I’ve used a ton of constant lights. What they almost always have in common is that they just aren't powerful enough to keep up with the majority of shooting conditions. The StellaPro CLx10 solves that problem plus so much more.
This review has been a long time coming because I have been using this light since it was first released. Before that, I was using the StellaPro CLx8 which is the exact same build just with a slightly lower power rating. What these lights have in common though is that they are built like a tank.
The StellaPro CLx10 has been tested and rated on the ANSI FL1 which is a standardized system for testing and rating flashlights. What this means is that the numbers and claims made about this light are more than just marketing hype. Instead, the details of this light have been tested and verified against a standardized system so you can be assured there is no funny business happening behind the scenes.
That said, this light is drop resistant for up to a one-meter fall onto concrete. Through my many times using this light, I can attest to the durability first hand. I once had a guest at a reception knock over my light stand and the light fell about 5 feet onto concrete and the LED didn't even flicker. The only visible damage that happened was a very slight dent on the fresnel modifier that I had attached at the time.
In addition to the drop resistance, the StellaPro CLx10 is also rated at an IP65 for water resistance. What this means is that it can withstand strong jets of water from any and all directions without issue. So anytime I need a light that can withstand any foreseeable weather conditions, this is my go-to. I have used this in anything from light rain to full flood-worthy rain. The only thing you can’t do with this light is fully submerge it underwater (though they have lights like their StellaPro 5000Pro and StellaPro 2000 that can be fully submerged).
Outside of this light being sturdy and robust, it is also extremely bright. Where most video-capable lights are limited to indoors and low-light environments, this light is capable of being used outdoors in full daylight. With no modification, the LED will give you an even 120-degree spread of light. From about 6 feet away, at its lowest power, I could get this test image with camera settings of 1/250th, f/1.4, and ISO 1250.
When you crank things up to the full 10,000 lumens, you get a significant jump in power and camera settings of 1/250th, f1.4, and ISO 160. What this means is that not only is the light great for low light environments, but it can also be used in much brighter conditions.
When you attach the 25-degree Fresnel lens modifier (my absolute favorite way to use this light), things get even brighter. Because this modifier essentially acts as a sort of magnifying glass, what you get is a focused beam of light. So while the modifier is not “adding power”, it is focusing the 120-degree beam of light into a 25-degree spot. This gives you a brighter more concentrated pool of light. So at full power, I can now get this test image with a setting of 1/2000, f/1.4, ISO100. Which is definitely a usable power when outdoors in daylight.
Another thing I love about this light is the battery life. At full power, the light can run for 55 minutes. When you drop the power down to its minimum 500 lumens, that runtime increases to a whopping 15 hours. The best part is that you never have to guess how much time you have at your desired power setting. That’s because the rear LCD screen will tell you what lumens level you have selected along with what your runtime at that setting will be. This is great for long day shoots where you know you need to get a certain amount of time off the battery. If you select a power and see it’s going to die too soon, you can decide to lower the power and get by, or you can choose to cycle the light on and off in order to conserve energy.
Then for those really intense days, you can also run the light off the power cord indefinitely, and with the fast charge capabilities, you can go from 0% to 100% in just 75 minutes. But one thing you will have to keep in mind is that the light will not charge when the power switch is in the off position. Instead, the screen on the back will tell you to turn the light on in order to charge. So though the LED will not be on, the light needs to be on. The first time I tried to charge the light for a shoot resulted in me having a low battery from the start because I plugged it in, saw the screen light up, and simply assumed it was charging. I guess this has to do with the internals being needed to maximize charge time while also mitigating any battery drain when the light is not being used. So chalk it up to user error, but it's still worth noting so that no users make the same mistake I made (and have seen others make as well).
Another thing worth mentioning here in case you hadn’t noticed, the battery is built-in to the small and compact body. So this means no cables or weird battery packs. Everything is self-contained in the light. The only small downside here though is that the battery is not swappable. So if the light dies, you can't simply put in a new battery. But this is an easy price to pay for the water resistance and drop protection you get in return.
Like any light you may be considering adding to your kit, you want to make sure it works with your current assortment of modifiers. What this light has built on as a base mount is the mini Elinchrom mount. So it's pretty easy to find adaptors that will get you to most any other mounting options and they even sell sets of their own to make things easier. They also sell a ring adaptor that will get you to a Profoto mount if needed. From here they also use their own friction style mount where you can simply press in their fresnel heads, barn doors, gel holders, etc. As I said earlier, the 25-degree fresnel head is my favorite of these offerings and I consider it a must-have for anyone that has any of the compatible Stella Lights. Not only because I love using a more narrow beam of light, but also for the added usable power.
What I Liked
- Tons of power
- Lots of battery life with good insight into run time
- Built like a tank with drop resistance and water resistance
What I Didn't Like
- Unintuitive battery charging
- Higher price bracket (though there is nothing like it so that is understandable)
While this light is on the higher side of the price bracket when it comes to lighting (currently $1,299.99), it is also in a league of its own. There is no other light that I know of that offers this set of build quality and power. There are lights that give you durability but that have significantly less power. On the other end, there are lights that have higher powers but limit you to a wall outlet or bulky battery packs. Because of this, I think the StellaPro CLx10 is a must-have for anyone that is in search of a constant light that can do more than light dim indoor settings.