Phottix M200R & M500R RGB LED Review
by Michael Sewell
You know, considering I'm a dedicated stills-only type of guy, I'm getting a lot of LED panels for review. To be honest, I've been pleasantly surprised by all those I've reviewed, not only by their features and abilities but by the fact I've actually found them very useful.
I've used flash for over forty years, and I considered constant light sources to be in the realm of video work. That perception has changed, even with the smaller led panels, which is partly down to the quality of light they produce, and also the available power too.
In this product review, I'll take a close look at the Phottix M200R & Phottix M500R RGB Panel lights. As I always like to try kit out with some real-world photography, I set up a product shoot that you can emulate for your own product photography. Read on to find out more.
Phottix M200R RGB LED Light & Powerbank
The Phottix M200R RGB Led Light & Powerbank is no larger than most phones. Nice and compact, meaning there's no limitations regarding portability. If you can pack a phone, you can pack this.
There are two ¼” threaded mount points on the panel, allowing the M200R to be fixed to a tripod, clamp etc. There's one on the bottom, and one on the side opposite the controls, allowing the panel to be orientated in either landscape or portrait.
The controls are along one edge. Easily identified and simple to use. The display is small, but very clear and easy to understand. It provides information on the estimated battery time remaining, colour temperature, brightness and more.
M200R In Use
Macro isn't something I usually pursue, although I did enjoy the challenge in my youth. The M200R was small enough that I could handhold the camera in one hand, and move the led panel to the required position without effort. What I particularly like is the ability to see exactly the effect the light is having on your subject, and make changes according, before taking the first shot.
These two images just demonstrate how easy it was to see the difference in the positioning of the light. The difference in shadows and detail was quite pronounced, and allowed me to preview the best lighting option prior to taking the shot.
Phottix M500R RGB LED Panel Light
The Phottix M500R RGB Led Panel is much larger than the M200R, more akin to a small tablet / iPad size. Interestingly, the operation and features are pretty much identical. Whereas the M200R had two mounting points, the M500R is large enough to have three.
The M500R comes supplied with a very high-quality Varos Pro light stand mount. It's made from metal with a good solid locking mechanism. The quality of the mount surprised me, as they are often an afterthought. Kudos to Phottix!
Weight-wise, the M500R is heavier than the M200R, obviously, with it being larger. The M200R weighed 200g, whereas the M500R is 992g. But, whilst the M200R has a maximum output of 10W, the M500R is more than double at 24W, which is quite a bit brighter.
By pressing the "Mode" button you can access three modes, which feature in all Phottix RGB Panels, including the M200R and M500R covered in this review, as well as the pocket-sized M100R and the largest of all the options, the M1000R.
The default mode is CCT (Colour Temperature Control) which is very straightforward to use and adjust. This mode allows you to adjust the colour temperature between 3200K and 5600K.
HSI mode allows you to select the H (hue) and S (saturation) from a 360-degree range of RGB colours. A great feature for creative lighting.
In Effects mode you get access to 21 video effects, including flash, candle, police, strobe lights, fireworks, nightclub and more. Turning the select/adjustment switch will then allow you to choose from three variations of each effect.
Phottix RBG panels are charged via USB-C socket, and also incorporate a second output USB socket, allowing you to use them as a power bank to charge other devices. For the M200R in particular, this feature meant I really had no valid argument against taking it everywhere in my camera bag. It simply replaced my ageing power bank. Bonus!
M500R In Use
This is a very simple product shoot on white. Absolutely nothing fancy. The M500R was placed camera right on a lightstand and angled down towards the subject. To create the fill light frame left of the subject, I made use of a silver card. It was simply placed on the table, and moved until I had the amount of fill light I wanted, without the card fouling the frame.
This behind-the-scenes image shows the positions of the M500R and card, in relevance to the subject and camera.
The M200R is particularly portable, with a wide range of uses, even in stills photography. It's small, with extremely good battery life. I've used it far more often than I originally thought I would. As an example, it made a nice, quick lighting solution for a food shoot that was sprung on me out of the blue.
The M500R is a great panel to use, and as shown above, extremely capable for product photography, even as a sole light source.
The controls are very straightforward, and to be perfectly honest, it doesn't take much poking and prodding to work out their use and relevance, should you forget your user manual.
The light stand adaptor was a really nice surprise, as the quality surpasses most of the adaptors I already own. The build quality of the panel is outstanding, and I'd expect it to brush off the knocks and bounces equipment tends to get when used on location.
My wife is increasingly using her phone (or my phone, for that matter), to create behind-the-scenes videos of the dancers she shoots. These LED panels have also helped there, making them a nifty tool for both stills and video applications.