Zylight LED Lighting


There are literally hundreds of LED lighting companies catering products in the film, video and photographic market place today.  Those of us who are shooters know that at least 90% of them are crap.  The good ones are built tough, are bright, consistent, have a nice even wide spread and feature controls.  These controls are often color temperature and dimming.  Some LED lights only have dimming.  Others are only on or off.  A few have the ability to change from tungsten to daylight or the ability to mix the two.  Many of these color temp controls are inaccurate especially in cheaper brands.  Just because an LED says 5600 or 3200 doesn’t mean anything.  Take a color meter to most of the knockoff 1×1’s and you will see they are not what they say they are.  This is a problem because you then find yourself adding gels that can knock down intensity and waste time on set.  Some LED lights have dimming switches or rotary knobs but are already on a low output light to begin with.  Others have no provisions for diffusing the light to soften it.  Reason being that they know cutting down the light by diffusing makes it almost useless for fill if it only has a 4-6 foot throw to begin with.   That would chop it down to 2 to 3 feet, which is unusable. ZyLight is very bright and there is even a Chimera Softbox option specifically made for the IS3

It is clear that LED lighting is replacing most lighting under 250watts in our field.  Even Kino Flo is getting into LED technology as it uses 70% less energy, lasts ten times longer than fluorescent, thirty times longer than incandescent and has over 50,000 hours of life.  Not having bulbs break or the need to swap them out is a big deal when you’re on set.  The other main advantage is the fact that LED lights put off very little heat.  This is very important in a litigious society and also allows for fast pack ups and breakdowns.  No more waiting 15 minutes for a light to cool to move to another location, etc.  Another big value is that your talent’s makeup will not melt off their face in a scene.  No more sweaty actors dying under hot lights.  No burn injuries and no worries with kids on set.  The fact you can turn off air-conditioning units for the entire shoot is great.  No more cooling down breaks on the set on long shoots.  Less power draw also allows for use of house power on standard outlets. No more suicide pins into the power mains!

Now for more detail on my favorite manufacturer of LED lighting, Zylight.  I was first introduced to Zylight about three years ago at NAB.  There were several LED manufactures represented there but nowhere near the amount as there is today.  Zylight always stood out from the pack and even more so today, as there are so many crappy LED light offerings.  So why is Zylight so great and why am I writing a post singling out this one brand specifically?  It’s really quite simple.  Unlike most LED manufacturers Zylight has truly engineered an almost perfect line of fixtures.  A few of these features stand out as revolutionary in this arena and its made in the USA.

ZyLight IS3 Light

Both the IS3 (18”x11”x2”) and the Z90 (5.3″ x 3.0″ x 2.0″ on camera or on stand, palm sized light 7-24v)

ZyLight Z90

Both the IS3 and the Z90 have a digital readout on the back of the light with a very simple user interface.  You will not need a manual to figure out these feature packed lights. Some of my favorite features of the IS3 and Z90:

Gel-less variable color temperature and correction control can be dialed for any color temp or variant.  No more gels to bump warmth or cool the scene.    ZyLight controls on back of the IS3

Full color output adjustment, meaning you can dial in almost any color and use it as a color wash or color edge. This is incredible, as normally you would need to take a light with two to four times the output to blast through a color gel and still get the intensity you were looking for on your meter.  Also because using the color mode does not reduce the intensity you can dial in almost any color you want without altering any part of the throw.  Tweaking color is a dream on these lights as you can adjust the hue and saturation of the color.  This is a DP’s dream and your gaffer will thank you for it.

You can also dim ZyLight IS3 and Z90 without any shift in color temperature.  Most LED lights will not hold color on dimming so this is an important detail that most overlook when choosing a fixture.

ZyLink wireless technology is built into both lights and works up to approximately 60 feet away from the controller.  ZyLink allows you to remotely control all of the features on the light including On/Off, color fill and color temperature.  For example, this is perfect for remote applications where you might want to hang the light on a grid or boom arm.  Keep in mind that the IS3 also features built in DMX connections for permanent installations or video event operations. The Z90 can also be DMX controlled via the ZyLink controller which has a DMX interface on the back.

ZyLink wireless controller

What I really like about the ZyLink control is the fact that you can put several Zylight IS3’s, Z90’s or a combination of them onto one channel and control them all together or on separate controllers, utilizing the 10 channels of wireless.  You can orchestrate some amazing lighting setups this way and do things you would never be able to do with other lights.  Example: You are shooting a crime drama and you want the mood to shift with color representing emotion.  The woman sees a dead body, she looks down and notices she is holding the murder weapon.  The scene washes completely red.  Normally you would use a separate light for the color wash and would need to kill or dim some of the tungsten or daylight balanced lights you were using.  That would take a few people to pull off, the timing would have to be just right, the red gel filtered light would have to be very intense, etc.   That same scenario could be done with one or two IS3’s and a Z90 all ZyLink’ed together and you could simply go from daylight to color mode without loss of intensity and with perfect timing.  Also the simple ability to remotely turn off a kicker, fill, key, hair light etc, is huge.  No more building rheostats or having someone throw/unplug a switch, etc.

Think about green screen applications.  Taking a white wall and splashing it with green light rather than painting it. Or using it to knockout shadows on a green screen without changing the color of screen and without gels (which would be hard to match to green screen paint)

ZyLight IS3 DMX interface and wireless antenna

Why make ZyLight your LED light of choice?  Simply put, in a time of smaller crews, lower budgets, etc ZyLight allows for a scalable set of lighting tools that will save you money and manpower in the short term and long term.  It allows for more creative options that are simply not found in other lights.  Innovations that stand out like a wide spread remote capability, color adjustments, reliability and performance that far exceeds any of the top brands.

There are many reasons why you should not buy a cheap LED light.  If you’re a DP then light is your paintbrush and paint. You need consistency and dependability.  It is worth every penny to have the proper tools to begin with rather than band-aiding a cheap solution that you know will make your job harder, will not last, does not have a decent throw and does not feature on-board tools to make your job easier.  ZyLight can fix that for you.  Once you try one I know you will be hooked.  I am.


    • Variable Color Temperature: 2500 – 9000K
    • Variable Color Correction: + – GREEN
    • Full Color Output With Hue and Saturation Control
    • Precise Readout with Rear Control
    • Fully Dimmable 100% – 1
    • RGB Color Mixing with Long Life LED’s
    • DMX or Wireless Operation
    • Optional Softbox & Mounts
    • Made Production Tough in the USA


    • No Correction or Color Gels to Buy
    • No Gels to Carry
    • No Spare Bulbs to Buy or Carry
    • Low Maintenance Cost
    • Low Power Draw
    • Extremely Versatile Light

Michael Sutton



Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.