REVIEW : Westcott Icelight

Much was made at the announcement of Westcott's Icelight about size, portability and softness.  All true.  Sort of. The Ice Light comes from Westcott and is designed by respected photographer Jerry Ghionis.  Specifications are located here.

The device comes in a simple kit as shown;

The case is lightweight and easy to handle, the charger attaches quickly and the gel clips, well they allow you to put a gel in front of the light source.  Yes it actually does look like a short lightsaber, but without the interesting audio additions.  The switches are on/off and variable brightness, all clear and simple to work with.

At first glance the thing should be brilliant.  And it is.  Sort of.

The Good

  • Lightweight
  • Mounts to a light stand tilter bracket with a standard fitting
  • Hangs at the end of a boom without needing a giant counterweight
  • Very soft light
  • Portable
  • Recharges reasonably quickly
  • Colour balance is very good

The Not So Good

  • Seriously underpowered if competing with any volume of ambient light
  • You have to get it REALLY close to your subject
  • Battery life ok, not great
  • Hard to get by with just one
  • Needs a stand, voice operated or not
  • Needs a tilter bracket
  • Durability a concern
  • Expensive - Really expensive

In fairness, my use cases may not fit the device well.  I wanted one for a number of reasons

  1. To use as a tool when I teach lighting techniques
  2. To use as a supplementary source to fill harsh shadows or soften closeups when shooting outdoors
  3. As a "one light" fast portrait source
  4. Convenient like a flash, but with a softer look
  5. Reasonable depth of field control

I'm afraid that the relatively low output, the requirement for extra kit to position it and that one just isn't enough doesn't cut it for me.  Doesn't make it a bad product, but I would need it to deliver a lot more than it does for what I feel is an outrageously high purchase price.   It is version one of the device.  I did shoot models with it (several its in actuality) at Photoshop World and the light is nice, but for the cost involved, I could get a set of Spiderlite TD6s that while larger and more cumbersome do the soft light job much more effectively and with enough power to permit useful depth of field control.  It's going back to the vendor.  I am hopeful that the price comes down out of the stratosphere so its ROI improves and I am hopeful that future versions have a lot more output.  As it stands, I cannot make a business case for it.