LED’s have been in major play for TV and broadcast since 2006-7. They were initially met with a sense of distrust in both power output and color quality.

In six short years though, they are becoming the go-to. Across the industry, there is a focus on both being efficient, and portable. The two often come in the same with lighting fixtures consuming less power (amp draw) overall, as well as minting the same amount of power as their predecessors.

However, LED’s, being a solution as they are rugged, power efficient, and have decent light output, come with a host of problems. 

Example of the continuous spectrum of light from an incandescent bulb, and a compact fluorescent.  Image: Timewether/wikipedia

Example of the continuous spectrum of light from an incandescent bulb, and a compact fluorescent. 

Image: Timewether/wikipedia

Most often observed is a limited color quality. Cheaper LED lights will often produce a green cast due to a deficiency in their color spectrum. Think of it as missing a major ingredient in baking… just doesn’t look right. 

Higher quality (and price) fixtures though, have better quality of color, most often measured in CRI, or “Color Rendering Index.” Simply put, this measures a light’s ability to produce the full spectrum of light (ROYGBIV). On a scale of 1-100, with 100 being the best (and standard produced by a traditional tungsten incandescent lamp). Office-grade fluorescent tubes can measure from around 50-70 depending on quality, while LED’s (designed for film and video) hit around 70-80, though newer models claim as high as the mid to upper 90’s.

Though that measuring system has its flaws, it’s a quick and easy manner of measuring quality. Currently, two schools of thought are present in LED fixtures.

The first is is “single-type” LED. The diodes (mmm what a deliciously scientific word!) are just that. Either daylight or tungsten balance, in a fixed beam size (spot, or flood, or somewhere in-between). These are the basic, more common style as they’re cheaper to produce.

Just a (very cool) one trick pony. Imace credit: Litepanels/Vitec Group

Just a (very cool) one trick pony. Imace credit: Litepanels/Vitec Group

The second is a mixed-LED. This can be a pairing of two colors (most often tungsten and daylight), focus (spot and flood), or any number of colors using red, green, and blue diodes. These are typically a bit higher priced, but offer flexibility. They do however, output less power in comparison to their single-type alternatives as its power is split (i.e. 50 tungsten-balanced diodes and 50 daylight diodes, vs. 100 of one type).

And RGB LED fixture. Photo: Elation Lighting Inc.

And RGB LED fixture. Photo: Elation Lighting Inc.

I’m a huge fan of LED’s. Besides the aforementioned, they run cooler in temperature, are more suited towards operation on battery, and have a longer lifetime than incandescent bulbs or fluorescent tubes. Though a number of issues still exist before they’re genuine exchanges for traditional fixtures, I think the day is coming very soon. Very, very soon.