Review of the New Savage RGB-100P LED Pro Panel
Savage is probably most famously known in the photography world for their seamless paper rolls, but recently the company has been trying their hand out with LED lighting. I recently had the opportunity to use their new RGB-100P LED Pro Panel and am impressed with what they are bringing to the game!
The LED lighting industry is booming right now and it’s been exciting to see all the innovations coming out in the industry. Most notably RGB & RGBW lights are becoming increasing popular. For those who don’t know the difference between RGB & RGBW, RGB is a 3-in-1 chip made up of red, green and blue. RGBW is a 4 color chip with the addition of white. Having the extra white chip enables you to get a wider variety of color shades and tones that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to get with just a regular RGB panel. The RGB-100p Pro Panel offers RGBW technology (even though it just says RGB in the title) which gives you a full 360 degree turntable of colors to choose from. With RGBW penels, you get much more control over your brightness and color saturation as well.
(UPDATE from Savage:) “Our panels have a third chip that prevents the panel from falling below CRI 97. If it was only RGBW, the CRI would degrade as you moved from daylight to tungsten. Our light will not. If we were only RGBW, that would mean we are using RGB yellow to color correct down to 3200K tungsten. RGB yellow has a very poor CRI, so the CRI gradually degrades as you move away from 5600K. We have a CRI 97 3200K chip as well as a CRI 97 5600K chip so we are never using RGB in color correcting mode. So, the CRI never falls below 77 unless you are doing it intentionally using the fine green adjustment.”
I recently took the Pro Panel on a film shoot where I mostly found myself using it for it’s RGBW abilities in a a few select scenes. Before I jump too far into how the light performed on set, I want to provide you with some of the specs that this unit has to offer…
The Savage RGB-100P Pro Panel is a 11.5 x 10 inch light, with a color temperature ranging from 3200K-10,000K. The panel I’m using is a 100 watt light with an output of 1934 Lux at 1m (Savage also makes a 50 watt version that is 1621 Lux at 1m). Savage rates this light’s CRI as 97 at 5500K and 3200K.
Since I don’t have access to a spectrometer, so I am neither able to confirm nor deny their specs, however, when compared to my Rotolight Anova Pro 2, I could see a slight difference in color reproduction when both panels were set to 5500K. The Anova has a CRI of 96 and is known to provide a very pleasant light quality. That said, I noticed a slight green tint with the Pro Panel and had to dial it closer to 5200K to match with the Anova Pro 2.
Off the bat, I really liked the soft light that this panel puts out. Even when put next to the Anova Pro 2 (which also puts off soft light) the Pro Panel seemed to break up shadows a little more than even the Anova. This is largely do to the Pro Panel having a frosted panel of diffusion on the front, which the Anova does not have.
Another thing I appreciated about the Pro Panel was having the ability to use an app. I love it when light manufacturers go the extra mile to pair their lights with features that make the user experience a more enjoyable one. So when I found out that the Pro Panel could be controlled through an app, I was down!
With the Savage LightManager app, you can come to expect all the basic controls like, turning it on or off, dimming, change color, and so on. There are also a slew of other cool modes and features that you get through the app including 35 special effects like lightning, TV flicker, police lights, strobe and camp fire, just to name a few.
One of my favorite modes is called “Mood”. In this mode, you can use your cell phone’s microphone input to control the light. I can see this being useful for situations when you want your lights to react to your the sounds in your environment. For example, if there is a band playing, the music will pulse to the beat of the music. You can also use it to pulse on and off with audio cues using your voice which I thought was pretty cool as well.
Another cool feature that the Pro Panel has is the ability to fine tune the color temperature to match existing lights in the environment. Say you are using existing overhead lights in your setup and you want your Pro Panel output to match. The Pro Panel has a setting where you can add or take away the amount of green in your light, making it easier to blend with just about any light source. This would be especially useful for individuals who may only have one light to work with and heavily rely on available light in a scene to light their scene.
I applaud Savage for venturing into new territory and trying their hand at the LED lighting game. Just like any new kid on the block, there are areas for improvement when just starting out. My main critique comes from the overall design of the panel. The build quality seems to be made of mostly plastic aside from the barn doors and yolk which appear to be aluminum. The biggest design choice that I’m not on board with comes from where the handle and v-mount battery plate is placed.
When the light is on a stand, your first instinct is to lift it on and off from the top, however, the handle is located on the bottom just under the v-mount battery plate, which feels awkward and top-heavy. A quick tip I found was that if I flipped the panel upside down on the stand, it not only put the handle on the top, but it also put the v-mount battery on the bottom too, which helped distribute the weight better. Of course, operating the light with the controls upside down is not ideal, so I would love to see Savage address this in a future release.
Overall, I think the Savage RGB-100P LED Pro Panel is a versatile and useful tool for a number of lighting applications. I see it being used most often for it's RGBW capabilities, using it as an accent light to add color to a scene or using the special FX features for music videos and what not. The ability to control the light via the integrated app is a huge plus and provides features that set it apart from other panels in its class. If you can get past the build quality and a few other design quirks, the Pro Panel is a great option for a beginner to intermediate filmmaker who needs a versatile, yet cost effective light that doesn’t break the bank.