The Prolycht Orion 300 FS looks fantastic on paper: Bowens S-Type mount, HSI Tuning, a wide CCT range, DMX Control, source matching, a huge filter library, and a competitive price tag. Could this be the fabled one-light-for-all-occasions? I took the Orion 300 FS on various shoots, and if you’re interested to hear what I have to say about it: here’s my review!
If you’ve spent any time working with cinema lighting or thinking about the usage of cinema lighting, then it’s probably evident to you where the future of cinema lighting lies: full color capable/high output lights paired with low power draw. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why I’d be interested in reviewing the Prolycht Orion 300 FS. Could this be a hint of things to come?
A few other manufacturers are creating hard-light-color capable fixtures, and they each have their pros and cons. To name just a few:
As might be expected, each of these manufacturers has taken a different approach to their fixtures. There’s Digital Sputnik’s cube-style to Arri’s pricey 500W Orbiter platform to Hive Lighting with their proprietary accessory mount. Across the board, when comparing watts to cost, the Prolycht Orion 300 FS lands at a more affordable price point: $2150 for the base 300W kit. I have also noticed that Prolycht frequently has great sales, so from time to time, you might be able to find the base Orion 300 kit cheaper or with accessories added for free.
Of course, brands like Arri, Hive Lighting, and Digital Sputnik have all been on the market longer than Prolycht. And track record is not something to be sneezed at. Still, the newcomer does come prepared. Curious about that brand name? Prolycht = professional light.
The exterior of the Orion 300 FS reminds me a little of the Tomorrowland attraction at various Disney parks in that it has a vague art deco/futuristic look. In short, Prolycht came up with a whimsical exterior design, and hats off to them for making a fixture with a bit of panache.
Interestingly, there is a power button on the OSHA power cable and on the controller/ballast of the Orion 300 FS. I asked the Prolycht team about this:
“There are different safety and electrical regulations throughout the world. The switch on the cable is a true power cutoff, as it mechanically stops the flow of electricity. The switch on the ballast is an electronic relay. Think of this as a double-safety system.”
Mitch Gross – Director of Sales, Americas (Prolycht)
Getting the Orion 300 FS ready for shooting is easy. Connect the power cable (or power through Gold Mount or V-Mount) and the head cable, mount the controller/ballast to your C-Stand or leave it on the ground, and add the included reflector (55 degrees) or another accessory, and you’re off to the races. The lamp head is 8 lbs. with the attached yoke, and, given the overall low weight, a C-Stand is perfectly fine for most scenarios.
Turn on the light, and you’ll see the emitters go through a self-calibration process as various colors flash for a few seconds and then return to previous settings.
When I began communicating with the Prolycht team to create this review, one of the features they were most excited about was the fixture’s ability to create very saturated colors. On this note, they have company. I also am impressed. Simply turning on the fixture and selecting a blue, green, or red at random produces very saturated colors (even in interior spaces with competing ambient lighting).
Diving into the menu, you’ll find CCT control from 2000K to 20,000K, various effects (19 to be exact), and hundreds of selectable Lee and Rosco digital filters alongside an RGB mode and HSI mode (X/Y mode now available with additional firmware update). Navigating the basic UI on the fixture itself wasn’t my favorite part of the initial experience with the Orion 300 FS, so whenever possible, I’d recommend using the ChromaLink app. It all works, but the app just works better for fine control.
I tested the Orion 300 FS with the Prolycht $90 Lantern Softbox and the $350.00 Projection Lens (two of only a couple available first-party Prolycht accessories). Beyond that, I used multiple third-party Bowens mounted softboxes. I’m hoping Prolycht sticks with the less-is-more approach and continues developing the Orion line when it comes to accessories. There are just so many Bowens S-Type accessories already on the market.
The Projection lens comes with a variety of popular gobo options (tree branches, various windows, and more out-there options like space-age globes), and you can move metal leaves to cut the light in various ways and make whatever shape you wish. You can also focus or de-focus the gobo shapes to your liking.
There’s much to like with the look out of the Projection accessory. However, two things: the accessory itself does have some wiggle to it when connected to the fixture, and trays that slide the gobo into place in the fixture do feel a bit flimsy.
Does the Orion 300 FS work with all other Bowens S-Type accessories? No, you’ll need to be especially careful when using fresnels or spotlights from other brands as they just weren’t designed for use with the Orion 300 FS. All the softboxes I tried with the Orion 300 FS from brands like Aputure and Nanlite worked just fine.
Prolycht also makes a fresnel accessory that I didn’t have an opportunity to test myself, but it is available here.
Over the past month, I used the Orion 300 FS as a key light on talent, background light projecting interesting shapes, and occasionally as a hair light. Your particular uses will vary, but I found the Orion 300 FS to be flattering on the skin and useful in a variety of situations.
Where I found the Orion 300 FS to be less useful was 1) outside in direct sunlight (simply not enough output) and 2) when I needed to expose for talent placed against a window (without the ability to ND the window). In those cases, I had to turn to higher-output daylight LED or HMI fixtures.
On the other hand, one big plus was being able to + or – green and magenta. This feature was invaluable for matching existing locations. And the ability to pick any color under the sun meant I could easily match other color-capable fixtures like the ARRI Skypanel. Having a hard light like the Orion 300 FS is also helpful to me on more shoots because I obviously can soften a hard light, but I can’t harden a soft light.
I found the ChromaLink app (available for iOS and Android) easy to connect and set up. However, one odd feature stood out. While using the app, you are locked out of any manual control with the Orion 300 FS controller/ballast simply displaying the message: “BLE Control Mode.” I would have preferred the mere touching of any of the physical buttons on the light would override anything occurring in the app.
Source matching is a valuable tool, and the app is one of the more robust light-control apps I’ve seen out of the gate. Since Prolycht is a newer company, they should be pleased with that result. ChromaLink functionality with the Orion 300 FS is intuitive and quality app integration bodes well for the future health of the Orion fixture line.
True, the Prolycht Orion 300 FS doesn’t have a built-in wireless DMX option, but you can control the fixture by connecting a DMX wireless dongle or cable.
Output and color accuracy testing
I’ve tested the output using lux and color handling (using kelvin) of the Orion 300 FS at a distance of three feet with my Sekonic C-700U Spectrometer and here are the results with the standard kit reflector attached.
Here are my results at 3 ft with a Target of 5600K:
With a result of 5329K this is a bit further from the target of 5600K than I would prefer. Here’s a test with a target of 3200K.
Drifting toward the tungsten kelvin side of the range, we see a hit to overall output compared to daylight. With a result of 3183K, we are much more accurate with a 3200K target when compared to a 5600K target.
Here’s a quick look at how accurate the colors are coming out of the Orion 300 FS:
All the CRI values land in the mid to upper 90s, with the exception of R12 (Blue). These results are actually near the higher end as I compare to some of my more recent reviews of color-capable fixtures. These are generally great outcomes. If there is one weakness in these results, it’s with the 5600K target test. Note that each fixture is likely a little different, and if you have a spectrometer at home, you can absolutely dial in your 5600K target.
As I mentioned at the top of this article, I want what all of us want: a fixture that can do everything and anything anytime I need it. The Orion 300 FS comes close, with one exception. More output is required to deliver results where ambient daylight is a factor. If you work primarily in controlled environments like a stage or studio or have a great grip team to help control ambient, the Orion 300 FS will be perfect for your needs.
I am impressed by the stylish Prolycht Orion 300 FS with its fair price point, gorgeous saturated colors, and excellent wireless control. Once you have worked with a fixture like this with every conceivable color at your fingertips, going back to daylight or bi-color only lighting will be tough. Two thumbs up.