Light Without Compromise: The Rotolight Titan X2, a Hands-On Review

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The Rotolight Titan X2 is a giant step away from the original Rotolight in size, shape, and functionality. You could even say that with the Titan X2 Rotolight has moved from the world of indie filmmaking to high-budget studio productions. It is available in a variety of configurations: Standard Yoke, Pole Yoke, and Swan Neck. It is also available to buy as a “Rental Kit” with a hard shipping case and accessories, and this is what we’ll review here.

First Things First

The jaw-drop feature: The Titan X2 has Electronic Diffusion. What does that mean? Simple—with Smartsoft, you can vary the diffusion electronically from 100 to 0%. There’s no more swapping diffusion gels; just dial-in the amount of diffusion that you want. It is pretty stunning when you think about it. Does it work? Yes, very well. To my eye, it does seem to have a minimum level of diffusion, even at the zero setting. This isn't an issue, and something that is probably unavoidable. The diffusion works, it is a pretty neat trick, and it is consistent no matter what the brightness setting of the light.

Diffusion at 0%
Diffusion at 0%
Diffusion at 25%
Diffusion at 25%
Diffusion 50%
Diffusion 50%
Diffusion 75%
Diffusion 75%
Diffusion 100%
Diffusion 100%

It's a Knockout

The Titan X2 is very bright—to say it has punch is an understatement. Not to worry though; it stays cool with two built-in fans, so running it all day in a grid really ought not to be a problem.

Functionality

The light is DMX controllable, with 5-pin XLR in and out, plus a locking RJ45 input connector, and a smartphone app is on the way. For local control, the Titan X2 has a large touchscreen panel on the back. This, in conjunction with three rotating control buttons—anodized a brilliant red against the chassis' mostly black finish, as well as a five-button touch menu navigation pad and preset touch navigation buttons—provides quick and flexible control over the light’s functions, which include fan speed and factory reset, in addition to the creative control. The panel offers many choices, with 10 presets available each for: Color temp, RGB, HSI, XY, and Filter mode. You can use the rotating pushbuttons to affect not only the settings for the color space you are working in, but also for brightness and diffusion. When working in CCT, you can adjust the Plus/Minus magenta, as well, by using either the rotating knob or the touch screen—just drag the slider from magenta to green. In fact, you can use the touch screen to control most of the settings for the output, from color to brightness. It is a pretty neat system, although I do wish there were a simple reset or zero button on the interface to bring it back to the default.

The Control Panel
The Control Panel
Default LCD Screen
Default LCD Screen
Screen showing CCT Mode Brightness and Diffusion at 50%
Screen showing CCT Mode Brightness and Diffusion at 50%
In Filter Mode,You can Select Storaro Red
In Filter Mode,You can Select Storaro Red

Effects

Built-in effects include: Fade, Lightning, strobe, cycle Fire, Police, TV, Fireworks (will be available in the upcoming firmware update), Gunshot, Neon, Film, Spark Weld, Paparazzi, and Chase. Spark weld was neat, but I really liked Lightning (for the record, my daughter gave Lightning the thumbs-up). There are controls that allow you to customize the effects, all available via the touchscreen. There is also a flash mode, which allows you to use the Titan X2 with still cameras.

Built Like a Tank

The Titan X2 hasn't overlooked the details in its pursuit of features. The ballast has a mounting plate, which matches the back of the light, so you can mount the ballast on the fixture itself, but that would highlight the one drawback of the Titan X2—which is its weight. With the barndoors and ballast mounted on the fixture, it weighs more than 40 pounds on my home scale. Still, it is beautifully built and looks to be rugged as all get-out.

The chassis is sturdy plastic, supported by a metal exoskeleton, and the built-in handholds are metal, and this light has some heft to it, so you aren't going to be running around hand-holding this Rotolight— that isn't what it is meant for. It is meant for studio and set work, either hanging in a grid or on a junior stand when using the standard yoke. You can add a “Swan Neck” fitting to the light, because it has a quick-connect system on the back panel, suitable for the Swan Neck plate or the ballast. Then you are set to use a stand with a baby pin. When using the standard yoke or the pole yoke (for lighting grid applications), you can also mount the ballast on the back of the unit, or clamp it to a stand with the Titan-X2-Clamp.

The barndoors are an option with all but the Rental Kit, and these are smartly designed, like the light itself. The four-leaf barndoors mount via a metal band that pops onto the light and is held in place by spring-loaded tabs. Depress buttons found on either side of the light, and the barn doors lift off.

Well Thought Out

The fixture uses Neutrik speakON connectors for DC input and output. The DC and AC connectors also twist-lock into place, which is very nice. Granted, it takes some trial and error to figure out how to hold the cables when inserting, still, overall it is a sturdy arrangement, simple to insert and twist, then press the release, twist and pull to remove.

The Ballast features an AC passthrough, which is handy if you are mounting the lights on a grid and want to daisy-chain power. AC in and out on the ballast are PowerCON connectors, and you can't accidently plug power into the AC out port, I tried and so did my 12-year-old daughter, so no worries about blowing anything when working in dim conditions. The Titan X2 only draws a maximum of 420W, so daisy-chaining on a 20-amp circuit is a reality. Mounting the ballast on the back of the unit allows the use of a shorter power cable. When mounting the ballast on the stand, or off the fixture, use the longer DC power cable. The ballast is as well built as the light itself, and mounting it on the light still allows access to the control knobs and touch screen.

Ballast Mounted to Titan X2
Ballast Mounted to Titan X2
Power Connected to Ballast and Light Fixture
Power Connected to Ballast and Light Fixture

The Wrap-Up

Although I wasn't able to test the Titan X2 thoroughly on a production, I could easily see this becoming my go-to light for many applications. The variable diffusion may just be a game changer. It is a neat bit of engineering, and a smart application of technology. As with everything else I tested on the light, it’s smart and functional. There really isn't any fluff on the Titan X2. It is designed to last, and last, and last. It produces brilliant light output, with adjustable softness and beam spread, as well as color range. It is also the first LED light that I've worked with that can use XY Coordinates on the CIE color scale—for those of you requiring precision beyond RGB and HSI control. Overall, Rotolight has done quite a good job on this light.

Do I wish it were lighter? Sure, but Rotolight has chosen to overbuild it so it will last, rather than make compromises. So much technology has been built into the light, and it can do so much, it just makes sense that the designers didn't skimp in any area. The Titan X2 represents a big step for Rotolight, I think it puts this company into the same league with other manufacturers of studio lighting, and I'm glad to see Rotolight bring its innovations to that market, just so long as it doesn't abandon its indie roots.

For more information on Rotolight Products, visit the B&H Photo Website.

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