Low vs High CRI LED Bulbs for Photography/Filmmaking

Long story short, there is a pretty significant difference between low and high CRI LED’s. Enough that you could plunk down the extra $30 for good quality LED’s.

Budget LED’s on Amazon are about $30, and most of them I’ve seen make zero mention of CRI rating… yet most of these products are rated 5 stars. But truth is, most people just starting out probably wouldn’t notice this type of thing. Fortunately, I did the dirty work for you and I have two recommendations (as mentioned in the video):

  1. Aputure HL198C
  2. Yongnuo YN360

As mentioned in the video, I found the lighting from the YN360 a bit harsh, even diffused with the umbrella. So I did redid it, toned down the power just a tad and added a tiny bit of fill and here was the result:

High CRI vs Low CRI Led Lighting

Ultimately, I like both of the high CRI options. Here’s my pros and cons:

Yongnuo YN360:

PROS

  • As far as light output, it’s the best value. It essentially had double the power than one of the Aputure HL198C’s (I used two in the video).
  • Has a warming diffusion filter.
  • You can also dial in R/G/B colors, albeit at a low power.

CONS

  • No power included. You’ll have to buy the adapter and/or battery separately (I bought a generic NP-F750).
  • No clear diffusion filter. Even shot through an umbrella, I thought it was a little harsh.
  • Does not take AA batteries.
  • It’s pretty big – not something that fits in most camera bags.

Aputure HL198C:

PROS

  • Bi-Color LED’s which I think is better because you can dial in the exact look you want.
  • Takes both the specialized batteries (NP-F750) and double AA batteries, having the ladder as an option is useful because they’re cheaper and more readily available (ie. if you’re on a shoot and you run out, any store will carry AA batteries).
  • Comes with a diffusion filter.
  • You can connect them together. This is great because you could essentially create a large LED panel if needed, and because of the larger light source, the lighting is softer.
  • Portable – Something you can easily throw in most camera bags.

CONS

  • Full power with double AA’s was not very long… I wasn’t timing it but I think the power started decreasing after 30 mins. Though it probably performs better with the specialized batteries.
  • Not as strong as the YN360.

Overall, I think it comes down to personal preference. If you want power, the YN360 is the best value. But the Aputure’s offer a lot of value elsewhere… so it’s up to you.

Last thing, if you’re relying on lighting your videos with these… I used the Panasonic G85 at I believe at F2.0 and ISO800. So depending on your setup, you’ll need at least 1 Yongnuo or 2 Aputure’s… probably double that if you want something a little more professionally lit. I should also note that Aputure has larger LED panels available… probably something I’ll explore next!

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