Both photographers and videographers face the challenge of lighting their subjects. Without a portable, adjustable light source, the subject’s face can look boringly flat in the available light. An additional light source helps add modeling to your subject as it accentuates the contours of their face. It can also add drama and change the mood of the shot. Videographers tend to lug around heavy flight cases of lights and lighting stands for shoots. Photographers can use an external flash that fires when they press the shutter button on their DSLR.
LED lights (opens in a new tab) such as the Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C are becoming increasingly popular alternatives to traditional lighting setups. Unlike a flash (opens in a new tab), the LED lights stay on throughout the shot, so you can take photos without worrying about the flash syncing with your camera. We used the Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C to light the test video that supports this review. We also took it on a shoot with a professional model and were thrilled with the results.
Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C Specifications
Brightness: Can reach up to 20708 lux at its maximum output of 100W
Color temperature range: 2700ºK to 6200ºK
Built-in battery capacity: 6S/2600MAH
Maximum power mode 4000K/100% illuminance (LUX): 2200 (in 1 meter)
TLCI index: ≥97
CRI index: ≥96
Product size: 502*46*47(mm)
Power Adapter Output Voltage/Current: 24V/5A
Extension: 1/4″ threaded hole
Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C Features
One of the challenges filmmakers and photographers face is matching their artificial light source to the light available where they are shooting. Different light sources have different color temperatures, which can add cool blue or warm orange color casts to your clips and photos.
The Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C features a convenient control dial that allows you to adjust its color temperature to complement the available light. In daylight you can dial it down to 5600ºK to match relatively cool daylight. When shooting indoors, you can turn the dial to choose a color temperature closer to a warmer tungsten light source (about 3000º K). The command dial also lets you dim the light intensity (just as well as it can blow highlights off a subject thanks to its 100W power.)
The control wheel 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 lets you dial in vibrant blues, greens, and reds that are perfect for adding a neon-style look to your urban photography. Press the dial to the 12 o’clock position to trigger maximum wand output. The button at 3 o’clock (labeled CCT) allows you to dial in different color temperatures. Pressing the button at the 9 o’clock position causes the dial to decrease the intensity of the wand output.
Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C Build and Handling
Although it is mostly made of plastic, the Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C feels sturdy and reliable. In fact, I dropped it several times while filming due to loose straps on my backpack and it kept working. At the base of the front of the wand, there is a textured grip that makes it less slippery to hold. At 920g, it’s surprisingly heavy for something so compact that your arm might hurt holding it for a long session. Luckily it has a 1/4 inch thread at the base so you can mount it on a tripod. I used a Manfrotto mini tripod with an adjustable ball head so I could tilt the light wand towards my subject.
A mini tripod is also less visible, so my shoot wasn’t interrupted by an overzealous security guard (which is quite common when shooting in town with lots of kit). At full intensity, the LED light can get quite hot. The back of the wand is therefore equipped with six fans to cool it if necessary. In theory this could interfere with the audio recording of a video shoot, but in practice I only heard the fans enter once and they were quiet enough for me to continue recording the sound.
Performance of the Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C
The Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C is more compact and portable than traditional video light kits, but it still packs a punch thanks to its 100 watts of power. At full intensity, it was powerful enough to illuminate our model halfway down a dark interior hallway in the Barbican Center (see supporting photos). Its compact size allowed me to carry it in a backpack next to the mini tripod.
I was very impressed with its range and versatility. It provided additional “modeling” light in dull places and creatively colored neon hues that complemented artificial light in interior environments. During my three-hour shoot in London, the Fiveray FR100C continued to shine whenever I needed it (which was often due to the gloomy daytime weather and dark hallways of the Barbican Centre.)
You can charge the wand using 25W PD fast charging via Type-C port or with the 120W switch adapter (supplied with the Combo Kit), you can continuously use the Fiveray FR100C while charging it.
Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C Verdict
The first thing you’ll want to do after turning on the Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C is to switch it to a bright 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 up photos or videos, the force is strong with this one.
Once you’ve gotten Star Wars out of your system, you’ll find this to be an invaluable piece of kit that will enhance the production values of your photo or video shoots. In fact, I can’t imagine shooting without the Fiveray in my backpack, as it makes a huge difference in how my clips and photos look. It’s also the first gadget I’ve reviewed for Digital Camera World that gets 5 stars!