The prototype

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.

7 Responses to “The prototype”

  1. this kind of free exchange of ideas is great making a wonderful product to sell back to all these millions of consumers/photographers that seek a wonderful tool.

    i wonder if ‘david’ is thinking about some kind of profit sharing to people who gave their advice and ideas ? or will it all go to the corporation ?

    curious in yokohama

    • Hi Cory
      I think I need to use this opportunity to say that ‘david’ is not associated with this project in any way. The soft reference in the video shown on this site is part of a narrative that goes roughly like this: Lots of photographers have learned to light because of knowledge sharing on the internet. ‘david’ is the granddaddy of this knowledge sharing. With the new awesome video capabilities, photogs need new tools. There is still a lot of room for innovation when it comes to light and lighting. We want to do something about that.

      A couple of people has said that they were confused about whether ‘david’ were associated with this project or not. That is enough for me, I’m editing any reference out of the video.

      We are not marketeers (as you can surely see from the design of this website, haha!). We are a couple of knuckleheads who believes it is possible to invent a new generation of lights. Personally I think the video turned out pretty cool, it told a story that photogs can relate to. But if any one thinks the reference is problematic, lets just get rid of it and get on with the development.


  2. A hot shoe mount is important as speedlight brackets are design to take them. As a photographer a nice feature would be some sort of remote control, some way to adjust power output without having to go to the light.
    As for wireless trigger port this needs to be a 3.5mm jack and not a PC/Sync

    • I’m thinking that it would be good to be able to control output by having the camera itself act as the remote control. The camera can communicate optically with speedlights, so it would be good to support those protocols. Unfortunately they are different for all manufacturers.

      Agree on the 3.5mm jack! Currently the trigger port accepts a trigger signal, a quench signal and a framerate sync signal.

  3. it’s a shame you don’t even reply to visitors who make your website a bit more lively.. Great stuff otherwise.

    • Awww. You got me there. I have all sorts of dumb explanations, like too nose down in development etc.

      Will immediately take corrective action 🙂

  4. I think you have covered the most important aspects of a light source, but I wondered what about your though on direct or indirect exposure? Will it be possible to trigger the light wireless? I am no expert in photography, but I see that the professionals in studios have their light in another position than the camera. I guess that is to make the light more natural and not so intense?

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