Registered: June 2006
Location: Dunstable Bedfordshire UK
Review Date: Sat June 8, 2013
||Would you recommend the product? Yes |
Price you paid?: £900.00
| Rating: 10
Value for money, Build Quality
The review header refers to the RD 300 set. This review is of the CD 300 and CD 500 sets. The RD sets are of the same quality with small differences in the specifications.
My camera club decided to replace our elderly studio lights. So which ones should we buy? We decided to steer clear of the unbranded sets as we wanted kit that was reliable, could be serviced if necessary, had cooling fans, a standard fitting for accessories and user replaceable flash tubes.
Our old kit comprised of five 400 watt Bowens heads and it was soon apparent that to buy from the main players such as Bowens and Elinchrom whilst being proven, reliable and having good back up facilities, this comes at a price, meaning that we would only be able to get two or maybe three heads within our budget.
Then we had a stroke of good fortune. Weetrish posted a thread on the forums:
And revealed that she had bought an iLux studio lighting kit. This was a new brand to me, so I found their web site. This in itself was impressive, but as I read through the pages, I found that all of my boxes were being ticked. I e-mailed some links to the club Committee and they were also impressed, so as iLux are based in Walthamstow, North East London, about an hours drive from us, we arranged to pay them a visit to see the equipment.
We were greeted by Juan Silva the studio products specialist who really knows his stuff. He told us about the way that the iLux brand was born and it was clear that although the brand is new, the thinking behind it is sound and based on long experience in the field.
The large showroom was comprehensively stocked with lots of photographic goodies from memory cards and batteries to cameras, flashguns and printers. Oh, yes, and studio lights and other kit too. On first impression the iLux studio kit had a quality look and feel. Closer inspection revealed excellent build quality, finish and attention to detail. The iLux diffusers have two diffusing layers, the flash heads have a rubberised finish over an aluminium body, cooling fans and the sets all come with a mains powered radio trigger that fits in line in the power cord. The heads also have slave cells which can be triggered by light or IR. The power levels have a digital read out and can be adjusted in 1/10 of a stop steps. The controls on the back of the units are sealed push button switches that are easy to use. The power level will rapidly go up or down if the button is held in and will move by 0.1 if the button is pressed once. All of the buttons can be operated with no fear that the light will move or fall over.
We could not believe the astonishing value for money that these products offer. The stands are sturdy, well finished and air damped. The kits pack away into a well designed trolley case. Did I mention the 18 month warranty?
It was by now a forgone conclusion that we were going to buy some of this kit. We ended up with a CD500 set with 95cm octaboxes and a CD300 set with reflectors and umbrellas. We also bought a snoot that comes complete with a grid and gel set, and when they come into stock, we will buy a 70cm beauty dish and a grid set.
After we had sorted out our order, everything was brought into the showroom where Juan checked that everything was present and the lights and triggers were working. Even the boxes that the flash kits are packed in were quality items. Two thick cardboard boxes one inside the other giving a double skin. Absolutely no corners have been cut anywhere with the iLux products.
For those unable to go to their premises, they have an on-line retail shop Photomart where you can find all of the products that they stock. Juan checks that all studio lights ordered (regardless of their brand) are complete and working before they are dispatched.
We had a shoot booked at the club within a week of our purchase so we had a chance to try the kit out. Starting from scratch with both sets in their cases, we had them up and running in about 30-40 minutes. The octaboxes were a bit of a fiddle to assemble and took the majority of the time, but they were no worse than other softboxes I’ve used. No assembly instructions were provided, but it was easy to work out. The octaboxes have two sections. The main part that is assembled first with the mounting rings and 8 metal rods and a smaller section that is added after the main section is assembled and fits between the mounting ring and the main part of the diffuser. We found this piece was best fitted after the octabox was attached to the flash head as it enables you to hold the mounting ring to fit the softbox to the flash head without it being in place. Two of the pockets (adjacent to each other) in the main part of the octabox have a velcro flap that when opened allows the rod to go right through the pocket to ease assembly. With the other rods in place the diffuser can be stretched up these two rods then the Velcro flap can be folded back to close the pockets.
Anyone never having done this before would probably find it more of a struggle. We will not have to break them down for storage, but there is a version available that will fold down easily should storage be an issue or if they are to be used in more than one location. The bayonet fit rings lock into place on the heads for added security, and will also rotate by releasing the locking screw if you are using a long narrow softbox that can be used vertically or horizontally. Overall it was a fairly straightforward process.
We used a radio trigger on one light and the other three lights all fired reliably with the built-in slave cells. We tried using the pop up flash on a camera and that also fired the lights with no problems.
We set the lights up with a flash meter and the first shots gave great results. The lights give superb control with adjustments of 1/10 of a stop steps and the recycling time was very quick, enabling quite a rapid shooting rate to be achieved if you wanted.
in the three hour shoot the octaboxes did not get excessively hot. They can be given some ventilation by loosening the velco fastening at the top of the join between the two sections, but this is not really necessary. The bodies of the flash head did not get hot at all thanks to the cooling fans. These are not noisy even with four heads in use.
We are delighted with these lights. Everyone who has seen them has been impressed. We can’t all be wrong! I’m more than happy with my own Elinchrom set up. But if I were starting again now I would have no hesitation in choosing iLux and I recommend them wholeheartedly.
Prices: CD500 set with 95cm Octaboxes £540. CD300 set with reflectors and umbrellas £340. Prices of other sets and all of the products that are stocked can be found on the Photomart web site.