I've been testing the new Lastolite Lumen8 F400 kit launched at Focus earlier this year. The Lumen range is new to the UK market and distributed by Lastolite. Already well known for products like Gossen and Sekonic and their huge range of studio accessories that includes backgrounds and reflectors, it seems a natural step for them to introduce studio lighting into their range.
The Lumen8 range consists of two models, the F200 and F400, 200 and 400 joules respectively, with 2 head kits based around each model. The F400 two head kit I used has two F400 heads, two wide angle type 7in. reflectors, two air damped stands, a white 80cm brolly, a 60x60cm Ezybox soft box and adaptor, one sync lead plus mains leads and modelling lamps for each head. All this comes in a nice black carrier bag.
Starting with the heads, both models, the F200 and F400 are obviously based around a standard Bowens design and use their 'S' type fitting for accessories.
The F400 is around 40cm long not including the plastic protector cap. All the controls are on the back panel of the head and are operated by a row of switches for power, modelling, remote sensor and audible beeper. The step less power knob is calibrated from 1/32 to full power, giving a five stop range and calibrated in eighths of a stop. Other controls on the panel include the test / fire button, ready light and sync socket. The F400 is fused via a fuse holder just above the mains socket and takes a 6 amp fuse.
The F200 and F400 are metal bodied with good ventilation but have small screws that hold each panel into position. The carrying grip handle at the rear of the head is OK and made of plastic. To secure the head onto a stand, there is a moulded metal bracket again screwed onto the base of the head. This bracket also acts as the umbrella holder and the stem of the brolly is held in place by a small plastic screw. A swivel stand adaptor is mounted onto bracket and has two holes for both vertical and horizontal mounting. To secure the head in any position there is a quick release locking lever.
Coloured charcoal black the heads look OK, but there are a lot of screws on show that hold them all together, so no prizes for design I'm afraid!
Lastolite Lumen8 Accessories
Looking at the accessories that come with the kit, the black three section 'air dampened' stands are fine as are the mains leads, sync lead (coax to jack plug) and the long life (2000 hour) modelling lamps that come as standard with each head.
The 'S' type 7in reflector I used gave quite a good contrast because of its silver mottled surface. This reflector, designed to be used with brollies also have small slits in them through which the brolly stem is fitted.
The Lastolite 60x60cm Ezybox soft box, so called because it is very easy to put up and take down was nice to use and gave a very even clean crisp light source. Those of you who are familiar with lastolite reflectors will recognise the pop up design of the Ezybox. Compared to most 'frame' soft boxes, the Ezybox is very simple to put up and extremely simple to fold away into its small carrier bag. The inside lining of the Ezybox is silver and so gave a 'crisper' light compared to a similar white lined soft box. The inner and outer diffusers that come with the Ezybox are both made from translucent white material that ensures a nice even light source.
The circular metal Ezybox adaptor is again very simple and straightforward, the fold out soft box just fits neatly around a rim on the adaptor which fits onto the Lumen head via the 'S' fitting system.
The single skin 80cm brolly is black backed with a white PVC lining and was easy to use and produced a clean even light source. The PVC lining is detachable from the frame and can be wiped cleaned.
The modelling lamps, long life Radium 230v ES lamps, can be controlled proportionally or set at full power via two separate switches on the control panel. There is no intermittent lamp setting on the F400 so the modelling lamp stays on during the flash, but the lamp does give a slight pulse to tell you that the head has recycled.
The black kit bag is one of the best things about this kit, very well designed and held everything neatly with space to spare for extra bits and pieces. The bag has wheels on it and so makes it that much easier to transport. With a large zip to open the top compartment for the heads and another on the end of the bag to open a lower compartment for the stands, everything is well padded and protected. The bag also has a wide shoulder strap and handles for easy carrying.
Don't forget that you can contact Steve via the web site to ask him any questions that you may have about studio lighting equipment, accessories or lighting techniques.