SmallRig RC220 Bi-Color LED Review: Accurate and Affordable

SmallRig’s 220 Watt RC220B LED Light is a highly anticipated update to the RC120 LED Series. While the D version is daylight balanced, the B model we tested offers a color balance of 2700K to 6500K. After making several smaller vlogger-style LED lights, it seems that with this update, SmallRig is officially entering the world of professional continuous lighting.

The updated system appears to have simply modernized the RC120 body with a more powerful set of internals, allowing existing users to keep the same bags, boxes, and modifiers they already own. Out of the box, the RC 220B lamp comes in a semi-rigid carrying case which includes the lamp itself with a protective plastic cap, a large reflector, as well as the power supply and the cable allowing a distance of about twenty feet from the socket to the light.

Design and build quality

The light itself looks nearly identical to the compact RC120 model with an integrated handle on the back of the body for a secure grip when handling or making adjustments on a light stand. The lamp body itself consists of a metal chassis and a plastic housing, as well as a rigid plastic lamp holder and a clamping crank.

In my testing, I felt like the plastic might break when I tightened the light on a pole, but to my surprise, even with heavy pressure, it held up. I wouldn’t recommend going crazy with the pressure, but for what most users would need, the mounts were durable and secure enough.

The light itself features a Bowens compatible mount for modifiers with a quick release lock on top of the light. Seeing a new LED system using a somewhat industry standard mount was nice, especially since I already had several modifiers I could experiment with. If Bowen isn’t your thing, the stand has a built-in umbrella holder on the side.

The back of the LED features a rather minimalist design and houses the power cable, an on/off switch, an LCD display and two thumbwheel buttons that control intensity, color temperature and effects.

The light is cooled by a fan which, even when turned on, was surprisingly quiet and unobtrusive. When recording video, even the slightest sound can be picked up by the microphones on set, but compared to some of the LED lights I’ve tested recently, this one was by far the quietest.

Also, even after leaving the light on at full power for several hours, the fans kept the light from getting too hot and it wasn’t difficult to manipulate at all. According to the company, the fan automatically turns on when the temperature reaches 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit) and the noise emitted is 30 decibels or less.

It should also be noted that this light has an optional V-mount battery plate which would allow you to purchase a separate 14.4V/26V battery (not included) to connect to this rig and use LED in areas where direct power is not available. . Keep in mind that users would need a very powerful battery to enjoy it, but the option is there.

Features and Settings

The new RC 220B lamp features standard (adjustable) color temperature and brightness control from 2700K to 6500K, as well as a selection of special effects that are best suited for video shooters. This new light also includes a built-in Bluetooth controller that allows you to control the light and change just about any setting through the SmallGoGo app available for iPhone and Android users.

Using the app is great once you’ve signed in, but to be fair, the sign-in process was somewhat counter-intuitive and required me to go to the company’s YouTube channel to search for a guide on how to specifically add the lights via Bluetooth. The process was a little too rough for my liking, but it’s a first-gen that should only improve with future firmware and software updates.

To connect the light to the Bluetooth app, you must press and hold the reset button on the light for approximately five seconds to initiate Bluetooth pairing.

SmallGoGo-App-Screens

The app allows users to easily turn on, turn off, or change any of the available settings, including brightness, color temperature, and enabling or adjusting special effect options.

Special effects options are becoming commonplace in modern LEDs for video work, but features are always fun and welcome. This light includes settings for Flash/Paparazzi, Lightning Bolts, Party Lights, TV, Fireplace, Fireworks and a few others that allow for interesting and creative background setups when shooting video. Unfortunately, none of these have any real value for stationary shooters.

Light quality and performance

According to the company, with the metal reflector mounted, the light is rated at 84,500 lux and has a TLCI of 96+, CRI of 95+. To put this in a normal strobe perspective. With this light at full power using a large softbox, I was able to light corporate portraits (as well as creative portraits) at around ISO 500 with an f-stop of 5 without any issues, 6. By no means “perfect” but still very usable and actually much more powerful than I expected from the system.

Headshot Station Setup - SmallRig LED Main with Profoto Fill Lights

BTS SmallRig

In the short time I tested this light, the color temperature was very accurate, with a deviation of only 100-150 Kelvin depending on where I placed it. While not absolutely perfect, it was quite impressive considering the very low cost of light and still sits well within the same acceptable variance levels as most professional strobes.

The bottom line is that other than having to raise my ISO, the light is very usable on its own (as seen in the portraits) or even when mixed with other lights like the portraits shown in the pictures below. For the shots in this review I used the SmallRig RC 220B as the main light with Profoto B2 heads used for the bottom and rim lights.

Example of a small rig portrait

Example of a small rig portrait

Example of a small rig portrait

Headshot lit with SmallRig LED

Headshot lit with SmallRig LED

Headshot lit with SmallRig LED

Headshot lit with SmallRig LED

Affordable continuous lighting for photography and videography

The 220B light is more powerful than its predecessor and surprisingly usable for pro-level photo and video work with precise color temperature control. While the light isn’t perfect or loaded with tons of bells and whistles, it is small, light, portable and can be powered directly from an outlet or via a battery, which makes it much more versatile than I originally expected.

As a creator primarily focused on stills, I’d prefer to have more power output, but that higher output will likely come at a much higher cost. Considering the low $370 price of the light, the power on offer is actually quite impressive and certainly usable for producing pro-level images.

Are there alternatives?

Since this LED is more affordable, there are actually a number of similarly priced alternatives available, each with their own pros and cons per dollar. Initially, if you don’t need the extra horsepower of the $369 RC220B, you can save around $100 and go with the 120B also from SmallRig. Additionally, you can choose from any of the other alternatives like the $199 Aputure Amaran 100D, $520 Nanlite Forza 200, $475 Rotolight AEOS Handheld Bi-Color LED, $449 Godox/Flashpoint FV200 and the SL-100Y at $189 or the SL-200WII at $395. .

Each of these lights will give you a little more or less power and function related to their asking price, so depending on what you need from a continuous LED system, each of them is a valid alternative. However, the RC220B seems to offer the best value for money when it comes to light output.

Should you buy it?

Yes. If you’re a hybrid shooter looking for an affordable, expandable, and quiet lighting system for your video and still working, the SmallRig RC220B is definitely worth considering.

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