Hands-On Review: Creative, Compact Lighting with the FIVERAY F100 & M40

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Zhiyun-Tech is sending us back to a galaxy far, far away with its new and improved FIVERAY F100 Tube Light and its familiar, lightsaber-esque shape. Your forays into new creative lighting configurations and terrains are assured to be well-lit with the FIVERAY F100 and the FIVERAY M40 in your kit.

For direct, on-camera lighting, look no further than the FIVERAY M40 video light. About the size of your hand, the M40 packs a powerful 40W output in an ultra-compact form factor. Two dials adjust either your color temperature from 2700 to 6500K or the light's brightness, while an LED indicator displays your battery status. The M40 features a built-in light shade, causing it to emit soft, pre-diffused light without the need for additional accessories. Best of all, an integrated bracket easily adjusts to mount it on an articulating arm or light stand using two 1/4"-20 threads.

Fiveray F100
Fiveray F100

The real star of this FIVERAY expansion, however, is the F100. Compared to its predecessor, the F100 boasts more power and PD fast charging capabilities. Run 2700 to 6200K CCT or HSI mode lighting for 31 minutes at its maximum 100W output, or 1 hour and 4 minutes at its 50W working power, for a high-powered fill in your portrait or product photography. Dual charging ports, one USB-C and one DC, offer expanded power compatibility, which can charge the light while in use. The F100 has the same wand design and dial control as the FR100C for intuitive and simple controls, and comes in the same black or white color options. There is also a Combo bundle, which offers a power source to keep your light running longer.

FIVERAY M40
FIVERAY M40

I was able to get my hands on the F100 (and some time in our studio) to put it through its paces and see what it had to offer. Here are the broad strokes of what I liked and wasn't so impressive.

PERKS

+ Compact form factor
+ Powerful light output
+ New creative modes: TV, candle, fire, SOS, faulty bulb, flash
+ Simple, intuitive controls

DRAWBACKS

- Dial control can feel clunky when adjusting brightness/saturation
- Included barndoors, grid, and diffuser require additional set-up time
- Limited to six creative modes

Breaking it Down

Major specification upgrades between the two FIVERAYs have created an objectively more powerful light. The number of LED chips in the F100 have been multiplied five times for a peak, ultra-bright luminance of 2300 lux at maximum power. The number of RGB chips have also been increased to 148 for vivid colors within the full 0 to 360° gamut, which shine two times brighter than the FR100C. A CRI of 96 and TLCI of 97 ensure color accuracy for natural color reproduction. Additionally, the F100 features six new creative effect modes from a TV flicker to a fireplace glow. Included barndoors, soft grid, and diffuser provide greater control over the light's overall feel.

Light Control Accessories
Light Control Accessories

Taking a Swing (Metaphorically)

Unboxing the F100 is a satisfying experience due to its wand-like shape. It feels nice and balanced in your hand and features a cushioned grip at the front. The form factor is fun and functional, making the F100 ideal for smaller studio spaces and gimbal-mounted configurations. You could easily pair it with your new SMOOTH 5S smartphone gimbal or tried and true WEEBILL series camera gimbal for a powerful fill light that remains out of your shot.

SMOOTH 5S Pro
SMOOTH 5S Pro

In comparison to larger LED panels, the F100 can be positioned in smaller areas and offer a highlight or expanded fill without spilling into the broader light of the space. It can easily hide under furniture or be clamped onto the side of stands or railings. This gives you more subtle ways to control your lighting environment that are otherwise unachievable with rectangular or round panels and monolights, which also often require C-stands for mounting.

Turning the light on and toggling through its modes is super simple with the integrated screen and dial. It took me a minute to figure out exactly how to adjust each parameter but, once I did, it was smooth sailing. As much as the dial was intuitive when it came to reducing saturation, brightness, and scrolling across the color gamut, it did feel tedious when making larger jumps from 0 to 100% or 0 to 360°.

Multiple included accessories expand the light's capabilities even further. The barndoors click easily onto the F100 and can adjust the directionality of the LEDs. Once equipped, you can then attach the included soft grid or diffuser to the light. Switching these accessories in and out does require additional set-up time, so I'm unsure how useful they would be when used on a gimbal in a vlogging or run-and-gun context. It's nice to have them, regardless, but something to keep in mind.

The benefit of getting time in the studio was getting to really see the F100 in action. Once I had it mounted on the light stand and the main lights in the space were turned off, I had a much better idea of how powerful this light is. It boasts a wide range of adjustable settings that can make the light as intense or as subtle as you'd like, all in one slim form factor. If you really wanted to utilize the F100 in a studio setting, be prepared to require an extra set of hands to switch between the included accessories if you want maximum efficiency. Placing the grid and diffuser onto the barndoors required me to take the light off the stand and use both hands.

Keeping that in mind, this light is designed for the creator, for the freelancer who wants an all-in-one tool that can be mounted on their gimbal. It offers enough features to give you some creative, fun lighting effects while being an effective fill light when needed. Its interface is not complicated, so it could be considered too barebones for the more seasoned, lighting-conscious filmmaker. But, if you want a sleek LED light with a simple control layout and space-saving design, the F100 is the one for you.

Do you see the FIVERAY line making a difference in your gear loadout? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below. For more details on both lights and the new SMOOTH 5S smartphone gimbal, visit their product pages on the B&H website.

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