Let there be more light.
With photography and videography becoming extremely popular, we all now have a good quality camera in our pockets, folks they also expect a certain degree of professional quality from the images they view and create.
In tandem with this increase in content – online, on social media, on TV – and as interest in content creation increases, the tools to support the creation of your best work are also becoming more accessible, flexible and powerful.
If you’re looking to take your camera work (whether your photos are still or moving) to the next level, something like a glow stick is a good investment, as it gives you more flexibility to control the lighting anywhere, for better and more creative results.
Having decided to equip his smartphone and camera gimbals with ever brighter integrated and magnetic lights, it made sense for Zhiyun to launch his first entirely self-contained dedicated lighting product for photographers, videographers and filmmakers.
The Fiveray FR100C is a portable glowstick, measuring approximately 502x46x47mm, roughly the same size as, say, a full-sized baguette.
Five times brighter than comparable portable lighting accessories from other companies, according to Zhiyun, the FR100C also has full control over the light temperature range, a large six-cell rechargeable battery, 120W PD fast charging via USB-C and simple, ergonomic wheel control, so it can be used with just one hand.
The FR100C is certainly capable of extreme brightness. The first time we held it, clicking and twisting the control dial out of chimpanzee trivia, when the stick suddenly brightened to near-full illumination, it practically burned our eyeballs. Blindingly bright doesn’t do it justice.
After regaining use of sight and pointing the light side of the stick away from our face (helpful hint, take note), we were able to cycle through the FR100C’s various settings and the full 100 levels of adjustment of its brightness range complete. at 21195 lux (at a distance of 30 cm from the object/subject). We can’t imagine any situation on Earth, perhaps even in space, where the FR100C can’t shed useful light on the process.
Weighing in at just under a kilo (about 920g), it’s easy enough to hold for long periods without too much discomfort. The FR100C can also be mounted to a tripod or boom arm via the standard 1/4″ threaded hole, so it can be permanently positioned for longer shots without the need for human arms. The stick shape of the FR100C also FR100C lends itself well to placement in tight spaces, where a round lamp might struggle to fit.
The light temperature range covers 2700K-6300K, which is pretty much all the tones and shades of white you could ever need, in addition, RGB hue, saturation and brightness are available using the HIS color mode for more creative lighting.
Everything about the FR100C can be controlled from the scroll wheel, with data feedback coming to you via the status display just above it. It’s a very easy tool to use: It gets the job done (lightly – and a lot) and is as easy and intuitive to adjust as it could be, so it doesn’t get in the way of whatever image goal you’re trying to achieve.
Clicking in one of the wheel’s four areas lets you control key parameters, such as the HSI (Hue, Saturation, Intensity) menu, which introduces neon tones into the light; a maximum output option (extremely bright, but proportionally power hungry); the CCT option, whereby you can dial in the color temperature, and a fourth option which dims the intensity of the stick. Being lightweight, it’s very obvious to see what’s happening when you click and scroll the wheel, so fine-tuning the effect is perfectly straightforward.
There is potentially a lot of heat to be generated from such bright lighting and its 100W of power, so Zhiyun has equipped the FR100C with built-in cooling fans. These also allow the glow stick to accompany you in any ambient temperature conditions, such as enclosed spaces, underground places, in the desert, etc.
The fans rarely kicked in during our tests, during which we kept the light on at high (not full) brightness for a couple of hours. Even when they booted up, the noise was minimal, so it shouldn’t prove too intrusive if you also happen to be recording audio at the same time.
It’s not waterproof, so you can’t use it outdoors during a rainstorm or for underwater lighting. It seems at least reasonably durable and ships with a slip-on cover, so it’s easy to tuck it safely into a bag and take it anywhere. It doesn’t bend, so its “laser saber” shape needs to be accommodated, but it’s no more awkward than a tripod or other camera accessories.
It’s the work of seconds to set up, so for “run and gun” photography or filming work, especially in public places, it can be a real time-saver.
The big advantage of something like the FR100C is that you don’t rely on available light for the best shots. You can amplify the lighting for a dramatic effect or more subtly integrate natural light tones. Having a self-contained dedicated light source also allows the camera operator to position themselves separately from the light. It really opens up a lot more possibilities for more interesting results. The FR100C’s reduced, more diffuse light temperature can also be less harsh and spot-specific than a flashgun, or it can be used in tandem to achieve certain effects.
The FR100C is available in a black or white finish (we tested black). Since the launch of this, its first light stick product, just a few months ago, Zhiyun also recently announced an additional model, the F100, with some interesting improvements (such as brighter colors in RGB mode and special effects), although there are it is a related price increase.
For many people, the FR100C’s brightness is likely to be bright enough. As with most Zhiyun products, you have two purchase options: just the FR100C or a combo kit that includes a 120W switching adapter. Of course, there’s a premium for the combo kit. Regardless of how you charge the FR100C, you can continue to use it while charging, which is ideal for everyday use.
The FR100C is a great solution for any photographer or filmmaker who has ever found themselves regretting the low light conditions available in what would otherwise be the perfect location for a memorable shot. ‘Fix it in post’ is perfectly fine, but it’s best to get the best results in the first place. Zhiyun’s Fiveray Light Wand will help you get the best results every time.
Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C
Combo pack with 120W PSU, £189
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