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Over the years, LED lighting has offered photographers a cost-effective and creative option to up their lighting game. If you were to search for a portable LED, the options are very slim. Light & Motion is one of the only brands to bridge that gap. Their Stella Pro Clx10 is a powerfully compact and versatile offering that will entice a lot of photographers. It features an integrated battery, bi-color LED options and packs a lot of power for its fun size. The question is, can it truly replace the need for strobes as advertised?
Too Long Didn’t Read
The Stella Pro Clx10 design is conflicting. On the one hand, its size and weight are meant to be transported anywhere. And on the other hand, its built-in battery design severely limits its use beyond the power cord. You either need to buy multiples or carry a generator for the Clx10 to be as portable as battery-powered strobes. As a continuous light source, it creates beautiful, consistent light.
Pros And Cons
Compact and lightweight
Interchangeable daylight and tungsten options
Easy to Use
Able to plug in for unlimited full-power use
It can be used for a variety of applications
Power cord connector comes unhooked easily. The cord itself is also three pieces that need to be connected together.
The on-off dial moves very easily making it easy to drain the battery
The battery needs to be removable to truly be as portable as intended
All tech specs are provided by Light & Motion.
Lumen Output: High (10000), Medium (4000), Low (500)
Charge time: 75 Min
Beam Angle: 120° (flood), 120° (native), 50° (modified), 25° – 120°° (range)
IP Rating (FL-1): 65
Impact Resistance (FL-1): 1 meter
Product Color Temperature: 5600k
Flicker Free FPS: 1000
Thermal Management: Active
Fast Charge: True
Product Dimensions: 8.07″ x 3.78″ x 3.78″
Max Output: 10000 Lumens
Runtime on High: 45 Min
Weight: 1237 grams
The CLx10 dramatically expands the freedom to harness the power of mirrorless cameras and stay in the moment. It is unlike any continuous light on the market. After a 2-year development journey with leading artisans and light shaping experts, the visionary CLx delivers what other continuous lights lack – the power to leave strobes behind and the versatility to move fast and modify light on the fly. Free your creative vision – go continuous – go CLx.
-Light and Motion
The Clx10 is trying to find a way to replace your strobes. But in reality, it won’t be able to do that. Overall, it doesn’t do anything particularly special for LED lighting innovations. That doesn’t mean that you can’t create great photos with it though.
The Stella Pro Clx10 is very comparable in size and shape to a large coffee thermos. Weighing in at 2.72 lb and measuring 8.07 inches, it’s slightly bigger than a standard 70-200mm lens. The Clx10 C-stand mount features an integrated umbrella holder. There is also a high-leverage handle for quick adjustments. An RF remote is included with the portrait kit to simplify these adjustments by not having to lower and raise the light.
The light source is located at the front of the unit. Light & Motion has opted for a single large LED as opposed to a number of small LEDs. The 5600k daylight color can easily be switched out for a tungsten color LED by removing the housing from the retention ring.
The bayonet-style bezel secures the Elinchrom speedring for use with multiple modifiers. The kit also includes a Profoto adapter ring for further versatility.
At the back of the unit, you will find an OLED display and the 3-pin charging port. The display shows the selected output, battery level, and estimated usage time.
On top of the unit, you will find the power switch and a trio of buttons. There is a mode button as well as up and down arrows to increase or decrease output.
The Clx10 is rugged and built to withstand impact from multiple falls onto concrete within a meter. This is an advantage as a strobe would typically break from a fall like that. It is also waterproof and handles without any issues in the rain. The fan immediately kicks on in the extreme heat and successfully keeps the unit from overheating. The fan is pretty loud. In typical conditions, the fan is initiated past 4,000 lumens. This would be something to consider when shooting video.
Most of the accessories work as intended with minimal effort. The barn doors that came with the kit felt flimsy and didn’t hold their position well. I had to readjust the barn doors frequently, and they fell off of the unit several times. They need to be more substantial and sturdy.
Ease of Use
Light & Motion has designed the Stella Pro Clx10 with portability in mind. The package includes a remote and modifiers. Its size and power output should provide much of the freedom that is advertised. However, the built-in battery is more limiting than it is liberating.
The power button glides too easily between the on and off positions. I found this out the hard way. The power button was accidentally bumped on when I placed it in its carrying case the night before. I arrived at my shoot with a completely dead battery. Luckily, I brought my other gear as a backup.
The power cord is composed of three pieces and can also easily come loose if bumped. Additionally, the light has to be on for it to charge, and I found that odd.
Strobes are the go-to choice for many location photographers because of their ability to overpower the sun. The Clx10 needs to be operated at high power, often max power, to deliver usable frames in such instances. It is estimated to provide up to 55 minutes of use at its full power of 10,000 lumens. The unit I tested lasted closer to 50 minutes at full power, and then it takes approximately 75 minutes to charge fully. Multiple units or access to a power source such as a generator would be required for any shoot longer than 45 minutes in these lighting conditions.
The LED can be plugged into a power supply for endless use. Although, that negates the ultra-portability that it was designed to compete with. Contrarily, this little nugget can perform for hours at lower power settings. This makes it an optimal, portable option in flatly lit environments that need a little bit of pop.
The light I used is rated at daylight and is 5600k. It does tend to fluctuate within 150k, which is pretty consistent for most photographic needs. Stella Pro has managed to create a standalone LED that provides much of the functionality that strobes do. It looks the part, and with modifiers, it very much acts the part. However, there are still some things that it can’t do as well as monolights can simply because it lacks flash duration.
One of those things is freezing motion. Monolights have the advantage here because the pop of light from the flash duration freezes the motion. The Clx10 is proof that constant lighting is getting closer, but it’s still not on the same level. It is better to stop down and drag the shutter slightly to capture the motion instead of maxing out ISO and shutter speed.
Another area is balancing artificial light with the intense sun power in less than ideal situations. Monolights again have the edge here and can balance light better in these situations because of the flash duration. This is further improved upon with HS capabilities. The Stella Pro Clx10 does allow to balance the light and fill in the shadows without being overkill. I preferred shooting sans modifiers when the time of day wasn’t preferable for shooting outdoors.
What this continuous light does very well is light beautifully in a controlled environment. It is powerful enough at half power to register as a blending light when shooting against a vehicle’s incredibly bright LED. There could be some creative photo effects that could be added by increasing the power and adding smoke. Adding another light or two for balancing would offer even more finesse.
The barn doors and umbrella were a personal favorite for shooting portraits with this light both in-studio and on location. It doesn’t quite have the same specular highlights as monolights. A good makeup artist or an investment in rose oil can help mitigate the lack of specular highlights for portraits.
The Clx10 is a beautifully even light source with punchy contrast when you want it and an excellent blending light when you don’t. Last but not least, bokeh lovers who prefer the natural light feel will enjoy shooting this in flat light conditions. It offers just enough pop to save an image from feeling stale.
Extra Image Samples
From day one, the Phoblographer has been huge on transparency with our audience. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. You’re not showing what the lens can do. So we have a whole section in our Extra Image Samples area to show off edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.
Conclusions of the Stella Pro Clx10 Review
The integrated battery limits its portability potential
We would love to see them redesign the proprietary 3-pin charging cable
The power button is easy to turn on and drain the battery accidentally
Can the Stella Pro Clx10 truly replace strobes and monolights? In short, no. Although, it could tap into its full potential by addressing a few of its shortcomings. An improved charging cable design, removable battery, and locking power button would be great upgrades.
As a continuous light, it can hold its own. It is best suited for fast lenses and plenty of available light. The Clx10 can create beautiful light that is on par with strobes, especially in ideal shooting environments. It is a powerful option for those who need something portable on the fly and don’t feel like lugging around their studio gear. Photojournalists come to mind. The Stella Pro equipped with any of the kit modifiers is well suited for still life, portrait, product, and food photography. I would recommend this LED for anyone who is looking for an LED, learning studio lighting, and has the budget for it.
Would I personally buy this and throw out my battery-powered monolights? No. But, I would strongly consider buying the CLx10 if I was looking to add a continuous light.
The Stella Pro Clx10 earns four out of five stars.
Want one? A single Clx10 is priced at $1,299 and the photo kit is available for $1,699.