Michael Topham tests Gloxy’s portable Power Blade to find out how it performs when painting subjects at night

Gloxy-Power-BladeGloxy Power Blade at a glance:

  • Rechargeable battery with 10-hour battery life
  • In-car battery charger supplied
  • Wireless remote control
  • Light range of 3-10 metres
  • Price: £130
  • Website: www.photo24.co.uk

In recent years, LED panels have been used more and more by photographers. The panels come in all shapes and sizes, and are used to provide a bright and constant source of light.

Unlike square and rectangular LED panels that tend to spread a large pool of light, the Gloxy Power Blade creates a narrower beam of light, and consists of 298 LEDs grouped together in a strip mounted within a tube. Just like the fictional lightsaber weapon used in the Star Wars films, there’s a handgrip that provides a solid grip, with three buttons to control operation. These comprise directional up and down buttons to set the LED power output between ten settings, and an on/off button that doubles as a mode button to set it to a variety of flashing modes rather than constant illumination.

The top of the Power Blade unscrews, enabling the supplied cylindrical filter to be fitted to increase the warmth of the colour temperature, while it’s also possible to wrap different coloured gels around the tube and secure them with sticky tape.

Set to full power (20W), the Power Blade offers continuous light for just over an hour before it runs out, and I was able to recharge it fully via the mains in 3 hours. The 1⁄4in tripod thread is extremely useful for mounting the Power Blade on a tripod, but the buttons are rather fiddly to use – a simple on/off switch would be preferable to its small on/off button.

Gloxy-Power-Blade-on-location

The Power Blade was tested out on location at night to illuminate this car

Gloxy Power Blade – key features

Weight

The LED panel measures approximately 34 x 4cm and consists of 298 LEDs. The unit weighs 620g, which is 40g heavier than Westcott’s Ice Light.

Tripod thread

The battery compartment securing cap features a 1⁄4in thread, allowing the lamp to be mounted to a tripod or other device.

Buttons

The operational buttons are on the small side, which makes it difficult to control the power output and switch it on and off quickly when wearing gloves.

Gloxy Power Blade – verdict

This is a highly portable and powerful continuous light that’s superb for illuminating subjects and, as I discovered, it can be an invaluable tool when painting with light at night. It is such a bright light source that I found my best results were created at its lowest power settings, although it’s great to have the extra power to hand when you need it. There is room for improvement to the handgrip, though, which would benefit from being rubberised and sculpted for a better feel in the hand.

There may be ways to create your own cheaper LED strip panel, but it’s unlikely it will provide the same rechargeable battery and power control as the Power Blade. These features, combined with its remote-control functionality and in-car charger, justify the price – and it’s a cheaper alternative to Westcott’s Ice Light (£349).

SCORE: 4 out of 5

You may also wish to consider:

Westcott-Ice-Light-

Westcott Ice Light

Westcott Ice Light

Price: From £349

Website: www.fjwestcott.com

The closest rival to the Gloxy Power Blade is Westcott’s Ice Light. It has a near-identical design, with its strip of LEDs offering a daylight colour temperature. It comes rated for over 50,000 hours of use.

Manfrotto-ML840H-Maxima-LED-Panel-

Manfrotto ML840H Maxima LED Panel

Manfrotto ML840H Maxima LED Panel

Price: £190

Website: www.manfrotto.co.uk

This 84 LED panel with a 5,600K output is powered by a built-in rechargeable lithium battery. It can be mounted to your camera’s hotshoe in either the vertical or horizontal position and is designed for both still and video use.

72-LED-Inspection-Lamp

72 LED Inspection Lamp

72 LED Inspection Lamp

Price: From £10

Website: www.maplin.co.uk

This budget LED lamp features 72 white super-bright LEDs and magnets on the rear for magnetic fixing. Unlike the other LED options listed here, it has a simple on/off mode and is powered by four AA batteries.