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Gear Reviews

Lowel GL-1 Official Review – Rapid Gear Review Season 1 Ep 1

By Pye Jirsa on May 3rd 2013

Welcome to our Friday Rapid Gear Reviews segment of our weekly videos, where we will review a different gear every Friday. This week we will be reviewing and telling you everything you want to know about the Lowel GL-1 Hot Light.

Watch the Video Review Below

What is the Lowel GL-1

The Lowel GL-1 Hot Light is a completely portable LED light that can be focused from a wide beam to a narrow beam. The light ouput is dimmable by either the analogue dimming trigger or the scroll wheel dimmer.

Specifications (from GL-1 Website)

  • High powered focusing LED light source
  • Dimming Range 5-100%
  • Focusing Range 5:1
  • 90 CRI for high quality color output
  • 3000K color output
  • 1/4” and 3/8” stand mounting options
  • 82MM threaded front element allows you to add a Tiffen 80B to covert to Daylight balance output
  • Rechargeable Battery
  • Dim via trigger with feel or by dial for a fixed exposure
  • Battery life of approximately 1 hour on a full charge
  • Power consumption 25W

The Pros of the Lowel GL-1

The first primary benefit of the Lowel GL-1 is its focusable beam. You can extend or retract the head, and because of its 5 to 1 focus, the beam will tighten or widen to exactly where you want it to be. This comes in handy in situations where it is necessary for the light to be in a specific area.

Lowell GL1 Review

Lowell GL1 Review

Lowel GL-1 Review

The GL-1 has a great quality of light, measured at 3K color temperature, with a beautiful graduation and even lighting from edge to the edge, made possible by using a Fresnel lens. This makes for a perfect handheld gunlight for portrait lighting. It is also built with an 82mm threaded element on the front, so that you are able to use a variety of filters.

Another great feature of this hot light is its analog trigger. This allows you to brighten or dim the light to the exact brightness you want, in addition to a constant dial that lets you fix the light power at a specific constant setting.

Lowel GL-1 Review

Lowell GL1 Review

Now, if you do not have or are not planning to have an assistant on a shoot when using the GL-1, there is no need to worry. Not only can it stand up on its own, but it also comes with a mountable ¾” tri-pod mount on the bottom. This allows you to set the light to a constant power setting, place it on a tri-pod, and place it exactly where you want without having to bring along a lighting assistant.

Lowell GL1 Review

Lastly, the Lowel GL-1 comes with a powerful battery that lasts around one hour on a full charge and a solid overall build quality.

Lowell GL1 Review

Cons of the Lowel GL-1

We found that after using this for a good period of time that there was really nothing to criticize about the light itself. One thing worth mentioning, however, is that if you are using the light for video the light has an internal fan. It measures at around 5 decibels when tested from a 1-foot distance, so the fan is definitely quiet enough for most video uses, but if you need pure silence on set, then you may want to test out the light before purchasing it.

Lowel GL1 Review

Now the only negative thing we could say about the light is the overall price point. It is priced at $699, which is out of the range of most non-professional photographers, and even professionals may have a hard time coughing up the cash for a handheld light. However, when we compared the Lowel GL-1 Hot Light with other professional hot lights of similar quality, most of the similar lights also ranged from $500-900, and are not as portable and flexible as the GL-1.

Images from Actual Engagement Shoots Using the GL-1 Hot Lights








We give the Lowel GL-1 Hot Light a 4 out of 5 stars. If it were to be priced at more of the $300-400 range, this would definitely be a 5 out of 5 stars product. This is an amazing product, and we highly recommend anyone to try the Lowel GL-1 if they are looking for the best portable hot light with great power and amazing quality. To find out more, you can visit and also check out their Facebook page.

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Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. What's in Our Lighting Bag For Portrait Sessions

    […] were incredibly affordable (only $30) before they were discontinued. Another light we use is the Lowel GL-1. This is probably the best compact continuous light on the market for photographers because of […]

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  2. Guzzy

    I am designing a similar light with all the bells and whistles, my version is brighter @ 2500 lumens. And the components so far cost me
    75.00 so retail would be about 320.00 after
    All my hard work of R&D and the led are the best from Cree.

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  3. Michkimphoto

    Have you found that one is enough? It appears as though you have at least two (fill and rim) in some of your images

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  4. Rich Duzzi

    When I first heard about the light a couple or so years ago, I thought Brian had mentioned the price point to be around $400. But practically double that – ?????

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  5. Joseph Pascua

    I love this light! Best investment I’ve made to my photography gear. Makes evening & low light portraits easy and quick. Great review!

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  6. Nashsnazzy

    The shot of the couple in the car, what type of lighting was used on the car and what type on the couple?

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  7. Craig LaMere

    I saw it at WPPI and would have bought it right on the spot but they were not selling them yet!

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  8. Juan Cespedes

    Hey Pye, I’ve actually worked very closely with this light from the proto-type phase to the final phase. In terms of weight is is around the 3-4 pound weight and you can absolutely use it on a normal light stand but use common sense and not to extend it all the way up on uneven ground. I have used it in the past by connecting quick release plate to the bottom and putting it on a tripod since it will allow me to move and aim the light in any position with out the fear of tipping.

    Cheers Mate,

    Thanks again fro the SEO help

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  9. David Birch

    weight?…and how steady (balanced) was it when mounting it to a lightstand?

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    • Pye

      Good question, we didn’t weigh it. I would probably guess 2-3 pounds. For all my uses, I just placed it on tables pointing at my subjects. Haven’t had the need to mount to a light stand yet. But, I would imagine it should be pretty secure. Most of the weight is in the battery at the base.

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  10. Joakim Bidebo

    small note. You forgot http:// on the link.

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