Photography News 69

Photography News | Issue 69 |


First tests

Imaging kit First tests We get our hands on the latest kit and share our first impressions – so you know whether or not to add it to your wish list

Reviews by Will Cheung & Kingsley Singleton

Nanlite Forza 500 £1979.95


For years, flash systems were streets ahead of continuous lighting, mainly due to the low power and high heat of tungsten lamps. But LED technology changed all that, running cooler and offering loads of power. There’s now a whole generation of photographers that has embraced them, particularly those shooting video aswell as stills, andLED lights fit nicely with the WYSIWYG appeal of mirrorless cameras. An LED option new to the market is the Nanlite Forza 500, which, as it runs from either batteries or mains, can be used on location as well as in the studio. The 500 sits at the top of Nanlite’s (previously Nanguang’s) Forza range, which also has the less powerful but cheaper Forza 60 and 300. The 500 we’re looking at here is a fairly eye- watering £1979.95, but that’s not an unusual price for a high-spec LED, and build quality and accessories were immediately impressive. It comes in a decent travel case that holds the head, ballast, reflector and accessories. The head unit has a metal and carbon fibre construction, and there are no controls on it, everything being controlled from the ballast. Handily, the kit comes with a metal clip that attaches a lightstand, and from which you can hang the ballast, connected to the head by a 2.5m shielded cable with locking connectors. It can be run off two V-mount batteries, or via an included mains adapter, both of which sit within the ballast; we tested it with the latter. The head weighs 2.49kg, which isn’t particularly heavy for a big LED, but more than most flash units of equivalent power. I tried it on a Phottix P-200 Mark II stand, but it was a bit unsteady due to the weight; I switched to a heavyweight Interfit COR 751 stand which was much better. It mounts via a large yoke, so can be swung through 360º when no modifier is attached, or fitted to a rail, and locks very securely. Control is simple. On the face of the ballast you get two dials, four buttons and a screen. The power dial sets output between 0 and 100% in 1% increments, and the second dial is a menu selector. The buttons – Effect, Trigger, Menu and Lock–arerubberisedandbacklit.Effect puts the light into one of eight preset


LED Max powerconsumption 500W Output Lumens 46,613 Dimming Yes, 0 to 100% Beam angle 55° (with included reflector) Colour temperature 5600K Colour accuracy standard CRI 98, TLCI 95 Modifiers Bowens S-Type Cooling system Fan Dimensions (LxHxW) 30.7x20.6x14.2cm Weight 2.49kg Mounting 5/8in yoke type Remote operation DMX or Wi-Fi Power 2 x V-mount batteries, mains power

practical lighting effects, from multiple flashes to lightning and flickering TVor bulb, and theTrigger buttonstarts some of thesewhen desired. They’re useful as creative move effects, but not much use for stills, though you could conceivably use the Flash setting like repeated bursts of a flash during a long exposure, as it can be set from 0.1 to 6secs. The Lock button just locks all the settings until pressed again. I first tested the light’s output with its included reflector at 1m, using a Gossen Digipro F2 lightmeter. With the meter set to ISO 200 and 1/250sec the Forza 500 gave us f/16 at 100%, which is impressive, at 50% it was f/8, and at 1% it was around f/1.4. Without the reflector, the naked head gave f/8 at the same ISO and shutter speed at 1m. Importantly, even at full power, the temperature was not significantly higher, though it is very bright. Bothhead andballast use a fanwhen the light is running and though this is prettyquiet on thehead, it canbe turned off. This cuts the output to f/4 with the reflector. It can’t be turned off on the ballast, and it is quite loud on that. I also used the light in a typical portrait situation, as a key light with the subject backlit fromwindows, to which I added a much smaller LED as an accent light. On the Forza 500 I added a 90cmNanlite parabolic softboxwith a grid, andwith the surface of the softbox about 1.5m from the subject I metered

Colour consistency can be a problem with LEDs but I noticed no issues

f/4 at ISO 200 and 1/250sec. It was a bit uncomfortable in brightness for the subject at 100%; we settled on about 30% power, and I shot several seated portraits with a NikonD850 and Sigma 50mm f/1.4 at 1/250sec, f/1.6, and ISO 125. For head and shoulders I switched to an 85mm f/1.8, shooting at 1/250sec, f/2 and ISO 250. Results were very good, with a pleasingly natural look. Colour consistency was also good. It can be a problem with LEDs, but I noticed no issues, and with the light balanced at 5600K, it’s easy to work with daylight. A final word about modifiers; theForza lights use aBowens fit mount, so there’s a huge amount of choice on themarket for them. KS


Practically, I enjoyed using the Forza 500, partly because it means less thought is required than with flash when combining it with ambient light. If you shoot video as well as stills, or don’t want to use flash at all, the 500 is a good, powerful option. Pros Very simple to use, and powerful Cons Larger, heavier and more expensive than similarly powered flashes

Images The joy of continuous light is what you see is what you get, so it’s very easy to use

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