Z96 vs W12 LED Video Lights

2011-12-15 18.47.142011-12-15 18.47.31

Sorry it took me a while to run these little tests, but i'm in between some big projects right now. Here's an update on testing the W12 LED video light with High Power LED bulbs, compared to the Z96. If you're not up to speed, we are comparing the two because they share basically the exact same form factor and feature set (batteries used, dimmer knob, magnetic snap filters, etc.)

2011-12-15 18.46.53W12 LED Light

Here's a comparison of coverage. As on-camera LED Video lights, this is a general distance to subject you might be using when the LED lights are mounted on camera. On the Top is the W12 and on the Bottom is the Z96. Camera settings were 1/50th F/2.8 ISO 640 for this spotlight test.

The W12 has a sharper and more defined edge at the end of it's coverage, while the Z96 feathers out gradually. The W12 seems a little more evenly flat across the spread, while The Z96 has more of a hotspot towards the center. The coverage is almost similar between the two lights spreading 9 feet across with the lights just 5 feet away from the wall.

W12-Z96 (1 of 2)
W12-Z96 (2 of 2)

Below I have the camera set to a manual 5600K color temp with the lights at 5 feet away from target. In my eyes the W12 seems closer to that temperature, but there still lies a greenish color cast. Take note that the Z96 shutter speed settings were a few stops better than the W12, proving that the Z96 has more overall light output. At least in the middle area.

W12-Z96 (2 of 5)
W12-Z96 (1 of 5)

Next up is the camera set to a Manual 3200K color temp, and adding on the Tungsten filters. I never use these things, since they cut down a good amount of light, and aren't very close to tungsten. For kicks, here's what to expect when using these filters. Again, the Z96 with it's own filter is several stops better than the W12 LED light. Even though it's not perfect, of the two, I think the Z96 performed better with the 3200K filter test.

W12-Z96 (4 of 5)
W12-Z96 (5 of 5)

There's some interesting differences here. Pros and Cons for each light. As you can see there's a bit of a color shift between lights from a greenish cast to a more magenta color cast. The Z96 also has more of a hotspot towards the center, while the W12 seems a little more flat across. The W12 has a sharper and more defined edge at the end of it's coverage, while the Z96 feathers out gradually. Overall, the Z96 has more light output and fairs better in the 3200K test, but the W12 was not too shabby at the 5600K test. Even though these lights fail to be perfect all around, the Z96 especially has been around for more than a year and has been one of the most recommended entry level LED lights. The W12 may be considered mainly because it's slightly cheaper in price.

These W12 high power LED lights are found at (click here).

W12 LED LightW12 LED Video Light
find-price-button 12 High Power LED Video Light

The Z96 LED video lights can be found on eBay (click here)
find-price-button Z96 LED Video Light

Other lights you might be interested in is the 240 Bi-Color or 312 Bi-Color LED video lights. A bit larger than the 96 version, and a bit more expensive, but they give you more control with adjustable color temperature (without the use of colored filters).

240 LED video light (click here)
find-price-button 240 Dimmable Color Changing LED Video Light without Barndoors

312 LED video light (click here)
find-price-button 312 LED Bi-Color Changing Dimmable LED Video light

13 thoughts on “Z96 vs W12 LED Video Lights

  1. Carlos

    AS far as I see, the W12 does look more promising than the Z96. I don't get it why JSS says that he didn't like the W12 spottiness, when it looks to be just the opposite. I quote: The W12 has a sharper and more defined edge at the end of it’s coverage, while the Z96 feathers out gradually. The W12 seems a little more evenly flat across the spread, while The Z96 has more of a hotspot towards the center.

    The W12 does seem more even across the spread, with the Z96 showing a hot spot on the image. It's plain obvious on the test photo.

    About the tint and filtering, I am not sure it's that important to be 100 degrees up or down from a precise Kelvin temp. First of all now you can correct things more accurately on any video editing suite. And second I find it very much lifelike and visually interesting to have different color temperatures on a stage, all mixed up and un-flat.

    Another issue: both these LED lights are designed for portable use, which spells location shooting for me. So many of the issues raised here do not seem so important when considering the practical things being solved with these designs.

  2. db

    Well, these days on eBay the sellers are promising an illumination of 1350 Lux for the W12 and 800 Lux for the original HDV-Z96, while there are two nearly the same looking models with the same data named PRO 96-LED and W96-LED. Additionally a Sony HVL-LE1 caught my interest and irritated me with 1800 Lux/0,5 m, which would become only 450 Lux/1m. So I'm pretty unable to make a decision...

  3. Rob S.

    Great test. Thanks for that Emm but also disappointing. I thought the W12 was going to be a big improvement. It looks a lot like a fresnel. I guess it's hard to improve on that successful original Zed formula. Hopefully the price doesn't go up again.

  4. Rob

    Wow, that 312 LED can be powered just on two batteries? That's very handy.

    The bundled filters I've used on LED lights have all been a horrible yellow colour - instead I use Lee gels cut to the right shape and I stick them on the bundled LED diffuser panels, works for me and the colour correction is much improved.

    The colour from the W12 looks nasty IMHO.

  5. Evan Burns

    The magenta color cast in the manual 5600k test is pretty noticeable... It's too bad the W12 doesn't perform as well in the other two tests.

  6. JSS

    Thanks for your hard work EMM. I was waiting for this one and I am a little surprised at the results. Doesn't seem like the W12 was much of an improvement. For my purposes I don't really like the spottiness of the W12 and and if the Z96 has more light then I'll have to go with that one.

    Speaking of LEDs though has anyone tried this one:

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