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Rotolight AEOS 2 And NEO 3 LED Lights

Discover the advantages of LED lights for your photography and videography as we explore the latest generation Rotolight NEO 3 And AEOS 2 LED Lights. Ogle sample photos from Jason Lanier and Rod Gammons and scour specification tables to see just how revolutionary these lights could be for your work.

Rotolight AEOS 2 And NEO 3 LED Lights

Why Rotolight LED lights?

For anyone who’s never come across Rotolight previously, they are a family owned British tech company specialising in LED lighting for photographers and movie makers. Their systems have dozens of patents, with numerous industry awards serving as testament to their innovative solutions. Rotolight has revolutionised lighting and developed several industry firsts, including a number with these latest generation NEO and AEOS, outlined below.

Shot by Rod Gammons with AEOS 2

Shot by Rod Gammons using the AEOS 2

What are the benefits of LED lights over a traditional strobe?

Before we get into these new generation LED’s, it’s worth highlighting some of the advantages which LED’s offer over traditional flashguns.

  1. The biggest advantage LED’s give you is their ability to provide continuous lighting. This not only means that they can be used for TV and video productions, but you will also see exactly what you are shooting and change your settings accordingly – otherwise known as ‘shoot what you see’.
  2. Rotolight has developed a number of special effects, which are built-in to their units (picking up more awards), giving movie makers an excellent way to add drama quickly and efficiently.
  3. For photographers there are several more key advantages, including the ability to shoot in high speed sync at up to 1/8000, with zero recycle time between flashes. This is quite staggering for anyone who’s come from traditional strobes, shooting at around 1/250 and having to wait for a second or two between full power shots. This means you can freeze any action, at any speed, while shooting as high as 30fps or beyond, using the highest burst rate digital cameras.
  4. These latest generation LED lights have far wider Kelvin output than a traditional flash can manage. You can now output in a vast array of RGB colours. LED light colours are known as RGBWW, which is Red, Green, Blue, Warm-White. The possibilities are literally endless when you can use built-in filters and colours straight from the light in this way.
  5. LED’s emit a softer light when compared with harsher flashgun light output. This has more pros than cons, with less demands for light modification.
  6. Finally, LED’s output a far softer light than flash, using less power as they do so. This means you can get as many as 100,000 full power flashes from a single battery, which is once again incredible.

There have been criticisms levelled at LED’s due to having lower light output than traditional flash is capable of. When you read the specs below however, you’ll see that both the AEOS 2 and NEO 3 have significantly increased output (measured in LUX) over their predecessors, with the AEOS 2 now able to overpower the sun, even while in continuous mode.

Modified NEO 3 by Jason Lanier

Modified NEO 3 by Jason Lanier

What features do the AEOS 2 and NEO 3 Share?

For all intents and purposes the AEOS 2 and NEO 3 are the same lights, offered in two different sizes. The AEOS 2 is larger, so can output more light over a wider area and has a couple of other tricks up its sleeve, which we highlight below. The downside is of course that it does weigh more, although it is extremely lightweight for what you get at 1.4kg.

  • The first thing you might notice is the signature rounded design of these two units (which is the same as their previous designs). The round shape was developed to provide a distinct catchlight in the subjects eyes, and to render smoother shadow removal, with soft wrapping, rather than a straight beam.
  • There’s also zero recycle time between flashes with either of these two, which is extremely rare with any form of artificial lighting. You can simply keep triggering in flash mode and the lights will burst at furious rates, never missing a beat. You can also engage stealth mode to remove fan noise while recording video, which is a unique and much appreciated feature.
  • Both of these lights include built-in award-winning Rotolight CineSFX™ Special Effects, with 14 different effects to choose from. They give you quick and easy access to realistic effects which can be used in a variety of situations.
  • Both lights give you continuous lighting of course, but they also give you twice the power when using flash mode. This combines the benefits of shoot what you see, with high power, HSS flash.
  • They can be triggered remotely from considerable distances of up to 200m away, using built-in Elinchrom Skyport flash receivers. You can pick up optional Skyport transmitters for your camera system to trigger them, for Canon, Sony, Nikon or Fujifilm.
  • A new native App for iOS and Android places control over the lights from the palm of your hand. You can adjust everything from colour, to special effects and even pick colours to match client work.
  • You can create custom groups and projects, controlling up to 20 lights in four groups simultaneously.
  • Rotolight manufacture and assemble in the UK.

Special Effects suite included

World first features of both the AEOS 2 and NEO 3

  • World’s first High Speed RGBWW flash at up to 1/8000th for daylight shooting and to freeze any action.
  • World’s first flash in 16.7 million colours, with outstanding colour reproduction and a TLCI of 99.
  • World’s first built-in 2500 gels with incredible creative potential.
  • World’s first full colour touchscreen controllable LED lights. This doesn’t just make it easier to navigate the menus, but is considerably quicker and packed with intuitive features.

Screenshot from new Rotolight App

Third party and backwards compatibility

There are a couple of developments, which open up options for photographers with existing gear who still want to benefit from using these latest generation LED lights:

  1. You don’t have to use Elinchrom transmitters to trigger these remotely. You can also use third party HSS transmitters and receivers, using PC sync cables plugged into the 3.5mm sockets on the back of the lights. Nice!
  2. New Universal Speedring and Bowens S mount adaptors are available to enable you to use existing light modifiers. That’s a very nice touch for established users with Bowens-fit accessories or generic speedring modifiers.
  3. If you have previous generation NEO’s or AEOS you can still use them with these new lights. They will be controlled in relay, which means they can be added in a group for rim lighting, to light backgrounds or anything else you might need.
  4. Previous generation accessories can also be used, but there are also brand new quick release diffuser domes for each available.

AEOS 2 control panels and light unit various angles

New colour touchscreen light controls

  • Access presets and favourites
  • CCT Kelvin between 3,000K and 10,000K
  • HSI (Hue, saturation and intensity)
  • Gels (2500 built-in)
  • Flash
  • Special Effects
  • System settings

What Else Is New With The NEO 3?

Gone are the AA batteries in favour of a new NPF-750 lithium battery. Rotolight has these customised for high power output and low drain, in no small part due to the fact that NEO 3 is the brightest on-camera LED light ever made!

Ambient light vs NEO 3 comparison

Specs comparison between Neo 2 and Neo 3

 

NEO 3

NEO 2

High Speed Sync Flash

Touchscreen interface

NA

Full colour display

NA

Digital filters

2,500 built-in

NA

Special Effects Built-in

14

12

Peak Brightness (1 m)

4541 LUX

1652 LUX

Weight

354 g

354 g

Kelvin Range

3,000 - 10,000K

3,150 - 6,300K

Colour Accuracy TLCI

99

91

Watch the video here, with Jason Lanier, the AEOS 2 and NEO 3

What else is new with the AEOS 2?

Aside from the shopping list of world first’s already described, AEOS 2 also features the world’s first optional Intelligent Electronic smart softbox, with control through the touchscreen panel or with the new App. This controls diffusion, focus and spread electronically. WOW!

Ambient light comparison outdoors with AEOS 2

Specs comparison between AEOS and AEOS 2

 

AEOS 2

AEOS 1

High Speed Sync Flash

Electronic Diffusion

NA

Touchscreen interface

NA

Full colour display

NA

Digital filters

2,500 built-in

NA

Special Effects Built-in

14

12

Peak Brightness (1 m)

9230 LUX

5750 LUX

Weight

1.4 kg

1.4 kg

Kelvin Range

3,000 - 10,000K

3,150 - 6,200K

Colour Accuracy TLCI

99

91

Applications for Rotolight’s LED lights

The possibilities are endless once you get your hands on a set of these lights. Here are some ideas for different types of photography you can use them for:

  • Portraits and lifestyle
  • Headshots
  • Weddings
  • Events
  • Fashion
  • Product photography
  • Interiors and real estate
  • Still life
  • TV and Movie productions

Jason Lanier's final shot using one NEO 3

Jason Lanier's finsihed shot using a single NEO 3

Should you get one, two, three or both?

Rotolight has made a significant leap forward with both of these updated LED lights. If you shoot professionally or are a keen enthusiast and especially one who travels to different locations, they could be a game changer. Not only are they compact and lightweight enough to travel with, but offer far brighter output than their predecessors. There are millions of colours to choose from, with 1000’s of gels at flash speeds of up to 1/8000 second. Zero recycle time can also be a real advantage for many photographers who don’t want to miss the perfect moment.

New adapters for Bowens and speedrings

Likewise videographers and production agencies will gain some clear advantages over using something like the Titan X1 lights, which is where a lot of technology has been ported over from. Not least as the AEOS costs around half the price. Backwards compatibility with previous gens and third party compatibility also make these extremely tempting, with the added benefit of being able to use existing Rotolights, with third party modifiers, triggers and accessories. We have to conclude that the AEOS 2 and NEO 3 would make a valuable asset for many users who shoot any number of applicable subjects. We have them available in the following kits:

Product

What’s included

NEO 3 Starter Bundle

NEO 3

Custom Battery

USB Cable

NEO 3 Ultimate Bundle

NEO 3

Diffuser Dome

Custom Battery and Fast Charger

NEO 3 Light Kit

3 x NEO 3

3 Diffuser Domes

3 x Batteries

1 x Dual Channel Fast Battery Charger

3 x light stands

1 x Hard Case

NEO Accessories

 

NEO 3 Battery

 

NEO 3 Dual Channel Fast Battery Charger

 

NEO 3 Dual Battery And Dual Channel Fast Charger Bundle

 

NEO 3 PSU Power Supply

 

AEOS

 

AEOS 2

AEOS 2

Diffuser Dome

1 x PSU and regional power cable

AEOS 2 Explorer Kit

1 x AEOS 2

1 x Diffuser Dome

1x Softbag

1x 95wh Battery and Charger

1 x PSU and regional power cable

AEOS 2 Masters Kit

2 x AEOS 2

2 x Diffuser Dome

2 x stands

1 x Softbag

2 x PSU

AEOS 2 Ultimate Kit

2 x AEOS 2

2 x Diffuser Dome

2 x stands

2 x 95wh Battery

& Charger

1 x Softbag

2 x PSU and regional power cables

AEOS 2 Standard Diffuser Dome

 

AEOS 2 Dual Battery Plate

 

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By Nick Dautlich on 09/12/2021

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