Lowel Gun Light GL-1 Power LED shoots photons on location

Is it a hair dryer? Is it an electric screwdriver? No, it's the Lowel GL-1 Power LED, a new kind of handheld photographic light source.

Lowel GL-1 Gun Light

Is it a hair dryer? Is it an electric screwdriver? No, it’s the Lowel GL-1 Power LED, a new kind of handheld photographic light source. The GL-1, or Gun Light, is billed as “a completely portable focusing LED light, with powerful tungsten output”, marketed at photographers shooting on location.

Lowel GL-1 Gun Light

The Gun Light concept was originally formulated by wedding photographers John Solano and Brian Marcus, who approached Tiffen’s lighting manufacturer Lowel to make it a reality. They write,

What makes the GL-1 such a great tool is that you can see exactly what the light is doing. A constant, dimmable, focusable light source with no wires attached! The portability allows us to capture multiples images we would never have had the time for. Moving freely around a location without worrying about big umbrellas or wires was such a relief. The GL-1 simply gives us the freedom to create. The images we imagined are now all possible.

Because the light is continuous, there is no need to be concerned about how to “sync” it with your camera or to worry about enabling TTL metering. The fresnel lets you change the spread of the light from a flood to a spot without having to attach diffusers or grids, and according to the manufacturer, it has “highly accurate tungsten color output that doesnt shift during dimming”.

The Gun Light, as its name suggests, is designed to fit ergonomically into the hand like a pistol. A photographic assistant has all the controls within reach with no dangling cables or power packs. The battery cartridges can be swapped in and out quickly with a minimum of fuss.

Of course, it is not as bright as a big location flash and is not intended to be. Instead, the company says, “your high ISO D-SLR allows you to shoot in lower light situations. The GL-1 lets you add just the right amount of key, fill, or accent light on your subject, helping them stand out in the shot.” To see some example photographs, visit Solano and Marcus’s Gun Light photo galleries here and here.

How much will the Lowel GL-1 cost? A final price is yet to be determined, but Tiffen tell us that “the list price is expected to be under $800.” You can keep yourself updated about it at www.lowelgl.com and www.thegunlight.com.

Another handheld LED light introduced this year, the Westcott Ice Light, was criticised by some for its $500 price. To make matters worse, one batch of units had to be recalled due to a manufacturing fault. Here’s hoping the Gun Light faces a less bumpy road into the photographic community.

What do you think? Would you buy a GL-1? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

David Selby
Based in the West Midlands, UK, David Selby is editor of Lighting Rumours, a part-time photographer and a statistics PhD student.
  • Hello,
    The Photo Plus Launch was such a sucess.
    We had so many people at the booth and Brian and I were doing demonstrations.

    This lighting tool will allow you to work faster and be more dynamic when you are working an event.
    I myself am an event photographer, I can not do what I do without it.

    Looking forward to this lighting tool in the hands of professionals it will allow them to ” Illuminate at the SPEED of LIGHT ”

    Best of life,
    John Solano

  • Andy

    An $800 torch? Yet another lighting manufacturer with dubious claims.

    “Tremendous Power and Versatility – The light source is so powerful that photographers and videographers can shoot at varying distances without moving position. Light just as brilliantly as when shooting close up.”

    Well that’s odd because that’s the same with any other light source. Exposure is determined by subject to light distance not subject to camera.

    “Extensive controls let users set to Spot to hone in on a close; or switch to Flood to throw light all around the subject matter”

    Has light stopped travelling in straight lines now? If you’ve got a flood beam the only way you’ll “throw light around a subject” is if part of the beam is hitting something to bounce off. Same principle as a garry fong/stofen – might be useful sometimes but it’s not magic.

    All the ease of no wires and set up presumably rely on you paying for an assistant to hold the thing something you’ll also get if you employ someone to hold your quadra or other small strobe as well.

    I know continuous and strobe light sources are different beasts and this might be of use to someone. It’s just really irritating when lighting manufacturers make magical claims about their products. I’ll stop shouting at the internet now.

    • Andy,

      The GL1 is based on a FRESNEL lens.
      Spot to flood.
      Amazing Light from a hand held unit.

      You can focus your light from 30ft away.
      Not easily done with a strobe unit.

      I am a wedding photographer, so I usually have an assitant with me.
      But there are times I do not.
      The GL-1 Mounts on a stand with a tilt head.
      A professional can work very easily working solo.

      Take a look at the pro gallery on our site.
      See what it can do.


      Best of life,
      John Solano

  • Andy

    I’m not sure how a FRESNEL guarantees me amazing light. Doesn’t nearly every zoomable hot shoe flash use one? A frensel gives you a controllable spot. If that’s what you want then it’s amazing.

    You don’t mention a mounting option on your site, nor any power numbers or run time and your pro gallery doesn’t seem to mention how or where the light was used for example this one.


    • Andy,

      Everything is POSSIBLE, nothing is guaranteed.

      This is a tool, can give you results that are out of this world in a limited amnount of time if used by a professional with skills.

      The image you mention
      That was a LONG exposure,. Painting with Light technique.
      iso 100
      25 seconds, and painting in the shadows.

      Magazines LOVE this look for there editorial spreads


      Browse and see, most decor images in above gallery where shot with this technique.
      And those are all featured events.

      Illuminate at the speed of light!!!!


  • I can see how some people might be skeptical, but this light is the real deal. It’s an alternative to flash, and turns evening reception photos into art. The ability to focus the light or spread it out is huge. Plus, what John is saying about focusing the light from 30 feet away is no exaggeration and it makes it so that the person using the light can be out of the way…so they don’t block the parent’s view of the first dance- for example. It’s way different than a video light because of the distance the light travels. Pretty awesome for receptions really. And I haven’t even begun about the outdoor night shooting capabilities with this light plus high ISO’s!!

  • I see the product’s marketing team is monitoring Lighting Rumors! Since they’re here: Guys, I’m not a wedding photographer, but I could use a light like this. Problem: I don’t work with an assistant. No stand mount? Come on!

  • Andy

    It seems their two sites aren’t in sync according to this one it does have a mount. http://www.lowelgl.com/gl-features.html

  • Jon

    A Makita/Dewalt/Bosch/Harbor Freight cordless drill light with a $5 fresnel lens for just $800. But at least the whole marketing team showed up to spam the comments before anyone heard about the terrible response at PhotoPlus. This thing was all over twitter. We’ve been laughing for a while now at images of naive photographers checking it out.

    Pepper Nix demonstrated the use of a similar device back in 2005. She called it the “Pepper Popper” and joked about selling them, but then showed how to get them for like $20.

    Come on, guys. For $800 it should have a built in solar charging circuit so I never have to plug it in, variable color from 2700K-6500K (or more), and at least a belt clip so I can hang it from my Think Tank belt pack like any $40 cordless drill. And a lifetime warranty and lifetime battery replacements like any <$100 Rockwell cordless drill.

    • Jon,

      No marketing team here.
      Just me John Solano
      A designer on the light.

      Sitting here in Los Angeles, trying to reply to comments.

      Think about it.
      Fresnel Focusable Light in the palm of your hand.
      No need to search for plug in power

      A tool like this DID NOT EXIST, until now.

      “Illuminate at the speed of light”

      • a l

        Hi John,

        Did you check out at Costco as suggested by iphoto27?

        iphoto27, I got four of those flashes. It rocks over this Lowel GL-1.
        Thank you by sharing the good flashlight.

  • Marshall

    There is more to LED’s than you may think. The way the led’s are driven and controlled is very important, optics have to be implemented and designed properly. I have seen hundreds of LED products on the market for Film, TV and Photography applications and there is nothing like this.

  • FG

    Nice idea but it better be $500 to $600 “under $800″….
    This is another “fool and his money soon parted” idea at $800.

  • ed

    Nice idea but really a great way to blind a bride and groom .I saw it at photo plus. Looks big to me and unwieldy. I am sure it has a niche but it is not for everyone.

  • Ruel
  • Jim

    I see the word “powerful” being thrown around a lot in the marketing fluff but nowhere do I see figures. No lumens, no candlepower, or anything else. No run time either. Nada in their brochure or on their website.

    Every reputable flashlight manufacturer lists lumens and runtime. 600 lumens with a 60 minute run time? That’s a $50 flashlight. he specs must be pretty poor to not be published. The pictures are nice but I can do the same thing with my bag of 580 ex’s.

  • PeterB

    I followed the links but did not find any data about the output level, being in LUX or lumens. As it’s a 3000 K source, converting into daylight direction will eat a lot of juice.

    • Motti

      I find that none of the high end LED lights mentioned here gives any power output info. How convenient eh?

  • Elie Z.

    I am concerned about the quality of this light due to the size of the light source. I don’t see it having much advantage quality-wise over a shoe-mount off camera flash or a regular non-photographic torch light. Am I missing something here? What makes this more appropriate for the photographer to justify this relatively very high cost? I see the potential softness advantage in the ice light due to the size but this seems too small of a surface.

    Convince me someone please.

  • Guest

    $800, $700, and even $600 are a bit of a joke for this. I have the halogen Lowel ID light and find these prices a bit over the top.

  • $800, $700, and even $600 are somewhat of a joke for this unit. I have the
    halogen Lowel ID light, it costs $260 and find these prices just over the top.

  • iphoto27

    Here come your early Christmas gift, after purchased & then got my computer modified for the ATG AK1 Un-Tethered Systems for my ATG Canon EOS-1D C (modified from Canon EOS-1D C Body), to everyone.

    ATG says just go to Costco. Yup, Costco Wholesale.
    COAST HP550 Focusing LED Light, itm# 686885 @ $48.99
    Comes with 9 AA Duracell Batteries. Yup, that’s free.
    Then test & check it at wide angle for no hotshot in the center. Buy the one that has no dark rings.

    I ganged it up into four (ATG modified it for me) and my output is 4,000 lumens!
    ATG tested & also confirmed it to be bright white light with a metal housing.
    ATG says it was made & designed for working professionals and has a lifetime guarantee!

    You can mount four (one for me) on a light stand or use a walking tripod by holding one on each hand.

    4K output & adjust with just a push and pull for under $200.00 USD.
    36 AA Duracell are free.

    The best part is the light is excellent for still & 4k/video.

    Been using it with my ATG Canon EOS-1D C with ATG AK1 Un-Tethered Systems for months.

    Just wanted to spread the good news for this holidays.

    David, I and many got banned & flagged just for helping photographers on Flickr.com by using ATG equipment.

    Let me know what you think of it.
    Or just share your comments here.


    [email protected]

  • Charlie

    I would very much like to buy the GL-1. However, price will make or break the sale.

  • Kevin

    Honestly I just don’t see the sense in purchasing this over a bright LED flashlight off Amazon or Ebay. If I used a 50 dollar led flashlight and this unit you would be hard pressed to pick out what I used….I’ll put my 700.00 savings on that! Another unnecessary gimmick for all the photography lemmings to purchase.

  • mark

    This light is not worthy $800.