Today we are looking at a 70W LED 5600K Fresnel light and a 75W round LED softlight, both made by the chinese company GeneraLink (Zhengzhou Generalink Lighting Equipment Co., Ltd.)
I stumbled over these two while browsing Alibaba. The low price and high CRI (93-95) promise stuck out to me. They also fared very well in this color accuracy test performed by IndieCinemaAcademy, getting the same rank as the Kino Flo Celeb LED 401. Yet the G&L lights are much, much, much cheaper. The round softlight GL-LP450DS setting me back 224 USD and the 70W LED Fresnel costing 259 USD. +138.00 USD in express shipping to Norway with DHL. (I paid half of that shipping price in exchange of promising to write a review when I got them, but worry not, I can write whatever my my heart desires.) To help me with this review I got the assistance of my friend, gaffer and co-owner of the fresnel light, David Horteman Bøe.
75W G&L Round led softlight (GL-LP450DS/Rpad 450D) UNBOXING & review
Note: That light stand "broke" on me the first time I used it. One of the extension rods detached from the rest and I couldn't get it to fasten after I put it together. Also the charger they sent me (not pictured) is only 1 ampere max. Which makes for some really slow charing.
Okay, let's see what we got here. Two slots for Sony NP-F550/570/750/770/950/970 batteries. It dims from 20%-100%. When it goes under 20% it turns off. There is an on/off switch, A 15V DC input and and the text "Rpad 450D LED Light PAD". A quick google search on that reveals the light is also purchasable rebranded as Mettle, and many other brands. Who the original creator is, is unclear to me. But considering my light has no branding, I would think this is as close to the original source as it gets.
Not really loving the tightening knob. It's made out of plastic and locks on plastic "teeth" that I am sure will wear out after a while if it is re-adjusted often.
On the back here there is a battery indicator. It would have been nice to have something a bit more accurate. Also you can't check the battery level without turning the light on. Speaking of battery life: I got 2 hours and 5 minutes on a full charge. After that the light made a low popping sound and fell a few stops in brightness. At this point I could no longer dim it or change the color temperature. I let it stay this way for 10 more minutes until I turned it off because some sort of auto-shutoff had failed. Turns out I was right as I was no longer able to turn it on after this point without charging it back up again.
The thing that really made me want to get this light was the possebility of getting a beautiful round catchlight (reflection) in the eye anywhere! I really like what cinematographer Shane Hurlbut (bottom left) does with his big round bounce boards. The LED light is a smaller source, but the battery powered feature and variable color temperature (3200K-5600K) makes it sort of a portable "bounce" light that can be fired from any angle.
I don't have acces to a full spectrum color meter so I'm going to post the results Indie Cinema Academy got at NAB 2016.
Practical indoor test
The picture below shows the distance between the light and my flatmate. It also shows the surroundings. Mostly ambient skylight, with some direct sunlight bounce bottom left. A really bright day. The LED light is 100% brightness all the time.
Our model moved a step closer to the light in the following shots
The light can provide some fill in a wide shot. But you have to get really close to use it as a key. Regarding color, his "lit" side is warmer, but that is to be expected due to the ambient skylight being much cooler by nature. (10.000K-20.000K) When I saw this in the camera viewfinder he looked just a tiny bit too magenta. But on my monitor now it looks fine. I'm pleased with the color.
Practical outdoor test
The light output, while perfectly fine inside, turned out to be quite hopeless outside. In direct sunlight you will get much more light output using it as a bounce board than as a light. Only standing less than a meter away did it really do anything of use, even in the shade.
Measured light output
Good for run and gun shoots in dark environments where it lets you move fast and wirelessly, or boom it handheld. It's not a must have unit. But if you want that round catchlight in the eyes of your subject wherever you are, it's worth a buy.
The light can be bought here.
70W LED Fresnel (GL-LED70WAD)
This one I bought together with David, mostly because I was interested in trying the LED Fresnel technology, and this manufacturer in general as they seem to be pushing the boundries in China. What's cool is that they will customize it for you. 3200K or 5600K? 5 pin or 3 pin DMX? Want your logo on it? No problem! Any plug you want too. It's also available in many other wattages up to 200W.
Assembly was a bit of try and fail. There were no instructions so me and david pretty much gussed what went where. But it's not like too much can go wrong. We got it to work fine afer a few minutes.
The light appears to use the same housing as my 1000W Roccer tungsten light, also made in china. Barn doors are nice.
For controlling the light there are two menus, which are cycled with the "Enter" button. One for setting the DMX address, and one for setting the brightness/power (Signified with a P, as seen above). Power goes from 0 to 255. I have two issues with changing the brightness of the ligth:
1. The buttons are too small.
2. The buttons are located under the mounting bar. So if the light is mounted on the ground, it covers the display and the buttons. If the light is mounted from the top this isn't an issue.
Considering the text is wrong it is quite easy to assume that this is an off the shelf part they cut costs by not customizing.
I don't have data for this particular model. But there is independently tested data by Indie Cinema Academy for the GeneraLink CSJ100WS. Which is bi-color fresnel released around the same time as this one. One can assume the color accuracy will be similar, as high color accuracy is consistent in all tested GeneraLink products.
I couldn't figure out how to open the lens door, so Jessica at GeneraLink made this video for me. Great customer service!
Opening the light reveals one big Chip On Board (COB) LED. This contains many small light emitting diodes that together make one source.
Venting holes in the power supply?
A very weird design choice are the venting holes in the power supply. As you can see there is no filter so dirt and water can easily get in here. The power supply is normally on the ground. If I'm bringing this light outside or into another environment that isn't almost completely sterile I might have to make some sort of DIY filter to keep dirt out. And cover it completely with gaffa tape when working in a wet environment. I don't really know how the components inside will react to that yet.
Here is a picture of the inside of the power supply for those interested. The only thing I can tell you is that there is proper grounding for the high voltage part.
Okay, let's take a look at what kind of light it produces.
I remember thinking I expected it to be a bit wider when on full flood. But the tight spot beam is very impressive to me. Notice how the shadows aren't completely sharp. Because the source of the light is larger than a typical lightbulb, this LED light won't give you as sharp shadows as a tungsten unit. But it's very close, especially on full flood.
Measured light output
I'm going to be using this light as a hairlight or kicker when I'm shooting daylight balanced. For example in combination with daylight balanced kino-flo lights. The DMX and precise on-board dimming make it very practical for this purpose. It could also work as fill when diffused, but only in in close to medium shots. I think it's going to last.
The light can be bought here.
The company GeneraLink has been very helpful in answering all my questions and usually replies via email in 24 hours. If you add them on skype or WeChat it's probably faster. I'm really looking forward to seeing if they can push the LED technology further. What I want are stronger lights. Possibly creating a cheaper rival to the Mole Richardson 900W LED?
You can reach me on Twitter & Instagram or in the comments if you have any questions!
I'm a freelance gaffer. I also do basic grip work.