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Rotolight AEOS 2 review

The powerful Rotolight AEOS 2 studio and location light is a major upgrade, now in full color and with a touchscreen

5 Star Rating
Rotolight AEOS 2
(Image: © Future)

Digital Camera World Verdict

This powerful, hugely versatile yet lightweight portable LED lighting panel is a radical redesign compared with the original AEOS. It gives you 16.7 million colors of light to play with, instead of just various degrees of white. And that goes for both constant lighting and flash, the latter with a high-speed sync option. The interface is also completely overhauled, with the addition of a color touchscreen that makes it quick and easy to access a huge range of lighting options, digital filters and special effects. The original AEOS was very good, the AEOS 2 is absolutely brilliant.

Pros

  • +

    RGBWW constant light and flash

  • +

    Digital filters and special effects

  • +

    Slim, lightweight construction

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Cons

  • -

    Expensive to buy

  • -

    Some kits lack battery packs

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    RF wireless trigger sold separately

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The Rotolight AEOS 2 bucks a recent trend. LED panels aren’t exactly ten a penny these days but there are plenty of ultra-cheap options on the market. They’re universally good rather than great, with typically basic features and mediocre build quality. 

The AEOS 2 takes an opposite path, packing a mighty range of advanced features plus high-speed sync flash into a compact and lightweight, yet fully pro-grade build. The original AEOS was a favorite of many enthusiast and professional photographers and videographers, but the second edition takes everything to a whole new level.

Specifications

Max output (constant): 11,500 Lux at 3 feet
Max output (flash): 17,500 Lux at 3 feet
CRI/TLCI: 95/99
Beam angle: 50 degrees
Wireless control: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Mounting: 1/4" tripod, yoke
Power consumption: 120W
Battery type: V-lock 24V 150W
Dimensions (dia x depth): 295 x 25mm
Weight (excl battery): 2,400g

Key features

Gone are the bi-color LEDs of the original AEOS, replaced by a bank of top-end RGBWW (Red Green Blue White Warm white) lamps. This makes a full 16.7 million color range available in the AEOS 2, for both constant lighting and flash output, the latter boosting the impressive maximum power output by more than 50 per cent. There’s a built-in RF receiver making wireless HSS triggering available via an Elinchrom/Rotolight HSS trigger, sold separately in Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm and Olympus/Panasonic dedicated options.

Extending the color capabilities, the AEOS 2 adds 2,500 digital filters, including the emulation of favorites from the likes of LEE and Rosco, which are easily accessible via the new color touchscreen interface, again for both constant lighting and flash. The range of cinematic effects is extended from the original AEOS, and now includes the likes of fade, lightning, strobe, cycle, fire, police, TV, gunshot, neon, film, weld and paparazzi. F-stop dimming and the ‘designer fade mode’ are also inherited, as in the similarly uprated but smaller Rotolight NEO 3.

The AEOS 2 also adds built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, so you can control the full range of functions from the companion iOS and Android app, as well as easily managing multiple units in groups. Another smart new feature is that you can store user-defined presets, making the wealth of lighting options available at the press of a virtual button.

The bank of new, state-of-the-art LEDs deliver full RGBWW output for both constant lighting and flash. (Image credit: Rotolight)

Build and handling

As with the original, the AEOS 2 has the same high-grade feel to its construction, with excellent build quality throughout. A neat handling enhancement that’s retained is the aluminum grab handles at either side of the rear panel, making it easy for an assistant to hold and maneuver the lamp during on-the-move video sequences. There’s also a tripod mounting socket and the option of a yoke. With mobility in mind, the AEOS 2 is refreshingly lightweight for such a powerful lamp, at an entirely manageable 1.4kg, excluding battery pack.

The battery itself is a V-lock 24V 150W Li-ion type and you can also power the AEOS 2 directly from the mains, via a PSU (power supply unit). Indeed, the basic kit only includes the PSU and no battery, although it does come complete with a good-quality diffuser dome. The Explorer Kit adds a battery and charger, plus a padded soft case. Next up the price ladder, the Masters Kit doubles up on lamps and diffusion domes while also adding light stands and a padded soft case, but this time batteries aren’t included. Top of the range is the Ultimate Kit, which is essentially the same as the Masters Kit with the addition of two batteries and chargers.

A range of accessories is available, including a ‘SmartSoft Box’, which enables you to dial in diffusion electronically, on the fly. This wasn’t available during our tests, but should avoid the time and effort required to attach or remove the regular diffusion dome. The fitment of a large variety of other modifiers is enabled by Rotolight’s optional Bowens S-mount and Universal Speedring adaptors.

Arguably the biggest enhancement to handling, over the original AEOS, is the color touchscreen panel that makes the wide range of CCT, HSI, gels, flash, special effects and user-defined presets quick and easy to access and adjust.

Along with the grab handles and dual rotary/pushbutton knobs of the original, the AEOS 2 adds a color touchscreen for intuitive, speedy control of all the wide-ranging new features and functions. (Image credit: Rotolight)

Performance

For an LED lamp with a 295mm diameter and slim 25mm or 1-inch depth, the maximum power output of 11,500 Lux at 3 feet is highly impressive. This increases to 17,500 in flash mode. Performance is similarly superb in terms of color accuracy, the TLCI (Television Lighting Consistency Index) rating increasing to 99/100, compared with an already very good 91 in the original AEOS.

In regular CCT constant white lighting mode, the color temperature range is increased to 3000-10,000 Kelvin, compared with 3150-6200 Kelvin in the original AEOS. HSI mode with easily adjustable hue, saturation and intensity was naturally off the menu in the previous model, as were the digital gel filters. Again, these work with simple efficiency.

In flash mode, our tests gave a maximum output of Gn 7.1 (ISO 100, meters) which is much less than from a ‘proper’ flashgun. On the plus side though, the lamp is relatively large giving softer lighting and you get a full range of color options. Also, recycling is instantaneous after even a full-power flash, so there’s no waiting around for your flashgun to recharge during continuous shooting.

Verdict

As an all-in-one solution, the AEOS 2 packs enormous constant lighting and flash versatility with real power into a compact and lightweight build. The color touchscreen interface makes all the advanced features easily accessible, and the extras like digital gel features and special effects are a real bonus. The AEOS 2 certainly isn’t cheap to buy, but it’s a joy to use and a top performer, making it worth the money.

Read more:

Best LED lights
Best video lights
Best lighting kits
Rotolight NEO 3 review

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 


His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 


In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.