|February 5th, 2014, 03:31 PM||#1|
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Yongnuo YN600 Pro Dual Temperature LED Video Light Review
The YN600 II LED video light is an interesting entry into the field of low-cost portable LED lights.
This model has an interesting mix of handy features and minor annoyances, but on the whole is a very useful tool for your lighting kit. I recently purchased three of these to build up an all-LED portable kit, and here’s what I’ve learned…
Amazon.com: Yongnuo YN-600 Pro LED Video Light 3200K - 5500K Dual Color Temperature Version: Camera & Photo
The fixture features two sets of 300 LEDs, one set with a color temperature of 3,200K (tungsten-like) and the other with a color temp of 5,500K (daylight). The LEDs are arranged in a checkerboard pattern, and each bank can have the intensity to be set individually, allowing in theory the selection of any desired color temperature between 3,200K and 5,500K. For example, both banks at full brightness would yield something in the neighborhood of 4,350K. (This assumes that the two banks of LEDs have precisely the same intensity at full power, and that the ratios at other intensity settings are consistent, which I haven’t yet tested.)
Note that some vendors are stocking an older model, which has just one bank 600 LEDs at only the 5,500K color temp. The first order I received from an Amazon vendor was the incorrect model. Another vendor did ship the correct item.
The light can run on A/C power or battery power using Sony-compatible NP-F series batteries (sold separately). A power supply is not in the main packaging but some vendors are including a compatible unit in a separate box. The adapters I received did not carry the Yongnuo brand name or any distinguishing text to match them to these lights, so I recommend labeling yours to avoid the “what is this old power supply for?” scenario.
Other features include:
A 2-digit LED to indicate power settings and other information.
Multiple rear-panel buttons for settings and adjustments.
A large power button/knob … press for on/off or turn to adjust levels.
Built-in folding barn doors.
A slot for diffusers or gels. (2 hard plastic inserts included)
An infrared remote control which can independently address up to 3 fixtures. (The fixture has sensors on both the front and back side).
An automatic cooling fan.
The levels for each bank of 300 LEDs are adjusted separately. A dedicated button on the back toggles between the 3,200K bank and the 5,500K bank, and two small blue lights indicate which bank is selected. The main power knob then adjusts the level, from 00 (completely off) to 99 (full), which is displayed on the 2-digit LED.
This leads to an issue where your color temperature can change as you dim the light. You need to do the math in your head and adjust both banks accordingly to maintain temperature. For example, if you have the temp that you want at Bank A = 40, Bank B=80, but you need to dim things just a tad, you might reduce Bank A to 30, which is 75% of 40. So you’d then reduce Bank B from 80 to 60. But sometimes the math doesn’t work out so cleanly. (It would be easier if the manufacturer had sprung for a 4-digit LED in the design, so you could see both bank settings simultaneously).
Other higher-end dual temp LED fixtures I’ve used allow you to choose a temperature and then adjust the brightness with a single control that affects both banks proportionately.
Because of this, I recommend running the light purely using one bank or the other, to mach tungsten or daylight as needed, or match both settings 50/50 in situations where maximum brightness is needed.
You have a choice of “coarse” or “fine” setting via a toggle button on the rear of the light. In “coarse” mode, the power is adjusted in increments of 10, while in “fine” mode it is by 1. This setting affects how the light responds to the remote control as well, however the remote itself does not have a means to switch between “coarse” and “fine” – you must return to the fixture to do that.
The remote is very handy: It has separate sets of buttons for 3 different fixtures, all on one surface. Each channel grouping has separate buttons for power on and off, and to increment/decrement the individual banks of LEDs. The fixtures have two sensors, one on the back and one on the front. You sometimes have to aim carefully, but you can control the light from across a room or even through a window.
Because every fixture comes with a 3-channel remote, if you buy more than one light you automatically get spare remotes. I recommend leaving the extras alone, with their plastic battery shutoff still in place, so they’re ready to go when you finally do lose your first remote. It will happen.
The 2-digit display goes blank after a period of inactivity. You can wake it up from the remote by pressing the “on” button. The lamps also remember their previous settings when “off”, so you can set up a shot and then turn off the lights to preserve battery life until you’re ready to hit record.
And speaking of batteries, each fixture has TWO battery mounts (see “Quirks” later in this review). The manufacturer makes rather bold claims about battery life, but in a test I found that at full brightness, using a pair of 6,600mAH batteries, I got 90 full minutes before auto-shutdown of one of the banks. The other channel, however, did not auto-shutdown but became visibly much dimmer over the next 40 minutes. I would say that you can plan on reliably getting an hour to an hour and a quarter (at room temperature) without changing batteries, and if you need to push things you might just make it to 90 minutes, but don’t count on it.
QUIRKS AND USABILITY
The discussion of batteries is a great time to segue to the unit’s quirks. Yongnuo has provided two battery mounts on this light for a reason: A single Sony-compatible battery cannot deliver enough current to run all 600 LEDs at once. (Yongnuo’s smaller but similarly-featured 300 LED lamp has only one battery mount).
If you use only one battery, you are only allowed to use 300 LEDs. The quirk is that WHICH 300 depends on which battery mount you use. One battery mount drives the 3,200K and the other side drives the 5,500K. I recommend labeling the mounts. This can also lead to the unfortunate situation where you need the 4,350 temp using both banks, and one battery dies, leaving you not just with a dimmer fixture but with a completely different temperature.
Interestingly, the user interface is active regardless of which battery mount you’re using, and you can still change the settings of the “dead” bank, you just won’t see the results until you connect a 2nd battery.
I’ve found myself simply avoiding situations (if I can) where I need the full brightness of both banks, instead choosing whether I’m using tungsten or daylight. A bonus of this is fewer batteries to top off when returning to the office.
A button-push on the rear panel will give you an estimate of battery depletion, from 0 (dead) to 9 (fully charged).
Another quirk is the mounting system. The lamp comes with a ¼” female threaded base, intended to be used on a tripod or with a ball head. You could theoretically mount it to a light stand if the stand has ¼” threads, but you would not be able to tilt or rotate the fixture. The fixture also has a handle you can mount to the same base, and the plastic handle is hollow and will fit loosely over a typical light stand, but it’s really easy to rotate the fixture unintentionally and you still don’t get tilt.
Which brings me to the barn doors… The barn doors on this model are reflective silver on the inside. It may have been the intention of the manufacturer to use this reflectivity to aim the light rather than a more conventional tilting mount. However this doesn’t work well in practice. The doors also don’t function will for light blocking or removing spill, because of the reflections you get from the opposite door. I’m going to experiment with painting them black on one of my fixtures, or perhaps cutting some gaffer’s tape to fit the shape.
Back to the mounting system, I wound up purchasing combination flash/umbrella brackets from Fotodiox:
Amazon.com: Fotodiox Flash-Umb-Bkt-Ultra-Nis Ultra Heavy Duty Flash Umbrella Bracket with Swivel/Tilt Head, Mountable to Light Stand and Tripod - Fits Nissin Flash Di866, Di622, Di466 and PZ400: Camera & Photo
These have a tilt head and a ¼” mount and clamp onto a light stand. This gives me the positioning control I need with the extra bonus of being able to use umbrella-mount light modifiers should I want to experiment with that down the road.
The package includes two hard plastic inserts that slide in through a slot on one side of the unit. One is clear and slightly-diffuse, and one is a dark yellow. These are the same inserts provided with their 5,500K-only fixtures. One doesn’t change the color, and the other converts to tungsten. The usefulness of these on a fixture which has a variable temperature is limited, and the color-neutral insert doesn’t provide much at all in the way of diffusion.
However, I recommend using the neutral one whenever you can as protection for the unit. If the light were to fall and, say, hit the corner of a table, the insert could absorb the force rather than having your LEDs and logic board get smashed up.
I also found that I could cut out colored lighting gels and use the insert as a means of securing them within the units, whenever I need a specific color for an effect or a color wash.
For one shoot, we simulated the effect of the light of a television in a dark room shining on the faces of two actors on a sofa by using a blue gel.
We had originally intended to use the remote control to vary the light output up and down, but the changes were too obvious. Instead, a production assistant waved his hand randomly in front of the light, which worked great.
And on that note, when changing the intensities of the light, even in “fine” mode, there is a visible flash, as though the unit is temporarily boosting the LED drivers and then settling down into the correct level. This makes the fixture useless in a situation where you want to have a controlled change from bright to dim while recording.
These fixtures could really benefit from a factory-supplied diffusion solution. People think of LED fixtures as being inherently diffuse, and while it’s true they are diffuse compared to a tungsten light, they’re still rather direct. I found myself using a piece of diffusion cloth I had from an old softbox and using clothespins to connect it to the barn door. You could probably find something similar at a fabric store, but make sure it doesn’t block much light. I’m still searching for a true softbox which will fit the exact dimensions of this fixture.
The unit contains a small fan which comes on automatically. In my battery life test at full brightness, the fan came on after about 10 minutes, and had a cycle time of 5-10 minutes. It’s about as loud as a noisy (but smooth) laptop fan. Definitely audible if you’re standing right next to the fixture in a quiet space, but probably won’t affect your recording in most applications.
The cord from the power supply to the fixture is a tad too short (at least on the ones shipped from my vendor) … if you raise your light stand up above 5 or 6 feet, you’ll have the power supply brick hanging in the air. It’s not heavy and doesn’t seem to stress the connector, but doesn’t look so great to clients.
Regarding the power supply, the English version of the manual has this quirky sentence: “When using external power source, the camera will automatically cut off the battery charging.” This got me to wondering if the light would actually charge the batteries when not in use – very handy! – but unfortunately in testing I could not get the batteries to take a charge via the light and power supply. I suspect this phrase was copy/pasted incorrectly from some other product.
In case the manufacturer stumbles across this review, I have a few suggestions: First and obviously, improve the mounting, barn door and diffusion issues. But beyond that…
Instead of the Convert-to-Yellow insert, give customers an array of pre-cut gels in primary colors. These fixtures make great portable color-wash setups. Or sell sets of inserts as a separate item.
Modify the firmware of the lights and the remote to allow up to 9 channels. These lights are great in the field but also in the studio, so why stop at 3? This doesn’t require a physical change, instead some combination of button pushes on the remote could switch “banks” from Channels 1-3, to 4-6 and 7-9. Alternately, a more determined individual could set up a learning universal remote to do everything without bank switching. But in order to do that, the receiving fixtures need to recognize codes for beyond Channels 1-3.
Sell spare remotes and power supplies as separate items. People will lose them or break them over time.
These are very handy, highly-portable and useful lights. They will serve in many productions for me. However, the quirks, limitations, and the need to buy additional mounting hardware (I suspect this is true for most people) knock the product down from five to four stars in my opinion. Still, if you can accept those quirks, there’s really a lot to love about these fixtures and I recommend giving them a try.
I will be doing a video review soon and will be testing the brightness vs. color temperature issue in greater detail.
|February 5th, 2014, 05:49 PM||#2|
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
Re: Yongnuo YN600 Pro Dual Temperature LED Video Light Review
Great review, thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I own 3 of the older panels (no variable colour temp) but I purchased these for a reason - they are brighter than the variable panels, and usable even in outdoor interview situations.
Very happy with them so far, I've used them on numerous shoots with great results. They really can't be beaten for the price.
|February 6th, 2014, 09:29 PM||#3|
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: New York City
Re: Yongnuo YN600 Pro Dual Temperature LED Video Light Review
Thanks for sharing. I was using the YN300 II and was so impressed I bought two YN600's. One note is the green/magenta performance beats my older 312AS LED (many rebranded versuons available), I'd guess my 312AS led needs almost a 1/2 minus green correction at 3200k, but the yongnuos need only maybe 1/8. Close enough I can get away without correcting in most cases. Daylight is fairly spot on.
I got the YN600 from china on ebay for $130 + $20 AC adapter + $10 stand/umbrella mount. Pretty unbeatable price for a ~40W bicolor panel. I'm working on adding a step down voltage converter so I can velcro other less expensive li-ion batteries to the back (I have a few $40 12v 9800mah and 3800mah ebay batteries I use for monitors and other lights). This would use the dc barrel and bypass the separated battery/led banks and act as thought you had the ac adapter connected.
|February 11th, 2014, 05:58 PM||#4|
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Tulsa, OK
Re: Yongnuo YN600 Pro Dual Temperature LED Video Light Review
Great post. I bought a couple of the YN300 IIs a few months ago. I had been using the 312AS LEDs and sold both of the 312s for more than the two YN300 IIs. The YN300 II is much more indoor color accurate and the remote is a huge plus for me and at nearly half the price of the 312AS, it was a no brainer for me.
Just this week I bought the YN600 color adjustable model. While it doesn't match the YN300 II perfectly, it is pretty close. After testing the YN600, I bought a second one.
Does anyone know what the Rosco number is for 1/8 minus green?
Mark Von Lanken
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