Shooting video in the field can be a serious struggle in areas with inadequate lighting. Some field videographers opt to carry around huge light panels on tripods from location to location in order to get the best possible subject lighting in a variety of filming conditions. This can be an expensive and difficult proposal, which is where smaller panels such as the CN-160 come in.
The CN-160 is made by several different OEMs, but its performance is fairly consistent across the board. 160 individual LED lights are set in a rectangular grid and powered by one of five different battery types including: Panasonic CGR-D16S, Sony NP-FH70, NP-FM55H, NP-F550 and AA. This means the camera itself is almost universally compatible with the most popular battery types used in video recording. I personally use AA batteries with the CN-160 due to their wide availability and cost efficiency.
The light itself is made of durable plastic that mimics a classic lighting gear. A brightness dial on the left side allows you to adjust the intensity of the light from dim to blindingly bright very easily. A hotshoe mount with a threaded tripod mount makes it an easy addition to virtually any mobile setup.
The CN-160 comes with a set of plastic diffusion panels which diffuses and warms the light in order to fit a variety of shooting conditions and styles. In most situations, the frosted white diffuser works wonders.
A battery indicator on the back allows you to quickly check how much battery power is left in your CN-160. I’ve gone through a set of AA batteries after about a day of heavy shooting, which is more than I can say for my camera.
Does it Work?
Below, you’ll see two photos taken by a Canon Rebel T3i using a 50mm f/1.8 lens. The subject (Yoda) was placed on a dark brown table with diffused sunlight coming in from behind.
The first shot shows an abundance of shadows caused by the brighter light coming from behind. The table reflected this light and lost a lot of its natural color in the process. While this might be an artistic-looking shot, it wouldn’t work in cases where the subject’s face needs to be seen in full detail.
The second shot is done with CN-160 turned on to its lowest possible setting. This added just enough light to counter the backlighting and bring out the natural colors of the table. The product isn’t totally clear of shadows, but you can see the full detail of Yoda’s face.
This is just one example of how the addition of a relatively inexpensive light panel can dramatically change an image. Photographers who take photos with long exposures might find a light like this useful for artistic keying of nearby objects. It’s basically the one all-purpose light you can throw in your camera bag and put to good use when you need it most.
If you find yourself in need of a CN-160, you can pick up one right here!