Do you want beautiful color lighting like the best bloggers, but do not want to spend a lot of money on expensive lighting? We have selected for you several models of good quality RGB lamps that are perfect for video shooting, photography and online broadcasts.
RGB illuminators allow you to select light of any color shade on the color wheel (usually colors are indicated in degrees, where 0 ° is red, 120 ° is green, 240 ° is blue). RGB light quickly conquered Youtube, and today many bloggers — from beginners to the very top — can see beautiful colored LED backlighting.
But the use cases for RGB lighting are much wider: videographers and photographers alike use them to create effects. In addition, colored light is not the only lighting option that RGB lamps can create. They can also be used for classic lighting of different color temperatures — from a warm incandescent lamp to a cold daylight.
We have prepared a list of the most interesting options in terms of price and quality that are in the budget range. There are three main types of illuminators — compact on-camera, wands (lightsabers) and large LED panels for video.
Let’s make a reservation right away, there will be no ring illuminators in our list. This is a specific tool that is not suitable for many photographers and videographers: it is difficult to control and direct such light directly at the object — it illuminates not only the face of the model, but everything around.
Portable LED Lights
In the category of budget RGB-illuminators, first of all, compact on-camera lamps fall. The logic is very simple: compact size -> fewer LEDs -> lower price.
Portable LED illuminators are small rectangular “bricks” that are suitable as additional light (for example, filling in shadows), background lighting, creating light accents and for shooting on location when there are simply no other lighting options. For use as the main source, they most often do not have enough power, although it all depends on your idea. Such a panel can be used for shooting in a low key or for a dramatic effect in portraits (for example, lighting only one half of the face with it). A portable LED illuminator will do a good job with product photography, but the result will also be with a touch of drama.
There are many options for such light bulbs on the market, and it is not easy to understand such a variety. In this segment there is a recognized classic, however, it costs a little more.
Aputure MC RGB
One of the most recognized companies in the lighting market has created a compact and inexpensive luminaire that has become the benchmark for quality in this niche. This, of course, is about Aputure MC RGB. The light bulb has a standard set of modes: color temperature (3200–6500K), RGB and a bunch of special effects, for example, a police flashing beacon.
The baby has a strong body and a high-quality diffuser (diffuser) in the kit, thanks to which you can get a pleasant diffused light without any light modifiers.
This is a very small “brick” with a power of only 5 W (hereinafter, the power is indicated for white light), so it cannot be used as the main source. But it has excellent color rendering with a CRI (color rendering index) of 96+ (for mainstream sources, CRI of at least 95 is recommended). Aputure is able to connect to the application on a smartphone, so that several such lamps can be used at the site at once in one synchronized system.
Aputure MC is charged via USB Type C — you can always recharge the box from an external battery right at the location. True, like most other compact illuminators, it does not shine for too long — two hours of operation at 100% brightness.
Another classic compact LED illuminator is the Boling BL-P1. Here, too, there is a regular light with a color temperature setting, RGB and various effects. Compared to Aputure, it is more powerful (12 W) and therefore brighter.
The main feature of the “Boling” is a convenient bracket with which you can easily give it any position.
It was this model that at one time gave rise to a bunch of clones from other Chinese manufacturers, but Boling is a favorite of bloggers and videographers to this day. Its CRI 96+, at 100% brightness, provides approximately two and a half hours of operation, and is charged via USB C.
Ulanzi Vijim R70
If we take a little less well-known models, which are, respectively, cheaper, you can not help but pay attention to the Ulanzi Vijim R70. This is an excellent Boling clone, which, unlike other copies, also has a canonical bracket-bracket, which allows you to conveniently position the illuminator at any angle.
The case, like the two illuminators above, is completely metal, which gives the lamp strength and solidity.
An interesting difference from the Boling BL-P1 is a much larger battery capacity (5000 versus 2970 mAh). So in practice, you can count on about three hours of shooting on a single charge.
If you need an anti-crisis option, then a suitable model can be found at Raylab. The RL-LED08RGB is made of plastic and doesn’t boast super high build quality. But it has a very cool feature for a lamp of this price category — it comes with a diffuser, just like in Aputure MC, which helps to get a nice diffused light.
Otherwise, nothing unusual: USB‑C connector, 1/4 ” tripod mount and cold shoe included, CRI 95+, color temperature adjustment, RGB and many effects (12 options). Be prepared for the illuminator to beep softly, although in most shooting conditions this will not be heard.
By the way, there is an even smaller and cheaper box: Raylab RL-LED06RGB. It’s a compact little guy with a built-in cold shoe and the cool ability to attach multiple bulbs to each other (or other accessories) on the sides.
Wands of Light
But this is already a special form factor, which has its pros and cons compared to compact lamps. There is only one minus, but it is quite obvious — the wand is far from being so portable. Yes, and quietly hide it in the background to create a light accent, most likely, will not work: a glow stick catches the eye.
But this is also its trick: an elongated stick in itself creates a good light pattern, and at the same time it does not shine at all 120 degrees, so you can zone the lighting with a simple turn. The wand is easy to use and it is difficult to make a mistake with it, illuminating the object somehow wrong.
Yongnuo YN360 II and III
Yongnuo YN360 II has already earned the respect of users and the status of the canonical light wand. Recently, the company has released the third generation of the beloved model — YN360 III Pro.
Both rods have CRI 95+ and about four hours of operation at 100% brightness. Power is about 19W for YN360 II and 21.6W for YN360 III Pro. There is a setting for light temperature, RGB and effects, as well as an integrated diffuser.
The main difference between the second and third versions is in the form factor. YN360 II is semi-circular and can be placed vertically on the floor without additional fixings. YN360 III Pro is flat, with a tripod mount at the bottom, it needs to be screwed to the stand.
YN360 III Pro is powered by removable Sony NP‑F batteries: batteries and AC adapter must be purchased separately. YN360 II has built-in battery and adapter included.
Both versions can be configured via the application, but the YN360 III has a new feature: a removable remote control that allows you to control the wand remotely (on the YN360 II, all tuning dials are integrated into the body). Using the remote/app, you can assemble eight lightsabers at once into one system.
If you choose the III generation, it is better to take the Pro version: it is more powerful — 21.6 W versus 19 W.
Large LED panels
There are also large LED-panels in the budget category, which, in terms of power, can easily pass for the main source and boast a pleasant light. Interestingly, there are a lot of options for cheap panels without additional RGB bulbs, but if you need colored backlighting, your choice narrows down significantly.
Neweer 660 RGB Pro and GVM 800D
Anyone looking for a similar illuminator will sooner or later stumble upon these two options: the Neweer RGB 660 Pro (or the slightly weaker 590 Pro model) and the GVM 800D.
These are very similar fixtures in terms of form factor, size, and price. The features are almost identical too: you have cool/warm light, RGB, special effects, and app control. Also, both lamps can be operated from the mains or from optional external NP‑F batteries. Therefore, we will consider and immediately compare both models in a single block.
The Neweer 660 RGB Pro is 50W, while the GVM 800D is slightly weaker at 40W. In practice, the Neweer is slightly brighter than its competitor at 5600K/3200K, and noticeably brighter in RGB mode. At the same time, in terms of color accuracy of ordinary light (5600K / 3200K), it is the GVM 800D that wins. In Neweer, the skin tones are somewhat shifted to a warm reddish hue.
In terms of build quality, the Neweer looks a little sturdier — unlike the GVM, it has metal shutters that securely close the lamp during transportation and are unlikely to break if dropped. Both bulbs are attached to the rack through a bracket — so you can adjust not only the height, but also the angle of illumination.
If you are looking for a main light source, for example, to illuminate the face of a blogger, the GVM 800D will be preferable due to more accurate color reproduction. If you are looking for a device for backlighting or backlighting, then the Neweer 660 RGB is a more competent choice — this LED panel is brighter, especially in RGB mode.