The Area 51 Look - Rotolight Is Out There

on December 06, 2015

I'm really regretting not getting busy a little earlier in the year and building the box of scale model cactus I bought at the hobby shop - I would have gone all-out with a desert scene and stranded campers.

We first saw Rotolight about four years ago when it was introduced as a macro light for field use. It looked like a novelty ( well it is novel...) and we didn't pay it much heed - until the people who use their still cameras to take video started to get into LED light panels. Rotolight introduced a series of accessories for the flying saucer and the whole business started to get cleverer.

Whole business? That should be hole business because that's exactly what is in the center of the Rotolight - a hole to shoot through. You're looking at the RL48B here and that central doughnut hole is designed to snuggle down over the foam windshield of a microphone as it rides the hot shoe of a DSLR - providing a direct steady light forward for an interview shot.

Quick wits will note that it can also be used as a ring-light if your lens is smallish and can see through that hole without too much vignetting. Fortunately the Tokina 35mm DX macro lens can and that's how I got the closeups of the Chevy.

Here's a reference shot with the standard Elinchrom EL lights and a white balance of 5300º K. All jpeg, no alterations.


Here's the Rotolight as a ring light. ISO 400.

And heres a close encounter of the Roswell kind - I must admit this is two Rotolight shots blended as I wanted to use the light as front fill as well as UFO. But still no fiddling with the white balance.

If you wish to change the WB, however, Rotolight have provided a set of Lee filters that are stored inside the body of the light. They are ring-shaped and you pop off the front cover and sandwich them into the light above the LED elements. looks like you can make quite a few changes, and in fact the Rotolight people in Pinewood, England also turn out quite a few strong colour Lee gels to make accent and funky lights. A little expensive for rave dancing, but...

All UFO joking aside, I can see the still workers who chase fungus in the forest benefitting greatly from these lights. They are totally portable and one-button easy to use. They'd be perfect for mirror-less macro and compact macro.