At A Glance: Hive Lighting Bee Plasma Flood

Consuming only 276 watts while outputting roughly the equivalent of a 1000W tungsten or 400W HMI, the Bee Plasma Flood is the first open-face model from Hive Lighting, a company rapidly growing in infamy for its line of high-quality plasma lighting solutions. With a high CRI rating of 94 and consistent, flickerless daylight output of 5600K, the Bee consumes so little power at 2.3 amps that up to seven units can be run from a standard wall outlet. Unlike the wide, soft spread of LED arrays with hundreds of smaller bulbs working in concert, the Quartz bulb in the Bee is a single-point light source the size of a Tic Tac® that will output a large amount of light from a single point. Designed to mimic traditional bulbs like redheads, this easily allows shaping and control of light output even with the open-face design of the Bee.

Plasma lighting is interesting for its high-end approach to achieving similar light quality as HMI alongside the advantages of LED lighting: low energy consumption, low heat discharge and flattering light that’s ideal for the heightened resolution of high-def projects. Plasma is much different behind the scenes, however, as it leverages the excitation of trapped inert gas rather than employing electrodes or filaments. In comparison to LED panels that house arrays of multiple bulbs, it also produces the more natural, sharp, single-edge shadows that users of classic single-point lights are used to. Even better, Hive Lighting claims that a 276-watt plasma solution like the Bee is twice as efficient as HMI, with four to eight times less draw than equitable tungsten solutions. Unlike these wasteful electric bulbs, a minor amount of heat is produced by the process, so with a 30,000-hour total life span, Hive’s plasma bulbs are built to last for 10,000 hours without degradation, far outliving sensitive filament bulbs. Similarly, with so little heat generation, plasma lights like the Bee are gloves-off; fixtures can be touched without any cooldown.

The Bee’s lightspread focuses a more narrow 50º spread at center and a 100º spread at full-light taper for a light that can be used doubly—close to a subject for stronger shadows or further back for more general illumination and longer throw. With the introduction of the Bee, variable color temperatures have also been added to the entire line of Hive plasma fixtures, which also includes PARs, spots and Fresnels. With a range of light designed to simulate the natural feel of sunlight throughout the course of the day, the Daylight Dial provides a stepless color temperature range from 4600K-7000K on the Bee.

Further down the dial, Moonlight Mode, at around 40% less output, is ideal for night shots, giving pale to deep-blue moonlight from about 12000K-14000K without the need for a CTB gel. Transitions take a few moments between color temperatures, however, unlike LED, which usually uses mixed arrays of color temperatures to achieve immediate results as you move through the spectrum. One of the downsides is that plasma will color-shift to blue with reduced power, so dimming isn’t currently available on Hive’s fixtures. Also, there’s a bit of striking time as the gases heat to a consistent color temperature, though this was less than a minute right out of the box.

With 450 MHz cycling, plasma is flicker-free to a "theoretical maximum of 225,000,000 frames per second," making it ideal for use with high-frame-rate cameras like the Phantom lines. The head itself weighs 10.5 pounds, while the power supply adds an additional 8 pounds. Though it’s much thicker in depth, the dimensions of the head are comparable to a standard 1×1 panel. The base Bee model includes head and 15-foot cable. It’s also available in three kits with power options: the Basic AC Kit, which will run worldwide from 90-270V, the Dual AC Kit to power two heads, and the AC and DC Kit for working with industry-standard batteries.

Compatible with standard light modifiers you may already own, the unit comes standard with four-piece scrim set, barndoors and a standard speed ring size of 170mm (65⁄8 inches) for use with softboxes. For adding warmth, using the Daylight Dial with an available CTO Hard Gel Set to manipulate light output gives a range of about 2900K-3400K. Two cases are available, as well as a 2-Riser Aluminum Stand and 25- or 50-foot header cables. The Bee can also be mounted as a two-light solution in the Bumblebee Plasma Flood Kit.

List Price: $1,995 (Bee Plasma Flood light head, 15-foot header cable); $2,845 (Bee Basic AC Kit); $3,145 (Bee Dual AC Kit); $3,345 (Bee AC and DC Kit).

Contact: Hive Lighting Inc., www.hivelighting.com.

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