WE TESTED ONE of the individual Rosco DMG DASH Lights out in Issue 181 of Professional Photo and our reviewer, filmmaker Jim Marks, was hugely impressed on all levels. His verdict was that this was a fixture that represented a genuine breakthrough, that potentially could represent a tipping point for RGB LED technology.

The reason for such enthusiasm was obvious. DMG has a massive and longstanding reputation in the film world for the quality and integrity of its products, with its patented Mix technology featuring a proprietary blend of six LEDS: Red/Lime/Green/Blue/Amber and White. With these on-board, products within the MIX LED lighting range, such as the hugely popular Mini Mix, come with the ability to generate a huge gamut of colours alongside highly accurate Rosco gel matches.

Such high-end lighting technology was always going to come at a price, of course, but there was a growing clamour within the industry for this technology to be made more accessible, and the response from DMG was the remarkable DASH pocket LED kit. A technological and pint sized marvel measuring just 12.8x8x2.8cms, the DASH was still packed with all of the six chip MIX LED technology that could be found inside its larger siblings, and the price was set at around £250, making it a highly affordable option with an awesome set of specifications on board for the money.

Jim tested out the single light outfit but it was always intended that there would be a Quad Kit available, and this is what we’ve just had in to test out. Just as the name implies, this consists of four of the powerful pocket-sized DASH units, each capable of delivering up to 500 lumens of output, together with four beam-shaping accessory packs, consisting of a flat diffuser panel, dome diffuser, eggcrate and a gel holder for holding any Rosco gel or, alternatively, any chosen diffusion material. These accessories are magnetic, and so attaching and detaching them takes just a matter of seconds and they’re nice and solid once in place.

This vintage car was jazzed up courtesy of a four light set-up. One DASH was placed inside and another, dialled to orange, placed underneath the car. Another was positioned from the front with the fourth on a light stand to my right. Set up took just a few minutes and continuous light meant I could see the effect in real time.

In addition, supplied with the kit, which all comes neatly packed in a bespoke carrying case that’s disarmingly small, there’s a DMG DASH LINK. This is a metal plate with four tripod bushes to which all four of the lights can be attached, and this then creates what is effectively a panel that can be controlled as a single unit. This is where things become interesting, because for the very reasonable price of the kit you’ve got a highly versatile outfit that’s suitable for any number of still photography or filmmaking scenarios with a collective set of features on board that represent a very high level of RGB performance.

Furthermore, you have options to control the lights manually via a simple set of controls on the back – there’s just three buttons plus a knurled knob on the side of the light that give you access to everything that’s on board – or you can download the free myMIX mobile app and then control the lights via your smartphone.

On Board Features

The very first thing to strike you when you take the lights out of their carrying case is the solid feel. The lights are wrapped in a sturdy all-weather aluminium casing, which doubles as a heat sink, and this makes them reassuringly heavy – 367g each – but not overweight. Rather they feel really well made and you would imagine that they would be well up to the rigours of a life on the road, which is the purpose for which they’ve been designed.

Each unit has standard 1/4in threaded holes on the rear panel and bottom and left sides, and so there are plenty of attaching points, which is good to see. It is worth pointing out though that, unlike some other multiple light outfits there are no lighting stands included in the kit and so you will need to carry these separately.

A long press of the on-switch powers the DASH up and the lights come with a number of modes – white, colour, gel, effects, source match and overall settings – and you can reach each of these through a press of the Lock button. The knurled red knob is depressed once to confirm a setting and it’s all very straightforward to control.

In the white mode you can alter such things as the intensity, colour temperature and green/magenta tint separately, twisting the red control to go through the various levels or alternatively depressing it once to go through a selection of pre-determined steps. Head to the colour mode and you can control intensity, colour temperature, hue and saturation, while in Gel you can find a menu of standard Rosco gel colours, and have fun scrolling through or opt to set a specific gel that you might want to use, and you’ll get an accurate representation to work with. Formidable tools in a unit of this size and price.

Talking of fun, you can also head to the FX setting to try out the special effects and here you’ll find the usual array of such things as emergency vehicles, camera flashes, TV screens and flickering candles, and you can play around with the speed and intensity of the pulses for good measure.

Verdict

I HAVE TO SAY that I thoroughly enjoyed using these lights while setting up a test shoot with a vintage car, and they were simple to handle, capable of being put in discreet places to throw a little fill in light where required and were infinitely adjustable. The ability to create pretty much any colour of light that you fancy, or even to precisely match a light source if required, is impressive and the lights themselves were easy to transport, had a long battery life and essentially did exactly the job I required of them.

This is technology really showing what it can do, and now RGB lights are here and are affordable it’s excellent news for the professional photographer and filmmaker and a perfect solution for someone with a hybrid business. They might not be studio lights, capable of illuminating a large area, but they can do a brilliant job on location, and you also have the option of bolting them together to create a single powerful source that could well serve you as a main panel light when required.

Well worth a look and the Quad outfit I was testing is excellent value for money.

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