April 14, 2016
Review

11 LED Lights Go Head-to-Head in a Scientific Color Shootout: Which Should You Buy?

LED lighting shootout review comparison color rendition
There are so many options when it comes to shopping for LED lights, but no really good way of telling how the lights will look on camera. Will a unit look warm? Cool? Green? Magenta? I needed to find out more before I put down cash.

While I've seen tons of reviews on individual LED lights, I've found very little actual measurements or direct comparisons—especially when it comes to evaluating color (which is the big question mark when it comes to LEDs). Recent advances in color meter technology allowed me to conduct a scientific shootout. Read on for the methodology of our 11-light LED shootout, watch the 4K video, and download full-resolution R3D and TIFF files.

The Video

In this 4K video, you will see all the footage, first full screen individually so you can just form an opinion on what light you think looks good in terms of color. Then the second half of the video features the LED's directly compared to the control plates, side by side so you can see how close or far they fall from the Tungsten and Daylight sources. This video is not a standalone, self-contained review. It is meant to be viewed with this article and the in-depth analysis that follows. You may want to continue reading for more background and then come back to watch:

Why this test is only possible with a Sekonic C700 color spectrometer

I called my friends at Sekonic to see if I could borrow one of their latest color spectrometers, the C700. A color spectrometer is like a light meter, except for color. The new technology in the C700 Meter makes metering LED lights possible, because it can measure color spikes. 

Older generation color meters functioned on an RGB sensor that measured the difference between the three colors. Think of it as three monochrome luminance meters with Red, Blue and Green dyed filters over them, sort of like how technicolor works. The information gathered from the three sensors was interpreted, then a value was displayed. It worked really well on film, where the three RGB dye layers functioned essentially the same. This was back when the only light sources you would see were tungsten, the sun, an electric arc lamp, fluorescent and HMI. The advent of LED and its nature of emitting imbalanced spectrums of light, could give false readings on the older RGB spectrometers, similar to fluorescent and low quality HMI's.

Timur Civan metering with Sekonic C700

Sekonic has used a new design with the C700, a CMOS-based system that is sensitive to far smaller changes in the the wavelengths of light, essentially instead of RGB, its sensor's photosites are more like a rainbow made up of a couple dozen subtle shades ranging across the visible spectrum. What this means is the C700 can see spikes in color. If a light has a relatively smooth spectrum, but a gap in one wavelengths and a spike in another, a coarser RGB reading of older meters essentially averages them together and it doesn't really reflect the imbalance. The C700 with its finer sensor detail can detect the spikes, and references that value in its results. This is one of the only meters that can accurately measure the color quality of non continuous spectrum LED, HMI, fluorescent and neon lights. Since everyone these days loves LED lights, I felt it was important to know what the units I was going to buy were actually doing.

Thanks to B&H Photo Video

Jump forward a couple weeks, and with C700 in hand, I visited the only place I knew of that would have more than a couple LED brands on hand: B&H Photo Video. I brought along a scrap of duvetyne so I could shield the meter from the overhead and as many other light sources as I could. The staff looked at me funny at first. Here was a guy draping every light on display with a black cloth then diving under it and turning the light on. Once I finally explained what I was doing, and showed them the meter, it clicked. They let me have run of the store. I chose a set of LEDs based on my findings and I will get into what I chose later on. I learned so much that day, that I felt like I should share my results, as unscientific as they were... but totally unscientific just doesn't work for me. Since I used the C700 to such good effect, I called Sekonic to see if they would be interested in making this test possible. Luckily they said yes! So here we are. After many months of work, I present the LED color comparison test. I also must stress a big shout out to B&H for supplying us with the lights for the test.

We deduced that the best way to measure the color rendition was to have two control groups, Daylight and Tungsten—the two standards which film specific LED lights are trying to emulate. 

The comparison process

My team consisting of:

  • Ab Sesay - Photographer and producer who helped me organize and find a location to shoot.
  • Nicholas Wise - Most amazing DP who graciously lent me his RED Dragon when mine was in the shop, and helped me sort out the technical details of the shoot. The camera was equipped with Skintone High light OLPF ( best color rendition).
  • Ali Cengiz - my ride or die 1st AC.
  • Peter Gagnon - DIT, notetaker and BTS photographer
  • Geoff Gresh - Editor who assembled the video and made it all make sense visually.

We had a few goals we wanted to achieve. First, we needed to remove as many variables as possible within reason. We deduced that the best way to measure the color rendition was to have two control groups, Daylight and Tungsten—the two standards which film specific LED lights are trying to emulate. Then shoot the LED lights as a sole source in a pitch black room at their corresponding"Daylight or Tungsten" settings, so no contamination from any other units would skew the results. We filmed the Daylight control at midday when the sun was at its highest arc, on a cloudless day, with the sun to our backs so the blue North sky would have minimal effect. We shot the Tungsten control in the blackened room with the ARRI 1K studio fresnel as the sole source of light in the room. We then white balanced the RED dragon set to RedGamma4, and DragonColor2, to the same grey card used in all the setups. We performed several manual white balance operations back to back to ensure consistent results on the grey card in the sun and under tungsten. We then set each of the lights on the same scene, with two models, one pale caucasian and one olive skinned model. The lens used was a Sigma 50mm F1.4 ART set to F2.8. Exposure was dictated by the distance of the lighting unit from the grey card. For the Sunlight control shot, exposure was controlled with shutter speed at a fixed aperture of F2.8 with no ND to skew results. The grey card is the important element and where you, the reader will be able to discern the most information from the test. Each scene will be available to download as a R3D still, and TIFF file for further examination in either Photoshop or REDcineX. 

What we are looking at is color reproduction: how far from the standard daylight and tungsten are the LED lights? We are not looking for light quality or usability in this test, though some notes were taken and will be discussed in each of the sections with the corresponding lights. Each scene was metered with the C700 and its reading recorded to help us understand what's happening with the spectrum and CRI rating. Color spikes, and gaps will be clearly visible on the graph.

Important notes on color temp and "Ra"

  1. The color temperature on the slate is what the camera read as "white" under the control lighting. The Tungsten light read as 2956K on camera (the meter read 3055K) and the sun read 5375K on camera (the meter read 5464K). This Kelvin number is not absolute on the camera. The camera is taking the visual information of what's actually hitting the sensor, and generating a "white balance". The discrepancy of Kelvin ratings is essentially the OLPF, Lens, imperfections in grey on the card and the internal algorithms of the camera itself. The meter is reading the photons coming off the source without any barriers. However, once this Kelvin rating was established on camera as "white", it was locked for the remainder of the Daylight or Tungsten portions of the shoot. This way what you will see visually is how far off of the control the LED lights will be in terms of color
  2. Lights that are BiColor were tested both at the Daylight setting, and the Tungsten setting. We set the units to what the manufacturer deemed "Tungsten" and "Daylight". If the unit has a numerical read out we set it to 3200 / 5600 depending on which group it was in. If the light was daylight only and came with a correction gel from the manufacturer it was then inserted and tested in the appropriate group. This only applies to the Dracast LED 1000 D (daylight only) as it was the only light that had a "stock" CTO filter and was tested in the Tungsten group alongside the bi-color units.
  3. The CRI index is represented on the meter as the Ra number. An Ra of 99 is a CRI of 99.

Download the full-quality R3D and TIFF stills for yourself

These images were extracted from the source footage. I am including them so you can take them into your NLE, Photoshop or RedCineX and you can balance the images to the grey card to see exactly how much tint, warmth, or coolness is present versus the control. For each unit you can determine for yourself: should you ever need to mix LED's into an existing tungsten lighting package, or need one as a fill light in a daylight scene, how far from neutral will the LED be?

Download the full resolution R3D files (166MB)

Download the full resolution TIFF files (2GB)

Analysis of the control plates

The Sun

The Sun - 99.3 CRI - 5464K (metered)

Well what can be said about the sun? It is bright and perfect. Notice how dense the spectrogram on the meter is. Nearly every wavelength is fully saturated. This is what the Daylight LED's should mimic.

Tungsten

Tungsten - 3055K metered - 2956K to camera - 99.8 CRI

Tungsten performing perfectly as expected. Notice the nearly straight line of its spectrograph. That is how a tungsten source should look. This is a great way to compare the performance of the LEDs in Tungsten. How even is the spectrum of color output on the meter? Spikes are where things go awry to your camera: you want the smoothest band possible. The human eye can compensate, but the camera cannot. This is why the "fluorescent" look is so green on camera, but not nearly so bad to your eye. Your brain can filter our the green spike.

Analysis of each LED light

I chose a wide spectrum of lights to test from popular manufacturers. I took everything that was available from B&H. The selection covers all bases from entry level to top shelf (prices listed are at time of publishing). The lights were tested in ascending price order.

1: IKAN PL90 - $269

The IKAN PL90 - DAYLIGHT - 89.4 CRI - 5374K This light was only available in daylight, and was tested accordingly.

The Ikan PL90 unit is basically an eyelight. It measured 89.4 CRI and 5374K. It's small, dim and the most inexpensive of the group. We had to push the exposure up to 1600 ISO to get an exposure at the wider frame. In the video, a close up where the light is moved much further is available to view. The close up is also included in the stills package for closer inspection. It was also only available in daylight so is tested accordingly. It has a handy circular shape so it's catch lights will be circular, and its shadow quality will be smooth. Respectable considering the price!

2: Cineo Matchbox - $463

6390K Metered - 96.4 CRI
3387K Metered - 97.3 CRI

The Cineo Matchbox is a remote phosphor LED. This is a new technology as its relies on internal LED's operating at a specific Wavelength, activating a phosphorescent sheet at the face of the light. This multiplies its light output for given wattage and because it is a chemical process, it actually produces a rich, high quality light. The Area 48 lights operate similarly. The Matchbox is very small, and thus its output was low, the wider shot had to be pushed up in ISO to match the others. The closeup in the video shows it at proper key intensity. This would be a killer light for tabletop where accurate color is a must, but heat is bad. Think food, product and potentially small controlled wildlife, think insects or small animals on a set.

3: Generay SpectroLED 500 - $489

5227K Metered - 88.1 CRI
3082K Metered - 88.5CRI

The Generay SpectroLED 500 is a decent light: bi-color, decent color reproduction. A bit dim at full output, as its bi-color with only 500 LED's, meaning only 250 LED's are lit up at a time unless you blend them into a middle color temperature between Daylight and Tungsten. One of the more affordable units, but limiting. With a fast camera, it will feel less limiting. Does not come with any accessories, Barndoors, filter holders etc...

4: IKAN IFB576 Bi Color - $549

5374K Metered - 89.4 CRI
3157K Metered - 96.2 CRI

The Ikan IFB576 was a bit of a surprise. It's Daylight performance was a bit underwhelming, but its Tungsten performance was quite good as it sported a 3157K meter reading, and 96.2 CRI. Up there with the top echelon of LEDs. It's not the brightest light ever, it suffers from the same problem as the Generay, in that only half its LED's are dedicated to one color so its going to be only half power at either extreme of the color knob. It also has a strange loud beeping sound when you change its brightness setting. Another odd quirk is that the barndoors are gold/silver on the inside. It causes the edges of the beam to be a touch warmer than the center. If you can mitigate its quirks, it is potentially a lot of light for the money.

5: The Limelight Studio Light - $1,399

At time of test, we had incorrect information on its price: we had a figure of $825, hence its place in line.

5883K Metered - 87.1 CRI

The Limelight Studio Light was only available in Daylight, so it was omitted from the Tungsten test. It looks average, with a slight green tint, pretty much exactly what LED's are stereotypically known for. Its control panel is interesting. Its an 8 bit light with 255 steps of brightness.

6: Dracast LED 1000 D - $958

5756K metered - 95.6 CRI
Daylight LED through Dracast brand CTO Filter 2902K Metered - 94.9 CRI

These are the LED's I wound up buying. The Dracast LED 1000 D are simple panel lights, with built in DMX control, all metal housings, and the color reproduction in Daylight is superb. The 1000 all daylight diodes really throw out a lot of light. If you pay attention, the distance of the light from the grey card distance is listed in the slate in each frame. This can give you a sense of how bright the unit is. The bigger the number the more output it has. This LED can register in broad daylight as a fill light. It is available in a Bi color, but I personally prefer the punch of having all 1000 LED's pushing daylight, when I likely need the intensity. The CTO corrected frame is very warm, however note the CRI is still pretty high. If you were to color correct the R3D still frame using the WB dropper tool I bet it would lock onto neutral very well. Perhaps with better CTO gel the results would be better initially. This to me struck the best balance between price, power, and light quality.

7: Westcott Flex Light 2'x1' - $999

5307K Metered - 96.4 CRI
3127K Metered - 93.8 CRI

The Westcott Flex Light 2x1 is a very interesting light. In addition to being a great performer, especially in Daylight, it is literally a flexible shape holding mat. It is definitely a specialty light. We found it awkward to use and rig, but when you need a light to wrap around something, or bend into a small space, the Wescott Flex is going to get the job done. One of its odd quirks is that its LED's are spaced very far apart, and without diffusion, it causes a strange checkerboard shadow to form. This light needs diffusion. (ed. note: at No Film School we have some of these in our kit, because of their extreme portability)

8: Lite Panel Astra Bi color - $1350

5817K Metered - 93.3 CRI
3202K Metered - 97.2 CRI

The Lite Panel Astra Bi color is the output king: by far the brightest light we tested. In Daylight, I find it very green, however in Tungsten, it's the champ. Nearly exactly 3200K on the nose, and a 97.3 CRI to boot. Its also not terribly expensive, but has lots of plastic parts. If the Dracast can be all metal at $400 cheaper I think the Astra can be metal too. One great feature is that the power adapter block is built into the light, no more AC power block dangling when the light is raised on a stand.

9: BBS Lighting Area 48 Soft Light - $2499

5700K Metered - 92.1 CRI

The BBS Lighting Area 48 Soft Light is another Remote Phosphor Light. The unit only came with the Daylight Phosphor insert so we only tested for daylight. This is where the price takes the big leap up. I was honestly surprised the CRI rating wasn't higher as its image looks great. Anything above 90 looks pretty good to camera, but they really lock on above 95CRI and enter a very natural looking territory. I find the Area48 to look quite fantastic despite its metered reading. The spectrograph also looks rather nicely balanced and saturated. The build quality and fit and finish are truly something to behold.

10: KinoFlo Celeb - $2529

5828K Metered - 94 CRI
3291K Metered - 94.9 CRI

I find the KinoFlo Celeb light to be the overall most pleasant in terms of color. It has sense of balance where, despite its slight warmth in Daylight and slight coolness in Tungsten, the colors seem to track together with little in the way of magenta or green. If money were no object, the Celeb is what I would use on a daily basis. On an aesthetic note, it's beautifully built, has built in Wifi for control, and a VERY cool looking red LED display on the back. Also, it has the most "soft" native output. Its front face is a sheet of milk glass-looking material.

11: ARRI Sky Panel - $3780

5591K metered - 94.1 CRI
3189K - 95CRI

The ARRI Sky Panel is by far the most expensive unit we tested. Its performance was very good: solid CRI numbers and "accurate" color readings that come very close to both 5600K and 3200K standards, yet I found it very warm. However, like the Celeb, its overall balance is good. No major green or magenta shifts. On paper it comes close to the mark, but visually it's not particularly close to what the control plates looked like. I think with a simple click of the WB dropper on the grey card in post everything will line up perfectly. Exquisitely crafted light dripping with quality and features. Given the price I think these features and light quality should be expected.

Conclusion

The purpose of a test like this is to help the cinematographer choose the best tool for the job. Seeing first-hand the performance of the various lights, my own opinion formed rather quickly. I like the Dracast LED D and Kino Flow Celeb. My needs are for a daylight unit, so naturally I'm attracted to the excellent daylight performance of the Dracast and Celeb, while the Dracast having a relatively low price and more output. Some other team members loved the look of the Wescott Flex, while others thought the Area 48 light was the top performer.

I hope seeing the images posted in this article give you a better understanding of what you can expect when buying or renting LED lights. I felt there was a missing element to help people choosing between different LEDs. I was once in that position and it was overwhelming how many different price points and feature sets are available. Hopefully this shed some clarity and can help when the time comes to make a decision.      

Timur Civan is a Director of Photography based in New York City.

Your Comment

47 Comments

Super helpful, thank you. I have an IKAN IFB576 kit and I find it runs VERY magenta. I'm surprise to hear it's CRI is that high on tungsten... I guess I've been using it mostly on the daylight side. It would be interesting to see the bi-color lights tested at 4400k.

April 14, 2016 at 4:58PM

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Jim Meegan
Freelance Cinematographer
74

Looks like several lights did possess a bit of a 'hue', can totally change the feel of a shot.

Those Aputure HR672s (http://amzn.to/1SGGRuW) have done really well for me, CRI 95+ apparently... would love to see those tested and compared.

April 15, 2016 at 11:15AM

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Jordan Mederich
Documentarian / Filmmaker
1262

There's a flaw in this testing also. I have the Ikan IFB576's as well. They talk about a yellow tint on the barn door reflectors... this is supposed to be removed. It's a thin plastic coating on there for protecting the reflectors. They mentioned that the corners of the image were visibly warmer due to this tint... no doubt this affected the CRI negatively. If they had either removed the tint, or the reflectors completely (they do pull straight out to leave a solid black barn door) the light would have a higher daylight CRI. I suspect the tungsten was so high because the reflectors were already tinted toward that color. I wonder if daylight is closer to the tungsten levels. Certainly it would be into the 90's.

Also, the "beep" sound they mentioned only happens when you turn the light on. If you use the knob instead of the touch screen to change levels, it isn't there on any level change... and oh, you can turn the beeping off with the remote... so there's that.

Sometimes reviewers miss basic things that users know.

However, I do know exactly what you mean by the magenta tint. It's there to my eye as well. Easy enough to deal with in post or with a quarter plus green filter.

May 17, 2016 at 9:10PM, Edited May 17, 9:16PM

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Lane McCall
Producer/Director
159

I genuinely had no idea it was a removable film.

Had i known, i would have removed it.

Thanks,
-Timur

May 25, 2016 at 9:25PM

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Timur Civan
Director of Photography

Great test, Timur. I'd sure love to see the CRI breakdown on these sources, especially the R9 values since that has such a key role in rendering skin tones. Do you happen to have that data?

April 14, 2016 at 5:23PM, Edited April 14, 5:23PM

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You know. I saved them in my meter I jussssst might still have them.

April 14, 2016 at 11:07PM

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Timur Civan
Director of Photography

nope. Not on there. they got cleared.

April 15, 2016 at 12:45AM

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Timur Civan
Director of Photography

Thanks for looking.

April 15, 2016 at 4:49PM, Edited April 15, 4:48PM

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Cool test,
I liked to see a test with "Light Aputure Storm LS 1c LED" and "Fiilex P360EX Variable Color LED Light". For the next time...
Thx

April 14, 2016 at 5:30PM

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Yep, and the much cheaper Aputure Amaran hr672 (which I've actually picked up and it looks great to the admittedly untrained eye). Aputure claims CRI95+ For all their recent lights and I'd love to see if that's right

April 14, 2016 at 6:31PM, Edited April 14, 6:33PM

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Guido Gautsch
Education Person
286

This is what I'm most curious about. Either most lights are seriously overpriced, or Aputure's rating of CRI 95+ is not really CRI 95+.

April 15, 2016 at 11:18AM

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LukeP
246

I second that... Surprised the Lightstorm 1s wasn't included. We love it, amazing light so far!

April 15, 2016 at 7:38AM

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Mike F
81

Yeah! I was considering both of those lights for the longest time. Ended up getting the Aputure LS 1s and have been loving them. So much better than my K4000.

Only I think I hate about the lights is that there are so many cables you have to hook up.

April 15, 2016 at 12:40PM

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Thanks, Timur. This was informative. I have two small niggles. I know, everyone's a critic.

1) I find myself wishing you had also set up a black backdrop behind the models in the daylight shot.

2) I really wanted to see the tungsten results of the Area48. I'm bummed you apparently couldn't get your hands on a tungsten panel for the test.

April 14, 2016 at 5:47PM, Edited April 14, 5:48PM

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Also, the Westcott Flex daylight and Arri SkyPanel daylight are missing from the R3D folder.

April 14, 2016 at 8:15PM

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I will try and re upload the packet.

April 14, 2016 at 11:10PM

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Timur Civan
Director of Photography

The tungsten panels are equally as good... no let down there. The good thing being that your can keep your settings going from daylight to tungsten panel. There's no difference in exposure / light output.

But again like I mentioned further down; you'll go poor from buying the accessories for the Area48s...

Not tungsten but just a quick operational video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePayB8QsGvc

April 15, 2016 at 7:00AM, Edited April 15, 7:02AM

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Torben Greve
Cinematographer
760

Definitely a reminder of how great tungsten lighting is it terms of color rendition.

I'm curious what the spectrum curve is for ETC SourceFours,
Since their Leko lights have some kinda filtration design to reduce the heat of the outputted light (supposedly mostly IR wavelengths).

April 14, 2016 at 5:56PM, Edited April 14, 5:57PM

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Daniel Reed
Hat Collector
801

I recently shot a test of a Chinese Icelight clone the Peargear MTL900 Pro a $70 LED light using the same Sekonic C-700 meter and compared it to the Original Westcott Icelight.
Results were pretty interesting.
http://blog.uchujin.co.uk/2016/03/cri-ratings-testing-the-pergear-mtl900...

TLDR - The Chinese knockoff was pretty damn good and $430 cheaper :)

April 14, 2016 at 6:07PM

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Yes, super helpful.
Thank You Tons!

April 14, 2016 at 8:15PM, Edited April 14, 8:15PM

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asa martinez
Camera Movement Tech, Camera Operator
108

Great test! This makes me feel very good about my recent investment in Dracast LED lighting! They pop up in B&H's Deal Zone from time to time and I've been snapping them up when they do. I also have the Dracast T-1000 tube units that are a LED equivalent to the standard KINO FLO's, which are also great, but have a much softer quality than the panels. To really see the best of what all these light can do, bring them into Photoshop and WB the grey card, it makes a big difference.

April 14, 2016 at 10:00PM, Edited April 14, 10:05PM

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Benton Collins
Camera aimer
314

Super dope post! Thanks Timur!!

April 14, 2016 at 11:02PM, Edited April 14, 11:14PM

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Kyle Lamar
Director Producer DP
948

CRI is a measurement based on human perception, it doesn't tell a lot about how camera sensor sees light. That's why BBC developed "TLCI".

Also "Ra" does not take into account new colour patches added which contain desaturated colours, I believe the complete CRI standard is called R96a, or CRI Extended.

April 14, 2016 at 11:57PM

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Driftwood
220

The Sekonic can actually show rendering per patch including the extended patches. This would have been more useful.

April 19, 2016 at 6:52PM

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Ezi Seel
607

Yep, I wish testers would move on to the current standard.

TLCI is what we should be using: https://www.cinema5d.com/led-light-accuracy-tlci

April 20, 2016 at 7:28PM, Edited April 20, 7:28PM

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David Gurney
DP
1473

Yup, exactly. I actually did a thesis on the failures of CRI in regards to TLCI in measuring lighting quality for applications in digital cinema. Especially for multi-LED and the nature of the LED spectrum CRI and TLCI results sometimes differ as much as 10 points.

It's a shame that the authors use a device that can actually measure LED sources, yet use a metric that is blatantly inaccurate.

May 17, 2016 at 4:24PM

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I owned 3 Area 48s up till december 2015.... yes, they are awesome lights but the way they build up their accessories kits. It's way too pricey for what it is to build up a basic kit. You litterally have to buy everything that isn't the lamp housing.......

I mean even the bloody PSU was an accessory when I bought them :S

April 15, 2016 at 4:13AM

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Torben Greve
Cinematographer
760

SUPER USEFUL Timur!

Thank you!

April 15, 2016 at 4:18AM

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Robert Ruffo
Director/DP
303

Awesome post! I'd love to see an independent test on Came-TV's new slim-line LED panels (http://www.came-tv.com/1806d-daylight-led-panels-3-piece-set-p-699.html). Their claimed photometrics are pretty impressive with a 96 CRI, 10,500 Lux and nearly 1,000 FC measured at three feet.

April 15, 2016 at 9:56AM

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Phillip Swanson
Creative Technologist
81

Great work, as always, Timur! This was such a wonderful test for letting me know I am not insane for disliking most LEDs. I have used so many panels but I own the Matchbox and use it ALL THE TIME. Like more than any other light in my kit. I hope to build up a few more Cineo panels.

Constructive criticism / requests: black behind the daylight card would really have been nice. Maybe you can do a side by side of the Gray Card, white shirts, and or faces? Where they are literally touching to show differences? It might remove the optical illusion part of the equation.

But that's all small stuff, because it is a WONDERFUL video, good sir.

April 15, 2016 at 11:31AM, Edited April 15, 11:31AM

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Jeffrey Morgan
Director, Cinematographer, Editor
103

That's why I included the R3Ds/Tifs so you can zoom in and switch between the elements that are important to you.

April 15, 2016 at 12:02PM

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Timur Civan
Director of Photography

At 8:00 minutes he says,

“When you actually white balance the camera to the light itself, the results should be exact, but it’s (this test) a good way to just sort of see the difference of what they are putting out naturally and how far off from the mark they are.”

With that being said, is there really truly any significant difference between lights that are beyond a certain CRI value? It seems to me that once you're past 85 CRI you're golden because your camera can compensate for the unbalance from there. Just be sure to always white balance your camera instead of dialing in kelvin values.

April 15, 2016 at 12:37PM, Edited April 15, 12:55PM

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Too bad they didn't measure TLCI.

April 15, 2016 at 12:43PM

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One more quick thing to add:

The most important value of a test like this (in my opinion), is to see how closely you can mix these lights with true daylight and tungsten, NOT to see how well they render color.

April 15, 2016 at 1:39PM

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When doing a similar test back in April of last year, we had an opportunity to see the color spectrum of the Fiilex Brand LED's. These lights are remarkable and now that you guys have done this comparison, I can now see which other LED's would be ideal to match if I did a all LED shoot. Thanks NFS.

Here is the link to that video
https://vimeo.com/124724589

April 15, 2016 at 2:34PM, Edited April 15, 2:34PM

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Dominique Gilbert
Tech Fanatic/Educator/Musician
74

Great video.

We should have melded our videos together. Your explains the functions, mine shows the differences.

April 16, 2016 at 1:53PM, Edited April 16, 1:53PM

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Timur Civan
Director of Photography

What about Velvet Light 1?

April 16, 2016 at 9:18AM

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Very interesting article, thanks.

But CRI is not the modern standard for film-light rating. The TLCI is the current standard. Would've been nice to see the results in that system.

Info: https://www.cinema5d.com/led-light-accuracy-tlci

April 20, 2016 at 7:26PM

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David Gurney
DP
1473

Good test. Thanks. Where are the Home Depot lights?

April 21, 2016 at 11:30PM

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William Scherer
Writer/Director/Producer/Fine Art Aerial Photography
274

I recently tested all the 1'x1' bi-color panels on the floor at B&H. I found the best value to be the LEDGO LG-600 which is only $400. Very good TLCI/CRI. Brightness about the same as the Kino Celeb. I've tested about 30 LED panels so far - there are a lot of practical issues to consider when choosing one to buy... Some have very steppy dimming at the low end, some only dim to 10%, a few have a nasty green spike. Many now have built in battery plates.
Since I don't have access to a proper camera I have not been able to test whether they have issues with on camera flicker. I'm concerned that the cheaper units like this from an unknown manufacturer could have flicker on camera when dimmed below a certain level. This would be a very useful thing to test next time!

April 22, 2016 at 2:25AM, Edited April 22, 2:25AM

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Doug Shannon
Gaffer
81

Cool test BUT...!!! Surprised the Aputure Light storm 1c (and 1s) wasn't included. I understand that they are now among the leaders of the LED lighting. they claim that their CRI 95+
SO We need to see a test with "Aputure Light Storm LS 1c (and 1s)

April 22, 2016 at 11:50AM, Edited April 22, 11:50AM

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This is more helpful than any Methodology of measuring light!!! I can visually see (assuming my monitor has not lost its calibration) what i assume would be on camera. I like the Dracast but i think the Wescott Looks and is the best deal here!

I always have to flag/silk and correct daylight anyways especially darker actors. So i don't care if it doesn't match perfect i want flexibility not perfect.

April 29, 2016 at 7:48PM, Edited April 29, 7:51PM

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Mike Mack
DMX TECH
161

Interesting would be, if you would test different CRi values (higher than 95) on these powerful LED lamps at same settings you did here so very nicely in your studio . .. so it would be consistent all the time. Yours here have a very low CRI color values it seems. Although LED's are seemingly brighter, the tint they have, are impossible to remove in Film editing software .

let me explain :

First: Cri values are technically "NOT" applicable to LED lights, (contrary to common believe), Cri value is solely applicable to Fluorescent Lights for which it was invented, and additionally , such a Cri Number is "NOT" Spectroradiometer measured , but its a mere, rough and only subjective (human person) measurement, guessed by the Human Eye of a Person, (what a farce, right?).
It still would be interesting to see how they perform in your tests here, if you were to test/buy LED lights with a high Cri value of 95 and above. (do they exist yet?)

this video, which is part of a series of videos about LED in Film and Photography , explains it more technically :
https://youtu.be/W0dIIIJjkas

There are newer color values measurements Units around then the old Cri , but sadly not many are talking about this norms yet, and consequently the masses are not using this newer color standards yet neither.

Spectroradiometer ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectroradiometer ) : thats a machine which measures not only the Kelvin values as well as the brightness, but more specifically measures the missing colors as well, in contrast to a better known Photospectrometer, wrongly used here for that matter, and usually only used to calibrate monitors and printing machines, which most think so very wrongly , is the measuring hardware to be using here on LED's.
The results with your Color-meter here miss the point of LED problems, which are those muddy colors, originating from missing in-between colors.
Only a Spectroradiometer ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectroradiometer ) can measure these color amounts in each specific wavelengths.

It would be amazing if you would redo these tests scientifically correct, may be with the help of a Physics Professor from NYU, for example?

Again: why this is so incredibly interesting is, because LED almost always misses colors in-between the colors that a tungsten light would have no problem to create, and the editing & color grading in LED lit video/filmclips, with any of these film softwares out there, is almost impossible, for these clips are missing those colors in-betweens in LED lights, which ends up only creating a muddy color tint , usually not fixable in postproduction yet . A simple more understandable example is this: Imagine you have only a red bulb a blue bulb and a yellow bulb in that studio, now turn these on, and film a persons face. the colors would be horrible, for they are missing in-between colors. There is no software in the world (yet) that can generate in-between colors which would Fix those missing in-between colors that LED lights create.

March 23, 2017 at 5:29PM

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Akos Simon
Fashion Photographer
81

Akos, wow! Thank you for sharing these facts in regard to how much LED lights lack compared to tungsten. I was going to purchase LED lights; instead I am going to purchase tungsten.

Additionally, I agree with you, the next time they (i.e., NFS) test new LED lights they should include a REAL scientist (3rd party - unbiased). A real physicists would be ideal, one who's specialty is light. They could contact a local college or university and ask the professor to be on the next LED light review. In fact, ALL reviews should include someone who knows what their talking about - henceforth, when making a proper review, then they should back the claim up scientifically (note: Subjective opinions mean nothing - all reviews shall remain objective!).

In closing, these LED light reviews are of no value if they do not scientifically report the correct data. I am hopeful that "No Film School" will kick it up a notch! :)

May 17, 2017 at 8:14AM, Edited May 17, 8:19AM

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Roger Green
Video/Photo Pro
1

This is some amazing information! I'm so pleased that this has been clarified as all of the lights produce a bit of a muddy color...although not so much with the westcott flexes, but I have yet to examine the TIFF files.

Anyway, I'm not coming from a science perspective, I'm coming from a location video shooter - producer - director perspective...

Now, I guess my question for both Akos and Timur Would be this...is there a way to measure these photos with the Spectroradiometer to find out which of these LEDs is the least muddy?

I would prefer to use Tungsten lights, but I shoot so much on location and having a light with a battery is...well...da bomb.com

Tungstens may look better, but if you don't have a budget for a generator...and that whole story...well...I'm happy just to get a nice exposure on my subject as the sun sets behind them.

November 8, 2017 at 10:02PM, Edited November 8, 10:02PM

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Thanks for the article. I'm new to video production. When I was setting up, I bought a pair of Studio Pro S-1200D LED lights, for about $350 each. My studio also has some sunlight. I strongly suspected something was not right with the lights, but until I read this article, I couldn't verify my hunch. After reading this article, I did an experiment. I put my white card about eighteen inches from a Studio Pro light, and I custom white corrected my camera against that white card. Then I looked at the room through my camera, and saw an acute green tint. The tint was really bad. ( Remember, the rest of the room has some sunlight.) I was shocked. I guess I should have spent about $500 more on each light. Still trying to understand how a "green spike" causes a green tint after the camera is adjusted to the light.

June 17, 2017 at 8:03PM, Edited June 17, 8:12PM

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Wouldn't a magenta filter, for example, Zircon from LEE, correct that? One thing I do know is that filters can only subtract light, not add to it. So while the filter should get rid of the green, the filter itself, because it is a filter, will reduce the light's overall output.

December 6, 2017 at 6:00PM

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New to lighting, but have a few things about it.
With regard to LED missing lights or parts of the spectrum, wouldn't it be better than to use tungsten lights and forget LED as it is full spectrum? Would that allow for better correction in post if needed?

I notice that all the read outs on LED have a blue spike. Isn't there a gel or filter that would help bring that down? For instance, wouldn't a yellowish filter help warm it up and compensate against that blue spike?
Thanks!

December 6, 2017 at 5:58PM, Edited December 6, 6:08PM

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