Top critical review
Two steps forward, one step back
October 15, 2018
I've tried a variety of photography lights over the years. When I started in photography, I used the classic incandescent bulbs in metal cans with steel or aluminum barn doors (man, did they get hot). I then moved on to CFLs (Compact fluorescent lamps) with reflective umbrellas. Then I experimented with large light boxes using CFLs (still the best, IMHO, but bulky and not very portable). Finally, I made the jump to LEDs and started with a three-pack set of Neewer single-color dimmable LEDs (NEEWER CN-216 216PCS). They were battery-powered only (one single Sony-type battery), in plastic housings, and about the size of an old VHS tape in surface area. The lights came with amber and purplish diffusers which could be slid in the front of lights for color changes.
This light set here is very interesting. It's metal, of solid construction, and the barn doors are functional (allowing you to direct your light somewhat). You must use AC or two Sony-type batteries.
I tested this pair side-by-side with my old Neweer set, and the older Neweer set was as bright if not brighter. Also, the fact that you can use one battery in the old units is an advantage in one sense, you don't have to buy and carry around several batteries. I suppose on the other hand, the newer light set using two batteries should run longer. Although I didn't count the LEDs, my educated guess is that the newer and older Neewer LED lights have the same number of white LEDs, and the reason this newer set of lights is larger is because of the inclusion of yellow/orange/amber LEDs. Also, while the older light set was plastic, they were more compact and also lighter. Tough call here because I like the durability of metal, but not the added weight.
All in all, I'm disappointed with the features of this set. I think they could have doubled the white LED count and had some super-bright lights for studio or outdoor use, and simple colored defusers could have been used instead of dedicated yellow/orange/amber LEDs. The bi-color feature feels a bit gimmicky. It's difficult for me to imagine a scenario where a videographer or photographer would want heavy yellow or amber tones in a shot. Maybe if you wanted someone to think you shot at sunset or by candlelight only?
I'm going to keep the set because I think they'll be good for studio work. But I'm going to keep the older set for their lightweight and portability. If you don't already have a set of lights, I'd say stick with the older Neewer set. They are a fifth of the cost of this newer style, and I honestly think they came out with this newer style because they "feel" and "look" premium with the metal construction, but I just don't think they add much more function or a better value.