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Old May 18th, 2010, 04:03 PM   #1
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LED Comparisons

Here's a little comparison I did with different LEDs and similar output fixtures. I thought it might be useful to people looking to build an LED kit. It's from another site and the opening is referencing the "ebay" 500 LEDs that a lot of people are looking at.

"For the record guys, I've got a couple of these as well as a Cool lights CL-256, and Arris and Kinos of similar rating, so I did a little comparison.

First the 500 LED is consistently rated as 500W equivalent (I knew it wasn't the minute I turned it on.) and a 30 degree beam (likewise immediately obviously not) as well as 50w draw (wrong again). Basically they all just copy and paste the same info from some site and it's grossly inaccurate.

The good news is it's actually well made for a Chinese knock-off. It's solid and gives a nice light but not particularly high CRI even by LED standards...but not bad. Side by side it's less output than a two bank Kino (110) and not as soft. It's about the same output as the CL-256 but considerably softer and wider more like 60 degrees not the 30 they claim. I also guess that it draws 30W not 50 so that's a plus in there misstatements. Also yank the reflective bubble stuff off the velcro on the barn doors - they're useless and have weird specular potential..

Now the CL-256. It's about a 1/4 the size of the 500 and a third the weight, it's fully dimmable and comes with a NP or Pany battery mount, nice case, full hard filter set, articulating ball head has a better quality light (less green, less CC necessary). Build is comparable (both very good). I'd say the 256 is comparable to the output of the Arri 300 at full flood with a remarkably similar pattern. It fits right between the 500 and Arri in terms of soft/hard light.

The 256 is much more a spot than a flo or soft light. It's very punchy and has decent shadows, much closer to the Arri (but you couldn't use it with a cookie). Basically it's a $100 more than the 500 and you get a hell of a lot more professional control and accessories, much smaller and lighter and better CRI - it's also a bit warmer - lower kelvin than the 500.

For general comparison -

Kino 2 bank - brightest and softest (I always think of it as about a 500w with a softbox)
Arri 300 - next brightest (at full spot) as well as obviously the hardest light.
CL-256 - maybe a hair less bright than the Arri but close and a softer beam but close too.
500 LED - probably a similar overall output to the 256 but put through a softbox.

So there ya have it. If I was recommending one light it would be the Cool Lights. Amazing bang for the buck, small, light weight, take them anywhere, full control, full battery operated, really nice light quality, everything you could want in the package, very affordable.

Also, the CL-600 spot for $150 more than the 256 puts out a bit more than twice the light than the 256 - in fact the photometrics are about twice those of the Litepanels 12' x 12" spot for about 1/4 the price. The CL-600 is probably twice the output of the more expensive Flolight LED 500 too.

Right now, no one touches Cool Lights for light quality, build, features - and all of that at a considerably better price.

One last tip for ya on the LED 500 - Get the Duracell Powersource 100 and some vlecro and you can mount them on the back and run them for an hour and a half. You can pick them up from BUY.com for about $30 delivered and they're great and self charging. That's where I got my estimate of 30W draw on the 500. They make a tiny whine but not much and because they're rated for 80W continuous the little internal fan never came on in almost 2 hours of shooting. They're a little smaller than an Endura V-mount and take a direct 3 prong AC cord so they're perfect for the ebay LEDs.

In fact I'm thinking of trying them on the new CL-600s because we recently moved on from all of our IDX/Endura V-mount stuff and would love not to have to get all of that again. I think the problem will be the draw/battery life and they will probably kick on the fan making them unusable with audio. But I'll see.

Oh, we're also using the Duracell to run a 19" HD field monitor and that's another totally great thing...really nicer than our Marshall or SmallHD setups and much cheaper but that's another story.

Bottom line: I'll be building my new LED kit with Cool Lights going forward, but the ebay 500s are certainly built well enough and they do have a nice soft light and with a $30 battery pack they make an affordable entry into LED world. I used them in two film segments last week (CL-600s are still out of stock) and they were very effective as keys from about 5 feet. Also we shoot with 5DIIs and I have a custom white balance (minus green) dialed in that works great with all of the LEDs.

IMO the way to go is a few CL-600s and a couple of 256s and then build from there. If you do have the 500s, you can power them easily with the Duracell and then add Cool Lights as you can..the 500s will blend in well enough.

Whew...I didn't mean for this to be an article but I just did these tests for my own edification."

Addendum - I meant to throw the Comer lights in here. They're really nice little LEDs for on-camera, fills and kickers, very well made with built in filters and condenser, can be pretty spotted and useful.
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Old May 19th, 2010, 10:25 AM   #2
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Thanks for the post Jim. Good info.

I purchased 3 of the 1000LED and 2 500LED from China (via ebay) and just got them the other day. The output of the 1000 isn't as much as my Arri 1000. (I don't know exactly how much because I didn't test them side by side.) But the falloff seems much higher. It is a decent built and seems like it will last. Definite green cast so I'll have to filter for that. Also has lines show up on the edges of the barn doors to watch out for that. Diffusion helps but that cuts your light. On these barn doors you can't remove the silver reflector so I imagine I'd use some gaffers tape if needed. The 1000LED has a dimmer that adjusts about 2.5 stop range and my battery is an AB Diconic style mount. The 500LED has 4 switches for different output ranges and an AB mount.

Is there a way to retrofit to use the Duracell you mentioned? (Never mind, I see it's actually a AC to DC inverter)


Last edited by Rick Jones; May 19th, 2010 at 10:28 AM. Reason: info
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Old May 19th, 2010, 01:48 PM   #3
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Hey Rick, make sure you're looking at the right Duracell. There's the straight inverter and the Powersource 100 that's both an inverter and a li-on battery. That's what you want. Just lug your AC into it and it will run your 500s for about 1 1/2 hours. (if they're 30W draw as the ones I've tested are). It will run anything with less than a 65W draw but in my testing with a 55w Kino it ran fine but also kicks on the fan because of the draw. So far with the Cool lights 256 and our new 19" filed monitor (drawing 25W and 30W) they run perfectly with no fan noise. I don't know where the threshold is but it's somewhere over 30W and under 55W.
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 12:49 PM   #4
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Your led lighting analysis - thanks

Hey Jim, that's great information, thanks very much for writing all that up.

I just got the ebay 500 led myself. Haven't had a chance to use it yet, but I was pleasantly surprised by its build, too. I'd say the build ranks up there with the Cool Lights LEDs, which I also have, but you're right -- the Cool Lights case and all the extras are a great addition for not a lot more money.

BTW, I just want to double-check, the Duracell you recommend is this one, right?

Xantrex Duracell PowerSource Mobile 100 80W DC-to-AC Power Inverter - 852-0281-07 - Buy.com

It doesn't specifically mention it's got li-on battery, but all the rest seems to be correct.

Thanks again. LEDs are just revolutionizing lighting, aren't they?
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Old May 24th, 2010, 12:14 PM   #5
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Hey Greg,

Yes that's the one. It works great. In fact I've just put together a killer 19" HD monitor with articulating mount that weighs less than 7lbs and draws 24W and the Duracell runs it for about 1 1/2 hours in the field.

Oh and it cost about $300 dollars complete. I'm going to do a write up when I get a chance.

Yeah, LEDS are the balls.
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