Hands on review of the Arri L7-C.
It's no secret that we film a lot of tutorials—in fact, a day rarely goes by where we don't have a filmmaker at our studio sharing their knowledge and secrets for an upcoming Academy of Storytellers tutorial.
And while our format includes far more than just a talking head—live-action, behind the scenes footage, screenflows, animations, etc—there still is a stand-up component to each tutorial that often includes filming on a seamless.
And if you've ever filmed on a seamless, you know how frustrating they can be at times—especially if you're changing rolls often.
Even with a wall mounting kit, like the Impact one we use, you're still not having a fun time wrangling wrinkles or other common frustrations associated with paper backgrounds.
360° Color Control
Full red, full blue, full green, full magenta, full pink, full yellow, full cyan—any color at your fingertips with just the turn of a dial.
We had to try it.
So we reached out to our pals and foundational partners at B&H Photo Video to have them ship us one so we could really put this light to the test—and see, in our case, if it could replace us having to deal with seamless paper once and for all.
Here are 3 things we dig about the Arri L7-C...and 2 things we don't dig so much.
👍 #1) Full Color Control
Let’s start with the coolest thing first.
Not only can you dial in the color temperature from 2,700k to 10,000k—which in and of itself is super handy—you can also dial in plus or minus green for when trying to match existing lighting conditions, especially around overhead fluorescent lights.
But here's the nifties part:
You have full spectrum lighting control.
By pressing one button, the L7-C goes from a traditional LED bi-color light to a color powerhouse—all without having to use light-blocking gels. And with that, the potential creative uses for just about every production increases dramatically.
From creating a neon-looking light in a bar scene, to adding to the nasty green fluorescents from an old sign spilling through a window, you can either create from scratch or match existing light in just about any scenario.
In our particular case, the L7-C allows us to take any white background and turn it into any seamless color we want.
👍 #2) Focusable and Dimmable
Full-spectrum lighting is super useful. Even more useful is being able to control where the beam spills and how intense the beam itself is.
With just a few turns of the focus knob you can either flood or spot the light—15° to 50°—allowing for some serious control of where the beam is hitting.
Even more, it's fully dimmable. Whether you're in normal mode (CCT) or color mode (HSI), you can dial in the intensity from 0 to 100.
The combination makes for a light that is hard to not take serious interest in.
As Ryan Booth said in the Academy webinar, "I literally use it on every shoot." And it's no secret why—it's just plain useful.
👍 #3) LED and Bright
With the L7-C having full-spectrum color control and being dimmable, you've probably already guessed that it’s an LED fixture.
And with that, the same benefits of other LED lights apply to the L7-C. Mainly that it doesn’t get hot to touch and it can be turned off and on at whim.
See ya later lens gloves or worrying about blowing bulbs.
At an equivalent of a 750w tungsten light, the L7-C is also pretty darn bright—certainly enough to act as either a key, fill, background, or hair light depending on your setup. And despite it being powerful, it’s extremely quiet so it can be used in an interview or, in our case, tutorial setting.
All-in-all the L7-C packs a serious punch.
But at a cost, weight, and...size.
Which brings us to the 2 main things we don't dig.
👎#1) It's not cheap
While it's feature rich—including many features we haven't yet mentioned, from being weather-sealed to having a fresnel lens—so too is it's price. At $2,800 USD a pop, it's definitely an investment.
👎 #2) Big and Heavy
It's built like a tank and weighs as much as one too. At 24 pounds, it requires grip and stands that can take the weight. In a studio setting, that's not a huge deal breaker. But, for the traveling filmmaker it's certainly something to be aware of.
Do the 3 👍's outweigh the 2 👎's? No pun intended.
Plain and simple: the Arri L7-C is amazing, which is why Ryan has such a love-affair with this fixture.
If you're a documentary filmmaker or a narrative filmmaker, this light will make your life easier and allow you to tell better stories—from being able to match any color that's already present on set to being able to add any color you'd like—without resorting to gels.
But for us and our intended purpose—to replace seamless paper—$2,800 USD translates into a ton of rolls of paper we'd have to buy before it's a cost-saving.
While we'd love the flexibility and ease of use that the L7-C affords, we're still on the fence determining if our countless seamless struggles are worth the switch right now.
We definitely recommend that you try it out, and consider the many ways you can make this light fixture worth it's weight in awesome light.