A few months ago, SmallRig entered the LED lighting market with the RC120 and RC220 COB units (reviewed here and here). Even in our initial review, we said that the true verdict of these lights would be their ecosystem. And now, SmallRig is adding four new lights to the mix: RC 350D, RC 350B, RC 450D, and RC 450B. This is a mix of daylight and bicolor lights at 350 and 450 Watts output.
The new lights show Smallrig’s commitment to the LED line, and I would not be surprised if there are more lights to come at higher ratings. After all, this is the path we saw Aputure, Nanlite and Godox go with their road map.
This review, however, will focus on the series leading light, the RC 450B, a 450 Watts Bi-color LED light. (The rest of the series is similar in functions)
Smallrig RC 450 – Presentation
The Smallrig RC 450 is the bigger brother of the RC220. This is pretty obvious if you look at the case, power brick, and name. But… SmallRig redesigned the RC 450 in a different way. It has black/grey color scheme, which I like. And the body changed from a squarish prism into a more curved design. I did not see any functional benefit (or disadvantage) to this change, so I guess this is for pure aesthetics. Like the previous RC220B, it is mostly plastic housing.
The RC 450B, much like any modern COB light, comes with a stand mounting option and a Bowens mount for light modifiers. The mount is an aluminum, arca-swiss compatible swivel, which is better than the plastic RC220B mount. It is still not a solid yolk mount you would find in more professional lights. It does mean you can mount it on any Arca-swiss mounting solution in addition to the regular light stand receptor.
The LED comes in a foam semi-hard case with a few accessories. It is a basic case, but it does protect the light. Here are a few other cases for proportions.
What’s in the box
- 1 x RC 450B COB LED Video Light
- 1 x Adapter
- 1 x Power Cable
- 1x User Manual (in eight languages)
- 1 x 55-Degree Hyper Reflector
- 1 x Protection Cover
- 1 x Carrying Bag
All and all, everything you would need to start running once you have the light.
As always, we perform all our tests with the Sekonic C-700 spectrometer.
For the first test, we wanted to see the light output of the bare light. We tested at 100% power at 5,600K at two meters away from the light. You can see the RC 450B compared to the smaller SmallRig RC220B and the slightly stronger (but more expansive) Godox M600D.
We then repeated the test with the 55-Degree Hyper Reflector for the RC 450B, and the manufacturer-supplied reflectors for the RC220B and Godox M600D.
|Light||Lux @2M (bare)||Lux @2M (reflector)||Reflector Efficiency|
As expected, the SmallRig RC 450B has double the output of the RC220B and slightly less output than the Godox M600. It was interesting to see that the reflector is more efficient with the smaller RC220B light.
Another test we ran checked for color and power consistency. We tested at 10%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% output for temperatures ranging from 2,700K to 6,500K. We were pleasantly surprised that color consistency was spot on at all the power settings at all color temperatures.
For power, it seems SmallRig opted to provide more power over consistency across all temperatures. The same power rating yields different brightness with different temperatures. The biggest delta was between 2,700K to 4,200K, measuring about a 50% difference in brightness. If this is a feature you care about, look for lights with a “constant brightness mode” feature.
|power||Lux @ 2,700K||Lux @ 4,200K||Lux @ 5,600K||Lux @ 6.500K||Max delta||Delta %|
When we looked at the power draw, we saw a match. The power draw at some temperatures was as high as 100 watts more than others. This means that you would need to reset your brightness levels as you change temperatures. I hope that SmallRig decides to go “constant brightness mode” in a firmware update. (We already did one firmware update, and it was a breeze to handle – in your face, Sony)
Our last test was for CRI. At 5,600K the RC 450B rates at ~95.5, with higher CRIs on the warms (~98) and lower CRIs at 6,500K (~92.5). I consider this a very good result, especially for the light temperatures you’d normally be working with.
It would only be appropriate that the RC 450B comes with a massive power brick, rated at 500Watts. It is a relatively small brick compared to other similar lights. According to SmallRig, they used GaN technology to achieve this size. The brick has a generous three meters line to get to the actual light. You get a two-and-a-half-meter cable from the brick to the outlet with a C13 connector (your standard desktop connection). It’s a nice refreshment from the C5 connector that came with the RC220B.
Unlike other lights, the brick does not have a battery option or any controls attached. It is purely a power supply. But we will talk about this in the control section. Anyways, the brick mounts to the stand with a security loop. I don’t have any problem with this, but it’s something that you should be aware of.
Is a power brick better than the standard ballast? It’s a good question. On the one hand, a brick is smaller, lighter, and is less delicate. On the other, you kinda lose your physical controls unless you opt for the wired controller.
450 Watts is a lot of power and needs heat dissipation. SmallRig placed a big fan on the top of the unit to deal with the heat. The fan speed can not be controlled, but the fan was dead silent with the unit we got. It remains to see if the fan does not start to whine after a few months of usage.
SmallRig tells us that you will be able to power the unit with a 26 volts V mount battery using a dedicated battery plate, but it is still not on amazon right now.
The RC 450B has three knobs (FRQ, CCT, INT), an FX button, an ON/OFF switch, and BT reset button. This is a standard control scheme; if you have used similar lights before, you will not take long to figure it out. Smallrig seemed to listen to the community, moving away from the less convenient two-button system.
There is another port on the back of the LED, a control port that goes into a wired remote. This handles our issue with no controls on the power brick. But it does come at an extra cost.
Lastly, you can control the RC 450 with the SmallGoGo Bluetooth app. It seems that SmallRig did some facelift on the app since our previous review. It’s also nice to see that all the lights in the line work seamlessly inside the app. I can’t want to see them integrate with the SmallRig smaller lights as the M160 for full creative control.
And lastly, you have the remote
I guess the remote comes to answer my peeve with the control panel being hard to reach. Essentially, it is a replica of the control board at the back of the RC 450B with a cable plugging into the light’s back.
If the light is up high, this gives you the option to control the light from the bottom of the light stand. It has a magnetic back and a clamp to mount it on a light stand. While having a remote is a nice option, I think that this specific remote missed the mark. For one, you would need to shell out a few extra dollars for it. But also, it would have made much more sense to make it at least attachable to the power brick and create some sort of ballast. I hope SmallRig improves on this design in the next version.
when I opened the box, I was surprised to find no swivel or yolk on the light, only a plate. Then I found a well-constructed swivel that attaches to the plate. And waddayaknow, it is an arca-swiss plate. This means that you don’t HAVE to use the swivel if you have other arca-swiss mounting solutions. It also means that you can minimize the light’s footprint if you need to. Either for transport or for mounting.
The swivel itself has a nice, almost fluid head feel to it. It’s an interesting feature and I am still undecided on it. On the side of the swivel, you have a thread for an umbrella.
Two new lighting modifiers
Along with announcing the new LEDs, SmallRig added two lighting modifiers to its offering. The modifiers are not unique, but I consider this a sign of commitment on Smallrig’s side to invest in the LED line and create a full ecosystem. One thing that would make our lives easier is if the boxes (or caps) had the name and size of the modifier for easy access. Otherwise, they are amazing.
90 centimeter Lantern
The new 90-centimeter lantern is a bigger version of the already available 65-centimeter lantern which we reviewed here. It has the same great construction quality, but the bigger size can better diffuse the more powerful RC 450B.
Here is what the light signature looks like; click for full resolution
120×30 strip box
This is the first stripbox I am seeing from SmallRig, and I hope they will continue to expand the range. Like all the other Smallrig modifiers, it features a quick-release mechanism and is quick to set up. And here is the mandatory light signature.
Overall, SmallRig did a great job with this series. They shook things up a bit with the mount, form factor, and power supply solution. Whether the market embraces those changes remains to be seen, but I think it allows SmallRig to offer great lights at very competitive prices. In the end, more options is a good thing for us creatives.
The lights are available starting today at the following prices:
- RC 350D – $799 on B&H
- RC 350B – $899 on Amazon, B&H
- RC 450D – $999 on Amazon, B&H
- RC 450B – $1099 on Amazon, B&H
- 120×30 strip box – $109 on Amazon, B&H
- 90-centimeter Lantern – $99.99 on Amazon, B&H
To conclude, the light quality is spot on, the brightness is amazing, and if you do not require a “constant output” function, this would be a great addition to your lighting kit.