November 7, 2019
Field Test

Indie Filmmakers Have a Special Tube Light Option with the Nanlight PavoTube

Nanlite now has an indie-friendly lighting tube option available with the Nanlite PavoTube.

RGB Lighting Tubes have been everywhere in the last few years. You can't watch a music video or an action movie without seeing them both in the frame and in the behind the scenes videos. 

Why?

Well, a light tube gives a nice, soft source that is easy to build into a set, or hide near one, in a simple package. 

Nanlite, part of MAC Group, has just come out with their take on the tube light, the PavoTube. 

These full RGB tubes offer CRI of 98 and TLCI of 95 in a unit that has built-in control, full RGB light control, can be daisy-chained for power, and is waterproofed. 

All that is aside from the fact that it has a built-in battery that can go 2 hours at max output or up to 20 hours on 10% output. In our testing, that was our absolute favorite feature beyond all else. 

If you did your charging ahead of time, and keep charging them on set when they aren't in use, a battery-powered tube light turns out to be just one of those units you can't help but finding use for throughout the shooting day.

There is an app, but it's best avoided for now. Nanlite has told us they are working on a new app, but we chose to review this as an "app-free" unit while they work on it, and honestly that was just fine. The main thing to remember here is that the vast majority of lighting apps are terrible. The exceptions are dedicated apps like Luminair, the high-end subscription app Arri Stellar, and in the indie space we've had good experience with the new Hive Shot app. We also hear good things about the Aputure Sidus platform, but many indie lighting apps are frustrating at best and unusable at worst.

What you are missing from not having an app is the ability to do things like create a fade from one color to the other and dial those colors in precisely. While that is a nice feature in a marketing demo, it's not something we do that often on set and something we can easily live without. 

What was nice with the PavoTube was how robust the physical control was. There are six buttons, with indicators as to what they do (not unlabeled buttons as in some competitors), and a little screen giving you data on what is happening.  

It takes a second to figure out, but once you get it, you can dial in what you need pretty darn quickly. Units that rely heavily on their app will often only have 1-2 completely unlabeled mystery buttons, which leaves users confused as to how to actually use the units.

There is even a guide on the tube.

By putting 6 buttons on the unit, with a label and a little menu guide, Nanlite has made these units easier to use when working with a variety of crews.  If you bring on a new hand to help you with a setup, you don't need to spend 30 minutes walking them through the light, and we had several students up to speed using these lights within minutes. 

Having the two full-sized knobs at the end was also nice for an easier interface when moving through the menus. We would've liked a way to "lock" those jobs since they feel like they could easily get bumped, but on the three shoots we did with the PavoTube, we never actually knocked them (they are protected by plastic lips on both sides) so maybe it's paranoid of us. 

It would just have been nice to have been able to "click" the knob and have it stay put, for instance, though honestly, a piece of tape over the end might do it just as well.

We really appreciated that both ends were well setup for being grabbed with a cardellini: it also prevents the tube from rolling around when you set it on a table.

The key features that made the PavoTubes stand out for us is the combination of price point, built-in battery, and waterproofness. 

The lack of DMX put these definitely in the "indie" category, but frankly we don't use DMX on all that many shows. For a shoot where we roll up, shoot for 3-4 hours, then pack up and move on to the next location, as what happens on many indie shoots, DMX is just not something we have time for.

But we found repeatedly when bringing the Pavos along that you could easily find yourself just sticking them behind a couch, or a drum kit, or on the ceiling behind a rafter when you needed an ultra-fast way to add a touch of light.

Need a quick backlight and you can just stick a tube up in a rafter without running power in a pinch.

The batteries don't last long enough for you to use them as key lights on battery power alone. You should really run AC for that, and they do output enough punch that we felt like you could do a simple interview setup with them. But the batteries make them amazing for the final touch of light you want to add when everyone is ready for a take and you just need to make a quick tweak, a little touch, a special light.  

Tech Specs

  • Color Temperature 2700K-6500K
  • CRI 98
  • TLCI 95
  • Dimming 0-100%
  • Power Source DC15V 3A, AC 100-240V
  • Battery Built in Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery
  • Run Time 2.2 Hours of Runtime at 100% Brightness
  • Wireless Control Type 2.4GHz,
  •  Max Power Consumption 32W
  • Charge Time Full: 4 Hours To 80%: 3 Hours
  • Runtime At 10% Brightness: 20 Hours
  • At 50% Brightness: 4.4 Hours
  • 100% Brightness: 2.2 Hours Mount T12 and 1/4 20" via adapter Photometrics At 2700K: 633 Lux at 1m
  • 194 Lux at 2m
  • 101 Lux at 3m

Pricing and Availability

The PavoTube is available now and retails for $279 to $1449 depending on specifications and bundling options.

Head on over to Nanlite to learn more.     

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1 Comment

Kudos for reviewing gear indie filmmakers can actually afford. These are nifty little tube lights, but the lack of app is a significant drawback. They are missing some key effects (e.g. TV, fire), which would be nice to be able to program via an app. Also, it would be great to be able to save color presets in an app for instant recall. As is, you'll have to make a manual note of the settings in order to reproduce the same colors reliably. Otherwise, I highly recommend these lights. In addition to the hexagonal ends lending well to mounting via a Cardellini clamp, they also come in handy to tilt the unit upward while laying on a flat surface (e.g. table, ground), say for a background splash. If you prefer not to mount the light from either end, the Matthews MQ mount works quite well, too. Also, don't forget these are bi-color, in addition to RGB, and as such can fill a variety of different lighting needs. For instance, they cast a consistent spread across a portable green screen, and can also provide a nice hair light, etc.

November 7, 2019 at 4:13PM

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