Tag Archives: z96


Over the last few months F&V has been slowly introducing a new line of UltraColor LED Video lights. From what I understand this will not replace the less expensive models as many of us seem to be getting along with them. Essentially the new UltraColor LED lights are built around existing popular models (z96/z180), but with LED bulbs that offer a higher CRI rating for demanding professionals.

Below are the test charts from fairly common (affordable) on-camera LED Video Lights from the video. Typically floating around a 74-76 CRI rating from the meter.

240 LED240 LED Spectrum

240 LED Video Light
find-price-button 240 Bi-Color LED Light

312 LED312 LED Spectrum

312 LED Video Light AS Bi-Color
find-price-button 312 LED Video Light

Old Z96Old Z96 Spectrum
find-price-button (generic) Z96 LED Video Light

New F&V Z96 / Z180 UltraColor LED Lights

Now here's the test charts from the new UltraColor LED Lights with ratings from 92-94. Although my tests were not conducted with accuracy (don't quote my readings), looking at the charts below these lights indeed offer higher quality CRI ratings. Visually you can see apparent differences in the red area of the spectrum compared to the previous lights.

New Z96 New Z96 Spectrum
F&V UltraColor Z96 LED Video Light

Z180 LEDZ180 LED Spectrum
F&V UltraColor Z180 LED Video Light

Like many companies who offer more affordable cameras to highly professional systems, F&V has opened up their product line. If you're happy with the quality and color from their original LED video lights, then they are happy to pass those savings on. If you're a demanding professional who requires the high quality of the new UltraColor LED Video lights, they've got you covered as well. It's always nice to have more options. For more info on these products, check out the F&V website (here).

fvlight z180 z96 UltraColor LED Video Lights
find-price-button F&V UltraColor LED Video Lighting Z180 / Z96


Remember a short while back I mentioned I was working on a personal project to perform some independent LED Video Light Tests? Well here's a small update on where this project is at.

The image below (computer screen shot) are various different LED video lights I have laying around shot with exactly the same settings. This is a visual reference to compare the brightness, spread (diffusion), and also color reference of each LED video light. I've locked the camera down to a white balance of 5600K for these images. Some of the tests were performed between Daylight and Tungsten, but the side by side comparison really shows extreme color casts between the various LED lights.

Cheesycam LED Video Light Tests
Click for Larger View

I also decided to get more serious about using a true LED Spectrometer for these tests that will provide me with more accurate readings and charts. I'll be able to share these images as well as exact numbers from the meter for each light including CRI and LUX readings. The image below are a few settings from the various LED Video lights. This project will be quite interesting indeed..

Cheesycam LED Video Light Meter Tests Spectrometer
Click for Larger View

[Note:] I am performing my own tests with a standardized setup across each LED light as a reference. This is an independent test which may greatly differ from what each Manfacturer displays as their proper listed technical specifications.


Ever wonder how your LED light compares to others on the market? 600 LEDs? 1200 LEDs? Adjustable Color Temp? 5600K? CRI? 2200 Lux? Yadda Yadda Yadda... There's a few dozen LED video lights on the market, but i'm not sure if there are true standards in which they are being tested before the specs are listed on the packaging. Light output can be measured at different distances, and if the rating on the box seems pretty high it's possible it was tested at a distance of 1 foot while another may have been tested at 4 feet away.

LED Video Lights Cheesycam

There are just too many variables, so I finally decided to run a few tests of my own in a more standardized fashion. I'm starting out by placing various lights at a distance of 4 feet. I'll be able to compare the spread (diffusion) of each light with this method. I'll be using the Sekonic C-500 Color Meter to take a few LUX readings to see which has the highest light output. I'm also able to take color temperature readings and check for color bias (green/magenta cast).

[Note: The readings on the C-500 may not be accurate with LED lighting, but should provide a baseline for comparison between the lights. Do not accept my readings as an accurate source for each manufacturers specifications]

Cheesycam LED Video Light Test Sekonic C500 C-500 Color Meter
find-price-button Sekonic Prodigi Color C-500 Color Meter

A few things to keep in mind about the various LED lights on the market. Higher output doesn't necessarily make a better LED light. It could just mean one is more spotty instead of diffused. Bi-Color LED lights have much less light output than LED video lights with only one color, but the Bi-Color light can quickly adjust to match ambient lighting as opposed to a light that may be stuck at 6000K and require you to carry filters. An LED light might look great at full power, but adjusting the dimmer or adjusting the color temperature can introduce color shift, color cast, or sometimes banding or flickering.

Not to mention the physical qualities like size, weight, power requirements like battery type, AC/DC adapters, build quality, remote capabilities, available light modifiers, and finally pricing. Some people may want a harsh spot light while others may want a very soft diffused source. Some will request the biggest and brightest, while others will require something more portable. There are many LED video lights on the market, each with their own pros and cons. My goal with this project is simply to set a benchmark test that can compare and contrast side by side a few of the lights available today.

(above) CN600 vs K4000

BTW, If you're wondering what my preference is between the two lights I just tested, I prefer the F&V. Although the CN600 had a stronger LUX reading it is mostly concentrated in the center. The K4000S diffuses better (even without the diffuser on), can maintain better color (less greenish tint compared to CN600), and can quickly be dialed in to match other lighting without carrying around additional filters.

Sure there's a bit of green on the K4000S, but only when it gets down to 3200K. A simple minus green filter or WB shift in-camera can easily correct this. I feel the K4000S pros outweigh any of the cons compared to the CN600 and the F&V K4000 lights are also a bit cheaper for each piece if you opt in for the 3 pc Studio Kit (found here).

find-price-button K4000 Single Color / K4000S Bi-Color LED Video Light Kits

600 CN600 CN600 LED Video Light
find-price-button CN-600 600 LED Video Light


If you're shooting with DSLR Video, you've probably heard about the Z96 LED video light. F&V is the company behind the popular light and one exciting product that will be available is the new R-300 LED Video Ring Light. We got a chance to see these up close at the PhotoPlus Expo, and these are excellent quality lights coming in at an excellent price.

fv ring light led

Product description states that the R-300 LED Light features 300 daylight-balanced LEDs which produce 1950 Lux @ 1-meter. An onboard dimmer offers seamless power variation from 0-100%. It has two power options: a Sony NP-F Battery Plate and a DCɸ2.5 jack.
F&V LED Ring LightFVlighting R-300 LED Ring

As stated in the video the light is brighter than Litepanel's $1800 dollar 1x1. Starting at $199 dollars, this will be a great light to be used both ON or Off camera and all powered by inexpensive Sony Batteries (instead of V-Mount). The new R-300 will be available to mount using a basic L-Bracket, or to a set of 15mm Rails. You can find more information about the new R-300 LED Video Light following the link to the product page (Click Here).

FVlighting-LED-R300fvlighting ring light r-300r-300 led ring lightR300 LED ring light
find-price-button F&V Lighting R-300 LED Video Ring Light


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


If you're not up to speed, there's a set of 96 LED lights on the market that didn't please many users. The seller Tony seemed to be a straight up guy and worked with all the buyers to accommodate any unsatisfied sales, while he worked to address some features. Serge received an early version from one of the LED lights in progress, but it doesn't seem to be picture perfect just yet. Although Tony seems like a very responsible seller who takes care of his customers, if this light can't totally outperform and outprice what's already on the market, I don't see a big shift. There's also a long written blog article over at Serge's blog found here. [Thanks Serge].


Z96 ZFlash LED

Well, it appears that the 'Z96 Upgrade' LED video light might not be an actual upgrade. It's just another variation of the product. It also seems that the Z96 form factor is such a popular light, there's even another version that doubles as an external flash called Z-Flash. The flash feature is something Litepanels tried with their MicroPro Hybrid. You can also see Canon implementing continuous LED lighting in the new Canon Speedlite 320EX Flash.

Z96 Zflash

This new variation of the Z96 looks almost the same, functions the same, but has a new sync port that connects to the PC terminal on your camera to fire as an external flash. Who knows how much actual light output it can throw during flash mode, but for a higher price you can find more details following the link (click here).

Z96 Flash ZFlash LED video Light
find-price-button Z96 Like LED Video Light with Flash Feature



Thanks to a tip from Dave here's something of interest. Still all new to me, but apparently it's advertising as an 'upgrade' to the uber popular Z96 LED Video light. There has been rumor for sometime that there was an upgrade due to a few minor bugs. Mainly flickering at low battery levels and a poor ball head mount. Sure the original Z96 had F&V pasted on it, but was that just brand stamping on a no name LED light? In any case, here's an introduction to the 'W96' LED video light. [Thanks Dave]

BTW, here's a fun bit showing use of the Z96 among other LED lights. http://cheesycam.com/cheap-500-led-1000-led-and-z96-lights-in-use/

Almost dead on specs from weight to power draw and power output. Now coming in black (instead of grey) the W96 has basically the same form factor, magnetic snap on filters, uses similar battery types, and of course stackable. The big questions are, is this a real upgrade? If not, how does it match up to the real thing? One advantage that it does have is much lower pricing (right now). Then again, that's exactly where the original Z96 price started too before inflation. Check it out following the link (click here).

find-price-button Z96 Upgrade Dimmable LED Video Light W96

[Update on this Particular LED Video Light]


A while back I posted about some available 12V DC batteries you can use from Ryobi. They've been working great and many people have adapted them on Timelapse rigs and motion controlled sliders. Here's another option. Now I'm fairly weary about posting no name battery packs, so i've been testing these for a few weeks now before I decide if they are any good.

12V DC Battery PackScreen shot 2011-07-07 at 11.19.55 AM
find-price-button CCTV 12V DC Rechargeable Li-iON w/ 5V DC USB Port

I originally purchased two of these CCTV Battery packs because of the 5V USB option. These little batteries hold quite a charge and i'm able to fully bring my dead cell phone or iPad back to life (charging through USB) several times over before needing to recharge the Pack again. These USB chargers are the most handy thing when you can't be tied to an outlet (like when traveling).

They also come with a double sided barrel connector to power up 12V DC items, and those have been coming in quite handy as well. The connector fits most standard Camera accessories, but you can always get additional ones to power up other accessories that will run on 12V or 5V DC. [Note] At Radio Shack it's 'AdaptaPlug Size N', elsewhere the common plug is 5.5mm OD and 2.5mm ID Male Plug. The battery uses negative from the outside and sends positive from the inside. Just make sure you have the inside as Positive and the Outside as Negative when making your DIY plug. You can see what that looks like, and find some easy DIY tips here: 5.5mm Male DC Plug Tips

I've been able to power up the Z96 LED light, the 312 LED Video lights, the SmallHD DP6 LCD monitor (and other monitors), the 352 LED Ring Light, and the list goes on and on. So many times you'll catch one of your accessories out of AA's or Sony's, and this backup battery solves them all. [Update] The Zoom H1 can be powered via USB, just figured that out when my AA battery was dying out on location.

I haven't done any real battery testing to see if the 3800mah /12V DC specs they list on the website is actual, but they do hold a charge and power up all my accessories for quite some time. Fairly light weight so all it takes is a bit of Velcro to hang it on the back of your Lilliput LCD monitors, or Portable LED lights that can accept DC in (like the Z96 or 312 LEDs). Unfortunately my 900 LED lights require 14V DC to be at it's 'Brightest' setting, but these little 12V DC batteries will power them up as well. Definitely not a bad price, and I have a few more on order. Trust me, i'm still putting them through the ringer. You can find them (click here).

12V DC Battery PackScreen shot 2011-07-07 at 11.19.55 AM
find-price-button CCTV 12V DC Rechargeable Li-iON w/ 5V DC USB Port

[Update] Some of these items might not ship with the correct barrel adapter which is 5.5mm OD and 2.5mm ID. A comment left by Luca has links to some adapter cables. [Thanks Luca]

I found these DC cables that should fit quite nicely. The problem is, they're quite short:

So here is an extension cable: