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Litepanels Gemini 1×1 Hard Review

CVP’s review of the latest Litepanels Gemini 1×1 Hard. Covering key specifications, features, benefits and more

The Litepanels Gemini 1×1 Hard promises extreme brightness – 5x brighter than the 1×1 Soft that preceded it. But does it deliver? Our latest product review covers key specifications, features, benefits and more.

Gemini 1×1 Hard vs. 1×1 Soft – Key differentiating factors

Hard light with narrow beam angle vs. soft light with wide beam angle

The 1×1 Hard is based on the previous 1×1 Soft but has a few key differentiating factors, the biggest being the addition of new TIR lenses over each LED. This has increased the output massively without affecting the power draw needed to produce the increase in brightness. This is why it is called the Hard, because the focus isn’t on producing soft light with a wide beam angle, but hard light with a narrower beam angle. 

 46-degree beam angle vs. 95-degree beam angle

The 1×1 Hard has a beam angle of just 46-degrees which is the same as the Astra 6X and roughly half of the 1×1 Soft, which has a beam angle of 95-degrees. This is tight, especially when you compare it to others on the market, such as the Nova P300c from Aperture, which has a 120-degree beam angle. 

Five times brighter than the 1×1 Soft

According to Litepanels, the 1×1 Hard is five times brighter than the 1×1 Soft and ARRI S30-C, three times brighter than the Rotolight Titan X1 and Aputure Nova, and two times brighter than the Astra 6X.

If these numbers are accurate, that’s pretty nuts, so let’s take a quick look. WATCH HERE 

A quick word on modifiers

Out of the box, the 1×1 Hard comes with two different modifiers – the Ultra Light diffusion panel and the domed diffusion. The 1×1 series has four different strengths of diffusion panels available – heavy, medium, light, and ultra-light, while the dome diffuser spreads the light out massively, increasing the beam angle from 46-degrees to over 100-degrees. Litepanels provides a range of other accessories for the Gemini range, as well as DoPchoice, who make a range of softboxes and grids for pretty much the entire Litepanels range.

During our Litepanels Gemini 1×1 Hard review, we had a few different modifiers with us for testing, including: 

Testing the Litepanels Gemini 1×1 Hard 

Output of light

We measured the output of the light using a range of different modifiers at both 3200 and 5600 Kelvin at 1 meter away from the wall. Without any modifiers, this light at the centre of its output puts out an incredible 27200 lux at 3200K and 38800 lux at 5600K. 

When you compare this to what we would consider its competition, it’s a bit unfair as the rest of the panel lights in its class provide photometrics with some kind of diffusion on, so during our review we captured the same tests with a few different diffusion options. Unsurprisingly, there was a reduction in output, but thanks to how much light output we started with, even with the dome diffusion, the light rivals the output possible from the Aputure Nova in the center, which is one of the punchiest panels at this price and size option! However, it seems like the Nova has a more consistent output across its beam angle vs the 1×1 Hard with the dome, as the dome does seem to drop off quite a bit towards its edge. This is awesome as it means you have the option to either use the 1×1 Hard as a punchy hard light or sling on some diffusion and still have enough output to light a person, background, or small room.

Bare, the 1×1 Hard has a small beam angle with pretty harsh fall off. When the ultra-light diffusion is added we can see the beam angle increase and the drop-off is smoother than before. The dome takes this a step further, increasing the beam angle even more and making the light even softer. One thing we also noticed was just how greener the 1×1 Soft was when compared to the 1×1 Hard at the same camera and light settings — which brings us to colour accuracy.

Colour accuracy

During our review, we used our Sekonic C800 to capture the lights photometrics at both 3200K and 5600K, at 100%, 75%, 50%, 25%, and 1%. We then tracked the CCT, green, or magenta tint as well as CRI & TLCI. We then did this with each modifier too to see if changing those shifted the colour of the light. 

With no modifiers at all, the CCT at both tungsten and daylight shifts a little throughout the dimming range, but not massively. Across the range, the average CCT at 3200K was 3166 and at 5600K was 5726. To have this shift across the range isn’t ideal, so an easy fix is to use a Spectrometer as we had here, to measure how much your light shifts, adjust the difference out, and then save it as a preset.

Looking at how the different modifiers change the Kelvin output shows that at Tungsten, the ULD shifts the output warmer and then the dome shifts it even warmer. When shooting daylight, this was still the case but the effects were actually worse, with an over 600-degree difference between no modifier and the light with the dome attached. When it comes to the CRI and TLCI of this new fixture, it does a really good job achieving upwards of 96 CRI and TLCI when using the bare fixture, as well as when using the modifiers. 

Physical appearance and fixtures

Physically, the 1×1 Hard is almost identical to the 1×1 Soft apart from a very slight increase in weight to around 6kg, which includes the PSU and Yoke, as well as the new black paint job. The Hard’s 6Kg weight is still incredibly light when you consider the potential output the light has, and the yoke can be removed if you need it to which would reduce weight even further. 

The light also has a range of ¼in thread around the edge of it, which will make mounting it in unique places nice and simple. 

The 1×1 Hard comes with its single Yoke attached, but Litepanels also make dual and quad yokes so that you can make large output arrays. These were introduced with the Gemini 1×1 but make more sense with this fixture due to the increased output. When in these configurations you can kick out some serious light even from battery power. Considering the output you will get, this is pretty impressive and really there isn’t anything else like this on the market. 

Power output

Because the 1×1 Hard uses lenses in front of the LEDs to increase the power output, unsurprisingly the 1×1 Hard has the same power draw as the 1×1 Soft. This means that it has a maximum power draw of roughly 200W. This is low given the output that the light has, especially considering the power draw of other panel lights with this kind of output. The light has a 4-pin XLR input and comes with a power supply attached, which can be removed. This means that you can replace it with one of the several optional power plates if you want to power the light via battery. However, one limitation of this is that if you are wanting to run the battery above 90% brightness, it will require two 14.4V batteries or a single 26V battery. Given how bright this light is, this isn’t as much of a deal breaker, but if you need to squeeze as much light out of it as you can, it’s nice to have the option to do so with either of these batteries.

Menu functions and controls

The 1×1 Hard features the same menu system as the 1×1 Soft, which in turn uses the same 3-dial system and button layout as the previous Gemini 1×1 so you can dial your light in nice and easily. As with the origins 1×1 Soft, the buttons can have different presets programmed to them; this is done easily by holding down the button you want to save the preset to and could be a good way to keep your most-used setups only a press away! 

There are five modes: 

  1. CCT for basic colour temp and tint adjustments
  2. HSI mode for controlling hue, saturation, and intensity
  3. RGBW to control the Red, Green, Blue, and White LEDs to create whatever colour you want
  4. Gel mode which has around 300 gels built-in for you to match a range of industry-standard gels from Rosco and Le
  5. An effects mode

It also features the same 11 effects built-in that the existing Gemini lights have: Emergency, Fire, Fireworks, Hue Burst, Lightning, Paparazzi, Party Lites, Pulsing, Squares, Strobe & TV. 

As with the original Gemini, the 1×1 Hard can be controlled in a range of ways. This can be done from the back of the light, via Bluetooth using Litepanels’ app, DMX, RDM, Apollo CRMX, and Wireless DMX.

Indeed, the entire Gemini series can be controlled via Bluetooth with a little dongle, which unfortunately is an optional extra. It needs to be IOS because the “Smart Lite Director“ app is currently not available on Android – a bit of a shame. Once connected, you can control the light in the ways you expect. However, the app does seem like it could do with some TLC, as the UI is a bit clunky. 

Review conclusion – is it worth it?

In conclusion, the Litepanels Gemini 1×1 Hard is a logical next step for Litepanels to take with its Gemini series. The industry seems to be shifting back towards hard sources with modifiers because of the increased flexibility they bring. For the extra price over the Gemini 1×1 Soft, the 1×1 Hard gives you a more flexible light that can still provide light as soft as the 1×1 Soft with the correct modifier. Considering you are getting the dome with the Hard too, we think it’s a no-brainer to pick this unit up over the Soft and currently the Hard sits as a pretty unique fixture.

Ready to purchase the Litepanels Gemini 1×1 Hard or simply need some more assistance choosing between our Litepanels productsContact the CVP team with your requirements or get in touch via the live chat and we’ll get back to you shortly.

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