One of the biggest issues when it comes to continuous LED lights is power. For photographers, they’re just nowhere near as bright as strobes, and for filmmakers, they want to know that they can replace their high power hot lights that they’ve been using for years. But LED manufacturers are often quite vague or confusing with their light output.
It’s not intentional, there’s just not really an easy universal standard when it comes to comparing constantly evolving LED technology with tried and tested hot lights. So, in this video, Jay P Morgan looks at some of the more powerful LED lights on the market to see how they really stand up to traditional hot lights.
The “baseline” was 1K, 2K and 1200 HMI lights, a staple of video production for decades, with light meter readings taken at 8, 12 and 16 feet from the light. And while they obviously couldn’t test every LED light out there, they did test quite a large variety – with a very wide price range.
- Aputure Light Storm 120d G1 – $545
- Litepanels Astra Bi-Color LED Panel – $765
- Intellytech LiteCloth LC-160 2X2 – $999
- Aputure Light Storm 300D – $1100
- Mole Richardson 400W Junior LED 8 inch – $2,169
- Mole Richardson 200W Junior LED 10 inch – $2,519
- Kino Flo FreeStyle 21 LED – $2,622
- Rosco Silk 210 – $2,850
- ARRI Sky Panel S30-C LED Softlight – $4,212
- ARRI Sky Panel S60-C LED Softlight – $5,850
- K5600 Lighting Joker2 800W (HMI) – $7,333
As you can see, even at the lower end of this price range, LED lights powerful enough for serious video production with good colour accuracy aren’t inexpensive. But the difference in power output isn’t necessarily reflected in the price, as Jay’s results illustrate. And while many manufacturers say it’s “about the equivalent of a 1K”, some are modestly understating the power of their lights whilst others are wildly exaggerating it.
But light output isn’t just a function of how many watts of power it consumes. The efficiency of the LEDs, as well as the overall design of the unit, has a huge impact. As does switching lights that have the capability between “flood” and “spot” mode. Jay’s tests in the video are often predictable in some of the results they produce but there are one or two surprises.
That design also has other implications for ease of use, portability, and other factors that you should take into account when purchasing lights. Just because a light puts out more power in a controlled test doesn’t mean it’ll be the best light for your particular application.
It would’ve been nice to see a couple of the other more popular LED light in there like the Spekular LED lights and the Aputure Tri-8 panels to see how they stood up against the (vastly more expensive) competition.
What LED lights do you use? How do they compare to a standard 1K?