A tale of two LED lights – Litepanels 1×1 compared to a Manda CN 900-HSA

By technical editor Matt Allard

There are a lot of LED lighting options out there in the market. I took two from the opposite ends of the pricing spectrum and decided to review and compare them.

The Litepanels 1×1 5600k Flood which retails for $1850US and the Manda CN 900-HS which retails for $400 US. Check out the video to see a comprehensive review and comparison between the two lights.

One thing I didn’t mention in the video is that as far as colour accuracy goes the Litepanels is listed as having a colour rendering index (CRI) of 90. The higher the CRI the more faithful the colour reproduction. The Manda’s CRI is not listed. The Manda has a slightly lower color temperature (closer to  5400k than 5600k).  When balancing the camera using the Litepanels 1×1 the color seemed more accurate (ie. Closer to natural light). Turning the Manda on and using the same balance that was achieved with the Litepanels I did notice a slightly greener tinge – this indicates that the Litepanels has a truer daylight look.  I imagine this is the difference in quality between the types of LEDs being used.  For many people this won’t be an issue.  A greener tinge and lower CRI affect skin tones and this is an important point to remember so for people wanting a more accurate colour rendition with their light then the Litepanels definitely has an advantage. At the end of the day budget often dictates your purchase.  While the Manda may not be perfect is certainly is very, very good value for money for people wanting an alternative to more expensive LED lights.

Note: I do not have any commercial arrangement with Litepanels or Manda. I own both of these lights. My opinions and views are strictly my own and not those of any company or organization.

About Matthew Allard, Aljazeera Senior Field Cameraman, Kuala Lumpur:
Matt has been a Camera/Editor in TV news for more 20 years, previously working for both Channel 9 and Channel 10 in Australia. Twice Network Ten Australia’s cameraman of the year as well as being a Walkley Finalist for outstanding camerawork in 2006 (for coverage of the Cronulla Race Riots) and a Logie Finalist for outstanding news coverage 2006 (Bali 9). He is a multiple ACS (Australian Cinematographers Society) award winner. His Sword Maker story that was shot on a 7D won the prestigious Neil Davis International News Golden Tripod at the 2011 ACS Awards. He has covered news events in more than 35 countries, from major sporting events to terrorist bombings. Based out of the Kuala Lumpur broadcast centre in Malaysia he is an avid user and follower of new technology, shooting stories on HD broadcast cameras, the Sony F3 as well as new Canon DSLRs.

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Posted on March 22nd, 2012 by admin | Category: Lighting |

12 responses to "A tale of two LED lights – Litepanels 1×1 compared to a Manda CN 900-HSA"

  1. Dugdale Says:
    March 22nd, 2012 at 7:33 am

    Good review Matt. I have also compared the cheaper LED lights to the Lite Panels and have drawn similar conclusions as you have – but I tested the smaller lights.


  2. Dan McComb Says:
    March 22nd, 2012 at 8:34 am

    I concur: the CN900 is an insanely good value for the money. Thanks for the side-by-side comparison, confirming my own tests

  3. JD90 Says:
    March 22nd, 2012 at 8:42 am

    I would have an electronics technician take a look inside. I bought an inexpensive light and found a lot of broken and cold solder joints, I looked inside because some strips of LEDs weren’t lighting.. I took a soldering iron to reflow all the suspect joints and fixed it. I think shipping from overseas weakened the connections.

    I’d hate for someone to buy an inexpensive light and find it doesn’t work properly after they hauled them somewhere for a shoot. The repair made it reliable though. so it’s still worth the savings in my opinion, even with an hour’s worth of technician time to inspect it.

  4. ninoleitner Says:
    March 22nd, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Great review!

    I can’t seem to find the Manda for purchase though … the manufacturer does not seem to sell them, or do they? Any place you can buy them here in Europe? Only found some other ones on eBay which look the same but cost twice as much!

  5. Dan McComb Says:
    March 22nd, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    One thing I should add: I liked my first CN900 so much that a few months later, I bought a second one. The second one works great, but the color temperature doesn’t match the first one. I had to permanently tape a sheet of 1/4 plus blue inside the magenta filter, which always lives on both lights to correct the green cast. It’s a small thing that’s easily corrected, but an indication they don’t have great quality control. But for the money, I can live with it.

  6. dougplummer Says:
    March 22nd, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    I have 2 mismatched lights. One I have a 5 magenta CC film taped on the front, the other a 5 green CC. Now they match. I used a color meter and tested in camera to dial them in.

  7. StephanP Says:
    March 23rd, 2012 at 2:53 am

    Good review but I think this is a classic case of “buy cheaply, buy twice” – I have previously bought a few cheap LED panels (including the Manda) and have had serious issues with the color temperature going off and green within a few months of purchase. After 6 months my Manda was practically unusable. This might not be an issue for some hobbyists but it certainly is for me as a pro shooter. Quality of light matters more to me than just brute throw. Also, I need a reliable tool and the Manda’s LEDs do not have any protective cover (as mentioned) so the LEDs bent very easily. I know it is tough for shooters on a budget but the higher price/higher qualty products are definitely worth the investment, IMHO. You get better, more consistent and more reliable service from them.


  8. Matthew Allard Says:
    March 23rd, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Hi Stephan,

    All valid points. I have 5 Litepanels panels and use them for lighting most of my interviews. It’s easy to say buy the more expensive higher quality product but not everyone can afford them. The Manda regardless of its flaws is very good value for the money. Quality of light is very important. This site is DSLR NEWSHOOTER though so there is a lot of people using just DSLR cameras. If you can only afford a $2k camera you probably aren’t going to spend 4k + on two litepanels for your kit. The whole point of the review was to show what you can get for your money, not what is a better light.

    The Manda does something that the litepanels doesn’t and that is why I bought it. Quality control does seem to be a issue from other peoples comments I have read, but I also know of a lot of people who haven’t had any problems with theirs.

  9. yang Says:
    March 25th, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    Detailed review. Thanks Dan. Only if the light is worthy the money, I think it’s a good choice.

  10. StephanP Says:
    March 26th, 2012 at 1:17 am

    Hi Matt,

    In my experience, the Manda does something that the Litepanels does not but only for a very limited period of time. Hence my opening comment “buy cheaply, buy twice”.
    Consistency of color temperature matters a great deal to me.


  11. JoeCamera Says:
    April 30th, 2012 at 6:27 am

    Where can you buy the Manda?

  12. Lenry Says:
    July 1st, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    Color temperature meters do not accurately depict light coming from leds. It is also possible to design led’s that fake out color temperature meters.

    Wondering how the Manda’s have held up for a year? Anyone? Bueller?

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