11 September, 2013

Nanguang CN-160 LED Video (Photo) Light

I got this light:
Reasons for getting it were:
  1. More freedom in taking photos
  2. Take high speed videos
  3. As a battery-powered light source

As I needed it in a hurry, I bought it in a store, not from Amazon, which was much cheaper. Amazon has several models of light named CN-160, from various brands. They look exactly like this one, so I wonder if they're really rebranded versions. They also had smaller and bigger versions, but I thought this size was the right mix of brightness, portability and price.
It came with 3 filters, as you can see. People say the light has a greenish cast, which the pink filter removes, but it looks fine without the filter to me.
It accepts 5 types of batteries, including AA. This is useful if you're out or traveling. A word about batteries - I have a Sony DCR-TRV30 miniDV video camera, which uses the NP-FM50 battery, one of the batteries accepted by this light. My camera is 10 years old and hasn't been touched for the last 7 years. I thought the battery would be dead, but I was delighted when it managed to be charged!
The light is dimmable and has a battery check function.

  • Bright - I can't measure exactly how bright, but brighter than any of my torches. This is great for using as a portable light source.
  • Flicker-free, even at 1000 FPS. I didn't check this before I bought it, but I'm glad to say I can't see any flicker, even at 1000 FPS. LED lights are prone to flickering, due to their circuit design. I guess a video light that flickers is useless.
  • Dimmable
  • Accepts many types of batteries

The tripod mount socket is made of brass, I think, but the hinge and other parts are made of plastic. The screw joint has teeth so it locks into position.

  • A way to run off AC power - I think if I can just supply 7.5-9V to the battery poles, it'll work
  • It doesn't dim all the way - it dims, then cuts out totally. I wish it could dim lower before cutting out.

I haven't managed to take any comparison pictures of the light, but this is a picture I took using the light that I like:
I think it produces a very natural effect, which is great because I can take pictures without worrying about light sources.

Update 27 Nov 13
The power/dimming wheel became loose and fell off inside the light, making it unusable. This doesn't say much for the build quality of the light. The good news is, I managed to fix it. If your wheel is loose, I recommend fixing it before it totally falls off, or you might lose the screw, making it much harder to fix.
At least it's not made by Apple, so everything unscrews apart then screws together again. To disassemble it to this state requires removing 8 screws. There's supposed to be a screw on the power wheel in the picture above. It's missing, that's why the power wheel fell out.
The white wheel above is the potentiostat (? what's the difference between a variable resistor and a potentiostat? Why are potentiostats called potentiostats when they're not related to potential?) that the power wheel controls. The centre brass part is oval-shaped, and there's actually a similarly shaped depression in the wheel, so they should rotate together. The electronics are contained on 2 boards. The board on the right only seems to be for the power indicator LEDs.
This is that same board, flipped around. I screwed the power wheel back, using some nail polish as thread glue. It's more difficult to turn now. Hope it doesn't fall out again.

I also found some other uses for the light, as a portable light source. e.g when vacuuming:
(It doesn't really stay in this position, using only a Gorillapod.) With extra light, you can see dirt a lot more clearly!

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