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Stanislav Petera: Big Test of FOMEI LED BAR RGB 25 Under Combat Conditions


As a long-time FOMEI ambassador, I have the honour and privilege of testing new equipment before it reaches the general photography public. Our testing tends to be brutal and demanding, we try to push each piece of the equipment to the extreme. Frost, heat, rain, bumps and falls, rough handling? The worse, the better. We have to test everything that the lights might encounter during shooting.

The other goal is to test technical limits. How durable are the lights, what can be illuminated with them and what, for various reasons, is beyond their limits? Again, we stuck to the ‘don’t worry too much and go to the extreme’ principle. What we subjected to the testing was the newest FOMEI product: LED BAR RGB 25 (hereafter only the LED BAR).
Our test took place in literally war conditions, on a photo shoot of combat helicopters for the Czech Army.

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What is the LED BAR?

To put it simply, it is a light tube which looks similar to a short fluorescent lamp. The light is 65 cm long and weights 1.4 kg. In addition to a replaceable battery, it also has built-in magnets, so it can be attached to any metal surface, which is very practical.

The LED BAR is able to shine in the full RGB spectrum (which is basically standard for all modern sources), it can be controlled remotely (through a mobile app), and its construction is very robust. We managed to test its durability during several (relatively unwanted) falls on a steel floor of a combat helicopter. The light output is 25W, which is roughly equivalent to 250W of a halogen bulb. LED BARs are supplied in a practical fabric case with a battery, a charger, and a socket adapter.

"The lights are really well built. The construction is solid and water resistant. In my opinion, it is the most heavy-duty light created by FOMEI I’ve ever had in my hands...."

What is the LED BAR suitable for?

We use led bars for shooting and filming in three cases. Firstly, as undisguised sources in the scene. They look like fluorescent lights and they behave like fluorescent lights, therefore they are placed where fluorescent lights would normally be. The advantage is that, unlike fluorescents, led bars allow us to control the colour, the shade and, most importantly, the intensity of the light. The light is also more powerful than the light of common fluorescents. For shooting, we mount led bars on the ceiling or put them in corners. Alternatively, they can be used as undisguised, decorative light, e.g. in video clips.

The bars are also used by creative portrait photographers who use them to create interesting reflections in the model’s eyes. These may be lines in the eyes, crosses, stars, or other interesting shapes.

Finally, we use LED bars as the main light source in spaces that are rather cramped: car interiors, aircraft cabins... or perhaps on board a combat helicopter, which was the case here. It is very easy to fix the led bar into any corner, on the ceiling or on the floor using either magnets, twist ties, or electrician’s tape.

What is the LED BAR unsuitable for?

LED bars are usually not very powerful which is determined by their design. That’s why we seldom use them in situations when the ambient light level is high. Their light is not visible at all on a sunny day. A large interior can’t be illuminated with them either. This is not a fault of the product; it is a feature one needs to take into account. The tubes are also not as compact and portable as, let’s say, the very small LED MINI RGB 12 or 24, so I wouldn't recommend them to an ultra-mobile light-travelling photographer either.

Summary and practical experience

We put the new LED BAR RGB 25 through a very challenging photo shoot this time. We used it to illuminate the interior of a combat helicopter both on the ground and in flight. On top of that, we used the lights at dawn, in the rain and the assistants also dropped them several times in the heat of the shooting. No harm has been done, though.

How to sum it up? The lights are really well built. The construction is solid and water resistant. In my opinion, it is the most heavy-duty light created by FOMEI I’ve ever had in my hands. The light it creates is steady, intense, and the RGB spectrum coverage is very nice and rich. The built-in magnets are practical, they came in handy several times and they managed to keep the lights in place even during a not exactly smooth flight.

The app control is convenient, and I appreciate that all new FOMEI lights can be controlled from one place, which saves time and work. The battery life is more than sufficient, we got over two hours on full power.

So, who would I recommend the new LED bars to? To all creative photographers (and filmmakers) who are looking for something extra to be added to their photos or who often work in places which lack enough space for ‘regular’ big lights. FOMEI LED BAR RGB 25 is a robust, powerful, and colour-stable light that is sure to expand your creative potential.

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