LP Tool Review: Denis Smith made Arclight – Fireblade
This is my first review of a light painting tool that isn’t a flashlight. This review is of the very unique Arclight – Fireblade, a light-blade made by the influential light painter Denis Smith.
This product was purchased by myself from Denis Smith’s website.
Most light-blades are clear, allowing for customisation with tape, colour gels, or ink. Australian light painter Denis Smith (of “Ball of Light” fame) has taken a different approach with his Arclight range, with a choice of light blades that use coloured plexiglass/acrylic. The latest addition to this range is the Arclight – Fireblade.
The Fireblade is a relatively large and heavy light blade, measuring up to 64.6cm in length (including the plug), and 18.5cm wide. Be aware that this is larger than many camera bags. There are three stacked 3mm thick flame shaped blades of different sizes and colours. When illuminated, the largest blade is orange, the second largest yellow, and the smallest lime green. The blades are connected at the base into a 4.6mm long plug that is compatible with the Light Painting Brushes Universal Connector, allowing for a wide range of flashlights / torches (of up to 2000 lumens) to be connected. The edges of the blade are relatively well polished, which I much prefer over the laser cut edges on many other light blades (which I tend to sand down pretty quickly).
When illuminated by a cool white torch, the three stacked blades produce a beautiful range of red, orange, yellow, pink, and lime green hues. This will vary depending on which side of the Fireblade is facing the camera lens, allowing for a lot of flexibility in the results of the photo. Light trails recorded by the camera are mainly in the red, orange, and yellow range, with good saturation. Using neutral or warm white torches will add more warmth to the colours, or you can post-process colour temperature to personal taste. Not surprisingly given its name, the resulting light trails are reminiscent of flames and fire. As the blade edges are polished, the light trails have a fairly glassy appearance.
Due to the triple stacked blades having a lot of area for light input, this is a relatively bright light-blade. Exposure will of course vary on distance from camera, plus light output and beam profile. However, with 800-1100 lumen flashlights on 100% power, I have typically been using exposures of f/11-13 and ISO100. Due to the high light transmittance through the blade, it can be successfully used with lower output torches or modes – for example I used it with a flashlight on 50 lumens to perfectly balance against a moonlit forest scene at f/5.6, ISO400, (110secs).
Due to the large size, weight, and multiple sharp points on this blade, extra care has to be taken when using this blade. However, I have still carried it up and down ladders, through tunnels, and had a few collisions with walls that have not caused any damage – after 4 months it still looks as good as new. I would advise adding extra duct tape around the connection to the Universal Connector to increase stability. I have been transporting it to light painting sessions in the protective cardboard box that it was shipped in with no damage. If the worst happened and the blades were accidentally broken, be rest assured that up to 2 blade pieces should fit in a Liteblade KYO.
Things I liked:
Amazing flame effects with no customisation
Relatively high light transmittance
Well saturated colours
Compatible with a wide range of flashlights via LPB Universal Connector
Things I didn’t like:
Larger than my camera bags
Needs extra care when using
The Denis Smith made Arclight – Fireblade is a very unique product that has considerable potential for flame and fire effects in light painting scenes. The only limit is your imagination.