Zhiyun Fiveray M40 review

The Zhiyun Fiveray M40 is a powerful yet portable video light, but what's it good for?

Zhiyun Fiveray M40 Video Light
(Image: © Future)

Digital Camera World Verdict

If you require a constant video light with the smallest possible footprint but the most lighting power, then the Zhiyun Fiveray M40 should be a serious contender for your kit bag. This light gets so much right, with exceptional style, solid build quality, and a face-melting brightness from a very compact and portable device. Although all this goodness comes at the price of it being a little on the heavy side, and its quick and easy control system turns out to be both a blessing and a curse.

Pros

  • +

    Seriously bright

  • +

    Solid build quality

  • +

    Intuitive control system

Cons

  • -

    Controls easily change accidentally

  • -

    No colors or effects

  • -

    A little heavy

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The video light market is a very crowded area with a lot of tough competition, from a wide range of brands, including some of our best video lights (opens in new tab). Zhiyun has a lot of experience creating excellent gimbals, but the Fiveray M40 is the latest in a new venture into video lighting solutions from Zhiyun together with the Fiveray F100 light stick (opens in new tab) and the Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C (opens in new tab) Light Wand, which we gave a glowing review.

On specs alone, the M40 is primed to make an impact. It's a pocketable little video light that packs impressive 40W power, and at only 320g it manages to include 176 LED chips giving a peak brightness of 14,000 lux, which places it far ahead of much of the current competition in devices of this size and weight. At around $99/£99 it is very competitively priced.

(Image credit: Future)
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Zhiyun Fiveray M40: Specifications

Max power: 40W
Color temperature: 2700K~6200K
Dim level: 0~100%
Max brightness: 14000lux (4300k, 0.3m)
CRI: ≥96
Charging time: 1hr50m
Runtime: 29 mins (100% brightness)
Size (WxDxH): 136.5x77.8x29mm
Weight: 320g

Zhiyun Fiveray M40: Key Features

The Fiveray M40 gets its name from the power this light can provide – a maximum power output of 40W that's considerably high for a light of this size. The light can be dimmed from 0-100%, and at 100% brightness, there is a peak output of 14000lux, with the small caveat that this must be at the color temperature 4300K.

Speaking of color temperature, this light can cover cool white to warm with a range of 2700K-6200K, giving you the freedom to change the atmosphere of a shoot.

The light should remain cool throughout use thanks to a built-in fan and heat sink. At 100% brightness, the battery will last around 29 minutes, and takes 1 hour and 50 minutes to recharge, but can be used while recharging, so you won't miss out on precious shooting time.

(Image credit: Future)

Zhiyun Fiveray M40: Build & Handling

First off, I love the design of the M40. It is bold and striking, with the orange dials and large font jumping out immediately. It just looks fresh and cool and is a light designed to be seen on social media. The design might be a little divisive though, and I feel for those preferring a more demure look, it might be a bit too stand out. 

Build quality is very good, it feels really solid but is a little weighty, but it does pack a lot of power for its size, so it is a trade-off to decide on. The exterior casing is made from a mix of sturdy-feeling plastics. I think you can comfortably throw this in a kit bag on the go without any worries, however, I am not confident it would stand up to a significant drop onto a hard surface and live to tell the tale.

(Image credit: Future)

The control dials at the bottom of the M40 allow you to independently control the brightness and color temperature and are really quick and easy to use, with no messing about with screens and buttons. Anyone could pick this up and use it intuitively in seconds. The bottom bracket has a ¼” tripod thread for mounting, swings open for variable angles, and cleverly hides the USB-C charging port.

Unfortunately, the dials are not without their issues. First off, the small white text, against the bright orange is not the easiest to read, especially in a hurry and from behind your thumbs. While testing the M40, I managed to change the dial settings accidentally a couple of times just by knocking them unknowingly. This can have a really disastrous effect on a long shoot when maintaining consistency across shots is imperative. It would be nice if the dials had click stops, or could be locked. 

(Image credit: Future)
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Zhiyun Fiveray M40: Performance

For a light of its size, the M40 is hugely impressive. As a fill light, at 100% brightness it quickly filled up every small to medium-sized room I tested it in. On-camera, as a video light or interview light, max brightness might often be overkill, as looking into the M40 at high levels is quite frankly blinding, however at lower brightness this gave a nice even glow to faces and objects within around 0.3-2m (1-6ft) from the light.

Colour accuracy is very consistent and accurate throughout the range. This light does only venture from 2,700-6,200k, with no multicolor or effects options found in similar rival products, which is a bit of a disappointment for wider creative applications.

(Image credit: Future)
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At 100% brightness, the fans kicked in at about 60 seconds, initially at a low speed, but this does increase to a second higher speed the longer the light is in use. The fans are quiet, however, they are audible in a silent environment, so you will have to bear in mind how close you can use this light to microphones during audio recording in some situations.

The fans, utilizing Zhiyun’s DynaVort technology, do an exceptional job at controlling the heat. After 30 minutes at max brightness, the panel and body were both cool to the touch, so this panel could be handheld for long periods of time if needed.

(Image credit: Future)
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Zhiyun Fiveray M40: Verdict

This light has no right to be this powerful in such a compact chassis, all without overheating. With enough brightness for projects that previously would have required much larger or more significant lighting setups. The only major downside is a slightly touchy control system, and the inability for extra colors makes the uses more limiting. This easily pocketable video light will provide a lot of creative opportunities that were previously unthinkable. 

You might also like the best camera settings for video (opens in new tab), the best video cameras (opens in new tab) and the best hybrid camera (opens in new tab).

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Gareth Bevan
Reviews Editor

Gareth is a photographer based in London, working as a freelance photographer and videographer for the past several years, having the privilege to shoot for some household names. With work focusing on fashion, portrait and lifestyle content creation, he has developed a range of skills covering everything from editorial shoots to social media videos. Outside of work, he has a personal passion for travel and nature photography, with a devotion to sustainability and environmental causes.

With contributions from