Westcott just lately launched its third model of the favored specialist device, the Eyelighter. In case you occur to be a working headshot or portrait photographer, there isn’t any approach you haven’t seen it, thought of shopping for it, and even had it in your procuring cart in some unspecified time in the future.
Though I’ve come to like a curved reflector, I’ve all the time prevented the Westcott model due to the value level. When the model one was launched, it was retailing at $299, which appeared a reasonably steep value to pay for what appeared to me on the time to be a gimmick.
Through the years that adopted, a number of different firms have come out with their very own variations of the curved reflector at a lower cost level and, after making an attempt a few them out, I settled on the Glow Arclight reflector from Adorama.
On the time, it was $100 lower than the Eyelighter and included two extra material colours (white and gold/silver), so it appeared like a great deal. With firms like Adorama and Neewer promoting fairly affordable facsimiles at a lower cost level, Westcott had some critical work to do in making an attempt to persuade photographers to select their modifier over the competitors.
After I noticed that Westcott had launched the model three, after all I needed to click on on over and take a look-see. What I noticed shocked me. In growing the latest iteration of the Eyelighter, Westcott seems to have learn my thoughts and addressed my two essential issues with their product, the value, and the portability. Now it’s nonetheless not an affordable modifier, and it’s nonetheless a giant, unwieldy ache within the arse of a reflector, however there are some critical enhancements on each fronts.
Full disclosure: Westcott supplied me with the Eyelighter 3 used for the aim of this evaluation.
A Higher Worth Than Earlier than
The complete retail value of the Eyelighter has come down through the years from $299 to $199, far more aggressive with different curvy reflector producers. Even then, the factor that all the time gave Glow the sting over Westcott for me was the inclusion of the extra materials.
You see, most of my day-to-day work could possibly be described as bog-standard enterprise headshots for LinkedIn and electronic mail signatures. A burning scorching corona of sunshine within the decrease iris isn’t precisely the model most of my purchasers are craving, so I are likely to favor the white material over the silver that’s normal in earlier variations of the Eyelighter.
To get white material on the Eyelighter 2, you would need to plunk down $299 after which a further $60. That’s why the Glow model gained me over. In a really good change of tempo, Westcott not solely contains two extra material choices for the bottom value of $199 (white and silver/gold), however they’re much simpler to vary out than they was. As a substitute of taking the entire dang factor aside, you simply lay the opposite material excessive and safe it with the built-in Velcro strips on the sides.
With the present retail now at $199 and the additional materials included, the Eyelighter 3 is a a lot better worth than it was. Nonetheless on the prime of the value vary, although, with the Glow Arclight II at present promoting for $149, and the Neewer curved reflector on provide for $99. If the straight-up value have been the one consideration, most individuals would possibly nonetheless decide to avoid wasting a couple of dollars and go along with one other model. However wait, there’s yet one more factor.
Sooner Setup and Breakdown
I’m gonna be actually trustworthy, right here. The distinction between $100 and $200 for a curved reflector isn’t that huge of a deal for me. Westcott typically has nice construct high quality to their merchandise, and I’ve discovered their service and help to be superb through the years. I’ll fortunately select paying extra for one thing that’s higher constructed, that the corporate will stand behind, over saving a couple of dollars. So although they’ve added some good worth within the new model of the Eyelighter, that alone isn’t sufficient to make me click on the “purchase” button.
The most important drawback with the Eyelighter (or any giant, curved reflector invented to this point) is that it’s an enormous PITA to place collectively and it takes up a ton of house. Even when you’ve got a studio house and might depart it arrange, you would possibly discover, due to the scale and form of it, that it’s very awkward to retailer.
If you’re like most photographers and work extra on location, you would possibly simply come to dread the setup and breakdown of a curved reflector. My expertise is that it takes about 7-10 minutes to arrange and about 5-7 to interrupt down and retailer correctly. Doesn’t look like an enormous deal, however you would possibly uncover that you just go for one thing simpler to move and arrange when on location after you need to do it just a few dozen occasions. And wait till you ship one of many tiny little screws holding it collectively skittering beneath the break room fridge within the workplace the place you take headshots.
To this point, I’ve opted to depart my curved reflector arrange within the studio and barely take it on location, although I really like the outcomes I get with it. Within the model 3, Westcott has redesigned the body of the Eyelighter making it a a lot quicker setup and breakdown. Their web site claims that it solely takes 2 minutes to arrange, which I can affirm after having completed it myself a few occasions.
The intelligent adjustment to the design not solely contains no tiny screws to lose, however the help poles join the middle of the body as an alternative of one another, permitting you to assemble the reflector in halves. It’s an entire lot quicker than sliding the enormous silver sock of cloth over the half-pipe-sized poles, and you are able to do it with out trying like Chevy Chase tripping and knocking over each chair within the room.
Portraits Lit with the Eyelighter 3
Listed here are some portraits I shot over a few periods utilizing the Eyelighter:
The Remaining Phrase
The curved reflector is a specialist’s device. That’s to say, it’s not the perfect answer in each state of affairs. It does, nonetheless, do fairly a little bit of heavy lifting within the lighting division, and people of us that use curved reflectors, are likely to swear by the outcomes. Taking every little thing into consideration, I must say that, for the primary time since its opponents hit the market, the Eyelighter is trying like an important selection.
If you’re a studio photographer and plan to depart it arrange (and also you don’t want to modify materials typically), just about any curved reflector will do the job for you. If you’re a headshot or portrait photographer who loves the look of a curved reflector however want one thing extra moveable, the Eyelighter three goes to tick all of the containers for you.
Good worth, nice construct high quality and design, and much-improved portability are what you’ll be able to anticipate out of the Eyelighter 3.
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In regards to the writer: Gary Hughes is knowledgeable photographer and educator based mostly in Florida. You could find extra of his work on his web site, Fb, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
Picture credit: All photographs, except in any other case famous, by Gary Hughes.