Review rating: ***
List of sponsored/free gear: None
Did I get paid for this review? No

This is the complete review of the Yongnuo YN-900 Bi-color LED light panel.

Exclusive Bonus: Download my free swipe file on how to shoot night scenes well (PDF file optimized for mobiles and tablets).

Goals

Before reading and watching the review, it is important to first understand the goals of the review. Here are the important questions I wanted answered:

  • Does the Yongnuo YN-900 bi-color LED panel sacrifice quality due to its low price?
  • Is the CRI rating of 95+ accurate?
  • Is the light output of the fixture really that high? The theoretical specification is unrealistic!
  • Can you record audio with the fan noise?
  • Are the bi-color color temperatures accurate and usable?
  • Can it be used for high frame rate (HFR) video?

Let’s get started.

Important: Prices, specifications and my observations and analysis can be totally wrong or incorrect. Please refer to the manufacturer’s website for correct information. You are responsible for your own actions. Results seen here might only apply to me personally and may not reflect your experiences.

Yongnuo YN-900 Bi-color LED Light Panel Review

Watch my entire review:

Notes:

  • There are some differences in the color charts under different color temperatures. I think my eyes were tired after weeks of work. However, these differences can be attributed to normal variances, and only show their true colors (pun intended) when my face was lit. By the way, I’m squinting like Inokichi in Yojimbo because two lights are at full power a foot away from either side!
  • The light is really beautiful with a shower curtain, and has enough punch for most interviewing situations as a key light. The green tint might be removable with a color filter, though I haven’t tested it.

Notes and specifications from the review

Here’s a quick look at how the unit performed against an Arri-clone 650W fresnel:

Setting Actual Color Temperature Output^
5500K 5400K 3000 lux
3200K 3100K 3000 lux
Full Power (both) 4000K 6000 lux
650 W fresnel spot 3200K 6000 lux
650 W fresnel flood 3200K 3000 lux
Diffusion Reduction Change in color
White 1 stop None
CTO 2 stops 2600K*

^At f/2.8, 1/50th shutter, 1oo ISO, 25 fps @ a distance of 6 feet. White balance measured using the A7s.The unit ships with two diffusion panels. Here’s how they stack up:*When combined with the 5500K setting. For the other two settings the white balance fell beyond the camera’s ability.Some other important specifications and features you should be aware of:

  • Weight: 1.48 kg
  • Dimensions: 260 x 188 x 48 mm
  • Wireless control – Remote and app (both Android and iOS), up to 8 groups
  • Wireless control up to 65 feet (tested up to 40 feet with a wall in between, so does not require full line of sight, but it might under different conditions)
  • Batteries – Sony NP-Fseries, minimum 4000mAH each. Needs two batteries to work.
  • DC adapter can be generic, 19 V 5A
  • Power draw: 54 Watts
  • Lumens: 7,200 lumens – this is phenomenal!
  • High frame rate: Possible, tested to 120p

A quick comparison of the Yongnuo YN-900 against the Litepanels Astra and ‘normal’ 1×1 bicolor:

Feature Litepanels Astra 1×1 Litepanels 1×1 YN900
Price $1,350 $1,295 $180
Power draw 110W 40W 54W
Light output 5500K (lux) 3180 490 3000
Light output 3200K (lux) 2610 490 3000
Light output both (lux) n/a n/a 6000
Beam angle 46 50 55
Dimming 0-100% 0-100% 0-100%
Weight 3.2kg 1.36kg 1.48 kg
Passive cooling Yes Yes No
Fan Yes No Yes
Control DMX DMX Remote, App
Battery operation Yes Yes Yes
XLR power Yes No No
DC power Yes Yes Yes

My intention is not to belittle the Litepanels LEDs, because they are staples of the industry for good reason. Still, this is an eye opener (all are bi-color units):Like I said in the review, the YN900 is too cheap for what it offers. You could easily buy seven of them for the price of one Litepanels fixture. At half the power draw. And double the light output. At half the weight. And Yongnuo has been around for along time.

Just imagine, you can use 10 YN900s to get the same light output as 10 650 W fresnels, but at only 540 W! The fresnels will need 6,500W!! And a lot of air-conditioning…and tissue paper…and bulbs…and first aid.

The YN900 is cheaper, and is rated to run for 50,000 hours. If you’re shooting 4 hours a day for 150 days a year, that’s 83 years. Even if it’s only 10,000 hours, that’s 16 years.

Bottom line

The Yongnuo YN-900 bi-color LED panel is brilliantly made, and for its price and features, unbeatable. Unfortunately, it also digs its own grave by having a fan that does three cardinal sins:

  • Raises the decibel level by 2-3 dB.
  • Is most loud at 1200 Hz, and also has other frequencies that interfere entirely with speech, so is difficult to remove.
  • Worst of all, it starts and stops at will, and is unpredictable. Due to this, there’s no constant ‘hum’ (it’s more like a whine) that can be easily removed in post.

For productions that involve recording audio, I cannot recommend this unit. For everything else, there are few others that are better at this price point.Make no mistake. This unit offers tremendous value for money, so many are likely to ignore the audio issue hoping for the best. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Personal take: I don’t prefer LEDs, mainly due to the color cast even after white balancing them; and also the fact that they’re hard to control. The newer fresnel LED units are way too heavy and large with their massive heat sinks. But things are changing fast!

Well, that’s the end of my review. I hope you have found it beneficial for the kind of productions you’re doing.

Exclusive Bonus: Download my free swipe file on how to shoot night scenes well (PDF file optimized for mobiles and tablets).

6 replies on “Yongnuo YN-900 Bi-color LED Light Panel Review”

  1. I see a lot of value for bi-color models, when adapting to ambient light. I have sometimes take a measurement of the light temperature and adjusted the led panels accordingly, then rechecked again. Not necessarily absolutely accurate, but easier and probably more accurate than trying to do the same with gels.

  2. Used my one for about 10 hours all up (had it for a few months) and one of the colors died. No idea why, it’s in mint condition. Opened it to see if there were loose connections but nope. Otherwise, great lights, I have the daylight one also.

  3. Hi.

    Do you recommend this model over the single color model? Do you find the flexibility of having two colors more important than overall brightness?

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