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.
Max output (constant): 11,500 Lux at 3 feet
Max output (flash): 17,500 Lux at 3 feet
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
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.
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.
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.
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.