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Review: F&V R300 Ringlight

I'm revisiting ring lights because I found one that addressed the two things that wanted to be different when I reviewed the Rosco Ring Light http://buff.ly/1u7t08l last year. The F&V R300 is a different design, with LEDs facing the subject instead of into a white plastic. It also has a battery holder on the right of the light, and a built-in power/dimmer on the left. The exact two things I said I wanted in a ringlight. But how does it light?

Batteries, Dimmers, and Rail Supports

There's a built-in battery holder (Figure 4, below) for the Sony-style NP-F batteries (Infolithium-L) that have been a standard on the market for nearly 20 years. The light comes with one small 2-cell battery and that lasts for a good 60 straight minutes of full-on use. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on how you have the brightness set with the built-in power/dimmer dial. Larger batteries will double and triple run time.

Figure 4. The battery holder on the back of the R300 holds a standard Sony-style NP-F Infolithium battery. Click the image to see it full size. 

This dial (Figure 5, below) is on the left, easy for a camera operator to reach and adjust while the light is on the camera. Under the dial is a DC port so you can jack in 10-18v and not have to worry about a battery in the light. Good for when you use it on a stand, or if you already have a 12v source powering your camera kit.

Figure 5. The easy-to-reach left-side dial allows you to dim the light. Click the image to see it at full size.

F&V also included a rail support system for my camera (Figure 6, below). I just rechecked their website and I didn't see it listed there, but they do still have bracket that will attach the light to either a light stand or a standard 15mm rail system. The bracket allows the light to slide forward or back, and to be adjusted up and down to fit around your lens. Alltogether, it's a very nice and tightly integrated system.

Figure 6. The rail support system included with my eval unit. Click the image to see it at full size.

The LEDs

The R300 has been around for a few years and, as such, it has a CRI (color rendering index) of about 85. It's not as high as the latest generation of LED lights that are now touting a CRI of 90 or above. So the R300 may not be as good at rendering skin tones as these newer LED lights. But finding a ringlight with a high CRI is a lot harder. Especially one at this price point ($199).

The 300 LEDs pack a punch, and when you remove all the filters, you have an open-faced LED panel that you can use like any other LED panel (Figure 7, below). The R300 doesn't have to be a ringlight. It can be a set light, back light, effect light--any light you want. The integrated battery, dimmer, and light weight make that possible.

Figure 7. The R300's LEDs without filters. Click the image to see it at full size.

Plus, at no point have I felt any part of it even very warm at all. So you can pretty much use this anywhere. It even fits inside a gallon ziplock bag (Figure 8, below) if you needed to use it in a wet location.

Figure 8. The R300 in a gallon ziplock bag for shooting under wet conditions. Click the image to see it at full size.