£449.99 for the kit; £219.99 for an individual head, bulbs, reflector and softbox

Power output

9x 28W lapprox 1 .OOOW tungsten equivalent)

Cotourtemp 4800-5200K

Switchable controls


Body material


Included kit

2x Super Cool Lite 9 lights. 18x 28w bulbs. 2x lighting stands, 2x 48cm reflector dishes, 2x diffusers and 2x Qctobox softboxes

Interfit Super Cool-Lite 9 Light Kit Test


The colour temperature of the lights is rated at between 4800K and 5200K This temperature will rise when the lights have been left on for some time and the tubes have a chance to warm up.

Having left the lights on for at least ten minutes before use, the actual colour temperature when I checked was nearer 5200K than 4800K

Setting the white balance of a Nikon D300 to a variety of settings, I found that auto white balance gave nearly as good a result as the custom white balance. Of the default presets, tungsten, flash and daylight produced results that were too blue, green and yellow respectively. The fluorescent setting also shorn a hint of blue. I recommend setting a custom white balance, or shooting raw images and adjusting post-capture for the best results.

Of the two diffusers, the Octobox gives the most pleasing result. With two layers of diffusion, it softens the lights and spreads it over a larger area. This makes it great for portraits.

As the simple diffuser for the reflector dishes isn't as large and only has a single diffusion layer the results aren't as soft, but by combining the results of both, and using the bare bulbs, you have a range of effects at your disposal.

One thing the kit lacks is a way of concentrating the light. It would obviously take a quite substantial set of barn doors to use with Cool-Lites, but it would be useful to prevent light spilling over into unwanted areas.

Our verdict

FOR simple portraits and still-life shots, the Super Cool-Lite 9 Kit is a great purchase, especially for those intimidated by using flash heads. It is perfect for those who regularly use light tents for still-lifes, although the large reflector dishes will mean that the kit is too large to be left assembled in most people's houses.

With variable power output from each head and the included diffusers and Octoboxes, there is scope for creative photography, although it lacks the light modifiers of a conventional flash kit.

While the RRP of £499.99 is quite high, the kit can be found for around £370, making it a more reasonable option for the home studio photographer

One light

One light

In the'one light' image, the key light on the left-hand side is on full power as is the only source of light. This has caused long dark shadows to be thrown from the subject. By turning on the fill light on the right-hand side and increasing its power, the shadows are gradually softened. With both lights on full power (1:1), the dramatic shadows have gone and though the subject it is left looking somewhat flat

With the light on the left set to full power and the light on the right set to half power, a lighting ratio of 2:1 is produced. This creates a soft modelled light, with the fill light softening the shadows from the key light

Lighting ratios

One of the advantages of the Interfit Super Cool-Lite kit is that, unlike many conventional tungsten lights, there is a variety of output settings. While these may not offer quite the refinement of a conventional flash head, it means you can start to explore lighting ratios.

Knowing exactly where to position lights and what power they should be set to can be difficult, but understanding some basic principles can make it easier

The term lighting ratio simply refers to the power output ratios of different lights. For example, when using two lights that are both on full power and are the same distance from the subject, the ratio is 1:1. If one of the lights is half the power of the other, the ratio is expressed as 21

When lighting a scene with two lights, the most powerful light is described as the 'key' light, and the secondary light is described as the 'fill'. The key provides the main light and the fill is used to fill in shadows. So in the example mentioned above, the key light is the 2 in the 2:1 ratio, while the fill is the 1.

In a 2:1 lighting ratio there is a 1EV difference caused by the two lights - the darker side may require l/125sec exposure, while the brighter side may only need 1/250sec. Knowing how to use lighting ratios to achieve different effects can help you set up lights quickly to achieve the desired look. For example, a lighting ratio of 8:1 is very contrasting and dramatic, while 2:1 is softer and more suitable for soft portraits.

Half power

Full power

Half power

Full power

Key light

Let the AP team answer your photographic queries

Do you have a photographic question that you would like answered?

Be it about modern technology, vintage equipment, photographic science or help with technique-here at APwe have the team that can help you. Simply send your questions to: [email protected] or by post to: AP Answers, Amateur Photographer Magazine, IPC Media, Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark Street, London SE10SU.

Battery life

Home studio choice

Kevin Sanders asks Having just moved house, I now wish to set up a small home studio space for taking portrait photographs. I have two spaces available to me - a spare bedroom and a garage, both with around the same amount of floor space. Could you advise me as to which would be the best area to use?

Third-party lenses

James Turney asks I am planning to buy some third-party lenses to use with my Canon EOS 5D camera, so could you tell me which lenses are designed for full-frame cameras and which are designed for APS-C-sized sensor models?

Richard Sibley replies

The following is a list of acronyms denoting that the lenses are for use on APS-C-sized sensor cameras: Sigma - DC; Tokina - DX, Tamron -Di II Lenses with these designations cannot be used on a Canon EOS 5D.

Richard Sibley replies One of the most important features of a studio is its height. Presuming that your garage and spare room are of around the same floor space, I would opt for the one that has the highest ceiling.

When taking portraits it is normally preferred to have the lights pointing down onto the subject's face from an angle of around 45J. If you plan to take just seated portraits, then you may get away with a height of around 7ft, but this is usually too low for subjects who are standing. Most local building regulations require a room height of 2.4m (around 7ft Sin), and rooms should have a ceiling height nearer 8ft. This extra height can make a real difference.

Other things to consider are security and the environment. Your garage may not be the most secure place to store valuable equipment, and it may not be dry enough to protect valuable studio equipment from damp and cold.

0 0

Post a comment