Last year we had a chance to review the portable Pipeline Reporter light system by the Danish company Brother, Brother & Sons (or BB&S). We loved the system so much that we awarded it our favorite light of 2016 and indeed it gives a fantastic quality of light using BB&S unique Remote Phosphor Technology (you can read more about it in our previous review).
The only real drawback that we found with the system was that it wasn’t very powerful as it was designed for vloggers and to be used from a distance of between 30-60 cm (max 2 foot). Luckily BB&S decided to use the same technology and create larger pipeline systems. You can actually buy several lengths of pipelines which can come in banks of 3 or 4 pipes.
The lighting system that we will be testing today is the largest of the Pipeline LED Systems – 4 foot (120cm) long 4 banks with a blinding light output of 16,000 Lumens (just for comparison sake the pipeline reporter kit dual lights produces about 2000 Lumens).
Let’s take a closer look at the system and our experience with it:
- Size – The Pipeline 4 bank is large, at 4 foot – the version that we tested is almost 20cm or 8 inches wide and weights 3.5kg or 7.7 pounds but actually feels even heavier. As we shall discuss shortly this is definitely a large pro studio light which requires a substantial mounting unit.
You will need a solid mounting unit (we used a C-stand but a fixed mount will be better if this works for you)
- Build quality and design – the Pipeline 4 bank is extremely well made and very robust. It is all made of metal including the PSU and the control unit in the back. The only plastic parts are the front cover and the included diffuser. The light came almost fully assembled we only had to connect the cable from the PSU to the controlling module and plug the unit to the power.
- Mounting – The Pipeline 4 bank has several mounting options. There are several number of threaded holes on the top and bottom of the light however they are smaller than 1/4″ 20 and we are not sure what is their purpose. The main mounting system for this light is a reinforced built in specialized threaded piece made by 9.solutions. The light comes with a separate adapted Manfortto/9.solutions dedicated heavy duty ball head with a bay pin female receptacle and a magnetic threaded part that attaches to the Light.
As ingenuous as this 9.solutions is (excuse the word play here), we would rather have a simple baby pin connector and no thin threads like you have on most heavy duty studio lights. Luckily BB&S explained that you can remove this dedicated connector and connect a common Kino Flo mount plate with baby receiver – so you basically have both options.
The 9.solutions built in mounting – ingenious – but we prefer the more traditional option
- Power – Although we didn’t mention this on the video, the 4 bank Pipeline system works using AC power (which is how we used it) or with batteries including Gold Mount or V-lock (but you will have to inquire BB&S on how to connect them exactly as there is no mount on the back of the light).
- Light power – the Pipeline 4 bank is unbelievably powerful but the light it emits is still very soft. Here is a quick demo of how the light looks on my face in a fully dark room from a distance of 2 meters or about 6.5 feet at 100% power – this was shot at f/4 with ISO 100 mind you – very impressive.
Super powerful pro level light
- Light quality – First we will mention that our version of the Pipline 4 Bank is a 5600K fixed – you can also get it in 3200K or 4300K or a bi-color version if you like. First we want to mention that we didn’t see any color cast – just like we expected from a light at this level. Since we didn’t have a professional color meter (we are hoping to get one for testing and general use later) we decided to shoot our color chart with the Pipline bank, the Manfrotto Lykos and outside in the Sun and you can see the results – all unprocessed RAW files on the screen.
- Diffusion – As we mentioned the light coming from the Remote Phosphor tubes of the Pipeline 4 bank is powerful but soft. It does come with a Plexiglas diffuser which we have used all the time. It works fine but we found it a bit strange that BB&S used two rubber band to attach it to the light. For such a high end light a rail on the side of the light would probably be a more reasonable solution. We also don’t know if you can use other light shaping accessories with the light and if this is important to you we suggest you clear this out with BB&S before you get your unit (update: talking to BB&S they told us that they already have barndoors, honeycombs and DoPchoice snapgrids/snapbags for the light).
- Remote – the light comes with a controlling unit which let you increase and decrease the light’s power (and in the bi-color version – change the light’s color as well). As long as the light and it’s controller are accessible easily there is no problem changing settings, however if the light is placed in a tall spot or like we did in our case on a boom – it is much harder to reach. This is why BB&S created an optional remote which we highly recommend you get if you buy the light – we also suggested to the company to create an additional wireless controller – although you might be able to do that using a DMX controller which you can connect to the unit.
- Actual use – As we have mentioned several times in the past, besides LensVid our main photographic work these days has to do with our vegan food channel Veggies and part of the reason we were so excited to get the Pipeline 4 bank is it’s huge power output and high light quality which is exactly what we needed for shooting our food making videos.
The light performed great for this task – producing even soft but strong light (although for our prepuces a squared light would probably do a better job). Also, despite its power output the light emits relatively low heat and even after many hours of use at 100% it was not too hot to the touch – which is important especially when working with food also worth noting – the light is passively cooled and emits no sound at all.
Simple to operate (but you better get the remote)
The BB&S Pipeline 4 bank is a formidable lighting system – both in terms of sheer power and quality as we have seen. You do need to consider a number of things though – this light is very big and heavy – probably not something that you are going to take with you out of the studio for anything but very serious productions. Even when in the studio we would highly recommend a very robust C-stand with sand bags or weights and if you are going to use it in one particular location just hang it from a wall mount or a ceiling.
As for pricing – as you might expect from such a pro level system, the BB&S Pipeline 4 bank isn’t exactly inexpensive. The current pricing for the system is $2500 and we would also suggest you add the BB&S remote unit which is priced at $300.
At the end of the day if you are looking for an extremely powerful and very high quality but soft lighting system for your studio or high end location work and you have the budget and room to spare – the BB&S Pipeline 4 bank system should definitely be on your potential buying list.
You can check out more LensVid exclusive articles and reviews on the following link.