Brief History of Remote Phosphor LEDs

07.25.2017 Industry

In today’s film industry, it is becoming more and more common place to use Remote Phosphor LEDs. Well, what exactly is a LED light? What makes it different from other lights?

Well, a LED is a solid state pn-junction diode which emits light, hence the name light emitting diode. Remote phosphor technology is an elegant solution to one of the biggest problems to plague LED lighting technology; how to produce a wide spectrum white light and achieve a high color rendering index for accurate color rendition.

The Light Emitting Diode

The first commercial LED’s emitted were available in 1962 and emitted infrared light. It wasn’t until 1994 that a group of Japanese scientists discovered high-brightness LEDs and consequently received a Nobel prize in 2014. It might not seem like a significant discovery, but was critically important for inventing white LEDs, and making them energy efficient.

With the invention of the blue LED, the white LED became possible by coating a blue LED with a phosphor material to convert part of the light to green, yellow and red.

The light output of LED’s has risen almost exponentially, with output doubling every 3 years since the 1960’s. Today’s high brightness LED technology has made it possible to produce over 300 lumens per watt. Good CRI (Color Rendering Index) is also possible with these LEDs, with the current technology now being able to match or surpass fluorescents, and even incandescents. As quoted by the Nobel Prize committee, “Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps.”

Remote Phosphor Technology

Phosphor coatings are usually used on white LEDs to shift the wavelength of some of the blue light to green, yellow and red. A remote phosphor LED light effectively separates this phosphor coating from the LED itself, allowing different phosphors to be interchanged in a light housing. This allows color temperature to be changed simply by slotting in a different phosphor.

The result is a high CRI white light with very stable characteristics over time as the phosphors are not subject to heat degradation since they are separated from the LED itself.


Some of the best LED lighting on the market right now is based on remote phosphor technology, and those made by Cineo Lighting are second to none.

With the rising efficiencies of LEDs, we are now seeing high output remote phosphor LED panels with CRI’s rated up to 97/98. The Cineo HS2 Wave is capable of 1241 lux @ 3m at 6500k.  HS2 Wave delivers the flexibility, unrivaled brightness, extremely accurate color-quality, considerable power efficiency, and the control that hundreds of cinematographers, gaffers, and lighting designers rely on daily.

Another great example would be the ARRI Skypanel. Incorporating features of ARRI’s successful L-Series LED Fresnels, SkyPanel is one of the most versatile soft lights on the market. The remote phosphor versions of SkyPanel are roughly 10% brighter than the color versions and have a lower price point. Different color temperature panels are available, including 2,700 K; 3,200 K; 4,300 K; 5,600 K; 6,500 K and 10,000 K. A chroma green phosphor panel is available for green screen lighting.

LEDs are definitely here to stay, and with current and future innovations, power outputs will continue to increase and we will see more light panels and fresnel lamp heads powered by remote phosphor technology.


Author of the Article: Parlay Studios

Parlay Studios is a 50,000 sf. photography and digital media production campus serving leading creatives and brands from around the world. Our state-of-the-art photography and video production complex is home to a selection of versatile studios and environments.

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