Today we are taking a look at the Gemini 1×1 hard light by Litepanels. This is a professional-grade LED panel with incredibly bright light output and accurate colors. It comes in a lightweight fixture and features RGB colors, mode presets, and a large range of modifiers and accessories.
Litepanels (today part of the Vitec group which also includes Manfrotto) started out in 2001 when LED technology was only emerging, and for two decades has been offering professional lighting solutions in a durable and slim design (we have previously tested the original Litepanels made Manfrotto Lykos). Litepanels were quickly incorporated onto many professional sets, which established them as a reliable industry standard for network and streaming video.
Gemini 1×1 hard – technology evolution
The Gemini series is a range of compact RGBWW LED fixtures with a full set of effects for creative lighting. The Gemini 1×1 hard is the latest addition to this lineup. It’s a similar body as the 1×1 soft but boasts a much more powerful light output and a double diffusion system that also supports different modifiers.
Ultra-bright 1×1 panel – Gemini 1×1 hard
The Gemini 1×1 hard offers up to 31,000 lux of intensity coming out of a very portable 32cm x 32cm ( ) (40cm x 45cm, including the bracket) fixture weighing 6kg/13.2lbs. This LED panel features full RGB control, 300 gels, a built-in modifier holder, and 11 customizable special effects.
Build and design
From the very first look, this LED panel gives off a professional feel. It’s rugged metal construction with hard plastic handles for an easier setup.
It comes with a heavy-duty bracket with a single-handed tension knob. The bracket features a double-sided mount for the power brick and the v-mount battery holder. Litepanels offers a choice of an overhead bracket, as well.
The front of the unit features an array of LEDs covered by impact-resistant lenses. Included in the kit is a plastic dome that provides a soft diffused light. This dome is held in place by a metal clasp on the top of the fixture. To remove the dome, push the clasp back and slide the dome up along the metal ridges on the sides. This external holder can also be replaced with another modifier, like a honeycomb grid.
The softness of the light is also controlled by an internal diffuser that sits flush underneath the external dome. This holder has a pretty solid design, and it securely holds the diffusion panel.
The kit that we got to try out came with an ultra-light internal diffusion panel, but Litepanels also offers optional Light, Medium, and Heavy diffusion panels, as well as an Intensifier.
Lots of diffusions options
The back of the light is covered with a metal dissipation panel and a cooling fan enclosure with 6 preset buttons and a user button to toggle between custom and preset settings. Below the buttons, there is a small menu screen with a cancel button, three clickable knobs, and a power switch.
The top of the fan enclosure holds 7 communication ports. The power port with a Neutrik connector is on the left side of the unit.
The fan is fairly quiet even at a very close distance, and it keeps the unit from getting very hot. There is an option to turn the fan off, but that limits the output of the light to 50%. In Max mode, the fan is a bit more audible but still wouldn’t present much of a problem.
Very low fan noise
The Gemini 1×1 hard comes with DMX ports, ethernet ports, a USB-A port, a WiFi antenna, and a Bluetooth dongle port. Surprisingly, this dongle is sold separately. This is a shame, because the way we see it, there is plenty of room in this fixture to include an internal Bluetooth device. Without the dongle, you can’t control the light remotely through the Litepanels app.
The light runs off DC power and uses a power brick that tucks in neatly into the bracket that holds the fixture. While it’s great that Litepanels provided this cable management solution, unlike some of the other lights that we’ve worked with, the power brick can get in the way when you handle the light.
In the field, the Gemini 1×1 hard can run off a 150WH or larger v-mount battery. In our testing, a 230WH battery can power this light at full output for about 1:20 hours.
The optional V-mount battery plate
The idea behind this hard light is versatility. It’s a very powerful source that can be modified in a variety of ways to achieve very different results. On its own, the individual LED lenses are able to project the light with a 46-degree beam which results in shadows that are not very uniform, so it’s better to use the hard beam with a screen or the onboard diffusion panel.
When covered with the included dome, the light beam changes to a much softer 100-degree spread.
For operation, the light comes programmed with 6 marked preset buttons that quickly change the color temperature from 2700K to 6000K. These are set to 100% intensity with no green/magenta offset. The range of color temperature on this light is from 2700K to 10000K.
You can also set your own presets by dialing in the settings that you want and long-pressing on one of the buttons. To toggle between user presets and stock presets, press the A/B button on the right.
To dial in the settings, use the three knobs on the bottom. The right knob controls the intensity of the light. The middle knob changes the color temperature. To offset the green/magenta tint, use the knob on the left. This same knob also functions as the menu selector. Click on the left knob to enter the menu.
The menu is pretty intuitive. The options here are color modes, control ports settings, menu screen, and fan settings. An interesting feature in the menu is USB setting storing to transfer the same settings between two or more Gemini lights.
Another useful menu item is the battery monitor that allows you to check how much time remains before the battery runs out. (We found that it wasn’t very accurate, but that might depend on the batteries themselves) There is also a battery alert feature that flashes a little red light next to the power switch when the battery is running low.
When you enter the HSI mode, the control knobs change their function. The knob on the right still controls the intensity. The middle knob changes the saturation, and the left knob changes the hue.
There are 11 effects in the menu (emergency/fire/fireworks/hue burst/lightning/paparazzi/party/pulsing/squares/strobe/TV). The effects parameters are customizable. The screen offers clear instructions about changing each parameter with the control knobs.
Using the Gemini 1×1 hard
One thing that a professional lighting brand knows is modifiers. Litepanels offers a range of softboxes, barn doors, grids, and lanterns for their lights. Modifiers are definitely something that we wish other brands would develop a lot more.
In our testing, the light performed great. It’s definitely very bright and very versatile. It gives a nice soft light when coupled with the diffusion panels. The preset buttons are convenient and the overall use is very straightforward.
The light gets pretty warm, but not too hot to the touch. In our studio, we used it for some slow-motion work that required a lot of light, so we had to work right next to the light. When standing next to it, you definitely feel the heat, but in most situations because of how bright it is, it won’t be very close to the talent or the operator.
We tested the quality and output of the Gemini 1×1 hard at 1m, and here are the results.
Output @1m distance
- 3200K – 21900Lux.
- 5600K – 29200Lux.
Color accuracy and quality measurements
Tungsten masurments (set to 3200K)
- Tested light color temperature – 3197K (as measured).
- CRI – 97 CRI [94.9 / R9 and 83.3 / R12].
- TLCI – 98
- TM-30 18 – 93 RF / 100 RG.
- SSI – 83.
Daylight measurements (set to 5600K)
- Tested light color temperature – 5700K (as measured).
- CRI – 97.3 CRI [93.6/ R9 and 76.4/ R12]
- TLCI – 98
- TM-30 18 – 93 RF / 101 RG.
- SSI – 72.
We also tested the output of this light in RGB, and here are the results (from 1m away).
- Red – 1450 Lux.
- Green – 6450 Lux.
- Blue – 1260 Lux.
In conclusion, the Gemini 1×1 hard is a professional light that speaks for itself. It’s very well built while portable, with a very clear menu system, easy operation, and accurate colors. Outside of its price, it’s hard to find something to criticize in a light like this. Of course, there are some strong competitors that offer quality lighting at much lower prices. The biggest advantage that Litepanels has over other brands are the many options of light modifiers, but again, those are not cheap either.