladed barndoors were what excited me the most followed by the new bi-color version that came out a couple of years ago. But size and cost ruled it out – I need to carry all my gear on my back or in a roll-along case whereas the Anova lights would be too big to carry by myself.

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The newly-arrived, freshly unboxed Rotolight NEO kit in our home studio. The kit, while not lightweight for me at least, is pleasingly small in size and can be lifted and rolled along without strain. Others will find it much easier than me! It is certainly much lighter and smaller than other three-light kits I have used in the past. Photographs made with Panasonic Lumix GH4 and processed with DxO OpticsPro, DxO FilmPack and Adobe Photoshop CC 2105.

Back then, one big question remained – would the NEO give me the control, power and subtlety I have so desired for so long? Images of the NEO 3 Light Kit released earlier this year hinted that it may well do so, especially given the barndoors and filter packs depicted in them. I was impressed by specs like a color temperature range from 3150 to 6300 degrees Kelvin – amber through neutral to blue sky shadow fill – and output adjustments in steps of one percentage. What a combination!

Just one downside; the NEO 3 Light Kit’s contents have been reconfigured. It no longer includes three barndoors as standard. Market research informed Rotolight that customers preferred a lower cost, barndoorless kit. The folks at Rotolight tell me the barndoors are still undergoing development and will be available for separate purchase later this year. I can’t wait! I am also interested in seeing how the softbox, currently under development by Chimera, works out.

These are great times for portable LED lighting and I am really looking forward to shooting some serious footage very soon with my 3 Light NEO kit.

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The Neo kit (next to an f-stop gear Satori EXP backpack for size comparison). The width of the hard case is just over 12 inches, 30cm. As a solo operator traveling on public transport and walking to my locations, I need to carry all my gear myself. I don't want to compromise on quality and always aim to be as professional as possible, especially in terms of lighting and audio recording. I appreciate being able to reduce my whole kit down to two bags like this.

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The kit, with internal protective plastic bags removed. I like how the inside lid has five zipped mesh pockets to hold small items with one empty for my own extras. The spaces for each item are cut very precisely and I found that precision and practice are required when packing the light stands and AC-to-DC power adapters into the protective foam.

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The current product brochure and earlier website photographs of the three-light NEO kit show three barndoors included and displayed in the foreground. The kit, as arrived, comes without the three barndoors but with a space cut out for them and two foam dividers. My lighting style relies on narrowing and shaping light via barndoors on all my lights especially when shooting people for emotive movie scenes and stills.

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The NEO's battery cover is removed by gently pressing against the clip on the cover's outer edge. The NEO takes 6 AA batteries, either alkaline or rechargeables. I use and recommend Panasonic Eneloop and Envelop Pro rechargeable batteries and Maha Powerex smart chargers. Photograph lit with a NEO light with 250 Half White Diffusion filter, mounted on a Joby Gorillapod Focus.

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Filters are attached to the NEO underneath its bayonet-on, bayonet-off plastic front cover, a faster process than attaching filters to the Rotolight RL48-B LED light. Note the 1/4-20 screw mount at the base of the light. There are two other 1/4-20 screw mounts at upper left and right for attaching the barndoors and other accessories and for mounting the unit in other ways.

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The NEO kit comes with three lockable, rotating base ball-and-socket heads and three hotshoe/coldshoe mounts that look to made by Vello, part of the Gradus Group of accessory brands. I have other products made by Gradus Group brands and they are affordable and of good quality and design.

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I love the fact that the NEO kit comes with a great selection pf pre-cut filters that is almost identical to the filters I have chosen for other lighting kits in the past. There are three Standard/Replacement Filter Packs and one Add On Colour FX Filter Pack, 22 filters in all. I bought a Sistema 450ml sandwich box with moisture seal to carry my filters in. The Sistema box fits into the currently empty barndoors cut-out in the NEO kit case and I hope it will continue go in there when I add the three barndoors in due course. I hope to add more filters over time and will work out how best to cleanly cut the circles.

Groundbreaking Rotolight NEO 3 Light Kit arrives & immediately impresses. Click To Tweet

Rotolight Neo 3 Light Kit

Via Rotolight:

Rotolight NEO™ is a revolutionary on-camera or location LED lighting fixture designed the most demanding of professionals. NEO’s Bi-Colour LED system with AccuColour™ delivers exceptional colour rendering (>CRI:95+), and fast, tunable colour on location thanks to the accurate colour temperature display (CCT). Powered by 6 x AA, AC, DC or D-Tap, NEO™ gives Industry leading performance (1077 Lux at 3 feet) whilst providing a gorgeous soft light source and Rotolight’s signature ‘Ring-Light’ Effect. Dual Controls for both dimming and colour make NEO™ a highly versatile solution for run-and-gun news shooters, filmmakers or still photographers.

Neo™ includes three groundbreaking features that sets it apart from the field. Designer Fade™ mode for custom fade up / fade down production effects and True Aperture Dimming™ which accurately calculates the correct aperture (F-Stop) for your subject at a given distance. Finally, an arsenal of Cinematographic Special FX (CineSFX™), provides customisable creative visual lighting effects, on set or location (Strobe, Lightning, Fire, Cycle, Throb)

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Features:

– Bi Colour (3150K-6300K), Soft Light Output – 50º Beam Angle
– Delivers a Powerful Output of up to 1077 lux at 3ft
– AccuColour™ Technology for CRI>95, Skin Tone>99, TLCI>91
– True Aperture Dimming™, CineSFX™, Designer Fade™ modes
– Flicker Free at any Frame Rate or Shutter SPEED
– Power via 6 x AA (3 hours), AC, or OPTIONAL D-tap Cable

Learn more about the Rotolight NEO 3 Light Kit Here.

planetMitch note: Karin did purchase this item out of her own pocket (it was not a freebie in return for a review/post).

(cover photo credit: snap from Rotolight)


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