Monday, November 22, 2010

Sima Light Panel SL-20LX

The Sima Light Panel is one of my personal favorites as far as lights go. I like its size to light output, and I like it’s flexibility as far as mounting goes. Its power source is a positive and a negative, but in all, it’s a pretty utilitarian device.

The Sima is small. At basically 2 x 2 x 1” this thing is sleek. That measurement isn’t exactly accurate after adding the arm, but if you don’t have a cold foot or a hot shoe, then holding this light isn’t an issue.

This light is bright. There’s no dimmer on it, no way to regulate the brightness, but if you’re in a fairly dark situation, it’s going to shine.

The best part about the Sima is how it mounts. First, there is an arm which attaches via hot shoe to the light panel. This arm can be manually extended and retracted, to vary the distance from your camera. The other end of the arm can be attached by either hot shoe or cold foot to a mount. Alternately, should you not want to fool around with the arm, you can attach the light panel directly to a mount using the hot shoe you would have used with the arm. Again, if you don’t have a mount, it’s small enough that you can carry it and use it with your hand alone.

Lastly, the power source. Unlike our other lights, the Sima is charged by cable from any wall outlet. It takes a little while to charge (I let it go for about two hours), but it holds power for quite a while. And when you’re done, you can leave it somewhere to charge while you edit photos. The pro to this is the money you save on batteries, which get pretty expensive after a while. This is perhaps balanced out by the fact that, if you’re in the field for a day (or night) and you don’t have access to a wall outlet (or AC converter from your car), then you’re out of luck once it runs out of juice. Making the Sima battery or plug-in friendly would have been a huge boost in its favor, but alas it just isn’t.

Even with the minor issues of needing a mount of some kind (unless you’re going handheld, which really isn’t an issue usually) and the battery vs. outlet debate, this is still a good light. I’d recommend it for any mobile journalist’s tool bag.

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