Pixapro's LED-100D review - The best light ever
My Pixapro lighting gear has arrived, and I'm thoroughly pleased. It is by far the best I have seen at a reasonable price. I have spent a lot of time looking for the perfect lighting system and I'm very happy to say I have found it.
A huge 2m x 1.5m reflector (almost the size of a double doorway) which has 7 "sides":
Black for blocking light (very useful).
White for the softer light reflection.
Silver for a stronger light reflection.
Gold for a warm and strong light reflection.
Green and blue colors for chroma keying (AKA green screen)
And a translucent one for diffusing light. Called a "shoot-through" diffuser in the photography world and a "scrim" in the film industry, a very powerful lighting tool, both for natural (sun) and artificial lighting.
A 120cm "Octobox" soft box and a 120cm x 80cm rectangular softbox.
Both open in seconds like an umbrella, and both come with grids for giving you really directional soft light. Absolutely amazing value for money and by far the best lighting modifiers I've owned or used. Both are good, but the Octobox gives a slightly softer light due to its larger surface area, and it's extremely sturdy since it's made from eight poles. It also folds up smaller than the rectangular one, but it is slightly more expensive. The fabric can be opened near the LED light which allows you to easily add gels if needed.
And the Pixapro 100D LED light, one of the best high power lights on the market, in my opinion it is THE best if you consider anything that can compete with it costs a hell of a lot more. It's a 100W LED light which will be really fantastic for both my stills and video work.
This light provides a combination of features I have been looking for for a long time. It's very hard to find all of these together. High power, low weight, low heat, low noise, quality daylight balanced light, well built, reasonably priced, remote controlled, fast to to set up and easily controllable with lighting modifiers. The only thing it's missing for me is the ability to be battery operated, but that really isn't a big problem for me. I have already reviewed a lot of battery operated lights, and I will discuss that in more detail in upcoming reviews too, but none of them even come close to the 100D.
It is super bright, I measured a crazy 15,000 lux at 1m, (set up with its bowl reflector, which is how I check all similar lights.), it's higher than the official product specs so I had to double check that my light meter wasn't broken. Compare that to 2,000 lux from the weakest "100W" unit I've seen and almost double the 8,000 lux that its closest reasonably priced competitor (the Jinbei EF-100II) can provide.
It isn't 100% silent but it is much quieter than the other high power LEDs I've used such as the Jinbei and Superflash 100w units, and it is quieter than the YN600. Looks like it may be quiet enough to completely avoid reaching most microphone setups but I will have to do some tests and check. (UPDATE: It does reach some microphones, very slightly. )
It also has a very reasonably priced remote that can sit on your camera's hot shoe so you always have it handy. It is the most advanced remote system I've seen on a professional light, it has some great features like allowing you to split your lights into lots of different channels and zones (basically two different kinds of groups), although I don't know if you can turn the lights off via the remote, which would be great but I can live without it (they are turned off via a mechanical switch on the unit). The remote uses AAA batteries unlike many others that require 12v or button cell batteries, and I'm glad to say you don't need a screwdriver to swap them out either. The light unit itself has a button/wheel that can be pressed and spun to control various functions.
In conclusion, it is the best reasonably priced high power light on the market.
Obviously that is just my opinion, but I believe I have used, owned and researched enough into lighting to allow myself to say that, but if you think I might be mistaken, PLEASE DO let me know what other lights you would like me to review next.
I will also be reviewing other things I have bought a long time ago but never reviewed, that are available from EssentialPhoto and their eBay and Amazon stores. Off the top of my head, some huge 5ft and 7ft umbrellas, a bowens-fit set of barn doors, gels and grid, and a lighting tent/table. From what I have seen they are very strict about the quality of the things they stock. Definitely a company I'll be buying from again in the future. I plan to sell all my older lights and invest in some more Pixapro lights and modifiers. I will just keep a few YN-160s lights for when I need to work on battery power or stick a light in a lens compartment just in case I need it.
Pixapro items are available via these links:
(As far as I know there is only one distributor for Pixapro products, all these links are the various ways you can buy from them. The first two links are my affiliate links, so I get a small commission from Amazon or eBay them if you purchase through them.)
Swapping out the fan on the 100D was a piece of cake, I just had to undo some screws and connect two wires (WARNING: This will probably void your warranty, and messing around with electricity is dangerous if you are not qualified to do so). Ideally, the unit would come completely silent from the factory, but for me spending an extra £10 for a silent fan and then having such an amazing light unit is completely worth it.
In comparison, when I tried swapping out the fan on the Jinbei EF-100, it refused to work. It is probably still possible to make the Jinbei not sound like a tractor, by using a silent fan that sends the correct signal to the unit, but considering they must be imported from china, which costs a lot and usually lacks quality support, and that it is no where near as good a light as the Pixapro, I won't even bother trying.
Another option is to add a fan speed control, which is simple and costs about £1. This would allow you to reduce the speed of the replacement fan in order to get it even quieter. Even the best silent fans are quieter when they aren't working at full speed, but I have no idea if this could cause damage to the LED by allowing it to get too hot.
I have also tried covering the light's sides in a sheet of foam, and it did reduce the noise a little, I may end up doing that to reduce the noise and add some protection in case it drops.
Lets not forget this fan is already very quiet from the factory, so consider this an improvement mod, not a fix.
UPDATE 2: What lighting kit to buy?
Since posting this I've received questions asking what kit I would recommend, so here is a mini-guide to my "ultimate lighting kit", something I will be buying for myself. Personally I am planning on five units to create a truly professional advanced lighting kit, which would allow me to create the light exactly as I want it without compromises and produce many various styles of lighting, as well as get an incredible amount of power when needed. A kit with one light is already very helpful and can be used together with sunlight, reflectors or other lights while staying at a low budget, and two or three would allow for some more complete lighting setups without needing to mix different kinds of lights.
● The 5500k version of the 100D LED lights (Amazon Link)
Quite possibly the best LED lights in the world, within a reasonable budget. Most other truly professional LED lights in this caliber cost upwards of £1-2K per light, with accessory prices to match.
● A quick-open soft box for each light (Amazon Link)
The 120cm octagon and 120cm x 80cm softboxes are absolutely superb. They are huge and very well priced.
● A high quality boom stand for each light (Review link)
I'm not trying to make a cheapo kit here, we're talking about a professional kit without compromises and the stands are a big part of that. These allow for easy positioning and creativity with your lights, as well as more safety for your equipment, crew and talent. Pixapro have similar stands too. Wheels are optional, depending on your uses. They aren't too expensive and I would recommend them for studio use. (Link)
● A good sandbag for each light (eBay link)
This can be very important for safety. You can tie some strong cable to some large water bottles, this is very cheap and actually much better than lugging around real sand bags in your kit. If you prefer something that looks a little more professional, using a laptop bag as the water bottle holder could be a good option. For travel, it's easy to fill the bottles at most locations, or even just buy water bottles when you arrive.
● A Sansonite roller case (Review link).
This is a relatively low cost option and it is very comfortable to work and travel with. It's not a Pelicase made for protecting your gear from dinosaur footsteps, but it gives decent protection and allows me to carry my gear with minimal wasted energy. It could comfortably fit three LED lights, three 120cm Octoboxes, three large light stands (but not the gigantic 4-meter booms mentioned above) with a bit of space left over. Ideally I would take a car so I can take lots suitcases but that's not always an option so I usually condense all my equipment into this case plus a large backpack. (Amazon link to my current case)
● A large reflector (eBay Link)
This is extremely useful for controlling light. Block unwanted light, add a soft fill light, diffuse harsh sunlight, etc.
● A color gel kit (Amazon Link)
For me this is a must have. I love a huge selection of colors, but even a small selection is great. Be sure to get heat resistant ones. Even though this LED unit is completely cool to the touch and almost doesn't emit any heat, the actual LED square gets fairly hot (70c at minimum power and 180c at maximum power) so some gels that are only intended for little speedlights might melt at full brightness.
Update 3: Fan mod working well.
The fan modification worked well using a Nexus brand silent fan. With the fan turned down ever so slightly below its maximum speed, and I saw no difference in the LED's heat compared to the stock fan at maximum speed. In a completely silent room in the middle of the night, pretty close to me, I can just about hear it. Basically it makes about as much noise as a mosquito or two, from what I read online that is about 0-10 decibels, although I don't have a calibrated audio meter that will go that low. My phone's audio meter will go close to that but it is completely uncalibrated, and my actual proper audio meter can't measure anything below 35dB (I actually couldn't find any audio meter that can measure below 30dB, if anyone knows of an affordable one, please let me know.).
Here I set up the Pixapro right behind me for my Rode Videomic Pro review with the microphones pointed directly at it, so if I can't hear it here, I won't hear it in any of my work, no matter how close I want to place the light to my subject. I will post a video about the mod soon.
Update 4: Video review - Part 1
Update 5: Getting awesome results!
Here's the tutorial from that shoot
Update 6: A year later
Still by far my favorite lights.