Holiday Gift Guide – Best Flash and Video Lights of 2021
The season of giving is upon us – which becomes immediately obvious whenever you walk into a store and you’re overwhelmed by Whamageddon. If you want to avoid the Christmas music and prefer to do your shopping online, then have no fear, DIYP’s 2021 Holiday Gift Guides are here to rescue you with some of our favourite new releases of the year, as well as a few old favourites that always seem to find a place in our gear bags.
In this post, we’re going to be taking a look at lighting, but keep an eye out for upcoming guides featuring Tripods, Sliders & Gimbals, and other accessories and gadgets and be sure to check out our previous guide going over the best of this year’s new Cameras and lenses.
The Godox V860III is the latest iteration of Godox’s popular lithium-ion battery-powered on-camera speedlight. It supports TTL and High Speed Sync on or off-camera with versions available for Nikon, Canon, Sony, Fuji, Olympus/Panasonic and Pentax. The newest iteration adds a modelling light, the improved Godox quick-release foot and the same battery as the Godox V1 and AD100Pro.
For those still on the Yongnuo system, they’ve also released a speedlight this year, the YN685II. It’s the folow-up to 2015’s YN685 and features an integrated 2.4Ghz receiver that’s compatible with some of Yongnuo’s triggers. This one runs on AA batteries, which are commonly available around the world, now features a built-in USB port for updating the firmware. It also has a faster recycle time than its predecessor, although so far it’s only available for Canon. A Nikon version is expected in the future.
Ok, let’s kick the power level up a notch or two with the Profoto B10X. The B10X is a 250Ws studio strobe with a 10-stop range and a recycle time of only 1.3 seconds at full power. Profoto has also released the B10X Plus, which comes in at a slightly more expensive $2,295 and fewer full power flashes but doubles the output to 500Ws with a recycle time of 2.2 seconds. Both lights feature a powerful continuous light of up to 3250 lumens and adjustable colour temp between 3000K and 6500K
Godox P2400 Pack & Head (B&H) – $6,199
If we really ramp up the power, we get the new Godox P2400 pack and head system. This monstrous AC-powered setup includes a 2400Ws pack and a pair of HP2400P flash heads with Bowens mount attachment. You get super fast recycle times of a mere 0.7 seconds at full power, 60W modelling lights and t0.1 flash durations as quick as 1/17,800. This is an assymetrical pack, meaning that you can have one or both heads plugged in simultaneously with independent power control over each.
KYU-6 Bicolor (Spiffy Gear / Amazon) & RGB (Spiffy Gear / Amazon) – $44.95
We’ll dial the power way down again for the first of our continuous lights, which is the ever popular KYU-6 from Spiffy Gear. Available in both bicolour and RGB versions, these little lights are probably the most versatile small lights that we’ve ever used. They’re great for a key or fill for your quick social media videos or you can use them in more cinematic productions to throw a little light in dark corners or add colour effects to items in you set. You can power these while charging, so they’re fantastic for lighting up your live streams, too!
As small LED panels go, this has probably been the one I’ve used the most through 2021. you can read my full review of this light here, but the short version is that it’s waterproof, compact, powerful and fantastic for shooting small products, macro or adding a little on-camera fill to your interviews. It even comes with a silicone diffuser for a more even spread of light as well as a grid for when you want to focus its output on a specific area.
Bringing the power back up again a little bit, the Godox ML60 (review here) is still our favourite small portable LED light. Offering 60 Watts of output, this light can be powered by either the supplied AC adapter or a pair of NP-F batteries. It features a built-in Godox mount for use with Godox mount modifiers or you can use it with the Godox S2 bracket and get access to the wealth of Bowens mount modifiers. It’s super quiet and comes packaged along with all its accessories in a really nice bag for toting it to your location. It also makes for an excellent camping light when you need to set up a tent in pitch black – Ask me how I know.
The Aputure Amaran 100D and 200D are Aputure’s take on the entry-level lights commonly used by YouTubers The 100D and 200D are daylight balanced, although there are 100X and 200X bi-colour versions, too, and feature a Bowens mount on the front, letting you utilise the wide array of Bowens mount modifiers available on the market. They offer wireless smartphone control from Aputure’s Sidus Link app, which works very well. They can be powered using the included AC adapter or taken on the road using Aputure’s 2-bay Power Station.
Colbor CL100 (Amazon) – $199.99
The Colbor CL100 (review here) is another 100W LED light aimed towards YouTubers and smaller productions. With 100W output, this 2700K-6500K LED light offers a 97+ CRI and is extremely quiet, even when the fan’s on at full speed. There’s no DC power option for this one, though, so you’re pretty much stuck on AC power. It comes with an included remote control, although a smartphone app is on the way.
If you prefer LED panels over monoblock style lights, Aputure has released their Amaran P60x and P60c LED lights. The P60x is a bicolour LED panel with a temperature range of 3200K-6500K, a CRI of 95+ and a TLCI of 97+. The P60c is an RGBWW LED panel with a wider 2500K-7500K colour temperature along with green/mangenta adjust and full command of the RGB spectrum with HSI mode. Both lights also include a bunch of built-in lighting effects, along with user presets and remote control from the Sidus Link app.
the StellarPro Reflex S is something of an oddity compared to the other lights we’ve shown here. For a start, it claims to be “the first true continuous strobe hybrid” meaning that it is both a continuous video LED light as well as a flash. But it also has a rather unusual form factor compared to everything else we usually see. Despite this, it’s compatible with Bowens, Profoto and Chimera modifiers with the appropriate adapter, is IP65 rated, drop-proof and accepts D-Tap power. It’ll also let you shoot at up to 20 frames per second at full power!
Nanlite Evoke 1200 (B&H) – $3,350
Now we’re getting up into the territory of very powerful continuous lights, starting with the Nanlite Evoke 1200. This 1200 Watt LED spot is an absolute monster. It offers 18,400 Lux with the included 45° reflector at 3 metres and 65,280 Lux at 3 metres with the 10° Fresnel Spot Lens. One thing to note about this light, though, is that it does use a proprietary modifier mount. So, if you have a bunch of Bowens modifiers lying around, you’re not going to be able to use them with this
Aputure Light Storm 1200D Pro (Amazon / B&H) – $TBD
Not to be outdone, Aputure has also announced its Light Storm 1200D Pro, a 1200 Watt daylight-balanced LED light with a CRI of 96+ and a TLCI of 98+. It was announced in September but a price hasn’t yet been announced and it obviously hasn’t started shipping. But if you can gift yourself or your loved one an IOU, this is definitely one to watch out for in the new year. It comes supplied with three different reflectors (wide, medium and narrow) and the narrowest provides an insane 83,100 Lux at 3 metres and 22,400 Lux with the medium. Naturally, this light provides for remote control using the Sidus Link smartphone app as well as CRMX, Art-net, SaCN and DMX512.
And finally, we’re back to the panels with the Litepanels Gemini 1×1 Hard RGBWW LED panel. They say it’s “the brightest and most accurate 1×1 light ever”, providing 3,000 Lux at 3 metres with a 46° beam angle and 0.1-100% flicker-free power adjustments with DMX and Bluetooth remote control. It has a CRI and TLCI of 98 and can be powered by either AC or DC input from 13-33 volts. For “white” light, it offers a variable colour temperature from 2700K up to 10000K and of course you get the full range of red, green and blue colour spectrum through HHSI, CCT and Gel modes along with various included lighting effects.
So this is our lighting list for this year. It’s been quite the mixed bag with everything from entry level speedlights and small continuous pocket LEDs all the way up to big monstrous 1200W continuous and 2400Ws strobes. It’s great to see the lighting market competition hotting up and I can’t wait to see what 2022 brings! What new lighting gear have you gotten in 2021? Will you be adding any of these to your list for Santa?
Keep an eye out for upcoming guides coming over the next couple of days covering tripods, sliders & gimbals as well as accessories and don’t forget to check our previous guide going over the best of this year’s new cameras and lenses.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.