Moving into lighting is always a tricky move for companies that start elsewhere. Zhiyun is a company that started out making interesting and affordable stabilization tools. These came out amid stiff competition from some of the bigger manufacturers like DJI.

But with lighting, Zhiyun is focused on finding unique ways to make its units stand out. We spent some time with the new Zhiyun M40 and F100 units and think they have some compelling use cases.

Here's what we discovered and what you need to know.

Compact Versatility With The M40

The Zhiyun M40 is a mini panel light that combines two factors to grab your attention. First is high output; it kicks out 40 W of light and is surprisingly bright for a panel light. It charges via USB, and since it gets so bright, it's got fans that compensate for all that heat.

For such a small unit, the peak output of 14,000 Lux is very impressive.

Zhiyun M40

Zhiyun M40 built-in arm

Credit: ZHIYUN

The real sleeper feature of the unit, however, is usability. It has a built-in arm with various 1/4-20 mounts that work as a stand. You can prop it up at the arm at almost any angle or mount the arm however you need.

In practice, this has often saved us from needing a magic arm since once you have it mounted, it's just easier to point and adjust where you want it to go.

Zhiyun M40

M40 adjustment buttons

Credit: ZHIYUN

On top of that, the M40 offers on-body adjustment knobs for brightness and color balance. Ultimately, this is the killer feature that makes this unit the most likely we'll buy in the future.

Zhiyun FIVERAY M40

The Zhiyun-Tech FIVERAY M40 is a compact 40 W LED fill light that features a 2700K to 6200K adjustable color temperature, a separate 0 to 100 percent dimming function, and a runtime of up to 29 minutes at the maximum 40 W output. The integrated 2600mAh battery charges in about 1 hour and 50 minutes using the included USB-C cable.

Yaroslav Altunin

Unlike other lights that require going into an app for even minor adjustments or have a finicky menu system that requires looking at the light, hitting tactile buttons to switch modes or settings helps make adjustments on the fly.

This tactile interface was great since we looked at the subject and the monitor while adjusting, not the light.

The F100 - Easy Controls 

The F100 is a wand-style light, with a lightsaber-style handle, that offers a few big upgrades over the M400. It puts out 100 W, which is pretty bright for a handheld LED, and it does it with full RGB control.

On top of that, it comes with built-in reflective barn doors. This is a huge advantage since one of the most common things you see rigged up to light wands like this are either purchased accessories or black wrap for controlling light spill.

Zhiyun F100

Zhiyun F100

Credit: ZHIYUN

Here, you can skip that and have built-in doors you flap around to ensure light is only going where you want it and not where you don't.

Zhiyun FIVERAY F100

Ideal for various applications, the Zhiyun FIVERAY F100 is a portable, lightweight, and versatile 100W lighting solution. Featuring an output of 1200 lux at 3.3' (6200K), it has a CRI of 96 and a TLCI of 97 for color accuracy and a variable color temperature of 2700-6200K. Powered by six integrated 2600mAh lithium batteries, the light will last for approximately 31 minutes at full brightness and supports 100 W PD fast charging via USB-C.

Yaroslav Altunin

While the controls aren't quite as simple and "big and easy" as the M40, the F100 still offers a fast and easy setup for quickly getting the color or color mode you want from the light without too much extra fuss.

Our Thoughts

Overall, it's impressive precisely how flexible and intuitive the design of these units is. As Zhiyun continues to explore the lighting space, it feels like a promising start to an increasing future lineup of lighting units we look forward to trying as they get larger and more powerful.

Zhiyun F100

Zhiyun is delivering some unique tools for small shoots

Credit: ZHIYUN

However, these smaller fixtures from Zhiyun aren't for every lighting need. While they do provide high output that would be great for video, they won't have the output or usability for bigger shoots. In the latter scenario, they would be great for lighting small spaces or as fill lights in compact location like closets or cars.

Whatever your needs are, each fixture is affordable enough to have a few in your bag. For us, there have been several occasions where such a small but powerful unit would have saved us so much time on set.