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Stella Wedding Photographer Kit Review

Stella Wedding Lighting Kit

This review of the Light & Motion Stella Wedding Photographer Kit is by wedding photographer Chad Winstead from East North Carolina. 

The Stella Pro CL Portrait Kit is a powerful continuous lighting setup meant for portrait and wedding photographers looking to change the way they light!

Just as mirrorless cameras are taking over the market and changing the game for professionals, Art in Motion is attempting to change the game with continuous lighting as well!

shk-fs-table__imageStella Wedding KitPowerful, high quality, waterproof continuous lighting solution.View Price

Speaking of mirrorless, continuous lighting makes it even easier to nail your exposure quickly and easily while using the Electronic Viewfinder. It certainly is a joy having a powerful light while taking some of the guesswork and frustration out of using flash with mirrorless cameras.

These portable, waterproof lights certainly are innovative! They are certainly powerful for continuous light, but are they powerful enough to replace your flashes?

I will be covering the following criteria in the Light & Motion Stella Kit review:

1. Specs & Pricing
2. Build Quality & Handling
3. Light Output
4. Battery Life
5. Modifiers
6. Conclusion
7. Rating

Stella Wedding Kit Review | Specs & Pricing

Using Stella Pro lighting for self portrait of a man

Self Portrait using both the Stella CL5000 and CL2000 | Sony A7riii + 85mm F/1.8 | 1/200 F5 ISO 50

These specs are provided by Stella’s website! The Stella PRO CL Light Kit is occasionally on sale at B&H Photo (check the latest pricing here).

This makes it one of the more expensive lighting setups out there, but it could potentially be worth it to you!

Here are the specs:

Lumens: 5000 (high), 2500 (medium), 1200 (low)
Runtime: 90 min (high), 180 min (medium), 375 min (low)
Beam Angle: 120° (flood), 120° (native), 50° (modified), 25° – 120° (range)
Color Temp: 5600k
CRI: 92
TLCI: 94
LUX: 10300
Beam Distance: 191m
Charge Time: 120 min
Depth Rating (FL-1): 100 meters
Impact Resistance (FL-1): 1 meter
Product Weight: 1,148 grams
Sony A9 + 70-200 f/2.8 | 1/2500 F7.1 ISO 100

Build Quality & Handling

Lady against brick wall using Stella CL5000 lighting

Stella CL5000 through a MagMod MagBox | 5000 lumens | Sony A7riii + 85mm F/1.8 | 1/8000 F1.8 ISO 100

The Stella CL’s use an integrated Li-ion battery making them very portable and without limitations.

You can use the provided chargers to plug into any AC or DC power source when needed. In fact, one of my biggest complaints about this Light & Motion Kit is the chargers themselves.

The CL5000 uses a completely different plug and charger than the CL2000. I wish these chargers were the same so we could eliminate the need for 2 separate chargers to pack.

Close up of charging ports on Stella Pro

Close up of charging ports on Stella Pro

Overall, these lights feel very solid and sturdy. With an impact rating of 1 meter, they should be able to withstand small drops without breaking.

The light power is adjusted by a spring powered knob on top. This is also how you turn on the units, and you can lock the power into place by twisting the knob.

I’m not a big fan of this design as it felt flimsy for long term use. I believe a more traditional turn dial knob and on/off power button would have been more sufficient and easier to use.

Stella Pro CL2000 light showing power and indicator level

Power Adjustment knob on the CL2000. Indicator lights show power level.

We love the back LCD screen of the CL5000 and wish the CL2000 had something similar. It is very high quality, and the brightness is easily seen outdoors with it’s anti-glare screen.

LCD screen at back of CL5000 Stella Pro

The bright LCD screen of the CL5000. Indicates Power and Battery Life.

A big selling point of these Light & Motion lights is the waterproof capability. These lights are weather resistant and can be used underwater up to 100 meters!

That’s really impressive! We didn’t want to test these depths out since these were on loaner to us, but we did get them a little wet running around in the ocean!

Landscape water shot with two guys using Stella Pro CL5000

Shot with the CL5000 and the Fresnel Lens | 5000 lumens | Sony A7riii + 16-35 f/2.8 GM | 1/500 F1.4 ISO 500

You may want to use them underwater simply because these lights do get HOT! If you are running them for any period of time over a minute, you need to be very careful about touching the area around the LED, or using certain modifiers not designed for the unit.

We were using a makeshift MagMod gel and grid adapter on the Light & Motion light for a little over a minute, and actually ended up melting the gel and the center of the Grid!

Romantic fire shot with CL2000 Stella Pro

Shot with the CL2000 (full power) and ½ CTO Gel | Sony A7riii + 16-35 f/2.8 GM | 1/125 F2.8 ISO 500

The flashes are able to mount easily and quickly to a light-stand or C-Stand, however, my only other complaint on these units is the knob threads are very short.

We actually lost two of the tightening knobs from these Light & Motion lights in the month we had it and couldn’t put back on the stands!

Overall, you can tell they are expensive lights when you hold them because they feel very solid and engineered. I would just like to see a few small improvements to the adjustment knobs, mounting knobs, and maybe a one-size fits all charger for their line.

Light Output

Stello Pro light turned on sitting on CheetahStand C10

The CL2000 Light mounted to a CheetahStand C1

The standard beam angle of 120 degrees is useful and is easily modified with the included modifiers (25° Fresnel, 50° diffused optic, and barn doors).

The Light & Motion lights also include a Profoto ring adapter for use with their modifiers! My favorite setup was using the CL5000 with the Profoto adapter, along with MagMod’s Profoto adapter, and attaching it to the new MagMog MagBox!

Sitting at 5000 lumens, the CL5000 is indeed very powerful. Pair this with their fresnel head that directs the power and beam, you can use these outdoors at sunset or in the shade and dramatically light your subjects.

It is powerful enough to use in a studio environment through a small softbox, but you can expect to shoot a little more wide-open or increase the ISO more than you would with strobes.

Portrait of a lady using Stella Pro CL500 lighting

Shot using the CL5000 (full power) through a MagMod MagBox. Subject was in the shade with the Midday sun at her back. | Sony A7riii + 85mm F/1.8 | 1/8000 F1.8 ISO 500

Using mid-day outdoors with other modifiers can be a little tricky and I believe you would be better suited with the CL8000 (not included in this kit.)

Indoors and in more dimly lit situations is where this lighting kit really shines. Most of our testing came inside of our studio:

Portrait of lady in studio using Stella Pro CL5000

Shot in studio with the CL5000 (full power) through a MagMod MagBox as the key light, and the CL2000 (full power) with the barn doors as the rim light. Sony A7riii + 85mm F/1.8 | 1/160 F2 ISO 250

The CL2000 is nice for a quick and easy compact light setup and is best suited in dark reception halls or environments when the subject is close. The compact size makes it really easy to fit in any small camera bag.

My favourite part about shooting with these lights is that I don’t have to worry about Sync Speed or using HSS and “losing” power off my flashes.

Battery Life

The battery life is rated at 90 minute on high to 375 minutes on low power. I found this to be pretty accurate and possibly slightly underrated on the CL5000 and overrated on the CL2000.

If you find yourself needing power for longer, you can always hook up to the nearest outlet with the included DC and AC power supplies.

However, I wish they had a detachable battery pack so we could purchase more batteries to carry along on those all day weddings!

Close up of Stella Pro CL5000

The CL5000 is double the size of the CL2000 to hold the larger battery and more powerful optics

Modifiers

Lady walking shop fronts Stella Pro CL5000

Stella CL5000 with the Fresnel Lens | 5000 lumens | Sony A7riii + 85mm F/1.8 | 1/8000 F1.8 ISO 250

The included modifiers include a 4 way barndoor for light shaping. The fresnel lens narrows the beam angle and creates a more powerful, focused look with high contrast.

This was personally my favorite as it reminds me of coveted MagMod MagBeam.

Romantic couple shot with pink/blue sky using Stella Po CL5000

Shot with the CL5000 and the Fresnel lens. | 5000 lumens | Sony A7riii + 85mm F/1.8 | 1/200 F2.5 ISO 160

Comparing the light output, it really makes a huge difference and gives it a powerful spotlight effect that can be extremely useful outdoors and to keep the light outside of the frame.

Black and white lens shot showing light 3000 Lumens

Standard 120 degree angle vs Fresnel Lens | 3000 Lumens | Sony A7riii + 35mm f/1.4 | 1/100 F4 ISO 160

The Light & Motion kit also includes their own gels and the 3″ Speed Ring Gel Holder to be able to use them. However, they can only be used on the CL2000 from what I can tell.

Romantic couple shot lit with CL2000

Shot with the CL2000 (full power) and ½ CTO Gel | Sony A7riii + 85mm F/1.8 | 1/125 F1.8 ISO 32

One modifier that I didn’t find myself using that much, but could come in handy for filling a room with light is the Glo Bulb.

This is similar to a MagMod MagSphere or Gary Fong Lightsphere as it spreads the light to 180 degrees.

Portrait of a lady shot with CL5000

Shot with the CL5000 (full power) and Glo Bulb for fill light. This is a balance of natural and fill light. | Sony A7riii + 55mm F/1.8 | 1/150 F5.0 ISO 1600

Last but not least is The 50-Degree Optic. This tightens a smooth beam light to 50 degrees from the usual 120 degrees. This reduces quite a bit of light spill.

Black and white portrait of a lady using Cl5000 through a MagMod MagBox

Shot with CL5000 (full power) through a MagMod MagBox for key light, and the CL2000 (full power) and 50-degree Optic for rim light. | Sony A7riii + 85mm F/1.8 | 1/160 F5 ISO 1600

Now one thing I did not do is point the light at a wall and compare all of the modifiers and show what it does to the light.

I totally meant to, but life got in the way with my short amount of time with these Light & Motion lights!

Light & Motion Stella Wedding Photographer Kit | Conclusion

Romantic couple shot with city lights in background shot with CL2000

CL2000 (full power) Behind for Rim Light | Sony A7riii + 16-35 f/2.8 GM | 1/15 F2.8 ISO 800

I believe this is the start of something great and Light & Motion has something that no one else offers. I am anxious to see where continuous lighting goes from here and if they will become even more powerful and cost effective.

I believe this kit could be useful for most situations for photographers and videographers alike. I especially believe mirrorless shooters would benefit the most from a constant light setup, and hybrid shooters (photo and video) would see quicker and more consistent results by only having to use these lights.

Overall as a mirrorless and hybrid shooter myself, I would love to try out the Stella Pro 8000 and believe a 2 light setup of that, along with one CL2000 would be the kit I would feel comfortable bringing along to weddings to replace a bit of my flash usage.

The cost for these Light & Motion lights is a huge factor for me though, along with shooting all day on a single charge.

Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.

Build Quality8
Ergonomics & Handling 
7
Quality of Light10
Accessibility8
Value7

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