Top 10 On-Camera Video Lights

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The on-camera light is to the video shooter what the speed light is to the still photographer. Many would consider it an essential piece of kit. “On-camera” is a term that defines a category, but these light may not always (or ever) be mounted on your camera. It refers to a compact, battery-powered light that can be mounted on-camera if you so choose. Some even work on drones. There are hundreds out there so what I would like to do is consider 10 in no particular order. They are all great lights, each distinctive in its own way.

1. Genaray LED-7100T 312 LED Variable-Color On-Camera Light

The LED-7100T from Genaray, with its broad 312-LED panel, might be considered your staple on-camera light. Like most on-camera lights, it really shines when the subject is close to the camera, its broad array of LEDs providing an even illumination pattern without the “hot spot” effect that was the bane of legacy halogen-lamp based video lights. This “flat” quality also makes the LED-7100T a great option for supplemental fill. The color temperature is adjustable from 3200 to 5600K, making it easy to match the space’s ambient light (if any), and it outputs a solid 1400 lumens at its brightest setting. Powering is always the biggest challenge with on-camera lights. The LED-7100T uses the prolific Sony L-Series-type battery and has slots for two batteries. Two NP-F550 equivalent batteries and car and AC adapters come included.

Genaray LED-7100T 312 LED Variable-Color On-Camera Light

2. Sony HVL-LBPC LED Video Light

For users of L-Series or 14.4V BP-U series Sony professional video batteries, the HVL-LBPC is a powerful option. Its output can be cranked up to 2100 lumens and it features a moderate 65-degree beam angle without using the flip-up lens. The HVL-LBPC aims to recreate the concentrated region of light found on halogen video lights. This pattern is advantageous if the subject is farther from the camera, making the HVL-LBPC a popular choice among wedding and event shooters. It uses Sony's proprietary Multi-Interface Shoe (MIS) to allow automatic triggering from compatible cameras, plus, an adapter is included for use with standard cold shoes.

Sony LED Battery Video Light

3. Core SWX TorchLED Bolt 250

The Core SWX (formerly Switronix) TorchLED Bolt 250 is a best-of-both-worlds light. It features an intense 250W (3000 lumen) halogen-equivalent output combined with a broad coverage pattern reminiscent of 312 LED arrays. It can be powered from a ~12V DC source, such as a pro battery system, or directly with L-Series batteries. The light is 100% dimmable and experiences no color shift as the intensity varies. A 3200 to 5600K color temperature range is supported.

Core SWX TLBT250 On-Camera Light

4. Genaray LED-2100 36 LED Compact On-Camera Light

The Genaray LED-2100 is a great consideration for the consumer, as well as the pro, looking for a compact option. Don't be fooled by its size—the LED-2100 packs a mean 40W equivalent punch. The light is directly shoe-mountable and includes adapters for Sony Multi-Interface Shoe (MIS), as well as a bracket for cameras with no shoe. Lights are interlocking, meaning you can combine multiple LED-2100s to effectively create one big light.

Genaray LED-2100 36 LED Compact On-Camera Light

5. Lume Cube 1500 Lumen Light

The Lume Cube 1500 is a waterproof LED billed as the perfect companion for an action camera, such as a GoPro HERO. Boasting a 1.5" cube-shaped form factor, the light integrates a 1/4"-20 mounting socket, and there are available adapters for connecting it to GoPro mounts. Because of its light weight and compact size, the Lume Cube is also suitable for use on drones. Kits and mounts are available for popular DJI, Yuneec, and Autel models.

Lume Cube 1500 Lumen Light

6. Rotolight NEO On-Camera LED Light

The Rotolight NEO is distinctive for its round shape. It implements an array of 120 LEDs, yielding a total output of up to 1077 lux at 3'. The light is conveniently powered by six AA batteries.

Rotolight NEO On-Camera LED Light

7. Lowel ViP Pro-Light (120VAC/12VDC)

Now for something a bit different. The Lowel ViP Pro-Light is an AC-powered quartz-halogen video light. As I suggested earlier, “on-camera” generally implies “battery powered.” Essentially a miniaturized studio light, the ViP Pro-Light light uses a special focusing filter to recreate the effect of a fresnel lens without the same level of light loss. It features a 5/8" (Baby Pin) interface for direct mounting on many light stands, clamps, or other pieces of grip equipment. There are also available adapters for on-camera mounting, which is why I want to consider it here. You will need AC power, but it packs a kick you can't get with most battery-powered solutions. Great for locations where bringing in light sets is infeasible, or to use as a fill or eye light. You can even swap out the stock AC lamp for DC lamps if you do want to power from a battery or other DC source. If you plan to use the DC option, keep in mind that a very high discharge rate is required (depending on the wattage of the lamp) disqualifying most lithium-ion video batteries, which go into protective shutdown above 5 or 7 amps. Instead, you will need a hefty battery belt and suitable cigarette or 4-pin XLR adapter.

Lowel ViP Pro-Light

8. Stellar Lighting Systems STL-232R LED Ring Light for DSLR Cameras

Ring lights are ideal as facial fill lights, since it's as if the light were coming directly from the lens. They can also work as eye lights, adding that “glint in the eye,” pervasive in Hollywood cinematography. Many ring light designs are bulky and restrictive. The Stellar Lighting Systems STL-232R is compact and lightweight, designed to reside on your DSLR lens while being as unobtrusive as possible. A set of adapter rings is included for thread sizes ranging from 52 to 77mm. A ball head shoe adapter is also included for those occasions you don't want to mount it directly on your lens. It is a continuous light, but can be used for still photo and video applications alike (as can all of the lights mentioned here, in fact).

Stellar Lighting Systems STL-232R LED Ring Light for DSLR Cameras

9. Fiilex P100 On-Camera LED Video Light (Generation 2)

The 100W-equivellent Fiilex P100 is a specular LED, meaning it is designed to recreate the point source of an undiffused halogen lamp. This gives it a narrow 30- to 54-degree adjustable beam angle. A narrow beam projects farther for better throw and creates more of a “spot” effect, which in some cases, you might actually want. A 2-hour battery and battery charger are included.

Fiilex P100 On-Camera LED Video Light

10. ikan iLED6 Zoom ENG LED On-Camera Light

The news shooter's friend, the ikan iLED6 is a variable-beam option designed to maximize versatility—from 30 to 60-degrees. It outputs up to 3423 lumens, making it a serious contender as a replacement for classic halogen lights powered by “brick batteries.” The LED features built-in barn doors, as well as a flip-away CTO gel and separate flip-away diffuser. It can be powered by L-Series batteries or AC.

ikan iLED6 Zoom ENG LED On-Camera Light

Do you agree with this list? Tell us about your favorite on-camera lights and how you've used them, in the Comments section, below.

6 Comments

So there are ratings in Lumens, Lux, and Watts. I can never keep in mind the comparibles, for years I only used wattage, or watt- seconds to describe light intensity. SO, in an article like this, how about using one standard comparison rating through all the units, as well as quoting the manufacturer?
Also, where's the CRI value?

Hi MacLeod,

Lumens and lux both measure brightness. Watts is power, but has conventionally been associated with brightness on incandescent lights since those have a pretty direct correlation between power consumption and output. Since LEDs and florescent lights are much more efficient they can achieve the same light output at significantly lower wattage. However, because so many of us are accustomed to wattage as a brightness indicator LED makers often rate their lights in “watt equivalent”. So a “50 watt equivalent” LED supposedly has the equivalent brightness of a 50 watt incandescent lamp. The notion of equivalence is fairly subjective, though, so regard wattage equivalents with some caution. Also LEDs fundamentally produce a different pattern so even two lights with same total output may not output in an equivalent way.

You can convert from lumens to lux and vice-versa - there are calculators online that do this - but you need to know the area covered, which often isn’t explicitly qualified. Like contrast ratio and so many other specs in the tech world, there is a lot of number fudging.

As to CRI- CRI roughly measures how “white” the light is after white balancing—i.e., a 100% CRI lamp imparts no color cast that can’t be eliminated through white balance. Unfortunately, CRI is problematic when applied to discontinuous sources like LEDs and fluorescents. The issues of color accuracy is big topic and would require an article on its own...

Which of these lights is the brightest? Any others since this article would be brightest on camera light?

Hi Buck - 

The brightest of bunch is the ikan iLED6 Zoom ENG LED On-Camera Lighta daylight balanced LED on-camera ENG style light with a CRI rating of up to 95. The unit draws only 6 watts and produces 2500 Lux at 1 meter in full spot. It features a spot flood adjustment and smoothly dims from 100 percent brightness down to 0. It incorporates a rotating 4 leaf barn door system with two solid doors for spill control while the other two doors hold a diffusion and a CTO correction gel.

The recommended list is getting old quite fast

The easiest way to compare brightness?

Compare them DIRECTLY to "Standard" Incandescent bulbs or "Equivalent" LED bulbs of the same Lumen Value as follows....

Use 1600 Lumens as a standard value for a 100 watt bulb, not 1000 or 1100 or some other lame number

1100 Lumens for a 75 watt bulb, not 800 or 900 Lumens

800 Lumens for a 60 watt bulb, not 500 or 600 Lumens

and 450 Lumens for a 40 watt bulb

This way, you can directly compare the camera light to "standard" value incandescent bulbs or their LED equivalent such as GE refresh LED Bulbs which have the exact Lumen values I listed above

I recently compared the Aputure F7 to 90+ CRI GE refresh LED Bulbs using manual exposure on a low end Sony camcorder and found the Aputure equivalent to 160+ Watts of equivalent incandescent light by taking screen caps from the video

Light to subject distance was 15 to 20 feet using either light source

This is EASY for the average consumer to wrap their mind around when discussing the actual brightness of a camera light as standard bulbs and their LED equivalents are available almost everywhere

I see numerous camera lights listed here as being equivalent to 100 watt incandescent when the lumen value is actually equal to a 60 or 75 watt incandescent and that is why I use the "Standard" values listed above for easy reference and direct comparison

Also, PLEASE keep the Top 10 Recommendation updated!

Just checked again,

Distance from lights to subject was 15 feet max

Exposure was set for a single 100 Watt equivalent bulb and left there for direct comparison

and there was no reflector on the bulbs to skew the results

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