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I’m usually a bit uncomfortable buying anything beyond $1K that isn’t made by ARRI, Kinoflo, Dedolight, or any other very established lighting brand. I’ve had too many let-downs. Overall, however, after using the Fiilex Matrix for a few months, my response is mostly positive.

The Matrix (first called M1) is a great concept. I haven’t really analyzed the light quality, but judging it by eye while working with ARRI sensors it looks good. Maybe a bit on the warm side sometimes. Great output as expected, design of the main fixture is ok. Dials feel a bit cheap (no “zero” position of knobs). Good placement of connectors and dials. Wish dials were recessed for added protection or on the side like Kinoflo.

Really nice to have that amount of output with a low weight fixture. That’s the main reason I bought it! Plus/minus green another very, very useful feature. Not too much adjustability here unlike ARRI L/Skypanel, but sufficient for most applications.

Great idea with mafer-clamp stand mounted ballast!! Works well. The idea is just compromised by absurd header cable design (more below).

Now here’s the “ah-  this isn’t well thought out!” part of the review:

Why on earth does the ballast have a completely different connector than the fixture? Makes no sense. What’s with that short cable coming from the ballast? Not long enough to mount ballast at the bottom of a stand without an extension – let’s say for an interview key light (eye level). Need to use the very long header cable in every situation, because the ballast-to-fixture end cable is too short and the connectors won’t match anyway.

Please chose one connector system for header-cable, ballast and fixture.  And offer a short header cable (2 feet for stand mounted ballast) . Easier to work, easier to repair. This has worked for decades on HMIs and Kinoflos. Why not just look at what has been working all along? The current solution really feels like a prototype.

The ballast is full of epoxy. Can’t be repaired. I travel a lot around the world and have had a few problems with over voltage etc. Can’t remember seeing a fuse and no access to circuit boards inside the ballast.

I wish I could film a Fiilex sales person set up the soft box with a stop watch and put it on youtube;) Quite an effort! Chimeras are much easier to deal with. Rods tend to slip out at the end and it’s almost a two person job to get that soft box on. Could be designed a bit better. The yoke doesn’t accommodate much tilt with soft box on.
Once the soft box is set up, however, it’s just wonderful: a large, even, powerful soft light. Really, really great!  Exactly what I wanted. Just wished there was an octagon/round soft box, which I prefer. Maybe in the future? It would be great!

So again, the combination of power, weight, control, light quality and small form factor is unique. In spite of some of its “prototype” details it has become my “go-to” interview key light for documentaries. Either direct with softbox or as booklight.

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