The Falcon Eyes VL-100 is a great looking new LED modeling light, neatly designed to strap straight on to the head of a regular speedlite. Many people have talked about strapping a torch to the head of a flash unit, but this is the first purpose designed unit I have seen.
This is probably just as much (if not more) designed as a small video light for combining video and still flash images, but it would be just as handy as a modelling light, to help see where the light and shadows are falling on the subject, and also help to focus etc in low light (like most larger studio or mono lights provide).
So far I have seen this light available under two Chinese brand names, the Boling Speedlite Partner, and the Falcon Eyes VL-100 Video Light. And apart from the branding, they both appear to be exactly the same unit.
Most of the specs appear to rate these at 5W output, though they have two 5W LED’s. There is a “Hard Light” button on the back which doubles the output for just 7 seconds, which is probably quite handy when focusing. I just replaced some 12volt halogen down lights at home with 5W LED’s, so that may give you an indication of the amount of light this would put out (around a 30-40W halogen bulb). The light angle is stated as 80 degrees.
Colour temperature is stated as 5600K, which is close to the speedlight colour temperature, so it shouldn’t hurt to have some of that light showing in a flash lit image (although that’s generally unlikely to happen anyway).
The VL-100 is powered by a standard NB-2LH Lithium battery used in the Canon Rebel XT / XTi series of DSLR cameras. The lithium battery offering the most power while keeping the weight down to just 120 grams for the complete unit (so the flash head could still easily support that weight). Run time is stated around 60 minutes, though that appears to vary anywhere from 30 minutes up to 70 minutes, depending on the quality of the battery.
There is also a button to check the current battery level, showing on a small back lit display bar.
The VL-100 comes with one Lithium battery and a charger, which puts the price around $65. Which no doubt is more than many people would like to pay just for a simple modeling light (considering a nice manual speedlight like the YN-560 III are from around $85 now). But when you consider one good Canon Lithium battery is around $50 alone, you can see where the cost is involved with the VL-100.
So far I have only found sellers in Japan and Europe. The PanProduct Japanese store has some great images on the Boling version. And the Falcon Eyes page is here, though I don’t think you can purchase from them directly online. There is also the Russian Chako store selling the VL-100 version.
There is a short clip here showing a little video work using the light –
I really like the way the design of this unit fits neatly to the flash head and is still nice and compact. And it should be able to be mounted backwards on the flash head in a bounce umbrella for example so you’re still getting the brighter direct light on the subject.
Is the price a deal breaker though?, would a similar modelling light be better with AA batteries, so it has a lower initial price, and inexpensive Eneloops etc could be used to power it instead? Could this be done better with a regular LED torch currently now, or would they not last as long etc? Ultimately I’m thinking a small remote control to turn them on and off from the camera (saving power) could be really handy.