I sat looking at a very large, brown cardboard box, held together with heavy-duty packing tape. It’s due to go back to Rotolight and I’ve had the use of the contents over the Christmas and New Year break. When I say large, I mean large and I was amazed how large it was when it arrived.
So, what was in the box? When I opened it all those weeks ago, I found the biggest armoured case I’d ever seen with two, front latches and side latches on either side, with a more than adequate handle. So, I hit the release buttons and snapped open the latches. Bingo – an ANOVA Pro 2, with two sets of filters, mains power and battery and a D-Tap charger.
The ANOVA Pro 2 is billed as a studio light and I completely agree with that. However, anything with a separate power source can go out on location, right? Well maybe, maybe not. This is a beefy piece of kit, 50% larger than the AEOS but somewhat slimmer and this baby packs a punch.
My first impression was of excellent quality. This is built for professional day-to-day studio use. It is a premium build with an aesthetically pleasing design. Everything falls to hand nicely, from the click on/off button to the red, anodised aluminium dials that govern power output and colour temperature. There is a myriad of other connection points, allowing the light to daisy chain into a lighting desk, as well as mains supply and other connectors. I’m a keep-it-simple sort of guy, so simple functions will do me fine. On/off, power up and down, together with colour temperature and I’m done.
Flip the unit onto its back and you expose the shiny side of this beauty. Here is a mass of LEDs, together with the signature red, anodised logo in the centre. Along with the standard yoke, my demo unit had the barn doors I had specified. One thing you will notice is that there is a chrome metal ring that on the face is held on with three, quick release toggles. Remove these and you now have the filter retaining ring in your hand. Place one of the coloured or diffusion filters on the face and reverse the previous sequence and the filter is in place.
Operationally, I’ll make a comment here about the light stand. This is no lightweight and if I used it on location, l would sandbag the stand. The light is no different to others in this respect, but I’d bulk up on the sand as you’d hate for it to fall.
My preferred route for this light is a C-Stand, which you can’t beat, either in the studio or on location. This is where I have my ‘but’ about this particular light. My camera bag contains a camera, a couple of lenses and a NEO; that is lightweight. I do add a basic light stand and I could go to an AEOS in a backpack. However, for the ANOVA Pro 2 on location, I’d probably want an assistant and a grip and, in fairness on location, with the value of the kit, I think it would be a wise move, especially outdoors in public areas. Shooting in a warehouse with car-parking close by, I’d consider handballing the kit to the location. It is transportable but the ANOVA wouldn’t be my first choice in the field. OK, never say never. Give me a small team and let’s make great images with this light.
How does it fare in the studio? I usually use a Quadra with a 150cm Octa, so this light is chalk and cheese as far as the type of light output I would ordinarily shoot with. I did observe that this light takes up far less space and I’ll also confess to having the Quadra and Octa on standby, which I didn’t run to at all.
How did I get on? During the Christmas break, I played with the unit on a few occasions getting to grips with power output, style of light and the general ‘look’ of my images.
Promises of shoots and locations evaporated but with a couple of magazine deadlines coming up and a busy 2019 commercially on the horizon, I needed a shoot in the bag.
The 14th January was my final shoot day and delivery of images for one of the two models on the 16th January, at the very latest. I have an accommodating editor.
I had made contact before Christmas with professional fashion and hair model and talented artist and sculptor, Jess Wilcock. Jess is relatively local to me and I have wanted to work with her for some time. But a bout of post-Christmas‘ flu with Jess threatened to delay the shoot!
However, Jess messaged me that she was getting better and that she was still up for a shoot on the fourteenth.. The format for Jess was ‘style yourself’, a complete free hand, allowing me to concentrate on the lighting. Trying to get a warm location to shoot in January is nigh on impossible and, with Jess’s recent illness, I went for the easy option of the studio. This meant that everything was on hand, keeping it simple, including the background. I used an Arctic-white colorama with the washed oak floor of the studio bare.
I used the ANOVA Pro 2 as a key light, together with the NEO 1 for either hair or fill light. The light is excellent and this is across two units; especially reassuring to know that whether it is the feature product or the base model, the quality control is there. The light is pleasing and can be shaped with the barn doors and, as you are lighting the scene, you get what you see with a mirrorless camera.
Both Jess and I were pleased with the outcome of the shoot, which took fashion from avant-garde, through relaxed and back to avant-garde. It didn’t disappoint and provided a great series of images for us all.
The ANOVA Pro 2 is a serious bit of kit and, using only the battery, I was able to work with it for two-and-a-half hours in the morning with a top-up charge at lunchtime. This gave us another two hours or so of shooting and from flat, it was two-and-a-half hours fully charged. With two batteries, I’d be confident in taking it out for a day shoot with a team (an inkling here that I’d really like one).
For a permanent studio set-up, I’d have two ANOVA Pro 2 lights or, possibly, one with an AEOS, which would allow me to take the AEOS out on location. I’d also supplement the set-up with a NEO or two and, though I love my NEO 1, I’d have to say a couple of NEO 2 units would be ideal, especially when you can sync them all with HSS flash. Now that is another article begging to be written.
As a final word, I am more than happy to confirm that I have loved using the Rotolight range. Each has its place and whether you buy into one element or another, you can be rest assured that you are getting a quality product. A quality product doesn’t mean that you are going to produce great images but to be able to have confidence in your kit does help you to concentrate on the important stuff and that is, taking pictures.
David Edwards – Image 61