Holiday Gift Guide – The best photo and video lights of 2023
Another lap around the sun means another winter holiday season! Black Friday may be over, but here are some more gift ideas this giving season, even if you’re giving to yourself. In this guide, we’re looking at some of our favourite gear of 2023.
Our third day is all about lighting! These are some of our favourite lights that we’ve used or have been released over the last year. We’ve already posted our cameras and lenses gift guides, but keep visiting this week as we release our other guides, including tripods, sliders & gimbals, and accessories and gadgets.
SmallRig RC 450B – $1,099
While there are a lot of great lights out there in the 50-200W range, sometimes you need something a bit more beefy. That’s where the SmallRig RC 450B steps in. This bi-colour LED light offers 450W of output with a white balance range from 2700-6500K. It’s also available in a daylight-only version for when you don’t need an adjustable white balance.
Zhiyun Fiveray M20 – $79
Big, powerful lights aren’t always the order of the day. Sometimes, you need something small to stop shadows from going to complete blackness. Or maybe it’s to throw a splash of light into a dark corner of a larger scene. This is where the Zhiyun Fiveray M20 shines – pun intended. It’s a tiny bi-colour, colour-accurate LED light that can fit on your camera or hide in dark corners. It’s also available in an RGBWW version.
Kelvin Epos 300 – $2,499
Finding very powerful lights that also offer full-colour output isn’t easy, or inexpensive. But the Kelvin Epos 300 RGBLAC LED light is one of the least expensive in its class. It offers 300 Watts of output with a very wide 2,000-20,000K colour temperature range along with just about any other colour you can imagine. It’s definitely a higher-end light, but when you’ve got all the basics and want something a bit special, this is a great option.
Elinchrom THREE – $999
The competition amongst flash for photographers has been hotting up over the last few years. One of the oldest companies in the game is Elinchrom, who released their new Elinchrom Three flash system recently. Boasting 525 flashes at maximum power or a whopping 11,250 flashes at minimum power, this 261Ws flash offers a lot of endurance for use on location. It also supports full TTL and HSS on a wide range of cameras.
Godox C7R – $65
The Godox C7R isn’t like the other LED lights in this list. There’s no light stand bracket or modifier mount here. The Godox C7R is an RGBWW LED bulb that slots into your practical lights on set. It’s designed to replace the weird “energy efficient” lights with low colour accuracy and weird colour shifts to ensure you get the look you want throughout your scene. Desklamp in your client’s office shifting everything green? No problem, just swap out the bulb with one of these and set it to whatever colour you need.
Colbor CL60R – $199
Colbor’s a relatively new name in LED lighting, but they’re quickly becoming very popular. This is thanks to their small, modular and inexpensive LED lights that offer a lot of versatility. One of their unique products is the compact Colbor CL60R. This small light allows you to gang several units together to create a much larger light source for your scene. Or, break them up to have several sources. Configure them however you need! It’s also available in daylight and bi-colour modes.
Godox KNOWLED F200Bi – $639
Sometimes, the usual style of LED light isn’t what you need for lighting up your scene. Sometimes, you need a big panel. Perhaps you need to simulate the look of a window in a studio where non exist. The Godox KNOWLED F200Bi is one such panel. With a white balance range of 2700-8500K, you can recreate the look of just about any time of day with high colour accuracy.
Aputure INFINIBAR – $299
The Aputure INFINIBAR fills a unique niche in lighting. As the name suggests, it’s a bar lights. It’s a full RGB LED light, but it’s also addressable. This means you can have different parts of the lights in different colours. So, if you want to simulate the look of something like a computer monitor, TV screen or even use them in-shot as an array of different colours, it’s easy enough to do. You can even animate the lighting effects. They’re also available in 1ft, 2ft and 4ft sizes.
Nanlite Forza 60 II – $289
The Nanlite Forza 60 II is the baby of Nanlite’s updated Forza II product line. It goes all the way up to 500W offering a growing ecosystem. You’re able to start off small with a 60 or two and then expand your system as your needs grow. All models are available in either daylight-only or bi-colour flavours, offering a wide range of possibilities for your lighting future. They also all offer very high colour accuracy and remote control right from your smartphone.
Godox AD200 Pro – $349
The Godox AD200 Pro isn’t a new light but it remains one of the most popular flashes on the market for photographers. It’s battery-powered compact form factor offers a very bright output, with multiple interchangeable heads for different uses, including a projector, a ring flash head and a recently released tube light. Many photographers end up having a small stack of these in their bags, and you can even double them up to make a 400Ws strobe with the AD-B1 dual head. A great light for beginners and more advanced users.
So, this is our lighting list for this year. There have been some great new lighting releases in 2023. At least when it comes to LEDs, even if a little light on flash. We’ve also seen some older models holding out to beat the newcomers. What’s been your favourite light in 2023?
Were this year’s lighting announcements all that you hoped they’d be? Will you be treating yourself or a loved one to something from this list? What are you hoping for in 2024?
We’ve already released our camera and lens gift guides, so be sure to check them out. Also, keep an eye out for upcoming guides coming over the next couple of days covering tripods, sliders & gimbals, as well as gadgets and accessories!
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.