This Thing Rules

Finally, an affordable video light that's actually fantastic

Elevate your Zoom meetings, Twitch streams, or YouTube videos with this affordable LED panel light.

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Now that we’re all taking meetings at home, video has only become more important. We did a piece on ring lights, which are great, but they’re a little tricky to use, and they’re not as versatile as regular old panel lights. They’re also more expensive, as we’ll see.

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But first, before we get into this sick light, we should probably talk about lighting. How can lights be used to make you look good on video? What makes for a good light?

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The first thing you should know about is diffusion. If you point a flashlight at your face, you’re going to look like a psycho, which is great for campfire stories but not so great for a performance review with your boss.

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Even ring lights don’t offer much in the way of diffusion. Sure, they give you that cool highlight in the eyes, but when pros use right lights in the studio, they’re often used in conjunction with a fill light, which does have a lot of diffusion and in turn offers flattering, soft light with none of the harsh shadows you get from an undiffused light.

CPE

Neewer Ultra-Thin 192 LED Video Light Panel

This brings us to the Neewer's Ultra-Thin 192 LED Video Light Panel. I’ll be real with you: Neewer gear is often super cheap and almost crap, but it works. This light, though, changes the friggin’ game. Here’s why.

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$56.99 on Amazon

First, this Neewer panel light is a dotless LED light. That is to say, it doesn’t really need any kind of external diffuser, like a cloth or a diffusion gel. This alone puts it ahead of the last decade or so of video production LED panels.

192 LEDs

Even though Neewer's light panel is dotless, it includes a ton of LEDs, making it super bright.

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Second, this sucker has a battery built right in. Sure, it only lasts a couple of hours, but for long shoots or streams, you should probably plug it in. Which you can do.

8,000 mAh

This panel includes a pretty decently-sized internal battery.

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Warm or cool lights

Third, this panel has a pretty wide range of color temperatures. It goes from 3200k to 5600k, meaning that no matter what weirdo lights you have in your room, it can match them. Make sure you’re not using mixed lights, by the way; that’s a recipe for disaster.

A panel light like this for $50 is, frankly, incredible. Just a few years ago the same thing (a panel light and a diffusion box) would cost you more than twice as much. But we all know that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, so what corners are cut to get to this price point?

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Corners cut

The biggest and most notable is the dumb mounting thing that ships with the light. It only bends on one axis and it’s very cheap, so I replaced it with a mini ball-head immediately. The other is the plastic housing material; it’s a little flimsy, but hey, it works.

Nice legs

Part of what makes this light so great is the tripod I have it mounted on. I will probably do a dedicated This Thing Rules on it in the future, but just between us it’s a Sirui Mini Tripod with the extension. It is so cool.

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