MANUFACTURER: Akurat Lighting
PRODUCT: LL2120hc3 V-White
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 aluminum-cased, high brightness LL2120hc3 V-White fits in the palm of your hand and not only provides accurate color rendering, but also high brightness, sturdy build quality and longevity at a low price of approximately $274.
Quality wise, Akurat Lighting is a typical Polish company: they provide good quality with no eye at all for design, 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 color rendering (R1-R14 greater than 95, including R9 and R12; Ra = 98) and a high lighting performance. They are robust too, and like all of the Akurat lights, the V-White is made of aluminum, while the switches and rotary dim knobs are of the highest quality (no flicker at all when dimming). Proper dissipation of heat is provided for through a heatsink for those times 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, 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, a clear plexiglass protection plate that you can mount to protect the LEDs from accidental damaging, costs between $15 and $22.
More flexibility with the V-White model, which I tested, comes in the choice of two white balance settings: the on/off switch does double duty as a switch between either daylight or tungsten. There is another model, the B1120mix3 high CRI, which allows you to mix the two color temperatures to create your own color temperature as needed.
All Akurat Lighting devices come in their own hard protection enclosure. With the NP-F970 battery installed into the optional battery plate I asked for, the unit became quite bulky, as the plate attaches to the back. But in return, you get a hell of a runtime. A simple battery control that also serves as a battery eject button, will tell you how much juice you have left.
Mounting the 270g LL2120hc3 V-White is done either by using a hotshoe adapter or by using a ¼-inch screw mount. The LL2120hc3 V-White also has a traditional yoke, which allows you to direct the light more up or downwards. 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 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.
My toughest test was to use 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,” despite the 120-degree angle not really allowing for a concentrated light bundle. That wouldn’t have worked anyway, as 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 meter from the front of the printer was that it was quite capable of overpowering the bright fluorescent tubes overhead, illuminating the printer’s internal structure just enough. The second thing that struck me was that the lamp’s aluminum structure and cooling ribs were essential for the 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 battery— 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. My tests revealed the lamp stays close to the specs 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.