Nanlite is no stranger to making LED tube lights, and back in January, they announced their new Nanlite PavoTube II 15C/30C fixtures. These are follow-ups to the original PavoTube lights that were announced back in 2020.
The form factor of tubular sources and their ability to generate and create lots of different colors make them useful for discreet lighting effects and placement in confined or hard-to-reach places. Lots of lighting companies now have tube LED lights in their portfolio and that does make the choice of which one to get somewhat confusing.
- RGBWW Color Mixing Technology
- High color rendition scores, CRI Avg 97, TLCI Avg 98, TM-30 Rf Avg 94, TM-30 Rg Avg 101
- 10% and 20% brighter respectively than previous version
- Wider CCT Range of 2700K-7500K
- G/M±150 adjustment functionality
- More power in the same size with PavoTube II 15C/30C 10% and 20% brighter respectively
- Two knobs and one button for intuitive operation
- Multiple control methods, including 2.4G, Bluetooth, NANLINK APP, DMX/RDM
- PD3.0 (Power Delivery) charging, power supplying and firmware updating via the Type-C port
- 15 Built-in practical effects
- Extended illumination area with shortened caps on both ends
You can see Nanlite’s launch event above.
Design & Concept
Tube lights are not a new concept. Fluorescent tubes have been around for a very long time, and in recent years we have seen quite a lot of RGB LED tube options coming to market.
The inherent problem with a tube light is you have to think carefully about how you are going to mount and power it.
The light has been designed to be an all-in-one unit, so you can run the PavoTube II 30C from its 14.8V/4400mAH lithium battery. This all-in-one design makes it relatively quick to set up and use.
The other problem with long tube lights is when it comes to transportation and storage. Due to their length (this especially applies to the longer versions) they are an awkward item to transport. Even though they come in a soft bag, this is not something you would want to check in on a plane. You would need to buy some sort of harder case or bag that could fit a very long light.
According to Nanlite, the new PavoTube II 15C/30C feature new internals and a new outside casing. Nanlite listened to feedback from commercial production teams, film crews, and photographers over the past few years and used that feedback to create these new PavoTubes. The LED chips on PavoTube II 15C/30C are surrounded by diffusion materials so they can offer better performance for shooting highly-reflective objects or when you use them as in-frame practical lights.
It is worth noting that the Nanlite PavoTube II 15C and 30C II are T12 sized tubes, which are the same as tubes from Astera, Digital Sputnik, and Qusar Science.
For this review, I will concentrate on the PavoTube II 30C. I will do a separate review on the PavoTube II 15C.
The build quality is ok, but the casing doesn’t feel as solidly made as that of the PavoTube II 15/30/60X models which have a metal housing.
In saying that, most tube lights probably won’t survive repeated drops on hard surfaces. It is always a good practice, at least in my opinion, to treat tube lights with care.
The buttons, dials, and switches all feel pretty tactile. The small LCD display is pretty basic, but it gets the job done.
It is hard to judge just how robust this tube light is and how it would hold up to extensive use. I wish I could be more specific than that, but I’m in no position to comment on longevity after only spending a few months with the light.
I’m not a big fan of having branding all over lights and although the PavoTube 30C II doesn’t have any massive branding on the front, there is still a Nanlite logo on the bottom front section of the tube. The last thing a user wants is branding on the front of a fixture, especially since tube lights are often used as replacements for practicals. In saying that, this is a minor complaint and you could very easily cover this up with a small bit of tape.
The PavoTube II 30C weighs 3.09 lb / 1.4 kg. The power supplies weigh in at 0.44 lb / 0.2 kg.
While the fixture isn’t that heavy, you have to factor in the power supply, mounting brackets, and associated stands you also need to carry around to use them.
As I mentioned earlier, tube lights can also be difficult to transport given their length and size.
Controls & Menu System
The controls and menu system are very straightforward and the light is relatively easy to use. This is not a light you need to pull out an instruction manual with. Tubes should be quick and easy to operate and use, and that is certainly the case with the PavoTube II 30C.
I found making changes to be super simple and the light doesn’t have extensive menus that you get lost in. There is also a free iOS and Android App available. If you want to directly control the light using the app you can only do it via Bluetooth. To do it via WiFi you need the buy the optional 2.4G Transfer Device that is sold separately. More on this later in the review.
The dials for making changes to things such as CCT and intensity are easy to use, and they are reasonably tactile. When you are adjusting the CCT you can only do it in increases or decreases of 100K. It would have been nice to be able to adjust the light more precisely.
On the tubes, one dial makes adjustments, while the other toggles through the options.
In the menu, there are options for changing the operating channel, turning Bluetooth on/off, changing the DMX parameters, changing the Wi-Fi operating channel and turning it on/off, and the ability to update firmware and change the language.
Depending on what operating mode you are in, the tubes can be configured to work in a variety of ways:
- CCT Mode
- HSI Mode
- Effects Mode
There is a normal CCT Mode where you can adjust the Kelvin color temperature between 2700K to 7500K. You also have the ability to make +/- G/M adjustments.
HSI Mode lets you adjust the hue, saturation, and intensity of the light. In this mode, you can create a multitude of different colors and looks.
The Effects Mode as its name suggests, lets you create effects such as Hue Loop, CCT Loop, INT Loop, CCT Flash, HUE Flash, CCT Pulse, Hue Pulse, Storm Auto, Storm Manual, Police Car, TV, Paparazzi, Candle/Fire, Disco, Bad Bulb, Fireworks, Explosion, and Welding.
The PavoTube II 30C draws 55W. As I mentioned earlier, it utilizes a 14.8V/4400mAH lithium battery.
The light comes with an AC power supply and cable.
It can also be run via mains power using the 15V DC 4A input.
You can also use the USB-C input to either charge the tube light or to power it. Above you can see I am using a V-mount battery that has a USB-C output.
Below you can see the claimed run times when using the light at various levels of brightness:
- 100% brightness:~ 2hour 13min
- 75% brightness:~ 3hour 19min
- 50% brightness:~ 3hour 7min
- 10% brightness:~11hour 45min
- 1% brightness:~ 29 hour
This is a reasonable amount of run time on a battery, and in a lot of cases with lights such as these, you won’t be running them at 100% brightness.
Tube lights are great as practical replacements, but if they are going to be visible in shot, there may be times when you will want to run them by using an external power source and not via the in-built battery.
The biggest issue I have when it comes to mounting is that there are no mounting points directly on the bottom or the top of the tubes so you can’t stand them up vertically. At least the power cable is angled and protected so it doesn’t stick out of the top of the light as it does with the PavoTube 15/30/60X II fixtures.
The PavoTube II 30C doesn’t feature any type of fan and they are passively cooled. While this does prevent any unwanted noise, it does mean that the tubes get quite hot, although not as hot as the PavoTube 15/30/60X II fixtures. The other downside of not using any type of fan is that the output is going to be limited.
Mounting tube lights is always a little tricky. With the PavoTube II 15C/30C, you don’t have any 1/4-20″ mounting points on the ends of the fixture as I previously mentioned. In fact, there are zero 1/4-20″ mounting points on the lights.
On the PavoTube II 15/30X that I previously reviewed, they not only have 1/4-20″ mounting points on the ends of the fixtures but also two other 1/4-20″ mounting points on the back of the fixture at opposite ends.
The PavoTube II 30C does have holes on both ends if you wanted to suspend them using a cable.
The PavoTube II 30C tubes only come with two mounting brackets which are very similar to what you will find being used by other manufacturers of tube lights. These brackets are made out of hard plastic and they are easy and quick to mount to the tube.
On the back of the brackets, there are two 1/4-20″ mounting points.
I like how Nanlite has put a marking on the back of the tube that is labeled COG. This is the position for center of gravity if you are mounting the tube light using a bracket.
What I missed about not having any 1/4-20″ mounting point on the bottom of the fixtures is that I couldn’t easily just attach a small stand to place it vertically.
To be fair to Nanlite they do sell a range of mounting accessories, including a floor stand. While this is fine, I would have preferred to have seen a floor stand included
WiFi & Bluetooth Control
The PavoTube II 30C can be controlled via Bluetooth using the Nanlink app or via WiFi.
The NANLINK iOS and Android app only works directly if you use Bluetooth. For WiFi control you need the optional transfer device.
Now, here is what I am not a big fan of. You need to register with Nanlite to be able to use the app, you then also have to log in using an email address and password every time you open the app. You should have the option to use an app without having to submit personal details.
While I could get the app to see my fixture, I couldn’t control it. All I got when I tried to access the light was a spinning circle.
So now let’s get to the photometric results. I always test lights in this way so that I get a reference to how they compare to other fixtures. Results only tell part of the story and should never be used alone to judge a light. I have found from extensive testing over the years that certain lights that have good photometric results don’t always look good, and lights that have worse photometric scores can sometimes look better than their results indicate.
You need to look at all of the photometric results to get an accurate assessment of a light, looking at just one set of results is like reading one chapter in a book and skipping the rest.
Different lights can also look different depending on what camera you happen to be using.
Output & Color Temperature Accuracy
I tested the PavoTube II 30C at a variety of CCT settings with a Sekonic C-800 Spectrometer to find out how much output the lights have and how accurate their color temperature reproduction was. All readings are taken at a distance of 1m (3.28ft) in a controlled environment.
PavoTube II 30C 5600K
Above you can see the PavoTube 30C II recorded an output of 625 lx (58.1 fc) when set at 5600K. This is a reasonable amount of output, although like most tube lights it is not overly bright for a fixture of this size.
The fixture produced a CCT reading of 5655K which was a good result.
As a comparison, above you can see that the Nanlite PavoTube II 30X only had marginally more output.
As another comparison, the amaran PT4c RGB LED Pixel Tube Light (4′) has claimed output of 332 lx @ 3.3′ / 1 m when used at 5600K.
PavoTube II 30C 3200K
Above you can see the lights output when it was set at 3200K. It produced 580 lx (53.9 fc), which was just 7.75% less than the 625 lx it produced at 5600K.
As far as CCT accuracy goes, it recorded a pretty accurate reading of 3268K.
As a comparison, above you can see the output for the Nanlite PavoTube II 30X when it was set at 3200K was 598 lx (55.6 fc).
As another comparison, the amaran PT4c RGB LED Pixel Tube Light (4′) has claimed output of 306 lx @ 3.3′ / 1 m when used at 3200K.
So how does it perform at various CCT settings when it comes to output and CCT results? Well, below you can see.
PavoTube II 30C
These results tell me that the light retains very good CCT accuracy from 3200K to 6500K. At 2700K and 7500K it wasn’t as good.
The output of the light is very consistent regardless of what CCT you set. The output only varies by 10.27% from the highest to lowest scores that I recorded.
How much output does it have when creating a super-saturated 360-degree Red?
Well, above you can see that the PavoTube II 30C had an output of 331 lx when creating a super-saturated red. This was a decent amount of output from a tube light of this size.
So now that we have seen how much output the PavoTube II 30C produces, how does it perform when it comes to replicating accurate colors.? Well, let’s find out.
PavoTube II 30C 5600K
Above you can see that when the light was set at 5600K it recorded an average CRI (R1-R8) of 97.0 and an extended CRI (R1-R15) of 95.47. For replicating accurate skin tones it recorded 93.4 for R9 (red), 95.8 for R13 (closest to caucasian skin tones), and 95.6 for R15 (closest to Asian skin tones). These results were very good for a tube light. Only R12 was under 90.
The light when set at 5600K also recorded an almost perfect TLCI score of 99.
PavoTube II 30C 3200K
Above you can see the scores for when the light was used at 3200K. It recorded an average CRI (R1-R8) of 96.9 and an extended CRI (R1-R15) of 95.83. For replicating accurate skin tones it recorded 95.1 for R9 (red), 96.0 for R13 (closest to caucasian skin tones), and 96.4 for R15 (closest to Asian skin tones).
Just like at 5600K, these were excellent results. Only R12 was below 90.
The light, when set at 3200K, recorded an almost perfect TLCI score of 99.
CC Index & ⊿uv
The CC Index displays the CC correction value and whether any magenta or green need to be added or subtracted. 1 CC corresponds to 035 Kodak CC values or 1/8 Rosco filter values. Any reading less than +1.00 or -1.00 and you’re probably not going to need to make any kind of adjustment. The ⊿uv is the value to show how much this light is away from being an ideal light source (black body radiation = incandescent lamp). As with the CC Index you want this number to theoretically be zero. Kelvin is not a linear value, so we need to convert from Kelvin to MK-1 to compare the values of color temperature. To calculate from Kelvin to Mired is MK-1= 1*1000000/Kelvin. While this may sound confusing, it is the only way of measuring if the Kelvin shift is significant enough to warrant having to use a filter for correction. Below are the results for the PavoTube II 30C.
Kelvin Vs MK-1
PavoTube II 30C
|Difference in K
These figures might look confusing, but what it tells me is that the light is very accurate across its CCT range, except for when it is used at 2700K. Any MK-1 score that is under -9/9 means you wouldn’t have to use any color correction gels. Again, we don’t want to judge a light based on one set of scores.
CC INDEX & ⊿uv
PavoTube II 30C
The ⊿uv scores were excellent for this light and some of the best I have seen. It has a very slight green push at 5600K and above, but this is very minor and nothing you need to be concerned about.
TM-30 is a relatively new color rendering standard that was developed to deal with the limitations of CRI. TM-30 looks at 99 individual colors. These 99 colors are categorized into seven groups: nature, skin color, textiles, paints, plastics, printed material, and color systems.
TM-30 scores go from 0 – 100. The higher the score, the more accurate a light is at producing colors. Any TM-30 Rf score in the ’90s is considered to be good. What is interesting and something that you need to be very aware of is that two separate light sources with the exact same CRI scores can render colors very differently. A light with a high CRI rating could have a low TM-30 score. Conversely, a light with a good TM-30 score could have a bad CRI score.
Now, there are two measurements associated with TM-30, Rf and Rg.
Rf (Color Fidelity)
Rg (Color Gamut)
With Rf value, ideally, you want a score in the 90’s.
With Rg value, a score below 100 indicates that the light source renders colors with less saturation than the reference source. So ideally you want this score to be above 100.
PavoTube II 30C
2700K 3200K 4500K 5600K 6500K 7500K
Above you can see the scores for the PavoTube II 30C at various CCT settings. Below I have listed the figures as well.
The Rf and Rg scores are very consistent for the light.
If we look at how well the light replicates a fully saturated Red, you can see above that it is able to produce 100% saturation, however, the Hue was 4 degrees instead of 360 degrees.
SSI (Spectral Similarity Index) was developed by the Sci-Tech Council of the Academy. SSI gives me the ability to set any light as a standard, or use predefined standards (such as CIE D55), and then give other lights an SSI score based upon how well they will match standards such as CIE D55 measure spectral response and compare it directly against an ideal light source.
In this graph, the red bars indicate a perfect 3200 (Tungsten source. The Red bars indicate a Planck 3200K source. This lets us compare how close to a perfect 3200K lighting source the Nanlite PavoTube II 30C is. A score in the mid ’80s is very good for a LED light trying to replicate a 3200K source.
In the graph above, the red bars indicate a perfect CIE D 5600K source. The Red bars indicate a perfect CIE D55 source. This lets us compare how close to a perfect 5600K lighting source the PavoTube II 30C is.
Most LED lights only record SSI scores in the low to mid 70s when they are used at 5600K.
The main reason we want to record SSI scores is so we can see how well they match with other lights. As an example, let’s see how well the Nanlite matches the ARRI Orbiter and a Z CAM ZOLAR Vega 30C when used at 5600K. As you can see, the Nanlite is a better match with the ARRI than the Z CAM. In a perfect world, you would want the lights you are using to have a score of 100 if they were all being used in the same CCT setting. That is rarely ever going to be the case unless you are using the exact same lights from the same manufacturer, however, any score in the 90s should in theory provide a very decent match.
Just as another comparison, above you can see how all of those same lights match when used at 3200K. As you can see, the Nanlite isn’t a close match to the ARRI or Z CAM, but a score in the mid-80s is still reasonably good.
Above you can see the spectral distribution of the PavoTube II 30C when it is set at 5600K. The spectral distribution is not overly full, but it doesn’t have any large bumps or spikes where I wouldn’t expect to see them.
Above you can see the spectral distribution of the PavoTube II 30C when it is set at 3200K. The spectral distribution is pretty good for a LED light being used at 3200K.
Real-World Performance & Quality of Light
I might sound like a broken record, but as I always say in lighting reviews, photometric scores only tell you part of the story. LED lighting technology has gotten to a point where almost all of the lights that are being released score well in photometric tests. What you should be focussing on, and this goes for just about any product, is usability. How will this product fit into the way I like to work.
The Nanlite PavoTube II 30C is quick to set up and you could use the light for lots of different applications. Tube lights such as this are fairly versatile and can be used as accent lights, interview lights, replacements for practicals, etc, etc. Again, my only real concern with this fixture was when it came to mounting. I found the lack of physical mounting points on the tube to be a limiting factor in how I could use them.
Yes, I would have liked to have seen a slightly longer run time when using the built-in battery, but on the other hand, you get a product that you can just pull out and turn on. I don’t like separate battery systems, but I do want the option to be able to use one if need be so it is nice that you can do that with the PavoTube II 30C.
As far as output is concerned, the light isn’t overly bright, but for a lot of scenarios where it will be used as a practical or placed in shot on purpose, it doesn’t need to be too bright. If you wanted to use this tube light as a key light in an interview you could, but you do have to be mindful that it will only probably work well in controlled environments or if you use more than one tube.
Now, Nanlite states that the LED chips on PavoTube II 15C/30C are surrounded by diffusion materials so they can offer better performance for shooting highly-reflective objects or when you use them as in-frame practical lights.
Above you can see a PavoTube II 30C right next to a PavoTube II 30X. I couldn’t really see any difference in the type of diffusion being used.
Above you can see a couple of quick shots I took using a single PavoTube II 30C to light a highly reflective globe just so you can see the type of reflections you get.
Light up higher and to the right of frame Light to the right of frame Light directly behind
Above you can see a couple of example frames where I am just using the Nanlite PavoTube II 30C to create a couple of very simple looks. Having a light like this with a built-in battery makes setting up simple shots like this really quick.
While tube lights are reasonably versatile, the physical size and difficulty of transportation may outweigh their benefits depending on the type of work you do.
I also like to place a couple of tubes inside something like a Caligri AirTube to create a nice soft source.
Above you can see what two of the tubes in a Caligri AirTube look like.
If you are shooting music videos or other content where you need a light to be able to create colors or effects that can be discreetly placed in a scene then tube lights make a lot of sense.
Price & Availability
The PavoTube II 30C and 15C are now available to purchase.
This makes them very competitively priced when you compare them to their competition.
You can also buy the lights in kits:
- Nanlite PavoTube II 15C RGB LED Tube Light (2′, 2-Light Kit) $389 USD
- Nanlite PavoTube II 15C RGB LED Tube Light (2′, 4-Light Kit) $769 USD
- Nanlite PavoTube II 30C RGB LED Tube Light (4′, 2-Light Kit) $599 USD
- Nanlite PavoTube II 30C RGB LED Tube Light (4′, 4-Light Kit) $1,189 USD
The new tubes are actually more affordable than their predecessors. As a reference, the PavoTube 30C 4′ RGBW LED Tube with Internal Battery was $329 USD, but that fixture has now been discontinued.
Above you can see some of the accessories that are available.
The main competition comes in the form of RGBW tube lights such as:
- Digital Sputnik Voyager (4′) $690 USD
- Astera TitanTube Basic Kit $850 USD
- CAME-TV Boltzen Andromeda MKII RGB LED Tube Light (4′) $488 USD
- Vibesta Peragos 120C Pixel $549 USD
- amaran T4C RGB LED Tube Light (4′) $329 USD
- Godox TL120 RGB LED Tube Light (4′) $239 USD
- Godox TP4R Pixel RGB LED Tube Light (4′) $569 USD
- Nanlite PavoTube II 30X RGB LED Pixel Tube Light (4′) $463 USD
The Astera Titan Tubes are perhaps the most well-known and widely used. They have a host of features and the ability to be run off internal batteries for up to 20 hours.
There is no such thing as a perfect light, and tube lights, in general, are filled with compromises that you need to be willing to accept. While you could use them for a whole range of different applications, they are often more suited to certain lighting requirements than others. I do always like to have a few tube lights in my kit because they are versatile and quick to use when the situation arises.
The Nanlite PavoTube II 30C has very good CCT accuracy, a decent enough range of features and capabilities, and it is reasonably well made. The internal battery run time could perhaps be longer. My only real issue is that it doesn’t offer anything new or original that we haven’t seen before and I found the lack of physical mounting points to be a limiting factor in how I could use them. In saying that it is very affordably priced and it has a decent amount of ouput for a tube of this size.
The Nanlite PavoTube II 30C is a decent enough offering in a now very crowded RGBW tube market.