Video lights for on-camera or on-tripod use are hard to find with a CRI of 98, but Polish manufacturer Akurat Lighting makes them. The aluminium cased high brightness LL2120hc3 V-WHITE fits the palm of your hand and not only provides accurate colour rendering, but also high brightness, sturdy build quality and longevity at a low €215.00 ex VAT price.
Quality wise, Akurat Lighting is a typical Polish company: they provide the best at a competitive price. I remember reviewing one of the best spectrophotometers available some years ago, but almost totally unknown to a broad public — when Poland wasn’t yet a EU-member and marketing wasn’t in their dictionary. The spectrophotometer outperformed the best available X-Rite and GretagMacbeth meters. It looked like a brick but had a phenomenal accuracy and quality of build.
The Akurat video lights don’t look like bricks, while they do have all the other qualities Polish niche products should be known for. In this case: accurate colour rendering (R1-R14 greater than 95, including R9 and R12; Ra = 98) and a high luminous emittance. Having said that, robustness and sturdiness are also of importance, and all of the Akurat lights have that. They’re made of aluminium, the switches and rotary dim knobs are of the highest quality (no flicker at all when dimming) and proper dissipation of heat for when you want to use the LED lamp continuously.
Flexibility is another major issue with video lights and here as well the Akurat Lighting equipment performs well. Battery plates can be chosen from a large range of plates, a D-tap cable was delivered with my unit and continuous AC power is possible too (you need a power source in the range of 6-20V). Some of these accessories are paid options. For example, the battery plate costs €67.00, the 12V power adapter is a paid accessory as well, as is the clear plexiglass protection plate (€8.50 – €13.60) that you can mount to protect the LEDs from accidental damaging.
More flexibility with the V-WHITE model comes in the choice of two white balance settings: the ON/OFF switch does double duty as a switch between either daylight or tungsten.
All Akurat Lighting devices come in their own hard protection enclosure and so did the LL2120hc3 V-WHITE. That’s when its small size first became really apparent to me. I asked for an optional NP-battery plate to be installed but I could just as well have asked for a Panasonic, JVC or Canon plate. With a NP-F970 battery installed, the unit becomes quite bulky because the plate attaches to the back, but in return you get a hell of a runtime. A simple ‘green LED when OK, red when dead’ battery control that also serves as a battery eject button will tell you how much juice you have left.
Mounting the 270 grammes heavy Akurat Lighting LL2120hc3 V-WHITE is done either by using the hotshoe adapter or by using a 1/4 inch screw mount. The LL2120hc3 V-WHITE also has a traditional yoke, which facilitates the adjustment of the lamp’s direction on two axes. The light bundle itself extends to a 120 degree angle, which is sufficient to fill the whole video frame.
I tested the LL2120hc3 V-WHITE first with a spectrophotometer, then with a dSLR (photo only) and last but not least while shooting a corporate video. All tests relate to the daylight setting. The first test at a distance of 50cm revealed the following values:
- Lowest dim setting: 30 lx at 5770K
- Halfway setting (with a nice ‘bump’ as feedback): 470lx at 5800K
- Full setting: 850lx at 5800K.
In the second test I compared the results of taking a photo of an object at one metre. I first used a LumoPro LP180 flash set at 1/128 and zoom factor 50, and later the Akurat LL2120hc3 V-WHITE at its lowest and highest output setting. The camera was fixed at 1/125 and ƒ2.8.
The final test was to run the LL2120hc3 V-WHITE in a huge hall with a high ceiling. The hall was well lit with overhead fluorescent tubes, but the job required the internals of an industrial printer to be shot, so I decided to try using the LL2120hc3 as my “spotlight”. The light bundle had to be broad enough to illuminate the entire printer on the inside.
The first thing I noticed when I placed the Akurat LL2120hc3 V-WHITE at about one metre from the printer’s front was that it was quite capable of overpowering the bright fluorescent tubes overhead on the outside surface of the printer as well as the internal structure. For a lamp the size of your hand, that’s no small feat.
The second thing that struck me was that the lamp’s aluminium structure and cooling ribs were essential for my job. I had the lamp turned on for three consecutive hours and when I finally turned it off, it felt quite warm.
The last thing that I found surprising was that the total runtime of four hours I used the lamp did not deplete my NP-F570 — I had also taken a NP-F970 with me just to be on the safe side, but I didn’t need that bulky battery after all.
I’m impressed with the Akurat LL2120hc3 V-WHITE, that much is clear. My tests revealed the lamp stays close to the specifications and claims Akurat Lighting makes about it. The specs are high enough for the lamp to be used in even difficult environments as I experienced with the LL2120hc3 V-WHITE mounted on a tripod and used as fill light in a brightly lit hall.
My photo test clearly shows you can use the LL2120hc3 V-WHITE as a continuous photo light, with the lamp itself being lightweight enough to mount on your camera’s hotshoe.