Has LED Defeated Arc Source?

Has LED Defeated Arc Source?

LED sources are better than discharge fixtures in practically every measure now, with the obvious being power consumption.

Yes, I think they have.

That's a pretty bold statement, I know. But with the exceedingly fast evolution of LED sources for intelligent fixtures, I think we've finally reached the tipping point.

As we all are aware, LED fixtures are more power efficient, and there is savings there certainly.

The only thing that will innovate now is increased brightness and weight reduction. Discharge fixtures are still an extremely prolific technology on the road and in houses of worship, but it's only going to go downhill for discharge fixtures from this point forward.

LED sources are better than discharge fixtures in practically every measure now, with the obvious being power consumption. What helps edge LED fixtures over discharge now would be brightness in a flat field. Some discharge fixtures might be brighter on paper, and they may ever be brighter in the air, but if you point it on a stage and put a meter to the mat, you'll see that the field brightness of a discharge fixture is going to be a deal breaker. Manufacturers make up for some of these shortcomings with frost filters and so on, but when it comes down to it, you'll see hot spots. Because of the way single source and LED array sources are designed, a flatter illumination field is possible.

What do I mean about a flat field and why is that so important?

A flat field is simply described as a fixtures ability to produce the same amount of lumens at the edge of the projected light, as it is in the center. Some discharge fixtures may boast a certain impressive value at its center, but won't tell you how miserable the light output is at the edge of "the circle" as projected on a surface.

As we all are aware, LED fixtures are more power efficient, and there is savings there certainly. But another thing to consider is that fixtures weigh less, need less power cable, and have a lower thermal impact, both in the room and on your subject. So you'll save money in power distribution and rigging, as well as HVAC and less complaints from the people on the stage.

This is an exceedingly important feature, if you plan on using your lights in a broadcast or in a facility that has exacting specifications for IMAG. This ensures the exposure of your subject remains constant, no matter where that subject is performing. If that performer happens to have their nose directly in the hotspot of the fixture, you risk overexposing the face with the rest of the subject properly exposed.

When you're a multi-site broadcast facility, this can affect the experience of untold thousands of people not only viewing live, but those who happen to view the archive.

I maintain that the single most important upgrade to a video system is lighting. I may be a little biased, but the flow of good comments from video engineers is a telling reason as to the importance of good, even lighting, for video.

So what LED fixtures do I recommend?

There are a great many of them on the market now. Basic LED pars are now not the only choice when it comes to a stage wash. There are many ellipsoidal reflector spotlights, or ERS' and moving fixtures with LED light sources, that can more than compete with their tungsten and discharge brethren. All of the major manufacturers have offerings in the LED range.

When it comes to moving lights, I can't say enough about the Sola range from High End Systems. My facility owns 38 of their fixtures and will continue to purchase them, as we continue to update our stages. Martin has the MAC Quantum with an LED engine for a great, highly-equipped fixture. Elation's Artiste DaVinci and Satura Spot are fantastic. Chauvet has the Maverick and Rogue product lines. Many other manufacturers are now carrying LED sourced moving fixtures.

The bottom line is that LED is here to stay, and LED has finally caught up. In many ways it has surpassed discharge sources. It's worth a look at the new fixture offerings from your favorite manufacturer, to see what would work best in your facility.

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