Home Review Lights, Camera... but mostly lights

Lights, Camera… but mostly lights

Got a couple of dollars to spare?

Before you click through to another article, hear me out. These small lights could be your best purchase this year, and I mean it. So far, I got 3, and I’m waiting for 11:11/Black Friday deals to double the numbers. At first, I thought they would do well for shooting videos, now I can’t live without it. VIJIM VL81 LED panels are pretty cool, (and hot), but add a thing or two, and you’ll transform it in the best budget lights one could have.

VIJIM VL81 – VL isn’t just for vlogging

At first, I was really worried. I got these for about £12 on sale on Banggood, wondering if these will be any good for video work. The biggest concern was the flickering rate. £12 wasn’t much so I got 3 of these.

The main selling points of the VIJIM VL81 are:

  • brigthness control
  • colour temperature 3200k-5600K
  • built-in battery
  • USB-C charging and power
  • horseshoe and 1/4 inch mounts

To unlock the full potential of VIJIM VL81 you will need to pair it with a £15 magic arm. This 11-inch long wonder complements the lights in more way than I could imagine. This combo enabled me to use the lights in more situations: from video work to using it as a stationary desk lamp, or extra light for painting models.

VIJIM VL81 last about 2h on the full beam. If that’s not enough, USB-C port can be used to power up the light from an external source (power supply, portable battery). Even if you do run out the charge, just plug it in and you are ready to continue! These are so comfortable to use, that I paired it with Tonor mic stand to create a very unique desk lamp.

In detail

VIJIM VL81 LED panels are rated for 850 lumens, which is pretty much what would you expect from a 60W lightbulb. These are not your usual key lights, but you will be able to light up dark areas or diffuse shadows. They are too weak for the use in the broad daylight, but indoors you can get pretty creative with these!

My biggest concern was the PWM signal and the frequency of operation. If you are not familiar, low refresh rate causes flickering (or stripes) when shutter speed and PWM signal interfere with each other. It’s easier to combat this when taking pictures than videos as photography is more flexible than shooting videos.

It’s not an issue, perhaps thanks to the low brightness level being set quite high. I actually run into situations where the light was slightly too bright at the lowest level. That’s ok, I will fix this.

Making it the best lights ever!

Getting a magic arm is a must. The 11-inch model is great but at times you may find it too short. I’m actually considering getting additional small stands or simply doubling down on the number of the magic arms per light.

Thanks to these, you can position the light in any place, and the clamp that comes with some of the sets listed is highly recommended. It’s more than capable of gripping surfaces around my house.

Barn doors that double as gel holder

I mentioned the issues with brightness. I decided to fix this with my latest 3D printer – Ender3 v2 (). Thanks to that and some CAD training, I came up with nice and simple “barn door” add on to VIJIM VL81 LED.

The design not only allows to limit the angle of the light and decrease the scatter, but the snap-on case gives you an opportunity to slide in a piece of coloured film that would ask as a photographic gel filter. You can find these on the cheap online, cut to shape and use it to change the colour of the light or dim the lights even further.

The add-on is designed with 1.75 mm hole in mind to use the filament as a hinge shaft, but I ended up making mine a little more sturdy with a 2mm hanger wire. I had to increase the hole diameter with a dremel-alike tool.

If you end up with wings being slightly too floppy to stay in one position, a drop of superglue on the hinge (just keep rotating the hinge until it dries off) will fill in the gaps and create enough friction to keep the wing’s position from collapsing.

Buy VIJIM VL81

Buy it using these links to support NotEnoughTech.

Final thoughts

I consider 3 VIJIM VL81 LED to be a minimum you should get unless you already have some lights to use. I’m getting extra lights, as I want to have them fixed in place. It’s a bit tiresome to move it from one setup to another each time I want to stream, make videos, paint models or shoot pictures. I never thought I would be recommending budget lights, but for less than £30 that’s by far the best combo you can get. Got other tips? Do let me know in this Reddit thread.

3D File (.stl)

This project had been printed on my Creality Ender 3 (review) which was upgraded with my favourite mods.

Filament:
Time to print:
Filament length:

Estimated Cost:

PLA
5h 20min
15m
£0.25

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Brightness
Battery life
Quality
Price

Disclaimer

This product has been sponsored, but I reserve the rights to a honest and unbiased opinion about the product.

Shop with to support:

Other reviews

Anker Nano -ish…

0
Anker Nano hits the UK market! 20W charging inside this Nano enclosure, except in the UK - it's more nano-ish

Army of robots: SwitchBot Curtain

0
An army of SwitchBot Curtains - adorable CurtainBots to open and close practically any curtains!

Insta360 GO

0
The best stabilisation hands down in any non gimbal based solutions I have seen so far - meet Insta360 GO

Lights, Camera… but mostly lights

0
Grab VIJIM VL81 - panels that are useful not just for vloggers. Add one part and make the lights even better

Zemismart Roller Shade Driver

0
Frustrated with UK's roller measurements I reached out for Zemismart Roller Shade Driver

Most affordable smart lightbulbs: Sonoff B02 & B05

0
ITEAD just dropped a range of very affordable smart Sonoff lightbulbs

Sonoff ZBMINI is in town!

0
ITEAD released a new product - Sonoff ZB Mini - a smarter twin brother of Sonoff Mini!