When shooting in low-light locations photographers and video makers can struggle to get a well-exposed and interesting shot. They can position their camera’s subject so that available light (such as street lamps) illuminates the subject’s face but this can limit the photographer or videographer’s compositional choices. That's where the best video lights (opens in new tab) come in.
By adding the Nanlite PavoTube T8-7X to your kit you can bathe your subject in light from any angle. As well as bringing out the shape and contours of a model’s face (which is great for a stills photographer) the PavoTube T8-7X can add animated lighting effects (such as flashes of lightning or the flicker of a police car’s emergency lights) to a video shoot. This makes the PavoTube T8-7X a useful bit of kit for photographers and filmmakers alike.
Nanlite PavoTube T8-7X specifications
Size: 39 x 1.5 inches
Weight: 0.61 lbs
Color Temp: 2700K–7500K with G/M Adjustment
Wireless Control: Bluetooth
Mount: 1/4 20 Socket
Firmware Upgrade: via USB-C
Nanlite PavoTube T8-7X features
The PavoTube T8-7X seems a fairly basic device at first glance. Its hard plastic body is light and rigid. My test unit had a slight dent in the body of the tube due to it being bent in transit by the courier company that delivered it to me. However once I pressed one of the three buttons at the base of the lamp the LEDs inside lit up without any issues, making the dint negligible.
A second CCT button enables the user to adjust the color temperate so you can get the lamp to match the location’s warm or cool tungsten or daylight light sources. The same button also triggers the Hue mode. With a few button taps, you can cycle through a spectrum of neon-style colors. A third button enables you to adjust the brightness of the lamp. Once you attach the PavoTube to a tripod using the 1/4” socket at the base then the control buttons are hidden.
Fortunately, you can control the PavoTube via Bluetooth using the Nanlink app and this is where the fun begins! The app unleashes the true power of the PavoTube by enabling you to summon animated lighting presets. You can also dial in different hues more quickly and easily by swiping a color wheel. Check out our accompanying video to see these clever lighting effects in action.
Nanlite PavoTube T8-7X Build & handling
Compared to more compact LED lights such as the ZHIYUN Fiveray FR100C Light Wand, the PavoTube T8-7X is much longer - around 3 feet in total. Its long length initially made me think twice about lugging the lamp around the city all day before my planned evening test shoot. Once I’d attached a belt to the PavoTube’s cardboard carrying tube I was able to sling it over my shoulder and carry it with ease (especially as it only weighs 0.61 lbs).
However, it did make me look a bit more conspicuous than I usually do when on an iPhone shoot. On entering a gallery I was stopped by a security guard who wanted to know what I was carrying in the cardboard tube. Perhaps he thought it was a samurai sword! He soon waved me on when he saw the innocuous opaque white plastic body of the PavoTube.
Nanlite PavoTube T8-7X Performance
With its built-in battery, the PavoTube T8-7X runs for 3.5 hours at 20% brightness (or 56 minutes at full brightness) and it works with external batteries that support a USB-C charger. I brought a SmallRig VB99 mini V mount battery with me and used it to quickly top the PavoTube up between the day’s two test shoots. The VB99 also charged my iPhone 14 Pro Max (opens in new tab) at the same time due to its multiple output sockets. As a result, the lamp and iPhone performed perfectly without any power issues until my shoot finished at 8-30 in the evening.
To test the PavoTube T8-7X I hired a model to be my subject. By the time we met at 5.30 PM it was completely dark so the PavoTube complemented the available city lights perfectly. I shot a mix of stills and clips on the iPhone 14 Pro Max and also used my iPhone to control the PavoTube via the Nanlink app. The opaque plastic body of the lamp hides the individual LEDs inside the tube when you need a flat and even spread of illumination.
However, once you use the app to trigger the creative effects inside the lamp you can see the individual LEDs and change their colors to create moving patterns of light. As you’ll see from the accompanying test video we were able to make the LEDs flash red and blue like a police car (which is a lot cheaper than hiring a cop car on location). Another setting caused the lamp to flash randomly to simulate a lightning storm! This enabled us to produce some fun and creative clips for this review.
You can use the app to customize properties such as the frequency of the flashes and change the hue of various LEDs. This enables you to create the effect of moving street lamps which would be great for clips set at night inside a car for example. Any of the special lighting effects (and customized versions) can be added to the app’s Preset menu so you can trigger your favorites with ease.
Nanlite PavoTube T8-7X Verdict
At first glance, the Nanlite PavoTube T8-7X appears to be a basic light source that adds fill or key light to your photo shoots. However, once you link the PavoTube T8-7X to your smartphone via the Nanlink app then you have a powerful and versatile resource for your video shoots, especially in low-light locations.
It's similar to the Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C Light Wand in its premise and should appeal in particular to filmmakers thanks to the ability to add customized animated light and color to your movie sequences. And at under £100 it won’t break your budget.