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Lupo Quadrilight 2000 Studio Lighting and Flash Review

Lupo Quadrilight 2000 review

| Lupo Quadrilight 2000 in Studio Lighting and Flash
Lupo Quadrilight 2000 Studio Lighting and Flash Review: Lupo Quadrilight 2000
Lupo Quadrilight 2000 Studio Lighting and Flash Review: Lupo Quadrilight 2000
Lupo Quadrilight 2000 Studio Lighting and Flash Review: Lupo Quadrilight 2000

Nova Darkrooms, well known for their innovative processing tanks and fascinating catalogue of darkroom items, have branched into the world of studio lighting with a range of Lupo lights. There are seven models in the range, designed for both digital and traditional photography - all with flicker free, daylight balanced continuous light. We're looking at one with a dimmer control - the Lupo Quadrilight 2000.

Nominal Voltage: 230V
Nominal Power tubes: 110W
Tubes Frequency: 40,000Hz
Colour temperature: 5400K

Like all the models in the range light is provided by multiphosphour lamps that look like fluorescent tubes housed in a flat lightbox style case. This one has 4 lamps, each outputting the equivalent of 350watts and costs £619. A two lamp version, the Lupo Starlight 1000 costs £475. The case has two full length hinged doors that close over the tubes to protect them and open out like barn doors to provide two huge adjustable reflectors that control the spread of light from the tubes.

The case is mounted on a bracket with locking nuts on each side and the light can be swung up or down on this central axis. On the side is an on/off switch and the dimmer control dial. This has a scale from one to ten and is not click stopped so infinitely variable between the two points.
The casing seems well built, it survived a good few heavy sessions throughout the test period and the only complaint was the make and model description stickers, running down the side of the unit, started to peel away, making the unit look a little shabby. It's also impossible not to get fingerprints all over the metallic reflector side of the doors as you open and close them.

The benefit of using this type of lighting is you don't have the problems of synching digital camera to flash or the harshness and you can see exactly what you're going to get. You also don't have the problem of colour casts that tungsten would produce when used with film cameras. Digital cameras have a white balance setting that can be adjusted so it's less of an issue but the main benefit over tungsten is these lights don't give out anywhere near as much heat, so if you're going to use them for portraits you are less likely to get a flustered model.

So to work...
The first thing that's apparent is a useful power cord that's around 3 meters long, giving you plenty of flexibility to adjust to ceiling height. The unit has a universal lighting stand mounting bracket so you just slot a stand in and tighten the locking nut. The size of the unit does make the stand feel quite precarious so a heavier Manfrotto or similar with good splaying legs is recommended.

You adjust the height of the stand and then angle the head, and here was my first issue. I wanted to get over the top of my still life set, but when I positioned the light at the right height the bracket doesn't allow the unit to be rotated round to point downwards because the barn doors get in the way. So to use these well you'd need a boom arm which is more expense. I settled for more frontal lighting and had a go at still life's using an old Leica as the model and followed this with a portrait session with the assistance of a friend's boys as models.

In this shot I didn't splay the barn doors out as far so the unit could be swiveled to point down further. You can just see that the bottom tips of the doors won't allow the unit to swivel anymore because they catch the frame. A slightly deeper frame would have helped but then you'd probably get the shadow of the frame showing.

Lupo Quadrilight 2000 Studio Lighting and Flash Review: Lupo Quadrilight 2000
For still lifes the barn doors ensure a decent spread of light and not having to have a soft box, brolley or diffuser material over the front gives you the best of both worlds. There is more contrast than a conventional studio flash with diffused light, but the light is not as harsh as normal direct flash would be. The variable control reminded me of the house dimmers - they are okay on full power, but when dimming down it's always a bit crude...almost the same here. With the light positioned about 70cm from the subject, the camera shutter set to 1/8sec and the control set to the lowest power of 1 I measured an exposure of f/4 for my camera's digital equivalent of ISO 200. At a setting of 2 this increased to f/8 and 6/10ths, 3 raised it to f/11 and 6/10ths, 4 took it to f/16 and 5 up to f/16 and 7/10ths. From 6 to 10 there was no change in exposure with an aperture of f/22. So while you have a very useful six f/stop range it's not accurately displaced over the 10 marked settings on the dial.
Adjusting the angle of the barn doors gave an exposure variation of 3/10ths of a stop.
Lupo Quadrilight 2000 Studio Lighting and Flash Review: Lupo Quadrilight 2000
Lupo Quadrilight 2000 Studio Lighting and Flash Review: Lupo Quadrilight 2000Two examples of still life sets - the lighting offers a good balance between the hardness of flash and softness of tungsten.

When I asked the boys to sit in front of the camera the lighting was a bit too bright for them, so I made some make-shift diffusers using the front panel of a large soft box. This actually fitted over the unit perfectly and created a decent softbox style light. This caused no further squinting. Lupo produce honeycomb and diffuser panels which would be worth looking at if portraiture is going to be your main use of these lights. The main problem I had using these lights for portraiture was the output didn't allow a fast enough speed to freeze them in their tracks. I was shooting at around 1/30sec and several shots had one or both of the boys showing signs of blur.

The colour of light is natural and the highlights aren't too strong.

Lupo Quadrilight 2000 Studio Lighting and Flash Review: Lupo Quadrilight 2000

Lupo also produce a Padded Bag for the Star and Quad which makes carrying perfect for those on location work. It costs £29.99.

These are expensive lights compared with tungsten or most studio flash. You don't gain the fast flash sync speed you'd get with studio flash, but you also don't have problems with colour casts that tungsten delivers. The large panel lighting gives really even exposure across the subject and would be ideal for catalogue photography and still life sets, but for portraiture I'd still go down the route of a studio flash fitted with a softbox or large brolley.

Lupo Quadrilight 2000 Studio Lighting and Flash Review: Lupo Quadrilight 2000


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