©Tyler Rickenbach

Fits Just Right

Like in the Zac Brown Band song “Chicken Fried,” where the lead sings his praise for “a pair of jeans that fit just right,” the StellaPro Reflex S by Light and Motion is my new favorite light that suits me to a T. The new upgraded version of the Reflex S released last fall has a more powerful battery handle that delivers more run time, power, and burst performance. 

Who is this light for? The obvious answer is photographers; however, as a filmmaker, I found myself using the continuous light more than I thought I would. It’s also for creatives who need to pack light and stay on the move.

A huge benefit of the light is that you can sync it with a Godox, Profoto, or Elinchrom receiver. So, if you already own one of those, then you don’t have to buy another trigger system.

I have a Profoto B10 and found myself using both systems together in the studio. I loved how the two worked seamlessly. Not once did I feel the Reflex S was inferior to the Profoto B10.

Courtesy Light and Motion
Courtesy Light and Motion

I wanted to test the versatility of the continuous light. In the past I’ve primarily used strobes to take portraits; however, after studying photographer Peter Hurley, I realized his setup made use of continuous light. I can see why. Continuous light allows you to see the result in real time. You can add different adapters to the front of the Reflex S, making the light versatile. I used the dome diffuser for the portrait of my Indiana Jones-style model to evenly light his face.

My setup was quick: I was able to take a series of photos in less than 20 minutes. The beauty of the Reflex S is that it’s small, lightweight, and less intrusive than other lighting options. For the portraits, the Reflex S was powered between 1 to 1.2 stops on continuous light. For those who work in run-and-gun situations such as photojournalists, wedding photographers, and filmmakers, the Reflex S may be a perfect solution.

One thing to note: The instructions can be confusing. I had trouble syncing my Profoto receiver, but after an email to Light and Motion, I was able to resolve the issue.

©Tyler Rickenbach
The strong directional light works perfectly for a bold profile.
©Tyler Rickenbach
The dome diffuser softens the light for portraits.
©Tyler Rickenbach
In this setup I used one Reflex S as the main light and another as the rim light.

I wanted to push the limits of the Reflex S in total darkness. On a cold fall morning, a friend and I headed into the foothills to photograph a Land Rover Defender under a starlit sky. With a headlamp illuminating my path, I attached the StellaPro Reflex S to a light stand and had my friend drive past, hoping to create a streak of light showing movement from the vehicle.

After a few attempts, we finally dialed it in (+2 stops of light using the Reflex S as a strobe). Using rear curtain sync (with the light flashing at the end of the exposure), we were able to create something special in a short amount of time.

Like any strobe, there are limitations, and the Reflex S is no exception—you have to maintain line of sight or it won’t fire.

©Tyler Rickenbach
Conditions for the night shoot were perfect, with clear skies and the darkness of a remote location.
©Tyler Rickenbach
With the StellaPro Reflex S set at +2 stops of light and using rear curtain sync, I was able to create the streak of light and motion I'd intended.

The question of whether it’s worth the $849 price depends on what kind of work you do. You can create soft, natural daylight with the Reflex S on continuous light, or you can use it as a strobe in high-speed sync and shoot up to 30 frames per second at full power until it reaches a buffer. Imagine the action sports images you could create with 18,000 lumens in burst mode.

Would I buy it? Absolutely. It doesn’t solve every need, but when you’re on location and packing light, it’s an incredible tool that’s readily at your disposal.

Something to keep in mind for those planning to use the Reflex S as a continuous light, anytime you push the light past 2.5 stops, the cooling fan turns on. This is more problematic for filmmakers recording audio than photographers; nevertheless, it’s something to be aware of.

I love the Reflex S, and I’m thrilled to add it to my toolkit. It’s the light I didn’t know I needed.  

Tyler Rickenbach is a filmmaker and photographer based in Idaho

Tags: gear  lighting