Photographers and videographers both face the challenge of illuminating their subjects. Without a portable and adjustable light source, the subject’s face can look boringly flat in available light. An additional light source helps add modeling to your subject as it emphasizes the contours of their face. It can also add drama and change the mood of the shot. Videographers tend to lug heavy flight cases of lights and lighting stands to shoots. Photographers might use an external flash that’s triggered to fire when then they press the shutter button on their DSLR.
LED lights such as the Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C are becoming increasingly popular alternatives to traditional lighting set-ups. Unlike a flashgun, LED lights remain turned on throughout the shoot, so you can snap away without worrying if the flash will sync with your stills camera. We used the Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C to illuminate the test video that supports this review. We also took it on a location shoot with a professional model and were delighted with the results.
Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C specifications
Brightness: Can reach up to 20708 lux at its 100W max power
Color temperature range: 2700K to 6200K
Built-in Battery Capacity: 6S/2600MAH
Max Power Mode 4000K/100% Illuminance (LUX): 2200 (in 1 meter)
TLCI Index: ≥97
CRI Index: ≥96
Product Size: 502x46x47(mm)
Power Adapter Output Voltage/Current: 24V/5A
Extension: 1/4" Threaded Hole
Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C features
One challenge faced by filmmakers and photographers is to get their artificial light source to match the available light in the location in which they are shooting. Different light sources have different color temperatures and this can add cold blue or warm orange color casts to your clips and stills.
The Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C has a handy control dial that enables you to adjust its color temperature to complement the available light. In daylight, you can dial it to 5600K to match the relatively cold light of day. When shooting indoors you can rotate the dial to choose a color temperature closer to a warmer tungsten light source (around 3000K). The control dial also enables you to dim the intensity of the light (which is just as well as it can blow out a subject’s highlights thanks to its 100W output.)
The control dial also acts as four buttons. Press the bottom of the dial (at the 6 o’clock position) and you can access the HSI (Hue, Saturation, and Intensity) menu. This enables you to dial in vivid blues, greens, and reds that are perfect for adding a neon-style look to your urban photography. Press the dial at the 12 o’clock position to trigger the Max output of the wand. The 3 o’clock button (labeled CCT) enables you to dial in various color temperatures. A press of the button at the 9 o’clock position makes the dial dim the intensity of the wand’s output.
Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C Build & handling
Although it is made primarily of plastic the Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C feels reliably solid. In fact, I dropped it a couple of times on a shoot due to loose straps on my rucksack and it continued to function. At the base of the wand’s front, there’s a textured handle which makes it less slippy to hold. At 920g it’s surprisingly heavy for something so compact so you could get arm ache holding it for a long shoot. Fortunately, it has 1/4 inch thread at the base so you can mount it on a tripod. I used a mini Manfrotto tripod with an adjustable ball head so I could tilt the light wand toward my subject.
A mini tripod is also less conspicuous so my location shoot wasn’t interrupted by a zealous security guard (something that’s quite common when shooting in the city with lots of kits). At full intensity, the LED light can get quite hot so the rear of the wand is fitted with six fans to cool it down if required. In theory, this could interfere with the audio recording of a video shoot but in practice, I only heard the fans kick in once and they were quiet enough for me to continue recording sound.
Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C Performance
The Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C is more compact and portable than traditional video lighting kits but it still packs a punch due to its 100 Watts of power. At full intensity, it was powerful enough to illuminate our model halfway down a gloomy indoor corridor of the Barbican center (see supporting stills). Its compact size enabled me to carry it in a backpack alongside the mini tripod.
I was highly impressed with its range and versatility. It provided additional ‘modeling’ light in dull locations and creatively colored neon hues that complemented the artificial light in indoor settings. During my three-hour London shoot, the Fiveray FR100C kept shining whenever I needed it (which was often given the day’s gloomy weather and the dark corridors of the Barbican center.)
You can charge the wand using a 25W PD Fast Charge via a Type-C port or with the 120W switching adapter (that ships with the Combo kit) you can continuously use Fiveray FR100C while charging it.
Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C Verdict
The first thing you’ll want to do after powering up the Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C is to switch it to a glowing fluorescent color and wave it around while making light saber noises. It looks and feels like a Jedi’s weapon of choice and when it comes to lighting photos or videos the force is strong with this one.
Once you’ve got Star Wars out of your system you’ll find it an invaluable bit of kit that will improve the production values of your photo or video shoots. In fact, I can’t imagine going on a shoot without the Fiveray in my backpack as it makes a huge difference to the look of my clips and stills. It’s also the first gadget I’ve reviewed for Digital Camera World that gets 5 stars!