Firstly, let's get one thing straight in case it causes any confusion later. This Godox LC500 review is actually based on the Pixapro Viso500. In reality they are exactly the same thing. Pixapro is a brand of Essential Photo, a UK distributor who rebrand Godox gear as their own. In short, other than the label, it's the same product inside. All technical specifications are the same. One advantage if you live in the UK is that Essential Photo offer a 2 year UK based warranty. Unlike if you purchase the originally Godox branded equivalent from Amazon where you only get 1 year from a seller who is probably based in China.
Visually, like all these sorts of light stick's. They look like a light saber and the inner child in you simply won't be able to hold one of these without swooshing it around and making lightsaber noises. Trust me!
After you've got that out of your system, the LC500/Viso500 actually makes a great LED light too! I've previously owned the Travor MTL900 and still have the Yongnuo YN360 somewhere. Last seen in my box of doom.
The LC500 boasts the highest number of LED bulbs which in turn should make it the most powerful as well as an integrated rechargeable battery. Something the other two do not. My light arrived in a long case and inside had a place for a charger as well as a little remote. I don't use the bag since it's just one more thing I'd need to carry around. The stick is more than tough enough to be transported without the protective bag.
The Godox LC500 has 516 LED's in total. So that's 258 daylight balanced LED's on one side and another 258 tungsten balanced LED's on the other side. You can activate one side or the other but not both at the same time. The MTL900 has 298 daylight balanced bulbs, needing a CTO tube to be attached if you want to use 3300K light. The YN360 has 160 daylight and 160 tungsten LED's and can be mixed.
Comparing specs for a moment. The Godox claims a light output of 1200 Lux at 1m with a CRI of 95. The Ice light 2 claims an impressive 1740 lumens but doesn't say at what distance with a higher CRI of 97. The Yongnuo YN360 claims an output of 2560LM with a CRI of greater/equal to 95. Lastly the MTL900 claims 1600LM with a 'high' CRI, whatever that means.
What does that mean? Well surprisingly only the Godox seems to be up front with what the light output is at a given distance and I would take these official specs with a pinch of salt. I guess they're like flash guide numbers and the truth will be stretched. Watching Robert Hall's review on YouTube, the Godox LC500 is twice as bright as the Westcott Ice Light 2.
There is a small tripod screw mount at the top and bottom of the light which let's you attach the unit to a lightstand. This is something I do now for sparkler shots now just to give a bit more ambient light in the scene.
One of the attractions for me of this light over the others is that the Godox LC500 includes the barn doors by default, so you can more easily shape the light. You can buy barn doors for the MTL900 but they were not easy to come by and there was no easy way to store them for travel. In the end I never used them which in turn limited the use of the light. You see, I primarily shoot weddings and speed/convenience is the key. If I have to pop back to the car to grab something then chances are I simply won't.
The barn doors do help you shape the light but at the same time, this is perhaps the biggest weakness of the light. The doors only fold one way. So let's say you have them set up to shape the light for the 5500K side. If you then need to use the other side, you have to pull the barn doors up, turn them around and push it back into position. Sounds simple right? It should be. Except it's not.
Pushing back into place is fiddly and you have to carefully line up the doors before they will push into place. Not easy under pressure and in the dark. I'd have loved to have seen the hinge simply go both ways. Seems like such an easy fix to me that I wonder why the engineers at Godox did not think of this. Or if there is a reason why it can't be done.
Pressing the mode button switches from one side to the other. The advantage in not mixing the LED's like Yongnuo have is that Godox can fit more LED's on each side, thereby boosting the light output for each temperature. The disadvantage is you cannot mix the bulbs to a temperature inbetween 3300-5600k. The ability to mix temperatures was one reason I bought the YN360 but found in practice I never used it. So this time around, it didn't bother me that the Godox LC500 does not allow you to mix.
The control's are very straight forward and intuitive. Press and hold the power button to turn the light on/off. Short press the plus/minus button to change the power by increments of 1%. Long press to increase/decrease the light output in increments of 10%. There is a CH/GRP button at the top to be used in conjunction with the remote. This allows the remote to be used to control several groups. A feature I can't test since I only have one light.
Light Quality & Output
The quality and power of light output is great and I have absolutely no concerns. The built in battery does last a long time. The battery should last two hours in between charges so given how I use the light for portraits, details and the occasional bit of fill light. I don't need to carry the charger since it will be rare I use it for anywhere near two hours continuously. However, if you are using it for video purposes then your mileage may vary.
I'm conflicted with the Godox LC500. My first thoughts when Godox announced this light was "What's the point??" There are so many wand light sticks already on the market which are a LOT cheaper.
So when I decided I needed to replace my Yongnuo YN360 due to the lack of barn doors to shape the light. I have to admit, I dithered if I should take the plunge. It felt like I could be making an expensive mistake. My gut told me that I really should get a MTL900 with barn doors and save some money. But at the same time, I did like the fact i wouldn't have to carry around a separate tungsten tube and battery.
I am pleased to say that the Godox LC500 (or Pixapro Viso500) is a significant step up in terms of quality. You can instantly feel this is better built than the Travor & Yongnuo. Overall it is a well designed product and I hope they can improve the barn doors for the next version.
I have mixed thoughts about the battery. I do love the fact it is integrated and the status is clearly displayed. Two hours is more than enough for me. However, what happens in a few years time when the capacity of the battery is diminished like they all do? I can't easily replace it and can only hope the battery will last a long time.
I guess that's where I am grateful I purchased mine from Essential Photo. With their two year warranty. At least I know if the battery needs replacing in the next two years, I'm covered.
What I've learned though over the years is not to simply look at specs and cost. But whether or not I will use it in practice. The LC500 has won a permanent spot in the gear I take to each wedding. The YN360 hasn't been used in a long time simply due to the fact it's a bit fiddly and I hated the fact I have to store the battery separately to prevent accidentally turning it on in the car and draining the battery.
It's a product I feel I can trust to stand the rigours of professional use. In that respect I don't regret buying the LC500 at all and the only thing stopping me from buying a second is simply the cost. It isn't cheap. But then quality products seldom are.
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