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    Astera AX3 LightDrops
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    Senior Member Run&Gun's Avatar
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    I mentioned in another thread that I was buying a set of the Astera LightDrops. They came in at the end of last week and I took them with me on my shoot out-of-town the last two days, so I have gotten a chance to use them in the real world, now. At least on one shoot...

    https://astera-led.com/ax3/

    I'll cut to the chase. Two of my friends that I was shooting with, both in the business probably 15 years longer than me, both said "I've gotta get a set of those" after I pulled a few out. And both of them had received quotes for their own sets from our sales rep before the shoot was over and one of them ordered the same 8-light set that I have, today. On the way back to the hotel, the first day, the producer said "those are a game changer". I'm pretty sure I just replaced my Hive 100C's and possibly my 200C's, for almost all things that I was using them for. For a lot of my interview situations, I would feel 100% confident walking in with just my two Gemini 1x1's in their case and the case of Astera's(about the size of a large briefcase).

    Ok, now the rambling... The Astera LightDrops are roughly hockey puck sized RGBW lights that have internal batteries and are wirelessly controlled with one of the most versatile, powerful light control apps that I've ever used. The control that you have is astounding. Litepanels system is crapy to begin with, but in comparison to Astera's, it's kindergarten child's play. And that's IF you can get it to work. Hive's is better than LP's, but still doesn't touch this(and its range and connection is short and dicey). The heart of the system is the AsteraBox(optional, but necessary to fully utilize the system to its fullest), which is the go-between radio system between the app(brains of the system) or DMX consoles, W-DMX, CRMX, LumenRadio systems and lights. The AsteraBox and your phone/tablet app(iOS and Android) communicate via bluetooth, but the Box and the lights communicate over much more robust and long range UHF/2.4Ghz (they state 300m). I believe the lights can also receive directly from wireless DMX/Lumen Radio systems. It's a full-fledged professional lighting system. There's also a small "credit card" remote that can do basic functions, but my rep forgot to order it, so I can't comment on it, yet.

    You aren't just going to pull these out of the box and go the first time, There is some set-up involved, but once you get that done and play with the system and start to understand it, it's pretty easy. You don't have to re-pair and set-up from scratch every time. After the initial set-up, subsequently you can just pull them out of the case, turn them on, fire up the AsteraBox and hit the app and be off to the races. One of the biggest things that attracted me to the system, is that that it's all battery powered/self-conatined(lights ABox), so I can just throw them where I need them without having to run power to them. AND that you can get them in a case that not only caries a set of eight of them, it also charges them. Just plug in one standard(supplied) EIC power cord to the case and it charges all of the lights simultaneously. They just make it all SO DAMN EASY.

    As I mentioned earlier, the lights are RGBW(not RBGAW or RGBWW like Gemini's), so they are extremely versatile. So, they can obviously do basically any color, CCT "white light" from 2000K to 10000K with +/- green but they also have a pretty exhaustive/(almost?)all-inclusive selection of "gels" from Lee and Rosco that go over both tungsten and daylight. Plus you can also enter color coordinates and make your own colors. They're also, of course, fully dimmable. And something else that I don't believe I've seen before in lights like this, they have an 'anti-flicker' function that lets you set the frame rate and/or frequency so that you don't get flicker on-camera.

    Do I need to get into the effects and grouping functions?

    What else...? You can get all of the specs on their website and there are video's of them in use, but... They're 15watt LED's, native 13 degree beam, but come with 30 and 120 degree lenses. I also ordered the "wallwash" lens which actually acts like a barn door slash and can rotate the slash by turning the lens, and the diffuser dome.

    I know I'm probably forgetting a bunch of stuff, but I've been up for almost 20 hours today, so my brain is getting kinda mushy. Oh yeah, you can tell the lights the minimum amount of time you need them to run and it will automatically adjust the power to keep them running that long(of course you will be sacrificing maximum brightness the longer you need them to run, which is up to 20 hours). You can also remotely put them into and take them out of standby to conserve power, both manually and by setting On and Off times in the app. I need to verify which it is, because I think I've seen two different specs for standby. I thought I read in one place that they use about 5% power per day in standby, and I thought I saw it stated that they'd last three days in standby.


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    Senior Member puredrifting's Avatar
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    These look interesting, what do they cost in the real world with all of the toys/accessories?
    It's a business first and a creative outlet second.
    G.A.S. destroys lives. Stop buying gear that doesn't make you money.


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    Senior Member Run&Gun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by puredrifting View Post
    These look interesting, what do they cost in the real world with all of the toys/accessories?
    I bought an eight light set(comes with 30 & 120 degree lenses for each) in the charging case, plus I bought the AsteraBox, which is a must to really get the most out of the system, the ‘Wallwash’ lenses and diffuser domes. It came out to a little over $3400 before tax.


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    Thanks for the great review. How do you think you'll use them mostly?

    Run&Gun out in the field pushing for set ups close to metal so he can use the magnets!

    That would be funny as an edge etc. to use the main part of the light stand to attach the ax3s vertically, without using its intended mount at the top.

    Also, I think you should do a small goal post and attach all 8 with the domes for a backlight - would that be like a 4'x 1/4' source? Even though there'd be more lights there's less mounting hardware.

    The light ball accessory will definitely work as an in shot practical too.


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    Senior Member Run&Gun's Avatar
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    Rob, my main intention/reason for buying them is for lighting backgrounds in interviews. But really there are almost limitless possibilities for their use with their completely self-contained, compact design. You can even submerge them in water, if you instal the plug in the charging port.

    The magnets may come in handy for the times I throw lights inside race cars sometimes. Not while they are racing, but for interviews in race shops.


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    Senior Member Grug's Avatar
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    Very cool!

    I hadn't heard of these before, but my mind is already flooding with the possibilities.

    The rigging options are significant. And as practical sources that you could quickly and painlessly rig into a location, they look terrific.

    How long can they run for at full power? (the "up to 20hrs" line is rather vague, is that at 1%? or 100%?)

    The carry case acting as a charger and only requiring a single cable is the stuff of lighting wet dreams!


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    Senior Member Run&Gun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grug View Post
    Very cool!

    I hadn't heard of these before, but my mind is already flooding with the possibilities.

    The rigging options are significant. And as practical sources that you could quickly and painlessly rig into a location, they look terrific.

    How long can they run for at full power? (the "up to 20hrs" line is rather vague, is that at 1%? or 100%?)

    The carry case acting as a charger and only requiring a single cable is the stuff of lighting wet dreams!
    Yes, the charge case is a huge part of the convenience of the system. One thing, though, the fans are loud.

    I haven’t run a test to see how long they go at max output and what percentage they drop off as you set increased minimum runtimes, but there is actually a max setting in the runtime selector(meaning the light will operate at full power with no regards towards a minimum runtime). 5 hours is the default runtime setting, but you can go more or less from there. That actually sounds like a good test for Matt at NewShooter to do. Their reviews get pretty damn deep.

    Definitely no shortage of ways to rig them. They even come with a set of three little eye-bolts for each fixture so that they can be suspended/hung from place by wire/rope/whatever. I love the built-in yoke(also removeable). It has a foot that rotates out forming a cross/X giving it a stable platform for to sit on. There’s also a single little foot/stud that screws in/out of the body of the light so you can set it on the ground and still angle it without the yoke on it. The yoke also has a 3/8-16 screw hole in it. I just ordered eight 3/8-16 to 5/8 receiver adapters from B&H last night so that I can actually use these on light stands in a more traditional fashion, if I need to.


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    Senior Member Grug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Run&Gun View Post
    Yes, the charge case is a huge part of the convenience of the system. One thing, though, the fans are loud..
    The fans on the lights are loud? Or the fans on the charging case?


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    Senior Member Run&Gun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grug View Post
    The fans on the lights are loud? Or the fans on the charging case?
    Sorry, should have been more clear. The fans in the charging case. The lights themselves are silent.


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    Senior Member Grug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Run&Gun View Post
    Sorry, should have been more clear. The fans in the charging case. The lights themselves are silent.
    Great, I’ve just found a local rental source, so I’m going to check these bad boys out. ��


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