In this article I’ll list 5 professional-level LED light tubes for cinematography.
I’ll focus specifically on three factors to keep the race even:
- 4′ length or one meter
- RGB color capability
- About a 100 Watt power draw, if possible
The idea is, there’s no point buying something cheap just because it’s cheap. The colors won’t end up great, and when it fails (which it will at some point) you might not be able to repair it, or find suitable replacements for it.
What makes an LED light tube professional?
Why do the pros spend a lot more money when cheaper options exist?
Here are some important features professionals focus on:
- Dependability in terms of construction. You can abuse these lights over many years and they’ll withstand it.
- Dependability in terms of light output. The light output of cheaper LED lights fall over time. Professional-level lights maintain their output over the lifespan of the LED chips, and they tend to use the most expensive and/or most dependable.
- Dependability in terms of color accuracy. You’ll find many reviews online of cheaper LED lights with excellent color accuracy. What most people miss, is that the color accuracy reduces over the lifespan of the LED panel. In fact, it is not uncommon for the color accuracy to shift over just a few months of use!
- Availability of accessories. Many cheap LED products change year after year. If you want a part or accessory for a particular panel in about 5 years, you might not be able to get it if the manufacturer moves on. Higher-end panels made by reputable companies are designed after a lot of thought, and they tend to support their products a lot longer.
The basic idea being, you spend more now, but you’ll save money in the long run.
1 Astera Titan
These are industry standard presently for these reasons:
- 16 pixels
- CRI of 96
- 20 hour battery life, 3 hours for charging
- AC and DC input voltage
- 48 Watt power draw
- Dynamic Power Boost for additional power
- Anti-theft feature using the app
- Wired and Wireless DMX
- IP65 rating
- 0-100% humidity rating
- Length: 40.7”
- All kinds of accessories and fixtures available for rigging.
- Price for tube: $850
2 Quasar Science RR Linear LED
Quasar Science is the other big name in the LED tube category. The RR Linear LED (double Rainbow) has these features:
- 48 pixels
- Wireless DMX
- OLED interface and manual controls as well
- Fine dimming to less than 1%
- CRI of 95
- 46″ Length
- Price for tube: $1,500
As of this writing the power draw is not official, though I feel the ‘100’ stands for 100 Watts and the ’50’ is a 50 Watt fixture.
3 Cineo Lighting LightBlade Edge LB4
The LightBlade has an 80W rating and is relatively cheaper than the Quasar Science RR. You also get higher wattage fixtures in the same size.
4 Digital Sputnik Voyager
Buy on B&H
This is just a 40 Watt fixture, so is not apples to apples. I wanted to include these for the low budget filmmaker looking for an option in the 4′ range.
It has an integrated battery with a 2.5 hour runtime.
5 Nanlite PavoTube 30C
This is probably for those looking for a cheap LED tube that does RGB. It has a 32 Watt rating and a runtime of about 2 hours on a single charge.
On paper the tubes all look the same, but in the real world, the quality of the LED and the construction makes a huge difference in the output and results you get. I wouldn’t really buy one of the cheap no-brand lights at this point because the look is really bad. I’ve tested a few of them, so I know, and I wouldn’t bother even if it were given to me for free. You might as well just buy an off-the-shelf Philips LED tube then!
I hope you find this list useful. Let me know what you think in the comments below.