The 183 DSLR LED Video Light for Off Camera Use

One of the most popular inexpensive DSLR Video lights would be the CN-126. It's been featured many times on this blog and to this day is still one bargain that's hard to beat. The CN-126 contains 126 LEDs, hence the name 'CN-126'. If you haven't seen it, this article is a good reference: This was probably my first LED Video light for DSLR videography and still have three of them in use today. I carefully selected the CN-126 because it was cheap (at the time was about 350 dollars cheaper than comparables), was the right size, used several different battery types for more power options, and most importantly was 'Dimmable'.

find-price-button 126 LED Dimmable Multi Battery LED Video Lighting

Aside from the 126 LED video light, the family of LED video lights available from this manufacturer include the bigger 160 LED down to the tiniest 48 LED.
find-price-button 160 Dimmable LED Video Light

find-price-button 48 LED Video Lighting Requires 2x AA Batteries

If you've done your research you'll even find the even bigger '183 LED Dimmable Video Light'. The 183 LED Light didn't fly off the shelves like it's smaller siblings, mainly because it was misunderstood. Unfortunate PR, but this also helped to keep prices down. Recently people have been very interested in the 500 LED Video Light Panels, but because of it's really directional light output (a feature of LED lights) small spaces proved to be work in diffusing the light from the larger panel. Another drawback on the 500 LED video light panels is that they work off of an AC outlet. This means you'll need power at your location, and also travel with tangly extension cords and surge protectors. Even if you can modify a small battery, you might be concerned about short run times from larger light panels. This is where the 183 LED Video light was designed for. A smaller unit than the 500 LED panel and packaged with it's own portable rechargeable power source.

183_LED (2 of 4)

Because the 183 LED video light resembled it's smaller siblings, I believe people may have misunderstood it's purpose in life. It's not something that would be totally suitable to use on the hot shoe of a camera for Run and Gun. It's a bigger design and also exclusively uses an external battery pack. Instead, the 183 LED Video light would best be used as a portable video light similar in use as the 500 LED video panels. Throw it on a light stand and take advantage of the portable battery pack (included). The 183 'cannot' use AA batteries internally. There is only a connection for the 12V input. A nice addition is that the battery pack was designed with two outlets to power two 183's giving you hours and hours of LED lighting. Unfortunately due to poor marketing, it's been misunderstood, but you can see the design was to support two lights together with a portable battery solution mainly for stationary use like the 500 LED Video panel.
Straight Bracket with Two Adjustable Flash Shoe Mounts

183_LED (4 of 4)
(above) 183 LED next to 48 LED and Z96 Video LED Light

So if you've been eyeballing those 500 LED video panels but either couldn't afford it, or are turned off by the the lack of 'portable power' options, the 183 LED might fit the bill. You can travel with these lights without worry of an AC outlet and with it's power pack can shoot for several hours worry free. One thing to mention though is that the cord that comes with the unit is fairly short, but would be an easy task to snip down the middle and add some wire in between to extend. The best deal would be to grab a pair and get you up to 366 LEDs of broad diffused light, and two lights can be powered from a single battery. This setup would still be dimmable and each light can still be individually powered on or off. By grabbing a pair, you'd also have a spare battery set aside for even more hours worry free use. Pack all the items into a nice travel case, and you'll be set to add outdoor fill light or indoor studio video lighting wherever you might end up. While this is not a popular item for anyone looking to mount a video light 'on camera', these would work well for building a portable lighting solution set to be used 'off camera'.

183_LED (3 of 4)
find-price-button 183 LED Dimmable Video Light Panel Digital Camera Video Camcorder DV Hot Shoe mount lighting Panel

13 thoughts on “The 183 DSLR LED Video Light for Off Camera Use

  1. James Albright

    Would you please tell me how to find the 183 as shown in the video. Could you also tell me who makes it, I need the dimensions.

  2. Question regarding setting these up. I want to create this clamshell set up..set one 183 on a stand very low..then a 183 up high facing down on the subject. My question is how can I reduce the shadow thats created behind the subject? I noticed on the 126's I would get this shadow that look kind of ugly..I mean its not that big of a deal but if anyone knows a trick I would greatly appreciate it. THanks.

  3. Brian

    Thanks Emm- I checked cold shoe in Gear. Only one was Frio which isn't out yet. Would the z96 off camera mounting option work? (see Gear 08 Aug)

  4. Emm

    Post author

    @Brian - The light should have a hotshot mount. You can get a 'cold shoe' found in the Gear page of this blog.

  5. Brian

    I just purchased the 183 LED. It is identical to the one in your video. Unfortunately it did not include a stand which I later found is what has the screw hole for mounting to a light stand. Without that piece it will be useless to me. Is there an adapter that I could substitute for the missing base? Thanks in advance for any help.

  6. matt

    hi, i got a pair of the z96 lights you mentioned. i had some flickering with rechargeable aa batteries, but that problem is solved with the sony camcorder battery, which also boosted the brightness.

    how do these 183 leds compare to the z96? would you say the light output brightness of one of these wold be close to having two z96 lights side by side?

    also, curious if this light has any advantage over the z96 in terms of lighting at a distance.

    i also picked up a led500 panel. how do you think two of these 183 lights would compare to one 500led panel?

    (thanks for this site...i'm very happy with the performance of the spidertrax dolly too)

  7. RcBandit

    Emm, in your opinion how bright are these guys? I would use them mostly as off camera fills for some quick interviews. Im just worried the throw wouldnt be enough in most situations. These say they are rated at 5600k, which is great. I had an old dinosaur LED panel that i rated at 8000k... it was useless even with cto's.


  8. Emm

    Post author

    @Loic - I should be clear, there are a few different versions of the 500 LED. The one I just showed uses only AC power, but there is a version that uses an XLR power input that can be used with an external V mount battery.

  9. Emm

    Post author

    @Olivier - The Comer is a nice LED light. It is about four times the price of the 183, but it's a good light.

  10. Hi. Great website and tips.

    I had been looking for a while for an on-camera light, and after some tests, I found this one that worked really great for me:

    It really bright, uses a camera battery, has a dimmer, an integrated tungsten filter, and a condense lens to focus the light. And it's quite cheap.

    I personally bought it from these guys at the link, but you may be able to find it other places. I read about it on DVXUSER a while ago.

  11. Melonmaudic


    in this video, it says you can not have an extern battery power with the 500 leds panel.

    But it's wrong, now you can add for 40$ more a v-lock support on it.

    Best Regards,


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