Welcome to my BIG LED GUIDE (Second Edition). The main reason for making a new edition on my now 3 months old B.L.G (First Edition) is because I bought one of the lights I used to recommend the most and unfortunately it turned out to be crap, so the whole guide had to be changed, because all the similar lights got scraped from the guide. Some others are not available any more and I’ve added a few new ones. Overall, I think the Second Edition is much better than the first and it also has all the latest prices and best deals at the time of writing. Hope you’ll find it useful.
LED Into: LED lights are really “hot” nowadays. They are lightweight, heat-free, low on power consumption and also quite cheap, making them great value for money. I’m a big fan a I have a few myself. The cheapest around come from China, Honk Kong and India. A lot of them seem to be exactly the same, just branded under different names. I’ve now tried quite a few, so I can recommend, some others should be avoided.
How this guide works: You will find links for every light below (everything in red or just click the picture). Some are general search links, others specific links of the best priced deal I found at the time of writing. Chances are that some of the listings will end by the time you read this, so just do a search on the particular shop to see if it got relisted the item or search for similar elsewhere on Ebay.
I haven’t tried all of these lights, so my guide is mostly based on features and prices as well as my personal experience on the ones I tried and also the advice from other filmmakers. Treat this guide as a starting point and make your own decision depending on what you need.
Just before we get into the guide, I would like to tell you which ones you should avoid. I used to recommend china_lighting 520LED, 1000LED and 1900LED, not any more, opposite way round if anything. I bought a 1900LED, which is very disappointing, to read more about why these lights should be avoided, click here.
Under 500 LEDs:
Previously my guide started with 500LED lights, but I decided 312LEDs deserve to be in this guide, because they produce a really good amount of power, have loads of features and are worth looking at. So the cheapest one I found is this PRO 312A light. It’s not bi-color version like some other 312s, but in reality bi-color 312s only use have 156LED of each color, so to get a clean daylight or tungsten color you could only use half of the LEDs. I actually thing it’s better just to have all 312 LEDs in the same color and just put CTO adapter (included) on the top when you need to get the tungsten color. The big advantage of this light over all the others is that it is light, battery powered and can be used as on camera light. On other hand even fully dimmed down, the 312A can too strong for some on camera light situations. That is where bi-color 312 might be a better choice, not as strong and offers a quick color temp adjustment, great for quick interviews and fast-paced documentary work. These lights are really popular and although I don’t have one myself, I’ve heard a lot of good things about them, they are well worth checking out. Next is something new I just found. This 380LED light is the cheapest way to get into mains powered LED lights. If I’m to believe the specs , it’s slightly less powerful than the 312 above, but at least it’s cheaper . It’s circle design is unique comparing to other LEDs in this guide and it might have some advantages over the square design in terms of the light spread, but on other hand it doesn’t have any barn doors and fitting gels on this thing would be quite complicated. Also there is no dimmer and it’s rated at 5300k, which is a bit off the daylight color temp, not to say that the others are definitely correct. From all these specs and features also, I can only recommend this light is you are really tight on cash, otherwise, read on.
The cheapest is a Meking LP-500U. It is only slightly more expensive than the 380LED, but offers much more. I bought one of them a few months ago and I have to say, I’m pretty happy with it; good power, good color temp, really well built and very cheap. One downside I found with my particular light is that, a block of about 50LEDs lost their brightness and now are no where as bright as the rest. I don’t know what caused it, must be some sort of loose contact inside. The light it still perfectly useable, but this is a bit annoying. It doesn’t mean this is the problem with every of these lights, but could be a potential problem. Never the less, these 500s are such good value for money, that I’m thinking of buying another one. Next one is Meking again, model number LG-500. This one is slightly more expensive that the one above, however, I can’t quite figure out why. This is certainly a newer version, because these were not available at the time when I bought LP-500U. This one looks like a completely new light. Maybe this will be my next light, so I could find out if it is any better than LP-500U. Next 500LED worth mentioning is the one from injoycamera, It appears to be quite well built and it comes with either Anton Bauer or Sony V mount, which give this light a potential to be very flexible and portable in a location where mains power is not possible. I’m not too sure though that it’s worth price though if when you can get one of Mekings for half of this price. If you have more money, you want to impress your clients then you might like this Walimex Pro 500 LED light with a touch screen LCD display which shows you and let’s you adjust the power output. Certainly looks like a nice light, but I personally wouldn’t pay so much for this light. If you compare it to big brands though, even at this price, it is cheap, just not a cheap as the others out there. Alternatively, for extra £50 you could get 2 of Camtree 500 LEDs. From my previous experience with Camtree LEDs, I can confidently say they are much better than some of Chinese LEDs. You also generally get much more for your money, including a battery mount, 3 filters, nice carry bags and very good stands (best budget stands I’ve used). The later 2 are usually not included with other budget lights.
Starting with a Photolight 600LED. Certainly the best value for money 600LED. Comes with V battery mount, 3 filters, onboard and external dimmer and a carry bag. Really good package. The downside to me it that the back panel seem to be plastic, unlike the rest of 600s all of which are metal. In long run, this might prove to be a big downside, but it’s all about how you handle your lights and what you used them for. Next up for a virtually the same price you could get a Meking LG-600. Now Making is certainly a much better built light, but on downside it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of Photolight, except the onboard dimmer, which is standard for most of the lights anyway. For professional work though I think Meking would last longer, it just looks much sturdier and heavy duty, capable of taking a few knocks. There is also an LS-600 which is the same price but according to the specs is less powerful, so I would recommend going for LG-600. yespainting 600LED
, which comes with everything photolight does, except the carry bag. On a plus side though, this light has aluminum casing which is a big deal for me and worth the extra £20/$30. Again, it is all down to the budget and personal preferences and intended use.
For slightly more you can get a
. Exactly the same as yespainting, but at £250 only real advantage is delivery time (around 2-3 days) and no customs charges, where with yespainting 600LED you will have to wait 15-20 days and it’s likely that you’ll have to pay some customs charges. Is it worth paying extra £30-£50 for fast delivery, it is up to you to decide. At the end of the day £250 is still quite cheap for a 600LED, especially that you will not have to pay any customs charges.
If you’re in UK, you might want to look at
First of 2 900s is the Meking LG-900. Like the other Making LEDs it appears to be really well made. I really like it’s wide design. I recently learned that a good key light for an interview setup should be around shoulder width, so a light like this would be a great choice. On a downside, if I am to believe the specs, it’s less powerful than the photolight 600, which would be disappointing. To be honest I think the photolight specs are a bit ambitious. The same 600 LED sold by ukpartsdeal has much lower specs, which are more believable. Second out of 2 900s is CN-900HP sold by ca-market. It is virtually the same light as photolight 600, but bigger, more powerful, comes with all the bells and whistles including filters, external dimmer and a battery mount. It is very different to Making 900, the price is also very different, almost twice as high. Actually this light is the most expensive in this guide, so it is hard to recommend it over the others, even though it is definitely a decent light.
1000 LED & Bigger:
The only 1000LED in this guide worth mentioning (since most of other 1000s are not great to say the least) is Meking LP-1000U. This one is the same as my 500LED, just much bigger. For some reason it’s cheaper than the Meking LG-900, probably because it is an older version.
Great price though, well worth checking out.
Next up is Meking LS-1200. Even bigger and more powerful that other lights in this guide. In fact it must be the most powerful light in this guide, but not the most expensive, so it could be a good choice for a key light.
Appears to be very well built, like the other Meking lights, especially the newer range.
The only other 1200LED and also the last one in this guide is the one sold by photolight and it’s a bi-colour light; it has 600 5500k bulbs and 600 3200k bulbs, so it is much less powerful than the other 1200 and even less powerful than 900s. It’s more like 2 600s in one that when mixed together can reproduce color temperature fro 3200k to 5500k. Again, like some other similar design lights above, this light comes with filters, batter mount and a bag. This light is unique compared to others in this guide, except the little 312 bi-color, so it definitely deserve a place it this guide.
So my conclusion: the best value for money lights are Meking LP-500U, photolight 600LED and Meking LP-1000U. These are not necessarily the best lights, but in my opinion are the ones that offer you the most for you buck. When choosing your lights, keep in mind that you will need stands as well, some companies don’t offer then at all, some will include it for extra $30, others like Camtree will include a stand into the price. Also, while free shipping might sound good, some companies might take up to a month to deliver, so if you’re in a rush, paying slightly more, but getting the item in less than a week might be a better option. Buying from US/UK might seem much more expensive, than buying from India or China, but don’t forget that there is a big possibility of Customs charges, so buying locally might not be such a bad deal. Also if there is the problem, returning the light an arranging a refund or exchange will be much more straightforward and less costly.