The Zylight F8 LED Fresnel


For those who already follow me on twitter or have seen some of my high-speed work in the past few months know I am a big fan of the Zylight F8 LED fresnel.  There are tons of LED panels on the market currently and more and more popping up everyday.  There are however a select few LED fresnel lights on the market and even fewer that actual are feature rich, hold color temp and offer remote operation.

Zylight F8

Zylight F8

I first saw a prototype of the F8 in late 2012 and a functioning unit at NAB last year.  Here was an American company (already making high quality LED lighting with the Z90 and iS3) showing a LED with the punch of an HMI light.  Not only did its size and weight appeal to me but also the fact you could run it off an Anton Bauer battery or V-mount and still get a large throw.  I was lucky enough to wrangle one for the TS3Cine high-speed camera booth and for a test I fired the light up to the ceiling which is pretty high (at the Las Vegas Convention Center) and it filled a large area.  Several people came over to our booth to ask what the new light was and “how was it possible for an LED to have such a powerful throw and spread”. These have a sweep of 16 – 70° which is pretty amazing.  That’s 20 degrees more than an Arri L7-C and the F8 is also half of the L7’s weight as well. I knew right away I had to have these in my kit.


Like all other Zylight’s the F8 has wireless capability built in.  You can use a Zylight Remote to control on/off and dimming of the F8 or multiple Zylights including Z90 and iS3 as long as they are on the same channel. This is very handy especially if you have them rigged to a grid or in an inconvenient location on set.  There is also also DMX built in so you can go the traditional route if you prefer using a lighting console.  The wireless option for me is key as I might have a kicker 20 feet in the air on a mount or stand that would require lowering and adjusting, meaning more man power.  I often do my own lighting so being able to use a remote is handy and also lets you dim or kill a light during a shot.  I can do this from camera position or anywhere I want and linking lights means one controller instead of having to use one per light.

F8 DMX connectorThe F8 comes in two flavors. Tungsten and Daylight.  The daylight version has more output and for myself is the more desirable of the two since a lot of what I shoot is outdoor.  This means I am supplementing, complimenting, countering or replicating what would be appear as much as possible to be natural daylight.  The F8 does this perfectly as its spotting and flooding range is exactly what I need to get the shot without the need for multiple models of lighting.  The F8 has enough punch to go though several layers of diffusion and scrims and still cast a nice controllable spread of constant light.

Another fantastic feature of the light is that its portable.  Not only in that it can be battery operated but Zylight put Arri rosettes onto each side so you can literally attach handles to it.  This is handy for example if I am operating a steadicam or MoVi and I need a grip to walk next to me filling operator shadow or to give some light tracking to the subject.  Its a smart design and I haven’t seen anyone else think of this ingenious idea. The rosettes also allow for more rigging options and as we all know the more options for placement or attachment the better.

The Zylight F8 is weather resistant which is not something I can saw for most lights out in the market. Although not waterproof, I literally buried an operating F8 in the snow with just the glass of the fresnel exposed to get a shot I needed from the ground.  I had it in the wet snow for approximately 45 minutes without any issues.  After the shoot I wiped it down and put it in the case and used it for an indoor shoot the next day.  Everything was solid.  The bellows of the light are rubber and sealed on each end. The light does not put off much heat so I was able to put it in a bag immediately after a long day of shooting.  The light is also durable.  The one thing I always hated about my HMI’s is when someone dropped one my my Joker 400’s and the bulb broke.  Not once but twice.  The Joker 400 is a great light but at $250 a bulb it adds up.  The F8 does not burn out or need a bulb change.  This is piece of mind for me as I have enough crap to deal with on a shoot the last thing I need is a light to go down and to be without a spare lamp.  I don’t have that worry anymore. I also would have to wait for the lights to cool down before breaking down which in some cases added a lot more time to the shoot schedule. The F8 features passive cooling so no fans are required to keep it cool, therefore it is mechanically and electronically silent.  With LED lights we can move on to the next shot immediately. They can go into a bag and into a trunk right away.  Also not having a potential burn hazard is important. Not just for people but equipment cases, etc.

image-4image-3The power usage on the light is great if you are considering operating with battery power.  I tried three different  two year old Anton Bauer Hytron 140 batteries and each yielded between 45- 58Minutes each at 100% power (high 95+ CRI rating on daylight and 97+ on tungsten).  A second test at 50% yielded almost 90 minutes.  That is pretty amazing considering how much light is pounding out of the fixture. I should mention the light is silent as well.  Some lights I have used in the past have had a buzzing sound or a high-pitch tone.  These emit no noise.

image-2I shoot high-speed and having a F8 daylight fresnel has been a dream as it does not flicker when set at 100% output at over 5500fps.  Yes 5500 frames per second.  This is important as most lights will kill your high-speed shot with rolling bars and bands of light or high pulse flickering.  Most will also mess with the color at higher frame rates or adjusted shutter angles.  The Zylight F8 does not have these effects.  I can without question bring one, two, four or more F8’s on a high-speed shoot and without worry know I can get almost any frame rate I need without flicker or color shifts.  It is my go to light for shooting. Not just high-speed for almost everything.  Its versatile, powerful, durable, efficient and affordable.  If you are going to NAB this year I highly suggest you stop by the Zylight booth to check it out in person at Booth# C5209 next to the Belgian Pavilion. Zylight

Michael Sutton



Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.