Led has always been mainly for video. Occasionally they may be used for photos, but the lack of power and color accuracy is something that most will stay away and stick with flash. Nanlite (previously Nanguang) introduce something interesting this time around. The Nanlite 300 is the fine line between flash and general leds. It may not be strong enough to replace big studio flashes, but its pretty much on par with a speed light, comes in a bowen mount, and pretty accurate in colors. Interested? Read down below.
Disclaimer: This light is loaned from my local retailer, SLR Revolution. I am not given any money to write this review and will have to return it soon.
The Forza 300 is very well built. All metal construct, grooved locking knobs on the head to hold up any modifier you put infront of it, and a metal ballast with plugs that locks to prevent accidental removal. It runs on either 2x V Mount battery or with the adapter that comes with it. The ballast (the metal tower on the left) controls the light and houses all the batteries. It comes with a metal clamp that allows the ballast to be mounted on the light stand, acting as a weight to ensure stability.
The head itself is light (2kg) as all controls and power management is housed on the ballast. Power can be changed from 1% to 100% and there are host of light effects such as tv and broken bulbs for those that want to shoot videos and simulate those conditions. The power can also be separately controlled by Nanguang remote controller as long as the channel is properly setup.
The power goes from 1-100%, however it never felt like it is 1%. It is closer to 5-100% instead but that probably does not matter as most will not be getting it for extreme low light usage without a modifier. At 1m with the reflector provided, it measures over 32500lux, that is pretty bright. (Most light sticks measure at around 3000lux) Color temperature ranges from 5780-5820, which is fantastic and better then even most studio flashes.
However power is just one of the parameters of light, the more important aspect is: How great is the color?
In short, great but could just be a little better.
Above is the image of a Sekonic C700 Spectrometer that measures color accuracy in terms of CRI. 94.2 is the measurement at minimum power while 96.0 is the measurement at maximum power. To put into perspective, flashes are usually in the 98-99 region while the sun is like 99.9. Both never quite reach the 98 rated by Nanlite. The little brother Forza 60 did not reach the 98 CRI either but at did scored a minimum of 96 and a maximum of 96.9.
However CRI is ultimately a average of multiple spectrum, the important part is how does skin tone reacts and for that its pretty good. As long as you are not lower then 10%, it easily passes 90 point for red, pink and biege. What that means is skin tones will render naturally, with good accuracy and tones. I put it to the test below.
On the back left acting as a rim light was the Forza 60 while on the right top mounted with a beauty box + socks setup, was the Forza 300. With a bowen mount, the Forza 300 makes finding and mounting modifiers for it a breeze. Rather then talk about the colors, I will let the pictures below show the results.
Shot at about ISO 400, F5.6, 1/100, the results turn out pretty good. 3 different outfit, 3 different color, great skin tone output. Editing it was a breeze, there was no resistance when pushing color or weird tones that make Led light editing tricky. Overall color especially for skin tones was great, the 3 different Qi Pao also look rather stunning in terms of colors and details. With the ability to put mods, this is a great light for video and photos.
In summary, it is a great light. Color could have been a little better, especially considering the price, but even as it is, this ranks one of the best led lights I measured so far. Coupled with the ability to put mods, this is a great light both for video and photo works in a studio.
You can get the Nanlite Forza 300 from SLR Revolution for about $1300 SGD.
Portraits were shot with theFujifilm GFX100 or and the Forza 300 product shots were done with the Olympus EM1MX