Prior to getting the Westcott Icelight to review, I had come very close several times to hitting the ‘purchase’ button but had never gone through with it, for a couple of reasons, it’s been around a while now and it’s designer, the renowned wedding photographer Jerry Ghionis in conjunction with Westcott has demonstrated some very good results with it on his own website, but this could have just been very good PR on his part and reviews for the device were seemingly very thin on the ground despite the fact that I’d heard they were flying off the shelves at the last ‘Focus on Imaging’ event.
The Icelight comes well packaged, with electrical adaptors for most countries included, and a well-made branded carry case for the light, something definitely needed as although the Icelight is seemingly well constructed, I’d be cautious about it getting knocked about whilst in transit.
On to the light itself, the LED panel takes up approximately 2/3rds of the length, power and brightness adjustment buttons just below this, and a single LED light to indicate battery level, this could definitely be improved, it’s a green for a decent charge, and orange for low power remaining, and that’s it!
Each end is topped with a metal cap that has a standard female screw mount to attach to light stands to use hands free if required, although it is pretty lightweight and it’s easy enough to shoot for small periods holding the Icelight in one hand and camera in other, as it’s a continuous light I found this a great way of using it, being able to see immediate changes in the lighting that are not always obvious or easy to do with traditional strobes.
The Icelight is daylight balanced, giving no noticeable colour shift often found with cheaper LED lights, and emits a very soft diffused light, quoted at a 72 degrees spread, going from barely lit at one end of the power scale, right up to very bright at the other, however you will struggle if trying to use it in very bright conditions, it’s no match for a strobe if trying to overpower the sun so I found the best use for the Icelight was always either indoors or in overcast/gloomy conditions which the soft light was perfect for. I didn’t personally use this at a wedding shoot but I understand that the Icelight is very popular with wedding photographers for this very reason.
Also worth mentioning that I found it to be very useful for macro photography, again seeing the light whilst composing tricky shot is a godsend as opposed to the usual trial and error approach often needed with flashguns.
The unit will take approximately 2 ½ hours to charge from empty, and will then give between 1-2 hours usage depending on the brightness used, the battery is sealed inside also so if you were to use this on a day’s shoot, use sparingly or at least have the means to charge it.
Another niggle I found was when selecting the brightness, there is no indication of any sort of the power level selected, and the Icelight won’t remember previous setting if turned off and on again so replicating the setup between shots comes down to guesswork.
Now to the elephant in the room – the price. To some, wedding photographers as an example, this would be a great addition to the kitbag and sure would pay for itself in no time and give fantastic results every time, personally though I just can’t see, even as great as it is, how it is worth the £400 that it retails for. Should Westcott bring out an improved version sometime, ideally with a replaceable battery that is a little cheaper, I will be the first in the queue to buy one, but unfortunately not in its current incarnation.