comparative review: Lowel ID-light & Litepanels MicroPro LED light & Dedo Ledzilla
The use of video light for stills photography has become ever more popular in recent years, as high-ISO capable cameras made it possible to shoot in lower light without having to resort to flash. The immediacy of video light – the ‘wysiwyg’ nature of video light – makes it an interesting light source to play with and experiment with on a shoot. The dramatic quality of the light is also quite appealing.
Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of video light out there:
– the traditional Tungsten / Incandescent lamps,
– video lights with an array of LEDs providing the light.
The LED video lights have several advantages over the “proper” video lights:
– they don’t become too hot to touch,
– they run for much longer, and most use AA batteries,
– they are balanced for Daylight, and can be gelled for Incandescent,
– they are more compact.
So to see just how this all stack up in actual use, I decided to compare three video lights:
– the Lowel ID-light
– MicroPro LED video light
– Dedo Ledzilla video light
We’re going to specifically look at how bright they are and how their light spread is, and what their quality of light is like …
The Lowel ID-Light with a Besco battery and charger is approximately $450 but you can add more accessories like barndoors and handles.
An LED video light can be anywhere from around $50 to $550 depending on your choice of brand, and what features it has.
Brightness / Output:
On paper the comparison isn’t an easy one to decipher. The Lowel ID-light is rated as giving a 100W output, but we can’t describe the LED lights in the same way with regards to their power consumption. There just isn’t that direct a correlation for an LED light in how much power it consumes vs how much light is emitted. The LED lights are far more efficient than Tungsten / Halogen lamps.
The best you might see in a description is that a specific LED light gives an “equivalent to 50W” or such. This is why we’ll look at the actual metered output for these units.
We’ll discuss this for each unit …
Lowel ID-Light 100 Watt Focus Flood Light
The Lowel ID-light can be used either on a light-stand, or with more flexibility, by an assistant holding it up by a short handle. (It gets hot!)
In testing these three units against each other, it was clear just how much brighter the Lowel ID-light is compared to the other units.
The light is also focusable and has a dimmer. The LED video lights, with the exception of units like the Dedo Ledzilla, can’t have the light spread be focused. Having the ability to focus the spread of light from the Lowel ID-light, makes it a flexible option.
There are accessories you can buy with the Lowel ID-light, such as barndoors to help control the way the light spills. There is also the option to buy a dichroic filter. This blue filter changes the Tungsten light into a Daylight balanced light source. However, the brightness of the light is drastically cut, and I also found that it added a strange green cast to skin tones which makes it less than useful as a Daylight balanced light source. (I had the dichroic filter, but sold it a long time ago, so didn’t have an example on hand to use as test here.)
Since the Lowel ID-light is so much brighter than the other two units, it was easier to balance the subject against a brighter background. This gives you more leeway in terms of your camera settings, and how you want to light your subject in relation to the ambient light.
Litepanels MicroPro LED On-Camera Light
Of the LED video lights, I like and prefer the Litepanels MicroPro unit. (I know you can get cheaper makes and brands, and if that’s your choice, then great. Just don’t harangue me for it.)
What I like about these LED video lights, is that they are quite compact, and run on AA batteries. Easy to slip into a camera bag. I keep one in my main camera bag when I photograph weddings. I usually have the amber gel over it to gel it for Tungsten light.
The downside compared to the Lowel ID-light:
– is that you can’t focus the light,
– it doesn’t have barndoors or an easy way to flag the light,
– it is less bright.
Dedolight Ledzilla Mini LED Daylight Camera Light
Now we come to an interesting-looking video light. It looks quite futuristic. Even though it looks toy-like, it is anything but. It is solidly engineered, and very well thought-out. There are barndoors on either side, and a diffuser and an amber gel that can be flipped in and out. It folds up into a fairly compact unit. Quite an elegant design!
One of the things that set this apart from the other LED video lights that I’ve seen, is that the beam can be focused. You’ll see in the series of photographs just how much it can be focused – a tight spot-light.
Another bonus is that it can be powered from various sources, including Sony and Panasonic batteries.
The Dedo Ledzilla is quite pricey though – $560.00
differences in color temperature:
For those images, the LED lights had their respective gels over to match them with Tungsten light. I did pull in the color balance for each shot to have the skin tone look pleasant.
However, in each pull-back shot you may have noticed the color balance being different from the others. While you can fix the color balance as part of your normal RAW workflow, the actual color balance can make a difference if you’re shooting with other Tungsten balanced light sources. Here are the three portraits of Anelisa, with the WB set to 3000K in editing the RAW files.
The Dedo Ledzilla has a noticable strong Magenta color cast. Simple enough to fix this in post-processing of the RAW file, as shown in the main photograph of Anelisa. But as mentioned, this may be a problem if this unit is used with other Incandescent light sources.
The blue and purple colors you see in the background, coming in from behind Anelisa, is the daylight .. which is obviously a much cooler WB than the Tungsten balanced video lights.
The spread of light from each LED video light:
For these comparative shots, I set the camera on a tripod, and the video light on a sturdy light-stand. Then I photographed the light-spread against a white paper studio backdrop.
I kept the camera settings the same for all the images, to help give a visual representation of how bright each video light is. (I kept the WB to Daylight throughout.)
The Lowel ID-light can be focused. Here are the two images where the ID-light was set to the widest and then to the tightest beam. (I didn’t use the Lowel diffuser disc.)
The LitePanels MicroPro .. a nice even spread without such a pronounced hot-spot in the middle like the Lowel ID-light. Adding the gel didn’t affect the spread of light in an appreciable way, so I’m just showing the spread of light without the gel here.
The Dedo Ledzilla can be focused surprisingly wide and tight. The next three images is of the Dedo Ledzilla with the widest beam set, then adding the gel, and then adding the diffuser over the gel. The diffuser spreads the light very evenly, but with a penalty to the brightness.
This compilation shows the widest spread, and the tightest spread … and two inbetween settings. All with the amber gel, and then the amber gel w/ diffuser panel.
For the video lights set up on this light-stand, I used a Sekonic 358 lightmeter to measure the brightness at the center of each spot. (Since the way each light’s spread differs, it would be fairly complicated to show measurements for the way each light falls off.)
All measurements were for 1/125 @ 1600 ISO …
f4.5 … wide beam
f9.0 … tight beam
f2.8 … no gel
f2.0 … amber gel
.Ledzilla (no gel)
f2.5 … wide beam
f3.2 … less wide
f5.6 … more tight
f8.0 … tight beamLedzilla (amber gel)
f1.6 … wide beam
f2.0 … less wide
f3.2 … more tight
f2.8 … tight beam
As you can see, the gel really dims the Dedo Ledzilla and with the diffuser panel over, it was outside the range the meter could read … and hence outside the range usable for me during a shoot.
In terms of quantity of light and the way the light spreads, the Lowel ID-light outclasses the other two video lights.
As mentioned though, the Litepanels MicroPro is my carry-with-me video light. It is compact and easy enough to fit into my camera bag. I can switch it on for long periods, and it doesn’t run hot. I can switch it off, and there’s no need to have it cool down first to put it back int my bag.
For a photo shoot where I have need of a video light, and have the opportunity and time to set up a light, for example with a boudoir photo session .. then the Lowel ID-light is my choice. While it does run hot, and the battery doesn’t last nearly as long as the batteries for an LED light, it is hard to beat for quantity and quality of light.
You can order any of these items from B&H,
as well as a variety of other LED video lights