High quality lighting is essential for photography and videography. When shooting photos or videos, you want the lighting to accurately represent colors as they appear naturally to the human eye. This allows you to capture skin tones, landscapes, products and other subjects in their true form.
Daylight balanced LED panels provide lighting that closely matches natural daylight. This makes them an excellent choice for photographers, filmmakers, live streamers and other creatives who value color accuracy in their work.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about choosing the best daylight balanced LED panel for your needs and budget. We’ll discuss the key factors to consider, recommend the top LED panels on the market and answer frequently asked questions. Let’s dive in!
Main Factors to Consider When Choosing Daylight Balanced LED Panels
When shopping for a daylight balanced LED panel, there are a few key specifications and features to keep in mind:
Color Quality and CRI/TLCI Ratings
The most important factor when choosing an LED panel is its ability to accurately reproduce colors. You want lighting that renders colors in a natural, lifelike way.
Two metrics are used to measure color accuracy in LED lights:
- CRI – The Color Rendering Index measures color accuracy on a scale of 1-100. A higher CRI indicates better color rendering ability. For color-critical work like photography and videography, look for a CRI of 95-98.
- TLCI – The Television Lighting Consistency Index is a newer metric tailored to LEDs. Like CRI, a higher TLCI indicates better color accuracy. Aim for a TLCI of 85-95+ for color-critical applications.
Entry-level LED panels often have a CRI and TLCI in the 80s or low 90s. While acceptable for basic use, those ratings fall short of true daylight quality. Stick with fixtures rated 95+ CRI and 90+ TLCI whenever color accuracy is important.
The brightness of an LED panel determines how much illumination it provides. Brightness is measured in lux (light intensity per square meter) or lumens (total light output).
Consider the lighting strength you need for your particular application. Do you need a soft, diffused effect for portraits? Or high intensity to light a large area evenly? Assess your goals to choose the right panel brightness.
In general, higher light output requires more power. Small battery-powered panels max out around 2000-3000 lux. Larger AC-powered fixtures can provide up to 20000 lux or more. Brighter isn’t always better though – if you only need moderate lighting, a smaller panel may be the best choice.
Portability and Dimensions
LED panel size, weight and power options affect how portable the light is for field use. Consider the following:
- Weight – Panels meant for studio use can weigh 10+ pounds. Compact LEDs for location shoots are under 3 pounds.
- Thickness – Thin panels around 1″ thick maximize portability. Larger LED chips require thicker panels of 2″ or more.
- Power – Battery-powered lights allow tether-free operation. AC-only panels limit placement but offer unlimited brightness.
- Accessories – lights with stands, case and other accessories bundled promote easy travel.
Look at your usage – controlled studio sessions or unpredictable run-and-gun shooting? When portability matters, seek smaller/lighter panels with battery power and handy accessories.
Daylight LED panels offer various power sources:
- AC Power – Unlimited brightness potential but less flexible than battery models. Best for studio use.
- V-Mount Batteries – Standard 14.4V batteries commonly used for LED lighting. Good balance of output/runtime.
- AA Batteries – Lower output but inexpensive and widely available. Good for ultra-portable panels.
- AC + Battery – Allows AC power for studio use or batteries when traveling. Most flexible option.
Consider your brightness needs versus desired mobility. Battery-powered panels allow tether-free shooting, while AC supplies higher power for more light.
We’ll now compare some top daylight LED panel options across these factors.
The Top 5 Daylight Balanced LED Panels on the Market
After extensive research, we picked the 5 best daylight balanced LED panels across various budgets and use cases:
1. Aputure 120D II
The Aputure 120D II is a premium LED panel combining excellent color accuracy with strong light output. Key features:
- CRI/TLCI: 97/97 – Exceptional color rendering
- Brightness: 55,000 lux at 0.5m – Very high intensity
- Size: 12 x 7 x 2 inches – Relatively compact
- Power: AC or V-Mount – Flexible studio/location use
- Weight: 5.5 pounds – Reasonably portable
- Amazing color accuracy
- High light output
- Sturdy build quality
- On the heavier side
The 120D II delivers beautiful daylight-balanced light for photography, video and live streaming. Top notch CRI/TLCI scores make this an excellent choice for color-critical work.
2. Falcon Eyes RX-18TD
The Falcon Eyes RX-18TD combines good color rendition with lightweight portability. Key features:
- CRI/TLCI: 97/96 – Excellent color accuracy
- Brightness: 17,600 lux at 0.5m – Strong output
- Size: 12.2 x 11 x 1.3 inches – Ultra thin
- Power: Sony NP-F or AC – Battery or outlet power
- Weight: 3.3 pounds – Very lightweight
- Great color quality
- Battery operation for portability
- Large yet thin form factor
- Lower brightness than larger panels
- Battery not included
For run-and-gun videography on a budget, the Falcon Eyes RX-18TD hits a sweet spot between color accuracy, portability and affordability.
3. Genaray SpectroLED Essential 360X
The Genaray SpectroLED 360X delivers impressive color performance and brightness in a durable package. Key features:
- CRI/TLCI: 96/94 – Excellent color accuracy
- Brightness: 25,000 lux at 0.5m – Very bright
- Size: 15.75 x 11.81 x 2.36 inches
- Power: AC only – Studio/location use
- Weight: 7.7 pounds – Portable enough
- Great CRI/TLCI scores
- High light output
- Rugged construction
- AC power only
- On the heavy side
For studio use or controlled shoots, the SpectroLED 360X provides superb color rendering and serious illumination at a moderate price point.
4. Neewer 660 LED Panel
The Neewer 660 kit offers an affordable entry into daylight balanced LED panels. Key features:
- CRI/TLCI: 93/90 – Decent color accuracy
- Brightness: 15,500 lux at 0.5m – Good light output
- Size: 16.5 x 7.9 x 1.7 inches
- Power: Sony NP-F batteries
- Weight: 4.4 pounds
- Low price
- Runs on widely available Sony batteries
- Lightweight and thin
- Lower CRI/TLCI scores
- Less durable feel
For beginners on a budget, the Neewer 660 gets you started with daylight balanced lighting at a very reasonable cost.
5. Emart 600W LED Panel
The Emart 600W combines high power and portability at a very affordable price. Key features:
- CRI/TLCI: 96/94 – Very good color
- Brightness: 26,500 lux at 0.5m – Extremely bright
- Size: 14 x 10 x 1.6 inches – Compact and thin
- Power: AC or V-Mount – Studio/location flexibility
- Weight: 7 pounds – Light enough for travel
- Excellent bang-for-buck value
- Bright light output
- AC or battery power options
- Lower CRI/TLCI than premium brands
- Build quality isn’t outstanding
For run-and-gun video on a tight budget, the Emart 600W packs an incredible amount of daylight-balanced light into a portable panel.
Compare and Contrast the Top LED Panels
To recap, here’s an overview of how the top 5 LED panels compare:
- The Aputure 120D II stands out for having the best color accuracy combined with seriously bright illumination in a reasonably compact form factor. It’s a premium light ideal for demand professionals.
- The Falcon Eyes RX-18TD hits a sweet spot between portable size, very good color performance and battery power flexibility at an attractive price.
- The Genaray SpectroLED 360X delivers workhorse performance with great color rendition and high light output in a rugged panel well-suited to studio use.
- The budget-friendly Neewer 660 lets beginners get started with daylight balanced lighting, though color accuracy and build quality trails higher-end options.
- The Emart 600W squeezes impressive illumination into a thin on-the-go panel at a very wallet-friendly price, though color accuracy isn’t quite as good as pricier competitors.
Consider your personal needs and budget to choose the best match. Professionals who rely on color-critical performance may want to invest in a premium panel like the Aputure 120D II. For run-and-gun work where portability matters, the Falcon Eyes model shines. And if you’re just starting out, the Neewer or Emart offer great value.
Frequently Asked Questions About Daylight LED Panels
Below we answer some common questions about buying and using daylight balanced LED panels:
What color temperature should I choose?
For true daylight balance, look for LED panels with a color temperature of 5600K. This matches midday sunlight for the most natural color reproduction.
How long do LED panel batteries last?
It varies on the light intensity used, but 1.5-3 hours per battery is typical. Carry extra charged batteries for extended shoots.
What accessories do I need with an LED panel?
At minimum, a light stand to mount the panel and diffusion material to soften the light. Also consider additional batteries, power cables, light modifiers and carrying cases.
What is CRI and why does it matter?
CRI (color rendering index) measures how accurately a light source displays colors compared to a natural reference. High CRI panels (95+) show vivid, true-to-life colors.
Is higher CRI always better?
Most of the time, yes – higher CRI typically indicates truer, more lifelike color rendition. But some lower CRI LEDs may have appealing color characteristics for the right creative application.
What does TLCI stand for and how does it compare to CRI?
TLCI (television lighting consistency index) is a newer color measurement designed specifically for LED lights. Similar to CRI, it rates color accuracy on a scale up to 100 – higher is better.
Should I shoot in logarithmic (LOG) color profile with LED panels?
LOG video profiles like S-LOG and V-LOG retain more dynamic range but look flat ungraded. They can help maximize flexibility when shooting with LED panels.
Is it better to use one large panel or multiple smaller LED lights?
One larger panel creates softer, more diffuse light. Multiple smaller lights allow more flexibility to shape light from different angles. Consider your needs for softness vs. control.
We hope these LED panel recommendations and FAQs help you find your perfect daylight balanced lighting solution! Let us know if you have any other questions.
Finding the right daylight LED panel for your photography and videography needs doesn’t have to be a struggle. By understanding the key factors like color quality, brightness, portability and power options, you can choose a light that fits your budget and usage perfectly.
Remember to pay special attention to CRI and TLCI ratings, as they indicate how accurately your LED fixture will reproduce natural, vivid colors. Poor color rendering can ruin an otherwise great photo or video.
With our top recommendations across a range of budgets and feature sets, you’re sure to find a high quality daylight balanced LED panel that takes your images and footage to the next level. Accurate lighting reveals the true beauty of your subjects.
We hope this guide gave you all the information needed to pick out the perfect LED panel. Let us know if you have any other questions as you shop for your new light!