Independent LED Video Light Test Project – Teaser

Ever wonder how your LED light compares to others on the market? 600 LEDs? 1200 LEDs? Adjustable Color Temp? 5600K? CRI? 2200 Lux? Yadda Yadda Yadda... There's a few dozen LED video lights on the market, but i'm not sure if there are true standards in which they are being tested before the specs are listed on the packaging. Light output can be measured at different distances, and if the rating on the box seems pretty high it's possible it was tested at a distance of 1 foot while another may have been tested at 4 feet away.

LED Video Lights Cheesycam

There are just too many variables, so I finally decided to run a few tests of my own in a more standardized fashion. I'm starting out by placing various lights at a distance of 4 feet. I'll be able to compare the spread (diffusion) of each light with this method. I'll be using the Sekonic C-500 Color Meter to take a few LUX readings to see which has the highest light output. I'm also able to take color temperature readings and check for color bias (green/magenta cast).

[Note: The readings on the C-500 may not be accurate with LED lighting, but should provide a baseline for comparison between the lights. Do not accept my readings as an accurate source for each manufacturers specifications]

Cheesycam LED Video Light Test Sekonic C500 C-500 Color Meter
find-price-button Sekonic Prodigi Color C-500 Color Meter

A few things to keep in mind about the various LED lights on the market. Higher output doesn't necessarily make a better LED light. It could just mean one is more spotty instead of diffused. Bi-Color LED lights have much less light output than LED video lights with only one color, but the Bi-Color light can quickly adjust to match ambient lighting as opposed to a light that may be stuck at 6000K and require you to carry filters. An LED light might look great at full power, but adjusting the dimmer or adjusting the color temperature can introduce color shift, color cast, or sometimes banding or flickering.

Not to mention the physical qualities like size, weight, power requirements like battery type, AC/DC adapters, build quality, remote capabilities, available light modifiers, and finally pricing. Some people may want a harsh spot light while others may want a very soft diffused source. Some will request the biggest and brightest, while others will require something more portable. There are many LED video lights on the market, each with their own pros and cons. My goal with this project is simply to set a benchmark test that can compare and contrast side by side a few of the lights available today.

(above) CN600 vs K4000

BTW, If you're wondering what my preference is between the two lights I just tested, I prefer the F&V. Although the CN600 had a stronger LUX reading it is mostly concentrated in the center. The K4000S diffuses better (even without the diffuser on), can maintain better color (less greenish tint compared to CN600), and can quickly be dialed in to match other lighting without carrying around additional filters.

Sure there's a bit of green on the K4000S, but only when it gets down to 3200K. A simple minus green filter or WB shift in-camera can easily correct this. I feel the K4000S pros outweigh any of the cons compared to the CN600 and the F&V K4000 lights are also a bit cheaper for each piece if you opt in for the 3 pc Studio Kit (found here).

find-price-button K4000 Single Color / K4000S Bi-Color LED Video Light Kits

600 CN600 CN600 LED Video Light
find-price-button CN-600 600 LED Video Light

26 thoughts on “Independent LED Video Light Test Project – Teaser

  1. Denis

    hi, how is it going with the test? Any progress since May? It would be very very nice to see the results. Thanks a lot for your efforts!

  2. lliam

    Is this test out or close to completion? Something really missing for the Indie film community. Thanks for your efforts.

  3. itsjohnny2

    I was looking into purchasing the K4000 daylight and adding Gels for my first lighting kit. Do you recommend the Bi-Color better?

  4. HDtography

    Lots of work Emm... please know we all appreciate your efforts.

    Thanks for putting in the time.

    EPIC site as always

  5. Mark

    There is a bi-color version of the CN600, I would love to see the A/B comparison with the K4000 bi-color. Otherwise it's a bit of an apples-to-oranges test.

  6. Alex

    Thanks a lot Emm. We've been waiting for something like this. As others mentioned, it would be great if you can add a Yongnuo YN300 to the test. It's getting more popular every day, so people are curious to see how does it hold up against the others.


  7. OldCorpse

    Well, the thing is, the camera you use is going to record *some* kind of color off of these LEDs, depending what you white-balance to. It's not like you can use the C-500 to tell you ahead of time what you'll get once you record the footage with *your* camera. So, short of testing every camera with all these lights, you need some kind of base for comparison.

  8. Emm

    Post author

    @Craigc - You're right the C-500 cannot capture the spectrum from LED lighting. At the same i'm actually impressed by what shows up on camera and the readings on the meter. In the frame grab it shows the CN600 has more green than the F&V (my camera was locked to 5600K). I have another test (not posted yet) where the meter read more of a magenta cast. I compared it side by side to another light, and it definitely showed more magenta, so it's doing a bit more than I had expected from the meter.

    Having said all that, I still suggest that people should not rely on my numbers as an accurate representation of these LED lights. Even without the meter and the numbers, the video of course will easily show the differences of these LED lights when placed side by side in diffusion, spread, brightness, color, etc.

    If there's enough interest in this type of test, maybe I can get a hold of a more expensive true LED Color Meter for real numbers (which of course cost several thousands of dollars).

  9. Craigc

    Humm, that color meter cannot be used with LED light fixtures period. So your only guessing about green spike correction. Your spread ratio test is interesting at 4ft, but sometimes you need to project a beam further and that's why some fixtures are spot and some are flood. I can always diffuse a spot, I cant collapse a flood. I do like the way your showing the side by side. Thanks

  10. Nicknom

    Hi Emm, Is it possible to include LEDz Superspots and Brute 30s? If near LA I can provide them.

  11. chandler

    you should ad LitePanels to this test since they claim to be the leader in this field. It would be telling to see how they stack up to the rest with their 1x1.

  12. Emm

    Post author

    @Mike W - Thanks for sharing. Measuring the spectrum would be great to add to the tests.

  13. scottd800

    The $60 YONGNUO YN-300 II YN300II is the best LED i have used to date. silly, inexpensive and no other power options other than standard sony-l series batteries. Bi-color adjustments that are crazy accurate and good battery life on these bright LEDs. I'd love to see how they stack up with the lights you are testing. The 'regular'YONGNUO YN-300 (not bi-color) has had some casting and power issues. Like OldCorpse said, it would be great to see these included in the testing.I bought a bunch of these and can stick them all over (also in tight spaces) to really creatively light my subjects.

  14. Mike W

    Hi Emm,

    I've been wanting to do something like this for years. But ever since leaving the production world behind for web development it hasn't been a priority.

    Have you thought about testing, not just for color temperature but for the whole spectrum. Please have a look at this cheap and relatively easy DIY method.

    I would think you would have the parts to make one of these in your junk box.


  15. JFitness

    Totally looking forward to these tests! There's just not enough independent testing out there for LEDs to make informed purchasing decisions. Thanks a lot Emm!

  16. OldCorpse

    Fantastic project, Emm, and totally something that all of us interested in LEDs have been looking forward to. On a side note, if the C-500 might not be totally reliable when it comes to LEDs, is there a color meter that's more appropriate to LEDs specifically? THANK YOU FOR DOING THESE TESTS! Oh, also, if you happen to have on hand, the YN-300 would be interesting to test, as they've gotten pretty popular due to lack of flickering, decent intensity and cheap price.

  17. Emm

    Post author

    @Multop - Working on these things. I'm trying to do this in between projects, so it will roll out from time to time.

  18. Multop

    This is fantastic Emm! If you have a chance can you compare the single color F&V 4000? I would like to see the difference in brightness compared to others like it.

  19. Donald

    This was an experiment WAY past due. Thanks so much for the time and engergy to put this together. I also look forward to seeing the results from the other LED lights you mentioned. Well done!


  20. Could you show at which point in the temperature dial you were set when the K4000S hit 5600K?

    I have this model but don't have a way to meassure the Kelvin temperature, so it would be handy to know where to set it exactly yo match other 5600K sources.

  21. francisco

    Great job there! That's exactly the test that I wanted to do! But I never bought a thermocolorimeter :( Thank you very much for this test and I will be anxious waiting for the results

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