NanGuang CN-ST288Cx2 Bicolor Flexible 2×1 LED Review

NanGuang CN-ST288Cx2 Bicolor Flexible 2×1 LED Review

Hi my name is Sareesh Sudhakaran and in this
video I’ll review the NanGuang CN-ST288Cx2 Bicolor Flexible LED Panel. I’ll just call it the 288C from now on.
It has two hundred and eighty eight LED chips, so that’s where the number comes from. I’ve reviewed another one of their lights
recently, the CN-60F Fresnel, and am very impressed with its performance, so I had no
hesitation in purchasing these lights directly from NanGuang in China. Karen Pan from NanGuang helped me with the
purchase and it arrived in a few days via Fedex. What’s special about the 288C is that it
is a flexible 2×1 LED panel, the actual dimensions are 20 inches by 10 inches. It’s waterproof, so you can rig it anywhere
– interiors or exteriors. The x2 means you get two of these in one kit. It’s bicolor
– so you can shift between 3200K and 5600K. You also get a control panel that can connect
to a light stand via an adapter; a V-mount and Sony mount battery adapter, AC power supply,
a light stand and a case with this kit. I own many light stands, from the Manfrotto
Nano all the way up to C-stands and grip arms. And this light stand has to be, on first impression,
the worst built. The knobs are plastic and I don’t know how thin the material is. It’s
lightweight, but doesn’t inspire confidence. Just to be fair, it might last, maybe it will
get the job done – but I’m not going to be there when it doesn’t. Back to the lights, I have been in the market
for a flexible bicolor LED panel for months, and I spent a lot of time researching the
best options. There are quite a few companies making 2×1 panels out there, and I compared
the 288C with three other important brands, the Westcott Flex, the Aladdin Bi-Flex2 and
the Socanland FL-80 Airlight. I’ll provide a detailed comparison chart
in the article that goes with this video so please check it out. There are three major differences between
the three lights and the NanGuang kit. One 2×1 LED mat only delivers half the light output,
but you get two mats with this kit so if you use both LED lights you get the same output. Secondly, two mats combined draw only about
57 Watts, still much lower than what the other models draw. The 288C kit costs around $650 plus shipping.
If the quality and light output of the 288C is as good as the others, I know my search
is over. What I really like about NanGuang as a company
are their designs. They have fixtures that you can’t find anywhere else on the market.
This means there’s someone there who actually cares about lighting and tries to make good
products. You can see this in the mounting. For rigid
mounting, both the Bi-Flex2 and FL-80 mount via X-brackets. To mount the Westcott Flex you’ll need to
purchase a 2×1 Scrim Jim as an extra. The 288C does it differently. You get two foldable rectangular frames – one
becomes a 4×1 and the other becomes a 2×2. So you can place the two panels in a 4×1 configuration
or a 2×2 configuration. You also get two mounting adapters that can turn ninety degrees so you
can align the frame in any angle you want. Unfortunately, the frame mount to the adapter
is stuck to 90 degree turns so you can’t angle it, but adding an umbrella or LCD adapter
can solve that problem. Finally, you also get two diffusion cloths,
a 4×1 and a 2×2. Remember, all these are part of the kit, you don’t have to pay extra
for them. That’s one hell of a deal for $650. I wish these frames could be attachable some
how. Imagine having two or four of these frames and you could create a 2×4 or 4×4 panel that
can output a tremendous amount of soft light. The frames are lightweight and seem thick
enough to take a beating. They collapse down so you can easily transport them. After mounting the panel on the light stand,
you have to attach what I’ll just call the backing. This has four elastic bands on the
corners that you have to pull tight for a perfect fit. It’s not going to be easy the
first time, and needs a bit of force. Eat your breakfast before you try this. I imagine
it’s a necessary evil to get the light to be perfectly flat. Each light has a cable at the bottom, and
you orient them so the cables come off the two ends of the frame. The lights attach easily
via Velcro. Then you run the cables neatly until they come through the middle. Once you have that in place you connect the
power supply adapter to the light stand. I wonder why other manufacturers don’t have
the same option. The control unit slides over the adapter but
doesn’t lock. I’m not very happy with that. When somebody pulls up the light, this
entire thing might just come right off. It happened to me while I was figuring all this
out, because the manual is pretty much useless. Everything is made of plastic and there’s
a good chance the power supply unit could be damaged and then you won’t be able to
use the lights at all. If you’re careful it’s okay I guess. On
the front of the power supply you have either the option to use a V-mount battery or Sony
batteries. The AC Adapter is over fifteen feet long, which is great. It connects to
the DC port, which is 15-24V, so you can replace it with a laptop adapter if things go south. You can’t say the same for the other brands. The lights connect via XLR cables to the top,
and you switch it on. You control the dimming through one knob and the color through the
second. It really can’t get any easier than this.
An LCD display tells you what the light levels are. Make sure the control panel is attached
to the top of the light stand because the cables from the lights to the panel are only
5 feet long. Let’s talk about dimming – it goes from
5-100% and is step-less. The lights have a rated CRI of 95+ and weighs
only 140 grams. The entire thing, two lights and frame weighs
just 1.5 kilograms and the power supply weighs about 400 grams. Each light is rated for 28.8 Watts, so together
they draw only about 57.6 Watts. This means you can power both of these for
more than two hours with a 90 Watt hour brick. The lights are rated for 50,000 hours and
throws out about 3,414 lumens together. At full power, you get the following light
levels: At 5600K you get a thousand lux at six feet,
and at 3200K you get 900 lux at six feet. If you’re half way in between these two
color settings you get a thousand lux at six feet. At the lowest dimming level, At 5600K you
get 40 lux at six feet, and at 3200K you get 37 lux at six feet. If
you’re half way in between these two color settings you get 16 lux at six feet. You can dial in the color temperature from
3200K to 5600K and dim to taste. Now let’s check color reproduction. First I checked the color temperatures at
the two ends and the center. Here are the actual results from my Sony camera compared
to the rated temperatures. The results are pretty decent. At 5600K, the 288C matches
perfectly with my CN-60F fresnel. Next I tested the color temperature at different
dim levels. You don’t want the light to shift color as you dim, and the 288C is perfect. You can see the light doesn’t shift colors
much. The small 100K error is acceptable. The most important test is for skin tone reproduction.
You don’t want green color casts on skin tones. So I tested the light with a tungsten
bulb and compared it with the CN-60F as well. You can see the results and the corresponding
vectorscope readings. The CRI rating of 95+ seems to be accurate.
I’m happy I purchased this light. If you’re lighting faces, you can get softer
results than with 1×1 panels, and with the right diffusion you’ll get all the soft
light you will ever need for interviews. I didn’t find any double shadows in my testing
with and without diffusion. By the way, I’ll be showing you how to use these lights in
my Interview Lighting Guide, so if you haven’t purchased it already I’ll link to it in
the description. The last test is to check if these lights
can do high frame rates, and I’m happy to say I couldn’t see any flickering up to
120 frames per second. The Nanguang CN-ST288Cx2 is incredible bang
for its buck. The beauty of flexible LED panels is that
not only can you use them straight up, but you can also rig them in cars, elevators or
any corners where traditional lights can’t go. But rigging is not as easy as many videos
make them out to be. The simplest way is to use gaffers tape to secure the light itself,
and then you need to find a way to secure the control panel as well. These lights are waterproof, but the control
panels are not. It can’t be too far away from the lights themselves, so how are we
going to reconcile that? You could try to add a plastic raincover but then operation
becomes a little annoying. The 288C doesn’t hold any shape. For those
occasions where rigidity is required, a couple of metal wires attached with gaffers tape
should do the trick. I’m not really sure about the construction
of the attachments and the various adapters. They all feel cheap. Even the logo is not
really centered – and all this combined creates a poor first impression. Personally, I don’t care much about how
it looks. Ultimately it’s the light itself that matters. But the fact that I’m wondering
about it is cause for a very slight concern. Bottom line, you really can’t beat the price
to performance here. For me, my search for a flexible bicolor LED is over. I’d rather
own a few more of these than go with the more expensive options. For low budget filmmakers
it eases up your cash flow and definitely doesn’t skimp on light quality or output.
Going forward, if these lights stop working or have issues I’ll definitely update the
article that goes with this video, so please check it out. If you’d like to purchase this light you
might want to contact NanGuang directly. I’ll provide the link in the article. That’s it for my review of the NanGuang
ST288Cx2 Bicolor Flexible LED lights. If you’ve found it useful, please hit the
like button and subscribe to this channel. If you want to learn how to use these mats
to light interviews, check out my Interview Lighting Guide. Bye now.

12 thoughts on “NanGuang CN-ST288Cx2 Bicolor Flexible 2×1 LED Review

  1. Awesome job Sarish. This is a great alternative to Wescot. It's a very reasonable price for the size it provides. Just like Wescot it suffers from a short cable to the controller. I never understood why these guys make a paper thin light and then hang a heavy control module to it so short from the light. It defeats the weight advantage by having a heavy dongle hanging from it! Oh well.. These lights are the way of the future for all soft light interviews. I will check out your interview lighting guide course. Thanks!

  2. Great review as always, and very helpful. Thank you.
    Glad to see Nanguang making another affordable light, and this time a flexible LED. I have some very inexpensive bi-color LED panels from Nanguang that have served me well for a couple of years, now. I'm definitely interested in eventually finding these. I've seen flexible lights rolled into a tube and placed in a round paper lantern (aka China ball) and they provide a very well diffused even light. As you mentioned, there's so much versatility, and I would imagine they'd be a little easier to travel with, than actual panels.

  3. Great review. Looks like a nice product too and the name just rolls off the tongue. 😄

    The high cri value makes it a real bargain.

  4. Thanks for the review and for all you do for the filmmaking community on YT!

    The link for the light is broke on my end.

  5. Thanks so much for the thorough review. I wanted to see how they compare to the Westcotts, but the link doesn't seem to be working. Cheers!

  6. Hi Sarish, nice review. Can you let us know where you got these? Directly from the manufacturer? How did you find out about them as they don't seem to be listed anywhere?

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