A huge variety of LED lighting has been making its way onto the market in recent years. A lot of photographers have begun utilizing LED lighting as a part of their constant lighting kit thanks to LEDs having power efficiency, increased light output, and generating little to no heat compared to legacy constant lighting options like incandescent or CFL bulbs. Westcott was arguably the first to introduce flexible LED panels to the photography market and, shortly after the Flex series of LED panels were released, a number of knockoffs began flooding the market at lower price points promising similar performance. Fositan’s FL-1×2 Rollable LED panel is one of them.
Pros and Cons
- Competitively priced at a fraction of the cost of similar flexible LED panels from brands like Westcott
- LED panel and mounting brackets can pack away into a tiny package for easy storage
- Fositan included just about everything you’ll need to get the LED panel working in the package with the exception of the AAA batteries for the remote and a light stand with which to mount the panel
- Setup and breakdown process can be a bit janky due to rather lax engineering tolerances of the mounting bracket
- Although the LED panel itself is bendable and rollable, the included mounting bracket only allows attachment of the panel while it’s laid flat, making the bendable nature of the panel a moot point
- Requires AC power with no way to power the LED panel using battery power, so you’re pretty much relegated to using this panel indoors only
Tech specs for the Fositan FL-1×2 Rollable LED Panel adapted from Fositan’s official marketing material.
- LED mat net weight only 1 lb
- LED panel features 384 super bright SMD LEDs that Fositan claims to be capable of delivering a maximum 8000LM, equivalent to a 120W CFL/400W incandescent bulb
- 40W power consumption
- 5000K color temperature
- CRI 90+
- Rollable panel
- What’s In The Box
- 1 x Fositan FL-1×2 Rollable LED mat
- 6 x Connecting Frame Tube
- 1 x White Cloth Diffuser
- 1 x 2.4G Remote Control
- 1 x Power Adapter
- light stand and battery not included
With the exception of a light stand and a pair of AAA batteries, Fositan’s included just about everything else you’ll need to get the FL-1×2 Rollable LED Panel set up. While it looks like there are a lot of different components in the image above, the Fositan FL-1×2 really boils down to the rollable LED panel itself, diffusion material, the aluminum mounting bracket (disassembled in the above image), an AC power adapter, and a remote control. All of these components arrive stored within a padded carrying case which comes in handy should you plan on transporting the light to different locations.
The frame of the mounting bracket is constructed from extruded aluminum square tubing which can be connected via friction fit plastic connectors. Due to the rather lax engineering tolerances, the review unit we received was somewhat challenging to assemble, with some of the connections requiring quite a bit of force to connect together and even more force to take apart. You’ll also want to make sure that the frame sections and plastic connectors with the 1/4″-20 mounts are in the proper orientation so that you can attach the panel to a light stand once it’s set up. Velcro tape is glued to opposing sides of the frame and makes it possible for you to attach the rollable LED panel as well as the “25% stop” diffusion material onto the frame. With the LED panel and diffusion attached to the frame, simply connect the AC adapter to the back of the LED panel, plug it into a wall outlet, and you can turn the light on using the inline remote or the included remote control (provided you’ve equipped it with a pair of AAA batteries).
Here’s what the Fositan FL-1×2 Rollable LED Panel looks like once everything’s been set up and the unit is mounted onto a light stand.
This is what the FL-1×2 sans diffusion material looks like when turned on at minimum power. You can see each of the 384 LEDs clearly.
With the diffusion material attached, you can still kind of make out each of the LEDs individually when the unit is at minimum power.
Once you crank the FL-1×2 to maximum power, however, the diffusion material makes all of the individual LEDs appear as if it’s a single rectangular light source.
While the Fositan FL-1×2 costs a fraction of what Westcott charges for their Flex LED panels, the build quality certainly reflects its price. The flexible LED mat itself feels sturdy, although the inline remote and the AC connector are permanently attached to the mat and I worry about its longevity. If you’ve got pets with a penchant for chewing up cables, I’d keep them far away from the Fositan FL-1×2. The included remote control feels extremely plasticky, reminiscent of ones that came with cheap TVs in the 90s. Worst yet are the engineering tolerances on the aluminum frame tubing and plastic connectors. They are inconsistent to the point that some of the joints required a significant amount of elbow grease to connect together. If you haven’t had your Wheaties yet, good luck trying to take everything apart once you’ve got the LED panel setup.
Ease of Use
As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. While it’s much, much cheaper than the flexible LED panels you can get from Westcott, the Fositan FL-1×2 is also much less powerful. It’ll do just fine if you’re using it to light small items (see sample images below), but you’ll definitely want to look for much larger and more powerful alternatives if you’re photographing anything of significant size. As long as you don’t plan on breaking the Fositan FL-1×2 down after every use, you’ll really only have to deal with the laughably bad tolerances a handful of times throughout the life of the product. I’d suggest leaving the Fositan set up and storing it flat when not in use instead of breaking it down each time to save yourself the frustration.
Here are some sample images that we shot using the Fositan FL-1×2 as the key light. As long as you’re using it to light relatively small subjects up close, the Fositan FL-1×2 will do a fine job as a constant light source. We did notice a slight green cast to the images that were lit with the Fositan FL-1×2, but we were able to correct that easily during post-production in Capture One. Photographers who shoot a lot of small products will likely find this light fairly useful. If you’re photographing anything larger though, you’ll want to use a light source that is larger and more powerful. As a matter of ethics, none of the sample images seen within this review have been retouched so that you can judge the quality of the images lit by this light for yourself.
- Low cost
- Good for lighting small items up close
- Inconsistent build quality
- Lacks battery power support
Sometimes things are cheap because they’re cheaply made, and this is the case with the Fositan FL-1×2 Rollable LED Panel. Retailing at US $149.99, the Fositan FL-1×2 costs 1/8 the price of Westcott’s Flex LED of the same size (MSRP US$1,199), but its also much less powerful than Westcott’s offering at roughly 1/3 the light output, making it much less versatile. Despite the less than perfect fit and finish, 1/8 the price for 1/3 the power is still one hell of a value proposition leaning in Fositan’s favor. As long as you’re not doing any color-critical work or lighting large subjects, the Fositan FL-1×2 Rollable LED Panel is a competent enough light source that entry-level photographers will find useful, provided you don’t have to put it together and take it apart with every use.
The Fositan FL-1×2 Rollable LED Panel earns Three out of five stars.