September 28, 2018

Ikan Bi-Color LED Panel Comparison

If you’re in the market for bi-color LED lights, you’ve undoubtedly come across Ikan, manufacturer of lights, monitors, and several other video production related pieces of equipment. Starting off in 2005, Ikan has slowly increased their catalogue of items offered to over 1000 different products. Now, in 2018, Ikan products are used by professionals and prosumers alike. Their products span the needs of those two categories so smoothly, it might make it difficult to decide what product fits your needs. That’s the situation I found myself in when I first began researching for the best bi-color LED light panels for video production.

Ikan’s latest LED light panel offerings come in the form of the Onyx, Milo, Rayden and Lyra lines. 4 different lines of lights in varying max brightnesses (*check out the photometrics numbers for each panel size below). For the sake of this post, I’ll be sticking to their eng/field light sizes as well as only considering the bi-color options within those lines. With each line, we’ll find that there are minuscule but irking trade-offs.

First let’s get the basics out of the way. All four series have:

  • Color temperature control from 3200k-5600k
  • Brightness control from 10%-100%
  • Readout display of brightness & color temperature (all but the Onyx series also show battery life)
  • A big yellow on board control wheel
  • Included barn doors
  • Included AC adapter
  • Yoke with baby ⅝” & 1 ⅛” combo pin
  • Battery power mount (either v-mount/gold mount or NP-F style)

We’ll start with the Onyx. A lightweight fixture with all aeronautical caliber aluminum body construction, the Onyx comes in 3 form factors: what they call a half x 1 (OYB5), roughly half a foot by 1 foot, the 1 x 1 (OYB10) and a 2 x 1 (OYB15). You can check out the chart below for exact sizing. The thing that makes this line stand out is that out of all the lines written about here this one has the most ways to control them. The Onyx line features the aforementioned on-board brightness and color temperature control, wireless control with the included remote, and DMX control over RJ45. This isn’t the brightest series of the bunch with the exception of the 2 x 1 form factor (950 watt equivalent), but the ability to control these lights over DMX makes them a great option for permanent install in a studio light grid or for use in a live stage show. And the wireless remote will come in handy for tweaking your light once you’ve set it up in an inconvenient spot, say up high or tucked out of arm’s length.

The Onyx series also allows you to power your lights through the supplied AC adapter, or in the case of the half x 1, 2 NP-F styled batteries included with the light. V-mount batteries power the 2 larger sizes but aren’t included with the purchase of the fixture. I will say at this point, the ability to power my lights with batteries is a must these days, allowing for agile setups and run and gun style shooting. Too many clients don’t anticipate or plan for proper setup times so extinguishing the need to find outlets in rush situations is priceless.

The Mylo series is also powered through NP-F batteries (included) or AC adapter in every size available. They are considerably brighter at the half x 1 configuration (MB8), but lose wireless and dmx connectivity. This series has a model in a slightly larger size somewhere between a half x 1 and 2 x 1 with a built in diffusion filter called the “S” or Soft model (MSB8), and another in ¼ x 1 form factor (MB4-TK) for ultra small travel setups or to be used as an on-board light. The Mylo series comes wrapped up in heavy duty metal enclosures which are extremely durable, but make this line the heaviest of the bunch.

The Lyra line comes in a half x 1 (LB5) and a 1 x 1 (LB10), similar to the Onyx line. One big differentiator here is the irremovable built in ½ stop diffusion panels. While you can build a kit with just soft lights, you’ll inevitably come into a scenario where you’ll want something with a little more punch in the kit to give you some moody shadows or higher contrast to compete with a bright background. Another big negative in my book is that this lines’ enclosures are made of resin plastic instead of aluminum or other metal. Models in the Lyra series come with a remote control, and both sizes in this line are powered by an ac adapter or V-mount batteries.

This is a good place to note, that if you’re currently budgeting for a light kit and are excited by the prospect of battery powering your lights for easier setups, any v-mount or gold mount kit will end up costing close to $200 more per light if you don’t already have those types of batteries and chargers handy. The Dracast DR90S2CK 90Wh V-Mount 2X 90W Hour Battery & 1x Charger Combo clocks in at $600 before taxes. If you want to stick with Ikan products, the Ikan Dual Charger & 2X 98Wh Battery Kit run for $724.99. By comparison, a Watson NP-F975 Lithium-Ion Battery Pack costs $59.99 and a Dual Channel LCD Display Charger costs $25.99. Convenience ain’t free y’all.

The last Ikan line we’re covering is the Rayden series.These come in a half x 1 (RB5) and 1 x 1 (RB10). Pretty much identical in shape and construction to the Lyra line, Rayden lights come with removable diffusion panels and have the same resin plastic enclosure. The fact that the diffusion panel is removable might also be why the 2 sizes in this series are rated at a 50 watt brighter equivalent than the Lyra lights in their respective sizes. This model includes a remote control.

So, what are your priorities? Brightness? Light quality? Weight? DMX connectivity? Check the chart below to see what models tick off all your boxes and let us know in the comments which model(s) you went with!

*Photometrics results:

Pixel Thick is a Phoenix, AZ based video production company.