Unboxing – Rotolight NEO 3

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Back in December I said I was going to get myself a Rotolight NEO 3 and here it is.

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Having this side by side with the Westcott Ice Light that I purchased in 2015 shows how much the world of lighting has changed in seven years. And you can also see the size of it compared to a Nikon SB900.

Profoto launched the C1 light in September 2019 and back then, I wasn’t impressed with it and now even less so.

Courtesy of Profoto

In my eyes it is an expensive version of the type of light you can easily pay less than £10 for in any DIY store. And just like the Ice Light, the internal battery will need replacing at some point.

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Speaking of batteries, the one that comes with the NEO 3 has a USB port which I’m assuming is for charging. They are calling it a 750 with 44.4Wh which is more than my 770 battery from Hedbox which is a 32.6Wh. The Rotolight battery is also slightly taller than the Hedbox 770 but not as tall as the 970 which is a 48.8Wh.

Courtesy of Profoto

Having a light that can produce different colours to set a mood in a photograph has been of great interest to me lately. Buying sheets of gels that I only need a small bit of or purchasing the light specific manufacturer gels like the ones by Profoto is limiting. I mean why carry these individual gels when the NEO 3 has the ability to replicate more colours than what I currently own.

If you can’t find the colour you want in Gels mode you can always pick the colour in HSI mode. I think I’m going to be spending hours trying out all the permutations of hues and saturation levels.

Playing around with the menus there is a wifi mode that needs further investigation and I will also have to see what the phone app can do.

I don’t know if it is just my light, but it doesn’t run silent. There is an electronic buzz from the moment you turn on the light and changing the fan modes makes no difference. So luckily I’m not planning to be shooting any videos any time soon in which this noise might spoil the sound.

My initial impression is that I won’t be using this light as a standalone piece of equipment. For me it will work best when combined with other lights to give the set a splash of colour. Or using multiple NEO 3 lights set at different intensities of the same colour.

NEO 3 does go to show the level of research and development that has been going on in the world of lighting over the past few years. Mastering these new and exciting tools is going to take time but will be well worth the effort.

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