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Ellipsoidals, ERS, lekos, profiles, spots — call them what you want, next to dimmers, they are the industry workhorses for providing illumination on stage. From the early days of modern day lighting for the stage, ellipsoidals have been reliably providing lumens that we shape, color and form to our liking. An ellipsoidal is such a common tool in a lighting designer’s arsenal, we rarely think twice about them. Little has changed in the overall function of an ellipsoidal in the past 50 years.
Characteristics of these types of light fixtures include an ellipsoidal reflector, an adjustable lens system, one or two plano-convex lens, shutters and a slot for gobos and/or and iris. While the function of an ellipsoidal may have not changed, in recent years better optics, heat management, construction materials and lamp efficiency has — making the ellipsoidal more powerful in terms out output while conserving energy.
It is a given that an ellipsoidal takes some sort of incandescent lamp. Recently, several ellipsoidal-like fixtures have been released to the market that use an LED source. These fixtures fit into the description given above but lack one key feature: the reflector and a lamp. Their overall function falls in line with what we know as an ellipsoidal, but they still need time in order to be a direct replacement for a lamp based ellipsoidal. I am not saying that LED-based ellipsoidals or profile fixtures are not comparable, just not for this comparison. That is why we have decided to leave them out of this comparison. In a future issue of PLSN, we will be dedicating a Buyers Guide specifically for the LED-based ellipsoidal.