What is it:
The Ice Light was constructed by a company call Westcott and designed by renown Photographer Jerry Ghionis, Jerry designed the Ice light to replicate a window light when there isn’t one available. So what you get from it is a continuous LED light which has a daylight balance (5200k-5500k), the light is also incredibly soft and comes across as a little warmer, it reminds me of the Lastolite ezybox when it comes to softness and colour.
Design and Construction:
This product really stands out from his competitors when it comes to build quality and design, I use to own LED lights and I found them clumsy, hard to handle and badly build; despite them been more powerful I ended up not using them often, one of the main reason was because it was annoying to handle and I had batteries issues (will cover this subject later). The Ice light is the opposite, it’s so nice to use and it holds in your hand perfectly, super portable and has a very comfortable feel when you’re holding it. It has a very strong feel of durability and construction which will make you believe that if you drop it by accident it will survive, and yes it will.
The buttons on the unit are very simple to use, there is a power button and a dimmer, one up and one down button; to start the device you don’t use the power button which is odd, you need to press the up button; I don’t really understand why is that but it’s the way they designed it. On each end of the device there is a tripod mount which means that not only you can attach it to a light stand but you could also plug 2 Ice Lights together.
Westcott reckon that the light will last 50,000 hours which I doubt you’ll go through it in your life time, to put this in perspective you will have to use the light for an hour every day for 136 years. Let’s just say that it will never stop working so that’s a good thing. The light as mentioned at the beginning of the review is set for day light and it’s around a temperature of 5200k. If you set your camera balance to daylight it will make the light a little warm which is very nice and can be controlled through your white balance, but what I like about this warmish feeling is that it bring a nice tone to the skin.
The light is super soft and could easily be compared to the softness of a soft box, it really is a beautiful light and if used correctly you will get stunning results from it.
One of the possible downside is the power, you will not be able to use the light outdoor in daylight and this is why it’s important to understand that this light will not replace your flashes. Used indoor for a low key portrait, this will be amazing as the power will be high enough, I have not had any power issues when used in doors and I’ve actually didn’t have to use at full power in all instance.
The Battery Life
One of the reason I am covering this in to a full point is because I had so many issues with previous LED light system and I think a lot of people could be jumping to this point before reading the rest of the review.
The battery will last around an hour in full charge and will take around 2.5 hours to fully charge, the bonus is that you can use it when it’s plugged and charging, if you think about it, this light will be used 95% of the time indoors so in theory you could be using the light plugged to a power supply in lot of location. As a wedding photographer I had my reserve about it before using it thinking that it will never last me on a full Wedding day, but it did with an issue and without the need to plug it in. Remember, you can use a full hour in full power; you won’t always use it in full power so in must circumstances it will last double that time.
The battery cannot be taken out and the power supply will directly plug to the Ice Light, but you can buy a battery extension to make it last longer; in my opinions I would prefer to spend the money on a second light as the battery extension is expensive.
The Ice Light will NOT replace your flashes so don’t go out and sell all of them to buy an Ice Light. At a price of £475 in the UK, this is a serious investment for a lighting device. Is it worth it? well it depends on what you going to use it for, as a wedding photographer time on a day is precious; If I was indoors wanting to shoot a low key photo like the one below and had to setup a softbox and do a few test before taking the photo, I’m probably looking at a good 10 minutes in total. With the Ice Light, I will be setup in 10 seconds and could have the photo done in less than a minute. This will not only help you in getting more out of your day but this will also give the couple more time to enjoy them self, which should be your aim as a Wedding photographer. When I use the Ice Light, I feel like I’m cheating at my job, I can instantly know where the light/shadows are going to be and adjust it to the correct power in second, to top it up you’ll get an amazing soft light. What more can I ask?
In all honesty, you could probably find a much cheaper product online which will give you close to or the same result but the Ice Light comes at an all in one perfect package. My previous LED light which was the Polaroid 312 was powerful, had the ability to change the Kelvin and lasted for a good time but it was clumsy, badly built, a nightmare to hold in your hands, the batteries took a full night to be charged and it if you left the batteries in the device after a shoot, you will find them empty after a couple of days; so yes in theory I could have get close to the same result but I hated using the think and rather rely on my flashes so I ended up by using it in very limited situation because it just annoyed me so much. I love the Ice Light and despite the high price tag, I will recommend it to any one who can afford it and I personally will be one day looking t buy a second light.
It is also excellent for light painting.