My second round of testing small LED light panels.

I am testing LED lights again, these things are so useful I thought I would check some more out.

I am testing the Amaran AL-198C bi-color unit and also the Amaran AL-198A spot/wide LED where you can change the beam. I am looking at the ikan iLED 144 bicolor and the tiny ikan iLED 120 unit as well. I am also testing the CN-160, thanks to Jason Walsh who sent me a couple of his to test.

Just so you know I am using LED to light up this entire scene.

Skin Tones

In my first test I wanted to see how well each light did on skin tones. For each shot I used my digital calibration target to set the exposure and white balance before each light test. All lights have a diffusion panel on them.

First up is the CN-160 and even with the diffusion panel on it you can see how narrow the beam of light is on my face, I am not sure I would ever use this light for an interview set up without even more additional diffusion.

The Amaran spot/wide light on the spot setting also it pretty harsh on my face, but when you switch it to wide you only lose 1/3 of a stop and it looks much better on my face.

The Amaran bi-color light has a nice wide beam of light as well and would work well for an interview.

The ikan light out of all of them seems to have the best skin tones and is a nice even light on my face. If you look at the Amaran compared to the ikan 144 it appears the Amaran as an ever so slight yellow bias to it which I could also see on my vectorscope.

And the tiny light guy the ikan 120 also had some nice skin tone to it as well. It also it surprisingly diffuse so such a small light source.

Beam

To get an idea of the beam of light in this next test which if I were to do over would be using a white wall and not a black sheet you can see the difference in the beam pattern of light.

As you can see the CN-160 and the Amaran spot have a very narrow beam of light.

Gel Matching

The only reason I ran this next test is to see how well my built in color temp settings in my camera match the light and the gels.

First up is the Amaran vs the CN-160, with the yellow gels on and my camera set to tungsten. As you can see they both have a heavy green bias to them. Perhaps the CN-160 has more green to it then the Amaran. Again this is not really that great of a test because you could always custom white balance and get rid of the green.

Next up is the Amaran on the left and ikan 144 on the right and they are both at daylight and my camera is set to day light and as you can see the ikan wins nicely here because the Amaran has a green bias to it.

Then I rotated the color wheels to tungsten and then change my camera to tungsten and it appears that the Amaran wins here. Again I am not sure this is the best test, this is just more for my knowledge.

Next up I wanted to test to see if the more expensive ikan used the same led’s as the lesser expensive ikan and it sure appears they are exactly the same.

ikan 120 & 144

  • ikan iLED 144 bicolor and the ikan iLED 120
  • Really like the construction best one I have seen so far, heavy plastic might even survive a 4 foot drop on concrete.
  • I really like the battery and charger. I hate wasting batteries, I would rather recharge, reinstalling batteries takes time. It uses the inexpensive Sony “L” series NP-F550 7.4V 2200mAh Li-ion batteries that work in just about any small LED light these days. The charger is a DB-106 12V 600mA.
  • One year warranty nice.
  • Nicest tripod and hot shoe mount I have seen
  • Using the same led’s in both units

Amaran AL-198A & AL-198C

  • AL-198C model: Bi-color, changes from 5500 down to 3200 kelvin.
  • AL-198A model: Interesting idea to do a variable spot or wide light (beam angle adjustment), at first I was like ah, just give me a wide unit and I will control it with barn doors. But now that I have try it, it is a pretty cool idea, use the spot to highlight something in the background, or use the wide setting for an interview. There is 198 LED’s half of them have a wide angle bulbs 60 degrees and the other half are narrow 25 degrees.
  • Minor issue but they dropped the ball on the hot shoe mount, can’t use it on a tripod. (see update below)
  • They have 198 LED’s but in many situations they are not on all the time.
  • Plastic housing is not bad but not a good as the ikan.
  • Spot to wide I can see some yellow introduced in to the vectorscope
  • The battery compartment is a bit of a pain to open

CN-160

  • Very narrow beam of light
  • Very cheap construction.
  • Compared to the other lights the level control feels really cheap.

Conclusion

Having at least one of these lights in your kit I think is essential, even if you can only afford the cheapest one. If you are a professional and you need to make sure it is going to work each time the ikan iLED lights are probably for you, they even might be for me because I hate to waste batteries and it already comes with a nice battery solution.

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Update:

The company that makes the Amaran lights (Aputure) let me know they also offer 198 led light that uses all 198 LEDs. Also they have a new tripod mount that ships with the lights now (but not with a swivel ball like the ikan).

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ikan iLED 144
ikan iLED 144

13 comments

  • Got the links to the lights thanks I’d go for a iLED 120. But no link for the cool t-shirt…lol…regards…Oscar

  • I’m curious what exposures you were getting from these. Can you measure the exposure on your target at 1m from each of them?

    Say 100 ISO, 1/50th and ??? fStop.

    I care more for output levels as I do for size and shape of the units.

  • Nice Dave,

    FYI
    I put a word in for you at B&H. I forgot to click you link and get you some credit from my last purchase. (Really sorry about that wont happen again.)

    Long story short.(Ya, I asked to get the credit applied)
    I ended up talking with Henry Posner the Director of Corporate Communications at B&H about you site.

    I tried.. 🙁

  • Nice review Dave. I use these on profesinal documentaries every week here in Puerto Rico. I mainly use them to light the subject up from bright backgrounds. We need something small like this. Because we go to a few school a day and need something small. You are right they are a must have.

  • Interesting stuff Dave, I use LED lights for so many uses, they’re fantastic for close up work. I use a light called the Rotolight you may have heard of it. Made by a company in the UK retails at about 280 us dollars. Its simply amazing you should check it out.http://www.rotolight.com . Love the T Shirt.

  • Dave, you are awesome! I just went back and watched like all of your videos and I love them. I learn so much from you. I too use the Canon t2i, so it is great to be able to go on your blog and see all these informational videos.