Litra Studio Light Hands-On Review

February 21st, 2020
Litra Studio Light Hands-On Review

With a variety of professional features ranging from RGBWW modes to gels, effects, and waterproof aluminum construction, the Litra Studio is reaching for stardom. Yet, does the fixture hold up to the rigours of a film set? We took the Litra Studio out for a spin in the field. 

Did I mention it’s waterproof? Image Credit: Graham Sheldon

cinema5D reported about the Litra Pro back in 2018, but until now I hadn’t had the opportunity to work with any of the three main Litra fixtures: the Torch 2.0, the Pro, and the Studio. For me, the previous lights were – despite the large output – just a little too small for my usual projects and they seemed directed at on-camera adventure applications (not my background) or for accent or product lighting. However, the newer and larger Litra Studio recently became very interesting to me, for several reasons:

  1. It is RGBWW and includes onboard gels, plus it appeared to pack an amazing size to output ratio.
  2. The light promised the same indestructible design of its predecessors.
  3. An upcoming movie (a thriller) I was operating on required underwater cinematography and Litra claims the Studio could handle depths up to 30′.

Litra Studio armed out over the water with softbox accessory attached. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon

Simply put, the Litra Studio is a $649.95 light that, despite its small size (about the dimensions of a small paperback book), packs a punch in terms of output, at a high CRI (97 per Litra). It’s also built like a tank. In fact, the all-metal exterior light seems sturdier than any other fixture I currently own and I’m confident it would feel right at home in a high-volume rental house.

Who is the Litra Studio meant for? The additions of full RGBWW, CCT, HSI, Gel, and FX modes translate into real value for professional video productions. Whereas some Litra products (Pro & Torch) serve the photo or studio video environment, the Studio is, to my mind, the first fixture from Litra that really excels in a wide variety of professional cinema applications. It appears the Litra Studio is aiming to be the go-to light for every production and what’s impressive is how close it gets to achieving that goal.

Everyone wants a mobile, high CRI/high output, indestructible RGW battery-powered fixture, but actually finding one is another matter. Different lights do different things well and that’s one of the reasons why we have everything from Skypanel S60’s to 2×1 Gemini’s, Astera Titan Tubes, LEDGo AltaTubes, and Digital Sputnik Voyagers playing on this current film under the watchful eye of Gaffer, Heath Gresham and DP Madeline Kate Kann. Each of those lights accomplishes different goals despite being solid “RGB” fixtures in their own right.

Before using the Litra Studio in the film, we did some quick tests at the pool to check how it handled being in the water and how it compared in output to the other RGB underwater option we had on set. From the start, it was clear that the Studio had what it takes to nail our underwater scenes.

Controlling the Light

The Litra Studio has one of the better control interfaces and navigating through the settings on the OLED display on the back of the fixture is quick and painless. While there are a variety of gel options, going forward it would be great to see the addition of Sodium Vapor. RGBWW and HSI mode really allow you to tune color choices by using the rear dials. Adding or removing green gives you the option to closely match available light when necessary. Find a favorite color and you can simply select the “P” button and save those exact color settings into one of the ten preset slots, returning to them later as needed. This can be very useful for maintaining continuity from scene to scene.

Controlling the light through Bluetooth on iOS or Android devices is also possible by downloading the free Litra app. This app is excellent and if the Studio is powered on, it connects instantly, giving you full control of all the normal menu features, including 15 effects that range from “dance club” all the way to “television” and “paparazzi”. In fact, this app is one of the better applications from a lighting company that I’ve encountered.

Best Boy Electric Arthur Garcia and Gaffer Heath Gresham take the Litra Studio for a spin during testing. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon

Output

The fully dimmable 1%-100% output is wonderful, given the size of the Studio, and you can even push the light into “overdrive” mode to get about 20 percentile points more out of the fixture. Just remember, doing this is at the cost of destroying your battery life.

The softbox modifier is pictured upper right and the silicone diffusion is pictured bottom right. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon

The light ships with following accessories:

  1. A handle that connects to the 1/4 20 screw threads at the base
  2. Silicone diffusion
  3. USB C charging cable
  4. Semi-rigid travel case (not pictured)

We also had the opportunity to try the light with a plastic softbox accessory that did soften the light, but didn’t feel quite as indestructible as the light itself. Litra sells a modifier package and a honeycomb grid that would have been useful to refine the 50 degree beam, as needed in certain situations. At minimum, I would suggest picking up the honeycomb and plastic diffusion accessories if you decide to go with a Litra Studio.

Power

Good news! The included USB charging cable allows the light to be powered on during charging (not true for all battery-powered mobile lights in the market). When you crank the output out to 100%, you’re getting about 2 hours of battery life. The light did have a tendency to die while displaying 10% remaining battery life, so keep that in mind. As the internal battery degrades over time (normal with lithium ion), you’re also able to user-swap out the internal battery – which is a nice design touch.

A quick note for underwater use: make sure to close the USB charging port when using the light underwater or you risk water entering the fixture housing.

Back control wheel of the Litra Studio. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon

Litra Studio Feature Recap

  • CCT, HSI, RGBWW, Gel, and Effects modes
  • 50° beam angle
  • The company promises a 97 TLCI/CRI
  • Aluminum body
  • 2000K – 10,000K Adjustable Color Temp

Conclusion

I’ll admit that at the start we may have underestimated the Litra Studio. But with use, its mobile and rugged exterior combined with first-rate output and wide variety of color options turned us into believers. I’m convinced this light will continue to work itself into the professional production scene in new and interesting ways.

What do you think about the Litra Studio Light? If you ever used it during your professional work, please share with us your thoughts in the comment section below

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