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NANLUX Evoke 1200B Light Review – The Evoke Gets Even Better

January 9th, 2023 Jump to Comment Section

NANLUX the pro-oriented partner of lighting brand NANLITE, has made big and, dare I say, exciting claims with their new NANLUX Evoke 1200B fixture. First, the 1200B (B=Bi-Color) can compete with their previously released 1200-watt daylight fixture, offering a nearly 1:1 ratio in terms of output but with the flexibility of a more comprehensive Kelvin selection. Other news is the several hundred-dollar price cut for the NANLUX daylight-only 1200-watt fixture. Beyond that, NANLUX has also updated the design of their fresnel accessory from the base-mounted yoke design we previously tested on the Daylight 1200 fixture. Keep reading for my review of the new Nanlux Evoke 1200B paired with the new Nanlux fresnel accessory.

After thoroughly reviewing it, my overall impression of the NANLUX Evoke 1200 (daylight-only version) was quite positive. Solid accessories mixed with an ever-improving Nanlink Bluetooth app and an IP54 moisture-resistant design (when the ballast is placed fully parallel to the ground and not upright) all made for a great first impression. With the advent of the Evoke 1200B, the engineering team over at NANLUX has pushed the Evoke platform to bi-color with a selectable Kelvin range of 2700K – 6500K.

First, a few clarifying points on what I reviewed.

During several shoots over a month, I tested the complete kit with a” trolley case” and 45-degree reflector that retails for $3,949. The trolley case is perhaps 40% of the size of the “flight case” and has the perfect footprint for an owner/op with a small SUV or van, or even for a Gaffer with a small 1-ton kit. Large rental houses or owners of larger G&E packages will be satisfied with the” flight case” package that has space for the fresnel. Both the trolley case and the flight case have locking industrial-grade metal wheels.

I also had the opportunity to work with the newer NANLUX Fresnel (model number FL-35YK), which retails for $1,075. Previously, I tested the F-35 Fresnel with the original daylight Evoke. That fresnel proved to be front-heavy (even with the Evoke lamp head attached) because of the design’s center of gravity. The yoke design of the FL-35YK model is now mounted to the fresnel itself and not the metal base, and beyond that, everything else seems the same with the same spot and flood range and same shadow character. We’ll touch on this accessory a bit more later.

The FL-35YK Fresnel for the Nanlux Evoke 1200B
The FL-35YK Fresnel for the NANLUX Evoke 1200B. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon/CineD

So, if you’re interested in the older fresnel design or the larger flight case, give my original Evoke 1200 review a peek here.

Please note that the Evoke 1200B ballast is compatible with the Evoke 1200 daylight lamp head, but the original Evoke ballast won’t work with the newer bi-color lamp head.

First Impressions

I was curious whether NANLUX may have made the daylight-only Evoke a bit obsolete after its arrival only a few months ago. If the Evoke 1200B has the same brightness as the original daylight version, then I would suggest everyone go with the bi-color variant for added flexibility. The cost of the bi-color lamp head alone is nearly $900 more than the daylight version. However, at an overall price point of several thousand dollars at minimum for this kit, I would consider this increase to be well worth it. I’ll dig into my reasons more during output and Kelvin testing later in this article.

The 7.5m head cable of the Nanlux Evoke 1200B
The 7.5m head cable of the NANLUX Evoke 1200B. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon/CineD

I like the Evoke 1200B exterior design elements — the ballast is well-protected, and the lamp head is robust enough to take a hit or two. Both the long head cable (available in 7.5 meters, 10 meters, and 12 meters) and power cable are reinforced with extra rubber, which can help make for a long life on location. The head cable also has a metal locking mechanism on both ends that feels very solid — no accidentally yanking a cable out here.

The trolley case is a standout. It’s great for protection, and everything fits neatly inside, including a 45-degree reflector attachment. If you want additional reflectors, you’ll need to buy them separately to the tune of $90-ish each, depending on the degree beam angle you’re looking for. Remember that you’ll need reflectors specifically designed for the NANLUX Evoke series, as this is not a Bowens-mounted fixture.

The NL mount by Nanlux on their Evoke 1200B.
The NL mount by NANLUX on their Evoke 1200B. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon/CineD

Does the lack of a Bowens mount bug me? Not yet — 3rd parties like DoPChoice are already supporting the Evoke “NL” mount, and NANLUX has a wide range of compatible accessories that, while not bulletproof, do the job. Plus, the price points of their NL softboxes, in particular, are very reasonable. The only accessory I’m missing for the Evoke 1200B is a compatible Leko-style projection mount. In fact, the market as a whole lacks projection or spotlight accessories designed for 1200-watt LED fixtures.

Smart fan mode engaged on the NANLUX Evoke 1200B. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon/CineD

The exterior look of the Evoke 1200B and accompanying accessories isn’t much different from the daylight version of the Evoke. The onboard menu is especially easy to navigate, and I’m happy to say four different fan modes are available. There’s even one called “smart mode,” which I ended up using most of the time without seeing the need to change over to low mode even once. And believe me, the audio mixer would have let me know.

There are the ever-present effects modes (11 in all) on the 1200B. Everything is dimmable in 0.1% increments, and the features are all accessible on the bright rear 2.8-inch screen on the lamp head itself. The lamp head weighs 17 lbs. and because of this, the whole setup requires a combo stand and not a C-Stand for use, so you’ll want to factor that into your budgeting if you’re building a kit from scratch.

Who is the Evoke 1200B for?

There’s a case to be made that not every filmmaker needs the output that the 1200B provides. I recently reviewed the Nanlite 720B, and that fixture has an excellent cost-to-lumen ratio. Overall, the Nanlite 720B is smaller than the 1200B and without the same robust exterior build. Interested in the Nanlite 720B? You can read my review here.

The Nanlux Evoke 1200B with FL-35YK Fresnel on-location
The NANLUX Evoke 1200B with FL-35YK Fresnel on-location. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon/CineD

On my first shoot with the Evoke 1200B, I used it in conjunction with the new fresnel attachment. Set up outside a window casting sunlight onto an interior fireplace in the background of a 2-shot, the fixtures played for hours in direct sun in a California heat wave and never missed a beat. The lamp head had to be raised on a combo stand roughly eight feet in the air, a position that revealed the drawbacks of having all the manual controls on the lamp head itself and not on a ballast/power supply sitting on the ground or mounted to the stand itself. At that height, you can’t access the controls directly on the fixture, forcing you into using the Bluetooth app or another DMX solution – or an apple box paired with a tall crew member…

This helpful label on the ballast avoids confusion over compatibility. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon/CineD

Being “forced” into using the Nanlink Bluetooth app on my apple iPhone 12 didn’t mean I couldn’t connect instantly and gain almost immediate control over the light. Oddly the four dimming curves – Exponential, Logarithmic, S-Curve, and Gamma 2.2 – are only changeable over DMX. A LumenRadio TimoTwo transceiver is built into the instrument to unlock wireless DMX options.

DMX Mode selection in the menu. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon/CineD

You can download the Nanlink app for iOS here.

Now to the fresnel. The shadow quality out of the newer fresnel is excellent. However, the big change is the angled yoke. You no longer get that jerk forward as with the previous design. If you haven’t had a chance to experiment with a good fresnel and the natural-feeling, soft-edged shadows one creates, you’re missing out. Out of this new fresnel, you do still get a bit of light leak from the sides, but I never had an issue with that on any of my shoots as the instrument itself was never close enough to my subject where it made a difference. That’s the advantage of higher output fixtures. You can put them further away so that the actors can do what they do best, which is acting — and not be constantly reminded they are on a film set. Over the years, I’ve tried to mount more lighting overhead or outside windows as part of this actor-friendly philosophy, so the Evoke 1200B is right at home on my sets.

For this test period, it didn’t take long for the NANLUX Evoke 1200B to become a vital part of my projects. I used it as a hard key, soft key (with the Nanlux 150cm softbox), background light, and even added a piece of opal in front of it and had it play in direct competition, or I should say harmony with the sun during an exterior. On overcast days, the Evoke 1200B mixed with some negative fill is the perfect light for adding shape to an otherwise flat scene. The bi-color functionality let me play around with warming or cooling up the source and seeing how those changes made the overall scene feel. If you’ve mounted a frame with a gel in it in front of the lamp head, just know these adjustments will take more time.

Before I get a comment about how the 1200B output interacts with the sun, I should say that, of course, this is very dependent on your location. The fixture will be great on a foggy London or Seattle day and perhaps not as great on a beach at noon in Florida. Results may vary, but I found plenty of punch from the Evoke 1200B for exterior uses during filming in Los Angeles in September and October. And for now, you’ll still find plenty of uses for higher-end HMI fixtures until LED bridges that output gap.

Backside of the Nanlux Evoke 1200B
The backside of the NANLUX Evoke 1200B. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon/CineD

In short, if you find yourself in any of the scenarios I’ve listed, then the Evoke 1200B might be right for you. If you’re limited to C-Stands or small light stands and filming mostly in tiny spaces without exterior access, then the Evoke 1200B might not be your cup of tea. If you are looking for portability and punch and don’t need wireless DMX or a sturdier build, the Nanlite 720B might be the ticket.

I didn’t have access to a genuinely high-speed camera for this review, but I did shoot a fair amount of 120fps and 60fps for the month and didn’t see even the hint of a flicker. FYI: The NANLUX team has various videos showing extreme slow-motion shots created using the phantom camera, and from my perspective, everything looks great there too.

Output & color handling

The NANLUX Evoke 1200B COB. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon/CineD

I grabbed a few measurements on my Sekonic C-700U Spectrometer (now updated with the C-800U) to see how accurately the Evoke 1200B handles color temp measured in kelvin and output (lx) from a distance of 3 ft. Here are my readings with a target of 5600K and output set to 100%. This test was completed with the NANLUX 45-degree reflector attached.

160000 lx is a very impressive output and falls absolutely in line with the Evoke daylight-only version. The 5625K result is spot on for Kelvin accuracy.

Now for a target of 3200K:

We land at 3109K here with our target of 3200K and that’s right near the top of the LED COB fixtures I’ve tested with only a tiny hit to output. Now let’s try with a target of 4700K:

Again, huge output numbers here with the kit 45-degree reflector at 3 feet measuring the center of the beam and a very accurate 4784K result against the 4700K target.

I also decided to compare NANLUX’s printed numbers (most of their measurements start at 3 meters or 9.8 feet and I found their readings to be spot-on as well). So, whether you test at 3 feet or 9.8 feet the output of the Evoke 1200B is absolutely excellent with great solid kelvin accuracy.

At 9.8 feet I was measuring in the range of 19,000 lux with the 45-degree reflector attached. For output comparison with the Evoke 1200 daylight version, I was able to get 18,700 lux with the same reflector at the same distance. Very impressive.

Final Thoughts

The original NANLUX Evoke 1200 daylight-only version isn’t going away, and it isn’t obsolete, either (there is even a Tungsten-only Evoke 1200 available now). During testing on several shoots, the Evoke 1200B and 1200 played well together. I will say I much prefer the newer fresnel with its angled yoke design that isn’t mounted to the metal base, and I would 100% suggest going that route if you have a choice between the older front-leaning fresnel (the FL-35) and the newer FL-35YK.

I asked NANLUX if the original fresnel is being discontinued, and the answer, for now, is no. Here’s the official word on that as of publishing: “The original FL-35 will be a special order in the US market. For UK and Europe, you’ll need to check with your local NANLUX distributor.”

I’m impressed by the Evoke 1200B and, in particular, the amount of output NANLUX was able to squeeze out of the fixture while still keeping it bi-color. You would typically see a big hit to lumens with bi-color because LED chips are asked to do more as they mix different Kelvin temperatures. I’m not sure what engineering’s magic sauce is here, but the result is a versatile light that will find a place on most of my productions where a bi-color punch is required.

Image Credit: Graham Sheldon/CineD

What do you think? Will you be adding the Evoke 1200B or the new Fresnel FL-35YK to your kit? Let us know in the comments below!

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