Best daylight LED studio lights? iFootage Anglerfish review
iFootage is best known for tripods, monopods, and accessories (including these excellent magic arms), but recently they expanded their product lineup to include daylight LED lights and modifiers. Despite their lack of experience in the lighting business, iFootage claims to have achieved a superior level of color accuracy that more closely mimics the look and feel of natural daylight (the gold standard for lighting) compared to similar studio LEDs from more well established brands.
- Industry leading color accuracy
- Solid contstruction and materials
- Quiet internal fans while running
- Glitchy, unpredictable mobile application
- Cannot use v-mount batteries for portable power
- 220DN lacks a u-mount stand
I wanted to put their claims to the test, so iFootage graciously provided me with the following Anglerfish lights and modifiers for this review:
- SL1 60DN (70 watt, 5600k daylight LED)
- SL1 220DN (220 watt, 5600k daylight LED)
- SL1 320DN (320 watt, 5600k daylight LED)
- 50cm (20") Lantern Softbox
- 65cm (25") Lantern Softbox
- 60cm (24") Dome Softbox
- 90cm (35") Dome Softbox
- Mini Bowens to Full Size Bowens Adapter (for SL1 60DN)
- V-Mount Handheld Grip (for SL1 60DN)
Disclaimer: iFootage has not paid for or sponsored this review, nor have they seen this review prior to publication. Everything you will read here is my opinion and experience testing and using the products.
Anglerfish LED lights overview
All three Anglerfish LEDs produce continuous light at a fixed color temperature of 5600 kelvin (plus or minus 200). This temperature emulates the look of natural sunlight, and is a standard industry kelvin value for photography, videography and filmmaking.
The 60DN has output power of 70 watts and 12,200 lux at one meter, the 220DN has 220 watts and 42,000 lux (with its provided reflector), and the 320DN has 320 watts and 56,000 lux (again, with reflector).
Each light is housed in a durable aluminum alloy enclosure with standard light stand mounts. The 60DN and 220DN have large twist knobs for adjusting angle within ~150 degrees, while the 320DN has a u-stand for rotating the light a full 360 degrees.
Power, brightness and other controls are built directly into the 60DN, while the 220 and 320DN have external control units (shown below). The latter have straps for hanging on light stands or c-stands, simple black and white OLED displays, DMX connectors for light boards, and large scroll wheels for adjusting brightness. Long power cords are included for connecting the lights and plugging them into standard household outlets.
All three lights are passively cooled through open vents on their top and bottom, with additional cooling provided (if necessary) by internal fans that automatically power on and change speed. You can see when the fans are running (and how fast) on their OLED panel displays (see below).
Light is continuous by default, but additional effects are available including "fireworks", "strobe", "paparazzi", "explosion", "pulsing", "faulty bulb", "lightning" and "welding". The Anglerfish lights also offer four dimming curve options ("linear", "logarithmic", "exponential" and "s-curve") that modify how brightness values ease when raised and lowered.
All three lights come with padded, form-fitted carrying cases with iFootage red and black branding for travel and transport. (A cheaper version of the 60DN without a padded case is also available). Bowens mount reflectors and protective caps are also included.
When a lighting manufacturer claims their lights are "color accurate", they're referring to the accuracy of colors illuminated by their light. How authentic and true the colors are, and whether the light is changing the natural appearance of a subject. It can also mean less technical work in post color correcting photos and videos.
To test the color accuracy of all three Anglerfish lights, I used a Sekonic C-800-U. This is a highly advanced, industry standard spectrometer that measures, quantifies and visualizes a wide assortment of lighting metrics, including CRI (the most common metric lighting companies reference), but also better, more sophisticated metrics like SSI, TLCI and TM-30.
Net result? All three Anglerfish lights are very color accurate. Every test with the Sekonic confirmed what iFootage claims, with fantastic color fidelity and accuracy across the board.
My first test was CRI (Color Rendering Index), the most commonly used metric amongst lighting manufacturers. Here are the results from the 60DN, 220DN and 320DN.
All three Anglerfish lights scored ~98 (on a scale of 0-100), which is very good. This test also shows how well each individual color performed, with each light displaying high color accuracy.
Now let's now take a look at SSI (Spectral Similarity Index). This test compares one light against another. Because iFootage claims high similarity to actual daylight, I used the Sekonic's CIE D55 preset. All three Anglerfish LED lights scored in the low 80s (on a scale of 0-100), which is a good score for a COB LED light.
Next test, TLCI (Television Lighting Consistency Index). This test is based on the first 18 colors of an X-Rite Color Checker using a television broadcast camera as the observer. Like CRI, the higher the TLCI score (on a scale of 0-100), the more accurate the colors. As seen in the screenshots below, all three lights scored 99, which is a near perfect score.
Finally, we have TM-30. I like this test the most, for it evaluates the fidelity of a larger sample size (99 colors) and measures whether those colors are under or over saturated. Rf measures fidelity (on a scale of 0-100), and Rg measures saturation (on a scale of 60-140, with 100 being the ideal target). The Sekonic C-800 also graphically displays fidelity and saturation in the form of a red circle on a color spectrum. Ideally, the red circle should be perfectly round with no individual hues deviating inside (undersaturated) or outside (oversaturated) the black line underneath.
The result? As shown below, the Anglerfish lights have very high color fidelity (~98) and near spot-on saturation.
To give these results some context, I then used the Sekonic light meter to test my Godox UL150. This is the key light I've been using for all my photos and videos for the past couple of years. The UL150 also has high CRI and great color accuracy, but once we dig into the individual colors and test larger sample sizes we begin to see some differences.
For example, in the CRI test below, both lights scored high, but the UL150 struggled with a few colors; most notable dark blue/violet.
In the SSI test comparing each light against mid-morning and early afternoon sunlight, the UL150 scored a comparatively low 72. This proves that the Anglerfish lights are quantitatively more color accurate and closer to the actual color spectrum of daylight.
There's something else interesting in these SSI test results. See that big blue spike in the UL150 spectrum? That is an elevated blue frequency, which is a common issue with many LED lights. The Anglerfish light, on the other hand, does a good job of normalizing and controlling the same blue frequency.
Next, the same TLCI test from before. Here the UL150 scored well at 96, but the Anglerfish scored even higher at 99. Also note the same blue frequency spike we saw with the UL150 in the previous test visualized here again as well.
Finally, the TM-30 test. The UL150 light scored lower on color fidelity, and displayed elevated saturation levels of magenta (note the spike in the lower-right of the wheel). The Anglerfish light on the other hand has clean, accurate color, as evidenced by how nearly perfectly round its red circle is.
Overall, the Godox UL150 is a good light, with solid scores in every test. But the iFootage Anglerfish light scoreD higher, with better color fidelity, accuracy, and control of blue frequencies. The Anglerfish lights simply do a more accurate impersonation of daylight sun.
Wireless mobile app
Like other LED lights, iFootage has its own Lumin mobile app for iOS and Android. This app connects to the Anglerfish LEDs via Bluetooth, and provides a full suite of controls for wirelessly modifying all three lights.
The app may be used to control Anglerfish lights individually, or grouped as part of a single, wireless mesh network. Like other LED light manufacturers, the Lumin app only works with Anglerfish lights, not lights made by other brands.
Again, not unusual. My phone has numerous apps installed for lights made by different companies, which can be a pain when trying to control multiple lights simultaneously. It makes a lot of sense then — not just from a color consistency perspective, but usability as well — to buy multiple lights from the same brand so there's a single wireless control point for them all.
I tested the Lumin mobile app for iOS and it performed moderately well pairing and controlling all three lights. However, like other lighting mobile apps I've used from other companies, the user experience can be glitchy. Sometimes the Lumin app connects without issue, other times it can't find the Anglerfish lights despite them being only a few feet away. Communication between the app and the lights feels inconsistent and unpredictable, and I hope it gets better with time and future updates.
iFootage offers a couple of interesting accessories that are specifically made for the 60DN. One is a pistol grip for wireless, handheld operation, while the other is a mini Bowens mount for mounting full-sized Bowens mount modifiers.
The pistol grip has an integrated stud for mounting the 60DN, plus a v-mount battery attachment and cable for connecting the 60DN. The grip is made of plastic, and is very lightweight. With the 60DN mounted, the light may be carried by hand, or mounted to a light stand.
The mini Bowens mount accessory (also sold separately) is made of lightweight plastic, yet seems solid enough to attach larger modifiers. It also includes a light stand mount for use instead of the 60DN's mount, which helps more evenly distribute weight when used on a light stand.
If I were buying the 60DN, I'd absolutely buy the mini Bowens mount to avoid buying smaller modifiers. The pistol grip is cool and nice to have, but not essential for me because I don't need wireless operation, but I could see some users loving and frequently using it.
Anglerfish lantern and softbox modifiers
The iFootage Anglerfish collection also includes two Bowens mount lanterns and two softboxes. The former are great for illuminating a space with near 360°, non-directional light, while the latter is ideal for fill and/or key lights for interviews, YouTube videos, still photography, or just about anything else.
As a whole, Anglerfish's lanterns and softboxes are very similar to Bowens mount diffusers made by other companies. Their materials and design are pretty much the same. Which is fine, for each diffuser is well constructed, simple to setup, and are good compliments to the Anglerfish LEDs.
The one thing I wish the Anglerfish lanterns included were velcro-attached skirts for controlling and shaping light. This Aputure lantern has one, and I've used it a number of times to help control and block light. Perhaps the second iteration of these lanterns could include one.
Pros and cons
On a positive note, the Anglerfish lights have incredible color accuracy compared to most daylight balanced COB LEDs in their price range. I'm especially impressed that all three lights — even the small, comparatively inexpensive SL1 60DN — produce nearly identical results. This means all three lights could easily be used together with little-to-no difference in color.
Fans are always a concern when using lights around live microphones, but in my tests the fans inside the 220 and 320DN are whisper quiet — even when running at high speeds. The fan in the 60DN is a bit louder, but still quieter than other equipment I use. From my view, fan noise doesn't appear to be a problem with the Anglerfish lights.
Overall, these are very high quality lights, with great color, at good prices. But there are a few negatives.
First (and most importantly), the 220 and 320DN cannot be powered using v-mount batteries. The lights must be plugged into a wall or some kind of portable power generator. This limits their usefulness for photography and videography outdoors, or any environment where power isn't available or easily accessible. Hope that iFootage someday updates their Anglerfish controllers to include support for v-mount batteries.
Second, it's not clear to me why the 220DN does not have a u-stand mount like the 320DN. The mount on the 220DN works fine, but u-stands provide more flexibility and control, and I think a 220 watt light at this price point should really have one (I own a couple of lower wattage, less expensive COB LED lights from other companies that have u-stands).
Third, the foam interior of each padded case is very stiff and form-fitted. That's great when securing and protecting the lights against damage, but the lack of affordance and flexibility in the foam design makes packing the lights a bit difficult and time consuming.
Which light is the best buy?
All three lights provide great features and solid value for the money, but two stand out overall — the 60DN and 320DN.
The 60DN is small, flexible, and provides loads of potential use cases at an affordable price ($229 with padded case or $189 without). It works well with the other Anglerfish lights, but it's also a brilliant little light on its own. It's especially useful with the optional mini bowens mount (for mounting modifiers) and the handle grip is cool for handheld lighting control.
The 320DN ($649) is an incredibly bright LED. Turn it all the way up to 100% and it feels like you're standing in a room with bright sunshine blasting through windows. It would be a fantastic key light for video, ambient light for room fill, or a bright, neutral light for product photography.
The 220DN ($429) is a great light, but if I were buying a bright studio LED, I'd go ahead and buy the 320DN. It's more or less the same exact light as the 220DN, but with more wattage and brighter maximum output. I believe it's always better to buy more wattage than you think you need.
These Anglerfish LED lights and modifiers are very impressive for a company with comparatively less experience in the lighting market. There are other brands selling similar lights (some with more brand awareness and recognition), but these iFootage Anglerfish lights provide exceptional color accuracy, quality construction, and fair prices that meet or beat the competition.
From this point forward, I plan to use the Anglerfish lights for all my video and photo content, and will update this review accordingly if anything new arises. Whether you're buying just a single light or a whole collection, I'd definitely consider the Anglerfish lights for your lighting needs.
B&H links: Anglerfish 60DN / Anglerfish 220DN / Anglerfish 320DN
Check out the video version of this review below.