JEFF S. PHOTOART BLOG – GEAR REVIEW

NEO ROTOLIGHT BATTERY HACK

I love my NEO’s they are simply truly unique, versatile, portable continuous lights.

There are plenty of reviews and videos online about the NEO, so i am not writing a full review but will address the battery usage problem and the solution I found that works the best. Hope I am not being to technical here.

3 Rotolight Neo's on blue background

The NEO is an on-camera or on location continuous LED lighting system. It’s small enough to be used as a camera top light, or mounted on a stand or small tripod and used by photographers and video professionals alike. The color temperature of the light is adjustable from 3,150K to 6,300K in ten-degree Kelvin steps using a rear rotary knob (The Bi-Color LED lighting technology with accurate electronic color temperature display (CCT) enables tune-able color on location). A second rotary knob lets you dim the light from 100% to 0% output with no color shift. It also has some nifty effects build in like: designer fade, true aperture dimming, strobe, lightning, throb, color cycle, fire, police and television. There are numerous occasions were the NEO’s can come in handy, just to name a few: any occasion were flash photography is not allowed or not advisable like churches, animal and pets, newborns, low light photography and they are great for making YouTube presentation videos.

HDCanvas Neo Rotolight layout

Although the NEO Rotolight 3 light kit comes with power adapters, I do not use them, the wires are always in the way doing studio work and for outdoor shoots batteries are a must. So which batteries to use was my first question.

My first experience with AA batteries running the NEO’s at 100% output and 6300K:

6 Energizer® Ultimate Li AA $22.50 at Walmart as per manual good for 3 hours
6 Energizer® MAX® AA $5.25 at Walmart as per manual good for 1 hour

The batteries used for the test are the Energizer E91 AA; Alkaline, Zinc-Manganese; 1.5 V; 2.85 Ah
6 of these give me 25.65 Wh and as the NEO max power consumption is 9 Wh, it should be good for 2.85 hrs.

So this is what happened, the NEO has two safety features built in:

1) It prevents overheating by reducing the power consumption by 10% (so li batteries do not explode)
2) It reduces power consumption by 10% if the battery voltage gets low

Safety feature 1 is the main culprit for not using AA batteries, at around 37 to 40 minutes depending on which NEO, it reduces its output by 10% and as the unit cools it switches back to 100%, this switching back and forth plays havoc with the exposure so you have to continuously adjust the camera setting.

After 48 minutes the change battery light came on, this indicates that most of the energy from the batteries was turned into heat due to the build in voltage converter.

Now having a build in voltage converter is a good thing, it means you could use any external battery on the NEO between 10 and 18 volts and plug it into the DC input (not advisable to use a battery lower than 10 volts as most of the energy will be used by the voltage converter to step up the voltage).

Since having spare batteries for my strobies lights

I decided to use them for my second test.

Strobies Battery

Here are the results:

Battery used: strobies 4800 mAh, 11.1 volts, price $59.00 with charger, charges in three hours.

A solid 10 hours continuous use of the NEO’s

using 100% output at 6300 Kelvin.

HDCanvas Neo Rotolight temperature vs running time
HDCanvas Neo Rotolight Battery voltage vs time
Strobies Battery with strap and cover

The strobies batteries are small enough to fit in the pouches of the NEO traveling case and keeps everything nicely together.

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