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.
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.