LED lighting panels aren’t exactly ten a penny but they’ve become very affordable of late, with plentiful Chinese options flooding the market, manufactured by the likes of Neewer and GVM, to name but a couple. They’re mainly geared to video capture but can also be useful for shooting stills. Either way, the maximum output often leaves more than a little to be desired. The Godox S60 Focusing LED Light (also sold as the CLAR S60 in North America) aims to settle that score, with an ultra-bright maximum intensity and the addition of a zoom facility, along with a useful range of video-friendly special effects.
Godox S6: specifications
Illuminance (1m): 3200-40,000 LUX (flood-spot)
Power supply: 100-240V, optional battery
Beam angle: 6-55 degrees
Power range: 0-100 per cent
Color temperature: 5600K +/-300K
Wireless: Smartphone app, optional 2.4GHz remote
Dimensions (main body/controller): 264x107x100mm/268x113x64mm
Weight (main body/controller): 1.36kg/0.94kg
Less of an LED lamp, more a kit of parts, the S60 is comprised of several separate items. The ‘main body’ is the business end of the affair. It has a tough, well-ventilated metal case that hosts the powerful LED lamp, cooling fan, frontal accessory mounting bracket and beam focusing lens, which you can adjust from flood to spot and everything in between via a straightforward control knob on the case’s rear panel. The lens itself is a high-quality aspherical component that ensures even intensity from center to circumference and maintains the LED’s high-end 96+ color rendering index. It moves forwards and backwards on a screw-drive to enable an adjustable beam angle from a wide-angle 55 degrees to tightly focused spot of just 6 degrees. Collapsible barndoors are supplied in the kit, enabling further control over light-spread and minimizing spillage, attaching to the main body’s front bracket and locking into place via an ‘accessory latch’.
For mounting on a standard lighting stand, the kit includes a sturdy metal bracket, which can rotate horizontally with the simple release and tightening of a fixing knob. Vertical tilt and locking is a more involved procedure, requiring the use of a supplied metal wrench and locking nut. The wrench is one more thing to carry around, and potentially to lose. An arguably better solution would have been to incorporate splines into the locking mechanism, to enable sufficient locking force with just a finger/thumb operated fixing knob. The flipside is that very fine positional adjustments would have been more difficult to achieve.
While the ‘main body’ is reasonably small and lightweight, at 1.36kg, the separate ‘controller’ adds nearly a kilogram of extra weight. Again, sturdy and solid with a metal casing, the controller features a fairly rudimentary display screen, rotary selection/adjustment dial and assorted pushbuttons for power on/off, menu access, special effects selection and fan on/off, the last two of which we’ll come to later.
The pair of main body and controller components connect to each other via a 3.5-meter cable. It’s a particularly chunky, heavyweight cable with fully pro-grade build quality, featuring locking connectors with metal housings at both ends. The same is true of the heavy-duty 5-meter mains power cable, although this one naturally only has a similar metal, locking connector at the end that plugs into the control unit. For mains-free operation, the kit can also be powered from an industry-standard 14.8V V-port battery, which locks into the underside of the main body that houses the LED lamp.
The controller has two further male and female multi-pin DMX (Digital Multiplex) connection ports, enabling the lamp to be controlled from a lighting desk/console. For wireless control, the controller features Bluetooth connectivity, linking to Godox’s free companion app for Android and Apple smart devices. There’s also a 2.4GHz RF (Radio Frequency) receiver built-in, which enables wireless remote control over a range of up to 100m, using the optional Godox RC-A6 remote controller, sold separately.
Build and handling
Build quality is of an impressively high standard throughout, from the main body to the control unit, and the cables that join them together and plug the kit into the mains. A tough, protective soft case is also supplied as part of the kit.
Handling is a bit of a mixed bag. The onboard interface of the control unit works well enough but it’s a bit basic in places. For example, special effects for video lighting include three flash options, three storm options, along with TV light and a broken bulb effect. However, you have to cycle through these sequentially and the display screen just shows ‘FX1’ through ‘FX8’, without any description of which numbers correspond to the individual effects.
The LED lamp itself is mighty in power output but lacks any facility to alter the color temperature, requiring the use of colored gels for any desired color correction. Really though, that’s only to be expected considering the power of the output. As we’ve mentioned already, the use of a wrench to adjust and lock the vertical tilt angle is less than ideal.
True to the well-worn Pirelli tyres adage, ‘power is nothing without control’. With a simple yet effective onboard control panel, plus Bluetooth app-driven control from an Apple/Android smart device, a relatively long-range optional RF remote controller, and DMX compatibility, there are many and varied ways to harness the kit’s inherent power.
In photographic terms, the outright power ranges from Gn 1.6-5.6 (ISO 100, meters) at the widest-angle zoom setting, to Gn 4.5-14 at the narrow end of the zoom range, which is pretty mighty in LED terms. Little wonder then, that the main body’s casing incorporates metal heat sinks and is well ventilated. Even so, given the lamp’s primary focus (as it were) on video capture, the inclusion of a cooling fan is a cause for concern. Rest assured that the fan that it’s almost imperceptible, even in a hushed room. For utmost stillness, there’s a menu option for switching off the fan completely, although with an accompanying limit equating to 50 per cent of the lamp’s maximum intensity.
Overall performance and versatility are enhanced by a useful range of dedicated optional extras from Godox, including a projection attachment and additional 60mm (wide-angle), 85mm and 150mm (telephoto) lenses, a scrim set, iris diaphragm, framing shutter, gobo set and holder, and a set of color correction filters, along with the RC-A6 remote controller that we’ve already mentioned.
Godox S60: Verdict
For high-end power with effective and versatile control, the Godox S60 kit comes up trumps. The ultra-high intensity of the LED lamp with its flood-to-spot zooming facility and range of video special effects makes it a dazzlingly useful piece of kit. Build quality is excellent and, while the onboard interface could be better in places, it has built-in Bluetooth, RF wireless and DMX compatibility for remote control options. It’s a seriously powerful LED kit that won’t leave you feeling short-changed in the lighting department.