So we’ve been working on the core feature set for the prototype. There is a lot of ideas floating around, even some good ones(!), that we will work into the product down the road. But first things first.
You have probably seen tennis players getting ready for the serve. They are out there on the field, rocking slowly back and forth, staring intently on their racket, and pulling the strings with their fingers. Do you know what that string pulling is? That is called focus. Unfortunately I don’t use tennis rackets when designing products but I have a post-it note on my screen that says “Focus goddammit!”. That also works.
So counting out all the nice-to-haves for now, what are the really, really basic features we need to focus on?
- A lot of light. Seems obvious enough, but then again… The thing is, that light output is the mother of all trade offs. When you increase the output you also increase the price, the power requirements, the size, and the heat. Camera sensors have become a lot less noisy and need less light. I often find that I can’t stop the light down far enough. I actually don’t think that maximum light output should be the primary design driver. In any case, it is worth exploring what other cool things we can do if we lower the lumen requirements.
- Portable. The smaller and lighter the better.
- Multiple power sources. Battery power and external power. Photogs need flexibility. There is a thread over on the strobist flickr group discussing the ideal battery.
- Constant light and flash. All new DSLR cameras record video. If you don’t do video now, sooner or later you will. Maybe a little, maybe a lot, but you will. You are not going to lug around two different sets of lights are you? You want some lights that can be used as a constant light source. And even if you primarily shoot stills, it would be nice to have a modeling light.
- Multiple trigger options. Hotshoe, optical and sync port.
- Mounting. The thing needs a 1/4″-20 standard issue tripod mount. Does it actually need a hotshoe at all? The hotshoe is not used very often, is it? I’m thinking that the hotshoe could be an accessory. But it would be nice if it could stand on its own. If there is some convenient surface to put it down on, that might save you from pulling out the light stand at all times.
- Color temperature. This is a biggie. Photographic lights need adjustable color temperature. The range? 2500 to 7000 Kelvin is a minimum.
- Built in filters. If the color temperature can change, we can build in electronic filters. Add 1/2 CTO with the touch of a button. Or CTB, Plusgreen, whatever you need.
- Power efficient. Batteries should last long.
Agree, disagree? We’d love to hear from you in the comments or by email.