Get into Constant Light

©Betsy Finn

It seems that we’re talking an awful lot about constant light lately, likely because of the uptick in demand for video content. Whatever the reason, if you’re looking for a consistent LED that is budget friendly, you’ll want to consider the Badger Beam from Interfit.

The 60W COB LED is daylight balanced to 5,600K (+/- 200) with a beam angle of 120 degrees and a stepless adjustment dial. Output varies depending on the modifier used. I didn’t measure the lux output during my testing, but I did experiment with bare light (no modifier) as well as soft box and umbrella modifiers, and I could tell the difference. In their published specs on lux/brightness, Interfit reports that a 7-inch reflector yields 6,560 lux at 1 meter, while an 11-inch reflector yields 19,000 lux.

©Betsy Finn

The Badger Beam looks almost identical to the Badger Unleashed strobe lights that I reviewed (“Cord Free,” Jan. 2019), and uses the same yellow battery. In the Badger Beam, the 2900mAh lithium ion battery lasts 45 minutes at full power and takes two hours to charge. Before my hour-long session was over, the Badger Beam’s battery was exhausted; by comparison, the same battery in the Unleashed strobe unit would last the entire session. Since the batteries are easily exchanged, it isn’t a big deal to swap them out so you can keep shooting, but if you’re relying solely on battery power, it will be crucial to have a charged replacement ready. The Badger Beam can also operate on AC power with the included power cord.

©Betsy Finn
This interior test shot shows the light fall-off of the Badger Beam.

The Badger Beam is predominantly black, unlike the Badger Unleashed strobes, which are yellow. This color difference will make it easy to grab the right strobe off the shelf if you own both.

In general, LEDs get hot, but in my testing I never found the Beam’s plastic case more than warm to touch, even after 45 minutes at full power. I turned the light on for 10 minutes at full power to monitor this aspect specifically, and the unit housing did a great job of staying cool to the touch. The LED surface does exude heat, so don’t touch it directly. However, with the boxy design of the Badger Beam, it’s unlikely to happen without intention.

Speaking of keeping cool, the Badger Beam has a fan that runs when the unit is on. It’s audible, but I wouldn’t call it noisy. When I used the Badger Beam to film video content, I was wearing a lavalier mic, which didn’t pick up the sound of the fan.

©Betsy Finn
Inside the studio, the Badger Beam functions well as the main light. It's less intrusive than the flash of a strobe.

For my testing I recorded several selfie marketing videos and did still photography with some animals and a very animated toddler. I wasn’t worried about using this light around a child because with the soft box on, the only part of the monolight that gets hot is inaccessible.

The Badger Beam does a good job, though it’s not the highest out-put LED I’ve worked with. While the Badger Beam is certainly up to the task of creating content indoors, I tested it outdoors on several cloudy days and found it didn’t create much impact unless I was in deep shade. The best outdoor spot was inside a tractor shed where the ambient light was low. That’s one of the drawbacks of LEDs across the board: They’re designed for a different purpose—continuous light—so they can’t manipulate the balance of ambient light to artificial light like a flash unit can.

©Betsy Finn
This is the photo I was going for with my indoor setup. There's a nice rim light and good bokeh in the background. To capture an active toddler, I used a higher ISO than usual—1/320 second at f/5.6, ISO 1600.
©Betsy Finn

Indoors, the Badger Beam brightened up a room nicely. It has both Bowens and umbrella mounts. I bounced it off ceilings, photographed through a soft box or umbrella, and worked with the bare light panel. I encountered no issues when using the Badger Beam to create marketing videos or still portraits. I think it would work for candid, lifestyle, and branding photographers who want to add just a little light to the room without making the environment look staged.

©Betsy Finn
Outdoors, the Badger Beam could not overcome the ambient background light enough to prevent blown out highlights on the subject's head.
©Betsy Finn
In a shed, I had placed the Beam 3 to 4 feet from the subject; background daylight silhouettes the subject.

The Badger Beam is great for creating video content. I used it to record some Instagram Video reels on my smartphone and loved the results. LEDs are easy to set up, and you can quickly adjust the angle and brightness to create smartphone video that’s ready to share almost instantly.

I enjoyed using the Badger Beam. It’s not the smallest or most powerful LED out there, but it has flexible power options (cordless/AC), interchangeable batteries, and remains cool on the outside. The Badger Beam offers photographers a budget-friendly way to enter the realm of professional LED lighting. This is especially true for photographers who already use the Badger Unleashed, since it uses the same batteries, making it an even more economical option to consider.

The Badger Beam retails for $219.99 and comes with one battery and an AC power cord. Additional Badger series batteries retail for $100 each. For more information about the Badger Beam, visit interfitphoto.com

Betsy Finn is a portrait artist. Her studio, Betsy’s Photography, is located in Dexter, Michigan.

Tags: lighting  technique