Astera HydraPanel Evaluate – Compact RGBMA Mild for Professionals


Astera HydraPanel Review – Compact RGBMA Light for Professionals

The Astera FP6 HydraPanel, which we first noticed at Cinegear LA, is a primary for producer Astera — a light-weight fixture aimed solely on the filmmaking crowd with out an apparent dwelling within the occasion lighting trade (an trade through which Astera first constructed their model). The 25W HydraPanel, with a price of $400, is a small 1.3lb Steel and Polymer RGBMA fixture able to Bluetooth, CRMX, DMX, and even IR management. I obtained my arms on a 4-light package for this evaluate and there’s a lot to debate: 

Most readers will most likely pay attention to the tube-shaped 4ft Astera Titan fixture, which took the filmmaking world by storm upon its launch again in 2019. Constructed on the already widespread AX1 tube, the Astera Titan is simply in every single place in a lot of the bigger movie & TV markets in the US and in Europe. Constructed-in batteries combined with a number of management choices (with the assistance of an non-compulsory $475.00 transmitter unit) and the shape issue was such that it may very well be mounted wherever throughout these pesky 360 Steadicam or gimbal photographs.

Briefly, like most of you, I used to be immediately hooked on the Astera Titan, and I’ve used these fixtures on numerous productions since. Therefore, my glad shock to see Astera introducing a fixture aimed squarely at us movie people. 

These of us that cowl movie lighting or spend any time on units should admit this can be a improbable time on the earth of lighting — so many high-quality choices make it difficult for brand new merchandise to enter the market and the HydraPanel lands with maybe one competitor within the type of the Rosco DMG Lumiere DASH fixture CRMX model. Past that, the HydraPanel is in a little bit of a league of its personal with out different apparent rivals when it comes to dimensions and high-level options. 

Talking of, listed below are the standout options of the HydraPanel from my perspective:

  • Small “on-camera” pleasant modular type issue
  • Purple,Inexperienced,Blue,Mint,Amber Chips 
  • Construct-in Battery 
  • 3200-6500K Coloration Temp Vary
  • 6 Controllable Pixels
  • IP65 Rated Steel/Polymer Construct
  • Numerous included modifiers 
  • Giant accent ecosystem 
  • DMX, IR and App Management 

I point out an “on-camera” type issue within the record of options and the HydraPanel may actually be used as a broadcast or occasion mild in that method, however over weeks of testing (together with on a collection for School Humor) the HydraPanel grew to become an absolute favourite in my package. 

First impressions 

Two Astera PixelBrick’s subsequent to 3 HydraPanel’s linked utilizing the connectors and cables. Picture Credit score: Graham Sheldon / CineD

This 6.5 x 3.3 x 1.7”  fixture is tiny however feels substantial sufficient to final for years in a rental surroundings. The largely metallic construct conjures up a ton of confidence that an funding in a HydraPanel or 4 wouldn’t be one you’d remorse 12 to 24 months out from the date of buy due to a structural failure. After all, the inner battery solely has a set variety of cycles on it earlier than it’ll should be changed, however past that, this mild may take a success or two for my part. Sadly, the inner battery isn’t consumer replaceable and the unit would should be despatched to a licensed service heart for swapping.

The 1.3lb Astera HydraPanel. Picture Credit score: Graham Sheldon / CineD

One of many barely annoying issues about previous Astera releases is that the corporate tends to not embrace a variety of equipment with their merchandise — that’s modified with newer releases just like the PixelBrick or right here with the HydraPanel. The bottom $400 HydraPanel single unit package consists of quite a lot of welcome equipment out of the gate. To essentially get all kinds of equipment you’ll need the 4-light package or simply be ready to buy just a few a la carte. Extra on equipment in a second. 

Controlling the sunshine out of the field is simple with a button setup that can be acquainted to any earlier Astera product consumer. The “Menu”, “+”, “-“, “Enter”, “Energy”, “Wheel”, and “Painter” buttons are all right here as in earlier Astera merchandise just like the PixelBrick (a private favourite), however the brand new touchslider interface stands out. You need to use the touchslider to alter issues like shade, brightness, and DMX handle, and one of the best half is that the slider isn’t activated till you might be within the right menu — that means you received’t be bumping it unintentionally. 

The button structure must be acquainted to previous Astera customers. Picture Credit score: Graham Sheldon / CineD

Different options from previous Astera merchandise are instantly evident like an hour indicator noting remaining battery life and inexperienced/magenta correction. Every part simply feels acquainted and manually navigating the menu is a breeze. 

Throughout my time reviewing the HydraPanel I primarily managed the fixture both manually with the again interface or over CRMX partially as a result of I’ll admit the present Astera Bluetooth App isn’t my favourite. Coming from different apps like Lumen Radio and even the Sidus Hyperlink app from Aputure or the MyMix app from Rosco — I simply don’t love the complexity of the Astera app. It feels cumbersome to construct a selected impact in a method that different widespread lighting management apps available on the market don’t. 

AsteraNext is the corporate’s reply to the complexity of the unique AsteraApp and that growth app is presently in beta and serving as a testing floor for future AsteraApp updates. As an lively member of the Astera Consumer Fb group myself, it does appear that Astera has been listening to suggestions from customers within the creation of their new upcoming app. Time will inform there. In equity, with a crossover product between the occasion, movie, and TV markets comes the necessity for an app that may ship a reasonably advanced characteristic set and Astera has their work reduce out for them.

The Astera APP is on the market to obtain on iOS HERE.

Closing out my first impressions, I’ll simply say that the per-unit $400 price ticket feels spot on for what you’re getting. Astera tends to cost their merchandise on a extra premium facet and the HydraPanel price ticket lands in a really affordable spot for what you’re getting for my part. 

Who’s the HydraPanel for? 

Stack of three HydraPanels with included grids on ‘Dimension 20’ for School Humor. Picture Credit score: Graham Sheldon / CineD

My HydraPanel evaluate package arrived simply as I used to be beginning a collection referred to as “Dimension 20” for digital model School Humor and I instantly threw the package into use as a hair mild for the host of that present. I used to be nonetheless attempting to grasp the output of the HydraPanel at this level and I first began utilizing one HydraPanel and realized that having to shoot at F5.6 meant I’d want significantly extra output out of this fixture.

So much for one of many Astera connector models. Picture Credit score: Graham Sheldon / CineD

From there, I launched one HydraPanel at a time utilizing connector plates to the “stack” to extend the output proportionally till I reached the output I wanted out of that mild. As we added a brief energy/knowledge mixture cable to every unit it was a nice shock to see the extra panels instantly match settings and seem as one fixture from a DMX perspective. No further fiddling within the settings required.

One of many many forms of connectors that Astera makes for the HydraPanel. Picture Credit score: Graham Sheldon / CineD

The above-described sequence is often how I take a look at most lights for CineD — I instantly put them to make use of on no matter TV, Movie, or Industrial venture I occur to be on after a fast take a look at offset.

I’m curious concerning the inclusion of IR distant management for the HydraPanel. Astera has allowed for IR management on quite a lot of their fixtures previously, however I’ve personally by no means discovered a necessity for IR. Do you utilize IR management and the place do you discover it helpful? Let me know within the feedback beneath! Maybe I’m lacking out.

Past my described hair mild use above I may see the HydraPanel working as sensible lights mounted down a hallway or as a key mild for a smaller closeup body with one or two stacked collectively. Broadcast or dwell occasion people will desire the sunshine mounted on-camera and it really works very nicely in that orientation with the addition of a child pin adapter.

The interior battery works wonders for cellular filming and lasts for a number of hours, however have in mind the battery requires a 3-hour cost time, so that you’ll wish to issue that into your planning.


Astera HydraPanel 4-Mild Equipment case. Picture Credit score: Graham Sheldon / CineD

The $1810.00 4-light package, which I used for this evaluate, consists of quite a lot of completely different equipment (every as a set of 4): 

  • Intensifier 80
  • Diffuser Sheet 100
  • Comfortable Body 100
  • Eggcrate 40
  • Eggcrate 60
  • Gel Holder
  • Connector Plate
  • BabyPin ¼”
  • Charger 
  • Energy/Knowledge Mixture Cable

As I alluded to earlier, Astera’s merchandise haven’t all the time shipped with a ton of equipment and it’s historically been a little bit of an effort to spherical out my previous Astera kits with crucial mounting {hardware} or perhaps a charging cable in some cases. This isn’t the case right here. The 4-light package could be very turnkey and consists of every little thing it’s essential get began. 

Astera has a proprietary mounting system that has crossover with a few of their different merchandise (and future merchandise I’m advised). I’ll say that their mounting system depends closely on laborious plastic items in a method that Quasar Science’s new metallic nato rail-based Ossium system mercifully doesn’t, for instance. There’s additionally a toy connector set really feel to Astera’s new mounting {hardware} that takes a little bit of getting used to, however that I actually take pleasure in when all of it clicks soundly into place. I do surprise if the dependency on plastic for these small bits of connecting items will imply needing to exchange them over time extra usually. We will see.

Knowledge/energy cable embedded on the left within the case. Picture Credit score: Graham Sheldon / CineD

Specializing in the connector plate items once more for a second – it means that you can join as much as 4 particular person HydraPanels in place for an added enhance of output. Use the facility/knowledge mixture cables between every and the set of 4 linked HydraPanels act as a single fixture to regulate CRMX. You could possibly, after all, join greater than 4 HydraPanels in a row, however I might be very involved concerning the total weight in that occasion and I don’t suggest doing that.

The barrel connectors are indented in a method that protects them from influence. Picture Credit score: Graham Sheldon / CineD

I do want these energy/knowledge cables had been locking and never barrel, however that’s a minor quibble. The barrel connections are indented in a method that makes them laborious to knock out, though we’ll discover a method on set to just do that I’m positive.

Output & Kelvin Dealing with in CCT Mode

I went forward and examined the output utilizing lux and shade dealing with (utilizing Kelvin) of the Astera HydraPanel at a distance of three toes with my Sekonic C-700U Spectrometer. Listed here are my outcomes, beginning with a goal of 5600K with no equipment or modifiers hooked up. I recorded a improbable common CRI of 97 all through testing.

A results of 5149K is a bit removed from the 5600K goal and a so, so total outcome in relation to kelvin accuracy. Additionally they aren’t the brightest lights available on the market, however contemplating the small dimension and skill to stack you possibly can actually add 4 collectively to attain a a lot brighter supply.

Now for a goal of 3200K:

A results of 3079K is far nearer to the goal of 3200K when in comparison with the outcomes on the daylight finish of the Kelvin vary. Only a tiny drop in output with this goal.

Lastly, let’s attempt a goal someplace within the center at 4700K:

Once more, a bit additional drift than I might hope for with a results of 4423K with the goal of 4700K and it’s fascinating to see that the output is similar from the 3200K goal in contrast with the 4700K goal. In the event you’re searching for pure kelvin accuracy then I might recommend residing within the 3200K area the place doable with this fixture.


Picture Credit score: Graham Sheldon/CineD

I didn’t know I wanted the HydraPanel. I have a tendency to make use of smaller fixtures as eye-lights or to spotlight present components of the manufacturing design and thru session with the manufacturing design workforce, we all the time had been in a position to get there utilizing different fixtures. After just a few weeks, it was clear that the HydraPanel would discover a stable dwelling in my package and my total workflow. It’s constructed like a tank, simple to manually management or management over CRMX and it’s sufficiently small to maintain available for quite a lot of makes use of or to be used as a journey mild.

For sure, my favourite lights to evaluate are those that I wasn’t anticipating and that stunned me through the course of working with them. The HydraPanel was a nice shock throughout. It’s simply so darn versatile. Two thumbs up.

What do you assume? Will you be including the HydraPanel to your package? Tell us within the feedback beneath!