SmallRig, best known for its affordable camera cages and hardware recently announced that they are expanding its portfolio of products by adding new COB Video lights and modifiers. SmallRig cages and accessories have a very good reputation amongst our readers and we are also using some of their products so it was exciting to see them getting into the lighting market.
Before the official launch of their new products, SmallRig contacted us and asked if we are interested in reviewing one of their new lights, the RC120B Bi-Color COB LED light and we happily accepted this offer.
Disclaimer: SmallRig did not pay us to write this article and no money was exchanged. However, the company sent us the product (SmallRig RC 120B Bi-color Point-Source Video Light )to review. They didn't ask for any pre-conditions other than our honest opinion. This review is my unbiased opinion as SmallRig did not modify, influence, or give input about the article before its publication.
SmallRig RC120B is a 120W continuous COB (Chip-on-Board) LED light with an industry standard Bowen mount and is designed to be used for Video lighting but it can be used for stills shooting as well. It will not be as powerful as dedicated monolights for stills but still many people like me prefer to use continuous lights for stills as well as video since it is possible to see the changes in lighting setup instantly with this kind of setup. RC120B is a bi-color light and let's the use adjust the color output of the light between 2700-6500K CCT Range with a TLCI 96+ and CRI 95+.
Before getting into details of the unit, let's look at the main specs and features of the light:
SmallRig RC 120B Key Features
- 120W, 52800 Lux (in 1-meter center area with hyper reflector )
- TLCI 96+, CRI 95+
- Bi-Color 2700-6500K CCT Range ( ± 200K)
- 5600K: 413.4 fc / 4450 Lux at 3.3' / 1 m
- 9 Light Effects
- Stepless Dimming down to 1%
- Built-In Cooling Fan with noise level of 25dB±2dB at 1 meter (3.3 ft.)
- Bowens Mount for Accessories
- Local and App Control (SmartGoGo)
- XLR Power input Port
- Optional Battery Operation
- 270-degree tilt adjustment
- Umbrella Holder Hole
Ideal Use Cases
RC120B is a relatively compact unit that is ideal for home studios which is probably the target market for this product. 120W power may not be enough to be the main light for very big productions but is easily enough to be used as a key light in smaller spaces. For Youtubers or people who wants to make small productions or shoot product photos, this light is an ideal low-cost solution. Besides the compact external size and weight, the ability to use it with V-mount batteries is a big plus for portability. Batteries are generally used outdoors or where there is no power plug nearby but on the other hand, there are also many cases users just prefer battery powering to minimize the cables running around in their studio.
The fixture features an XLR power input connecter. You have two options to choose from in order to power the RC120B: using the included AC adapter or power via an external 14.4V / 26V battery using an optional D-Tap to 3-pin XLR power cord. The included AC cable is 6m / ~20ft long which is long, approximately 10ft between light and the adapter and 10ft between the adapter to wall plug which is adequate for most cases. The length of cable between the light and the adapter is especially important since in some lights we have reviewed, this part of the cable is so short that when you adjust your light stand high, the adapter doesn't sit on the floor anymore and swings&hits the stand but we don't have this issue with RC120B as 3m /10ft is quite long.
For battery use, SmallRig also released a new V-Lock battery plate, SmallRig 3676 RA V1 that can easily be attached to a light stand to hold your v-mount batteries and is sold seperately for $49.
Physical Specs and Portability
The unit weighs 5.3lb / 2.4kg and has external dimensions of 9.4 x 9.4 x 4.8" / 240.0 x 237.6 x 122.0 mm. It is made of high quality plastic which helps to keep the weight and cost low. Light weight is an advantage when it comes to choose a light stands.
RC120B comes in a well designed canvas bag with molded inserts inside to house the light, light cover, reflector, adapter and cables.
- 1 SmallRig RC120B Fixture
- 55-degree Hyper-Reflector
- AC Adapter
- Power Cable
- Soft Sided Storage/Carrying Bag
- User Manual
- Limited 1-Year Warranty
The light comes with a well-padded bag which can be used for carrying or storage. Battery operation options adds to the portability of the RC120B.
The included hyper-reflector creates a beam with an intense center and smooth falloff to the edge of the beam.
The controls on the unit are simple and intuitive. There is an On/Off switch, 2 knobs, a Reset button and a well-lit LCD screen on the backside of the unit for controls. Knobs can be both rotates and pressed. Forst knob is used for setting the Brightness and the Color temperature. The second knob is used to select the light effects. The reset button is used to make the bluetooth connection between the RC120B and your smartphone or tablet.
The switch on the top of the unit is used to released the acessory attached to the Bowen mount.
Light head can be tilted 270-degree and fixed by loosening&tightening the handle on the side. When a large softbox is attached, the motion is a bit more limited.
RC120B can be controlled via an app called SmallGoGO which is available for Android and iOS devices. This app control multiple SmallRig lights. With the integration of mesh networking, SmallRig claims that you can control the lights upto 100m / 330'. We haven't tested this claim but had no connection problem in our studio. The app can also be used to update the Firmware version of the light.
You can adjust the color temperature and power output of the RC120B from the app as well as creating Presets to save the settings that you use often and access instantly.
Even though app controls is the new trend in studio lighting and provides more detailed control over the settings, I still wish there was an option to use a traditional wireless remote controller.
The SmallGoGo App has a very useful Help section:
It is possible to control multiple different compatible SmallRig lights from the app, and create Scenes, comes handy if you have various studio lighting settings:
The RC120B has nine effects settings for unique lighting effects which are pretty standard in this class of lights. To access these nine lighting effects, you either use the buttons at the back if unit or use the SmallGoGo app in Android or iOS devices.
The included light effects are Flash, Paparazzi, Lightning, Party, Faulty Bulb, TV, Flame, Fireworks and Breath. It is nice to have these effects but I personally wouldn't use a light like RC120B for light effects, rather use one of my smaller LED light for this purpose.
Cooling Fan and Fan Noise
SmallRig RC120B includes an internal cooling fan that turns on and off automatically to keep the unit cool and prevents the unit from overheating. The fan turns on when the temperature of the lamp exceeds 140°F. Fan noise is quite low compared to many models that we have used before. According to SmallRig, the noise level of the fan is 25dB ±2dB at 1 meter (3.3 ft.) and we haven't had any issue when recording but as always, the microphone placement is very important in a recording environment.
My main LED light in my home studio is a Godox UL150 which has a passive cooling system so hence no fan noise. I am generally very sensitive to noise and try to eliminate as much as I can but in case of RC120B, the fan noise didn't disturb me at all.
SmallRig RC120B features a Bowens mount, so it is fully compatible with a variety of accessories. Besides the RC120B and RC120D COB lights, SmallRig has also released two parabolic softboxes and 1 Lantern Light Box.
Unit also sports an umbrella holder that you can easily attach an umbrella type light modifier which is a cheaper solution compared to softboxes but generally the diffusion is not as good or as evenly distributed as the softboxes.
The biggest competition to the RC120B are the Amaran 100x Bi-Color LED Light and the Godox SL100Bi Bi-Color LED Video Light. These are both Bi-color COB continuous lights however both have a max power of 100w, less than the 120W of the SmallRig RC120B. Otherwise, the lights are specced pretty similar.
Amaran 100x Bi-Color LED Light Key Features
- 100W Point-Source LED Light
- Color: 2700 to 6500K, CRI/TLCI: 95/96
- Bluetooth Remote Controllable
- AC Power, Optional Battery
- 8 Built-In Customizable Effects
- Bowens Reflector Mount, Umbrella Holder
Godox SL100Bi Bi-Color Key Features
- Color Temp: 2800-6500K, CRI/TLCI: 96/97
- 100-240 VAC, 32 Channels, 16 Groups
- Godox App Control, Optional Remote
- 11 Special Effects
- Bowens Front Accessory Mount
If you don't need the Color temperature adjustment feature and good with shooting always at 5600K, the Daylight version of this light, the RC120D is a logical alternative. At $219, it is $40 cheaper than the RC120B, and provides higher output of 5370 lux at 3.3' (20% higher than the RC120B's 4450 Lux) while maintaining all the other features.
Cost and Availability
The SmallRig RC120B bi-color fixture costs $259.00 and it is available to in-stock as of this writing. If you don't need the variable color temperature feature, the daylight version RC120D sells for a $219.
Check SmallRIg RC120B Price and Availability at: B&H Photo / AmazonUS / AmazonCA / AmazonDE / AmazonES / AmazonFR / AmazonIT / AmazonUK / AmazonIN / AmazonAU
Considering this is SmallRig's first foray into the competitive COB Ligthing market, we have to say that the RC120B is quiet refined for a first product. During our review, we haven't found any significant fault with the light. The quality and the features of RC120B is really good, the fan is quiet and can be used under variety of scenarios and it is priced very competitively. We recommend this product to anyone who is looking for a low-cost light source for their home studio and occasional field use.
What we Like About the SmallRig RC120B
- Bowens Mount for accessories
- Included high quality padded storage/carrying bag
- Compact and light weight
- Very low-noise Fan
- SmallGoGo App control via bluetooth is seamless
- TLCI 96+, CRI 95+
- Stepless Dimming down to 1%
- Battery operation option
- Competitive price for the features
What can be improved?
- The plastic handle on the side of the fixture doesn't inspire much confidence when a large and heavy softbox is attached.
- Most people prefer the Smart app control but I would like to have the option of a traditional remote control too.
Official SmallRig RC120B Product Page