‘Active Diffusion’ offers remote-controllable lighting softness

Some lights have remote power and zoom control. Now you can adjust the transparency of diffusion panels, too.

Chimera Zylight Active Diffusion

US lighting manufacturers Zylight and Chimera have introduced Active Diffusion panels, offering “infinitely adjustable opacity”. The panels fit onto the front of LEDs or fluorescent lamps, allowing photographers and cinematographers to adjust the softness of their lights continuously at the turn of a dial.

The technology uses a flexible, electronically-controlled LCD screen with adjustable opacity. Changes are instantaneous, with users able to select diffusion from 0–100% (from transparent to around 1.5 stops) via a remote control.

In a press release, Active Diffusion patent-holder Jeffrey Hamel said: ‘Chimera’s new Active Diffusion used with Zylight’s F8 Fresnels, for example, allows you to change from a hard to a soft source immediately, in real time. The ability to change light levels, quality and wraparound without changing diffusion frames will make this a must-have for every shoot. The technology is lighting’s first “follow focus”.’

Here it is in action at the NAB 2017 trade show.

Pricing and a release date have yet to be announced. For more information, visit the Chimera web site.

Would you use a remote-controlled diffusion panel?

David Selby
Based in the West Midlands, UK, David Selby is editor of Lighting Rumours, a part-time photographer and a statistics PhD student.
  • J.L. Williams

    Cool technology… but since the light source stays the same size, you’re not really changing the “softness,” only the specularity (appearance of reflected highlights.)

    • Class A

      If the material truly diffuses (i.e., throws light into all directions when it leaves the surface) then the effective light source size will increase proportionally with the opacity and hence the “softness” will increase accordingly. Not sure whether the maximum diffusion level is sufficient and who actually needs adjustable softness, but the technology is definitely interesting (and has apparently been announced once before in December 2016).

      • Hassan Dibani

        That’s not exactly true, light that has it’s path changed will not be reaching the subject, instead it will hit the background, you will have a more evenly lit background/subject but only light that goes straight out of the light will hit the subject, the size is thus not changing and neither is softness. it will be less specular but not softer.

      • J.L. Williams

        Only if there’s a room environment to reflect all those scattered rays back to provide shadow fill. If they are absorbed by the environment, you’re still left with a light source of the same angular coverage and consequently the same “softness.” Still, most people use these lights indoors, so “adjustable scatter” (the term I’d use) could be useful to them.

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  • Ronnie Chan

    Wow,this tech is amazing.Technology had change they way things used to be.