Light and Motion CLx10 Review – High Output Fixture, Internal Battery Powered

July 8th, 2020
Light and Motion CLx10 Review - High Output Fixture, Internal Battery Powered

Light & Motion, based out of Northern California, is known primarily for their history in dive lighting that stretches back as far as 1989. In recent years though they’ve made the leap into the photography and cinema space and their lighting fixtures are certainly unique in design. Over the past several weeks I’ve been able to put their newest and highest output light, the CLx10, through the paces. More below!

First Impressions 

The CLx10 chip on board (COB) LED light features high output, integrated battery power, and a very, very small form factor.  It’s also technically bi-color in a truly unique way that I’ll touch on later. Try to find other hard LED light sources with internal battery power and you’ll find a real lack of options — the CLx10 exists in a unique segment.

Visually, the light does feel a little like a dive light or something more photography focused, but the manufacturer clearly has aspirations for the cinema market given the variety of available accessories of use to cinematographers. Gone are the days of buying everything a la carte — the CLx10 ships with a bunch of accessories depending on the kit you select during purchase.

It’s dimmable, weighs just under 3.0 lbs, features a 120 degree beam angle, and, as I mentioned, there are a whole host of 1st party accessories available, but an included (depending on your kit) Profoto adapter opens up a wide world of accessories beyond that.

EL Remote Control. I personally would have preferred Bluetooth control, but the EL Remote Control does work well for controlling the basic functions of CLx10. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon

The $1699.00 CLx10 kit ships with the following:

  • Light & Motion CLx10 LED Light
  • Profoto Adapter
  • Mount Base with Umbrella Holder
  • Flat Port DM
  • C-Stand Mount 
  • High Leverage Handle 
  • Power Adapter 
  • EL Remote Control  (Pictured above) 
  • Dome Diffuser DM
  • 4-Way Barndoors 
  • 50-Degree Optic DM
  • Fresnel Lens 
  • Press-On Modifier Interface 
  • Large CL Action Kit Soft Case

The tiny soft case in particular is excellent and affords plenty of room for everything.

“Bi-Color”

This is already a very complete kit and the only separately available accessory I would consider purchasing beyond the $1699 kit is a $399.00 tungsten light head. That’s right — to change the fixture from daylight to tungsten you change out the entire lamp head itself. I can’t think of another light that works like this, but please let me know in the comments if you know of one.

Daylight becomes Tungsten in half a minute. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon

Physically changing the lamp head from the daylight version to the tungsten version takes about 30 seconds and doesn’t require reading the manual. Simply remove the “lock” and align the new lamp head with the pins (pictured above). After a hardy press, you can re-lock the head and you’re off to the races with a Tungsten light. I suspect Light & Motion went through the trouble of designing a fixture this way because of the large output hit (as much as 20-30%) that most bi-color fixtures compared with single color temp only versions.

At $399.99 this is admittedly a pricey accessory, but it opens up the fixture as a whole to be so much more versatile in the field and the installation is very, very easy.

Power – Built-in Battery and Power Input

I did an informal battery life test and got about an hour at 100% intensity. This is just long enough to make it useful for quick interviews, but not long enough to leave much room for error. Don’t forget to charge! Oddly, the light requires a proprietary 3-pin plasticky 24V 60W charging cable with one plastic pin slightly offset (see the below image for the input). Obviously this isn’t the type of cable you’re going to be able to pick up at an electronics store while in a remote location, so keep that in mind.

CLx10 Power Input Image Credit: Graham Sheldon

I would have hoped for a more readily available charging cable in case of emergencies, but Light & Motion does sell backup power supplies for $89.99. You do have to turn on the power button to allow charging, which might be an effort to increase the overall battery life, but that’s a guess. Either way, having an internal battery is very useful for those moments where you’re moving fast in areas with limited access to power. The company also has a battery replacement service at a cost of $350.00, which means that you won’t have to worry about replacing the entire light when the onboard battery reaches the end of its life.

A separately available D-Tap power cable also gives you added flexibility for power. Light & Motion does offer a non-integrated battery variant of the fixture called the Stella Pro CL 10,000c if you’d rather go the external battery route.

Lighting Output

Here’s the part of the light that really impressed the heck out of me. I’m not sure how such a tiny fixture affords this level of output without imploding, but the Clx10 is absolutely useable outside in daylight and you could even punch it through an opal frame to soften. When you increase the output past 4000 lumens some fan noise does kick in that may be problematic for audio when placed close to your subject, but the output means you can back the light up away from the lav or overhead shotgun microphone. This is a very punchy light in a small package and the output readings below back that up. Light & Motion says their background in creating dive lights makes them especially suited for designing small punchy fixtures and I have no reason to disagree after spending time with the CLx10.

The light does have a tendency to get a little hot when set to 100% intensity for a long time and I’ll admit I had been hopeful that we’d left the world of hot lights behind with the steady improvements of LED set lighting. We’re still not talking gigantic Tungsten hot light or HMI heat here, but it is something to be aware of.

The Clx10 pointed at a fence at noon with the camera exposed for the beam. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon

Who is the CLx10 for?

The CLx10 feels aimed at the run & gun documentary and news crowd, but I see it steadily finding a way onto smaller and mid-sized scripted sets too. With news budgets being cut left and right these days, the CLx10 with onboard battery feels like the perfect thing to pull out of the back of the van and light a hosted standup in just a few short minutes. You can also fit a couple in your backpack given the relative size and 3 lbs weight. Generally, I find hard lights to be useful for more applications versus a soft panel because you can always soften hard light, but you obviously can’t make soft light harder.

Light & Motion does have a ton of SKU’s and accessories and I’ll admit I found everything a little tricky to navigate when I first started researching the Light & Motion CLx10 fixture online. To combat that – the company has two kits on B&H that seem especially geared towards filmmakers: the aptly named “storyteller” and the “interview kit“. Going with the kit solves the problem of snagging everything a la carte and you can always build towards your needs and budget from there.

Photometrics

I snagged several measurements on my Sekonic C-700U Spectrometer of how accurately the CLx10 with Fresnel/Barn Door attachment handles color temp (kelvin) and output at a distance of 3ft with the fixture set to 10000 lumens in the menu. Here are my readings with a target of 5600K:

We hit a 5569 kelvin temp with a target of 5600K — this is excellent and ranges near the top of every LED fixture I’ve tested to date. One thing to note here is the [lx] reading of 9640 at three feet. This is indeed a high-output light, but not quite as punchy as the Aputure 300x COB LED light (that doesn’t include an internal battery) I just recently field tested. I also received a 95.8 CRI (Ra) with my target set to 5600K, which is slightly higher than the 92 CRI that Light & Motion itself advertises. Great!

Now for a quick test with a target of 3000K. Why did I set my target for 3000K? Well, the CLx10 Tungsten lamp head accessory specifically has 3000K written in fine print on it.

At 3231 these are not perfect readings for the kelvin temp target at 3000K, but they are excellent readings for a Tungsten lamp head aiming for 3200 kelvin. Perhaps the “3000K” indicator written on the Tungsten lamp head accessory I received is simply a typo and the intent was always to aim for 32K. Whatever the case — 32K is considered a more standard kelvin temp for Tungsten anyway, so that’s good news! Here the CRI measured 94.8 (Ra) — another excellent CRI reading.

In short, the CLx10 does an excellent job handling accurate color temperatures. I also grabbed daylight and tungsten readings with the light on internal battery power and then AC power and there weren’t any noticeable output drops depending on your power mode.

Closeup on the daylight lamp head of the CLx10. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon

Conclusion

The Clx10 is in a league of its own and that fact alone should command some respect. This feels like a fixture that was created without an eye towards copying the work of other manufacturers and that methodology has paid off. Light & Motion may have a history of building products for undersea work, but I’m glad their engineers have turned their focus topside.

What do you think of the CLx10? Have you tried any other fixtures with swappable lamp heads? Let us know in the comments below! 

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seth
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July 9th, 2020

If you had to compare the output to a traditional tungsten fixture, would you say it’s similar to a 500w?, 1k? Joker?

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