Hi there, I’m Keith and I’ve been using the GVM BD-100 tube lights for a few shoots and have come up with a few tips on how to get the most out of these lights. So let's just straight into it.
My first tip for the GVM tube lights is to be careful using these as background lights, in certain conditions. Since you’re able to see the individual LEDs of these lights, you’ll have to remember to put these either farther in the background where the LEDs blend together or shoot with a shallow enough depth of field to get the LEDs to blur and look solid. I find the individual LEDs to be distracting as background lights, this is less of an issue if you’re using these as a regular light source to light your subject and not in the frame though.
I did some tests at f4, f10, and f22, and around f4 and lower the individual LED lights became blurred enough to look solid, at f/10 and higher you can see the individual LEDs if this light is in the shot.
I also threw on a 1/8th black pro mist to see if the lights would bloom and better read as a single solid light, and while the light did bloom more, the pro mist filter wasn't enough to hide the individual LEDs at higher apertures. As a side note, the reflections in the mist filter were showing the individual LEDs even at wider apertures, so be careful of your reflections and lens flares.
2. Lock the screen
My second tip is about leaning these up against things. The ends of these lights are flat and angled so you can leave this on a table or lean it against a wall and it will stay in place. However, make sure to lock the screen if you’re not using a mount and leaning it up against something. I was leaning this up against a wall to test the battery life and I thought the battery was dying, but after I picked it up I realized I didn’t lock the screen and it was slowly changing the brightness.
My next tip is to use the mounts that come with this light, but be careful with the mount.
The included mounts will be different whether you buy the 2 or 4 light kits, but it is the fastest and easiest way to mount your lights to a light stand. It’s nice that GVM includes a mount, but the mount isn’t that strong, meaning you’ll have to clamp down the mount to get it to work. I wish the arm that controls the ball head of the mount was stronger but it works.
There is a cut-out on one end of the light to hang this from a line or safety chain.
There is also a quarter twenty mount on one side of the lights if you’d like to mount these to a light stand and use them straight up. I’d be careful doing this though, as the light is so long if the light stand gets bumped or is not level, it’s a good chance this light is going to fall over.
This leads me to my next tip, handle these lights with care. These lights are made of lightweight plastic so if you drop these lights, they will break. This light is not as heavy-duty as other tube lights. The ends feel very plasticy and the buttons are physical buttons without any dust or weather sealing on them as well. If you're using this in a studio or home office it’s less of a concern but if you’re taking these in the field, make sure to keep them very clean and handle these with care.
The good part about the lightweight plastic, is they are very light for their size. The BD-100 light bar is 30.5 inches at 1.7 lbs while the Falcon Eyes IRISA 2 is 23in at 3lbs. The Falcon Eyes light is built to be more rugged, but also is 7 inches smaller and almost weighs twice the weight of the GVM.
Since these lights aren’t as rugged as other lights, always make sure to put these lights in the case when not using them or traveling with them.
My next tip is to learn the settings on the back of the light so you can quickly navigate through the menus to the settings you want. Pressing the M Button on the back of the light will cycle through the CCT, HSI, and Scene modes. The arrows will allow you to cycle through current options. The gear allows you to jump to settings quickly and the plus/minus buttons let you adjust the current options.
It’s nice to be able to quickly navigate the light modes and settings with dedicated buttons. I found myself switching between master and slave modes a lot when using these lights and it was easy to press the gear, adjust the control option and get these lights in sync quickly.
This leads me to my next tip, use master and slave mode to quickly match settings between multiple lights. I love the fact that I can quickly sync the settings of these lights by adjusting the master and slave controls on the lights. With this function, and changes you make on the master light update the slave lights with the same changes.
Keep in mind, you won't be able to make minor adjustments on the slave lights and this mode will only sync changes with the master light. I liked using this feature to keep the colors of my lights the same, and if I needed to adjust the brightness of the lights, I would physically move the lights closer or farther away since that's faster when you’re out filming than going up to each light and pressing the buttons to adjust the light.
My seventh tip for the GVM tube lights is to download the app, but understand its limitations. The GVM app lacks a lot of functionality, but it pairs with your lights really fast.
It’s almost strange how fast these lights pair, but once you pair the lights selecting the lights is annoying since you’re not able to add custom names to the lights. You also cant create groups of lights in the app, or at least I haven't been able to get this feature to work. The app needs a lot of work, but even with that being said, how I’ve been using the app is to control my lights remotely, while using the master/slave modes from the previous tip.
If you set one light to master, the other to slave on the same channel, then set master light to app and connect it to the GVM LED app the app light will still act like the master and control the other lights. I’m not sure if this is a bug in their software, but since you’re not able to group lights in their app, this is how I’ve been getting around it.
At this point I might be using one bug, to get around another bug in these lights. Hopefully, GVM updates this in the future, but I can’t speak to that - I can only work with the software they currently have released.
My eighth tip piggybacks off the master/slave tip again but it’s to know that if you're using these lights together, the slave lights will have a slight lag from the master. For CCT and HSI modes this isn’t a big deal, but if you plan on using the effects between multiple lights at the same time, the slave lights will be slightly behind the master light. It’s not very noticeable in real-time, but if you’re slowing your footage down it could be more obvious.
My ninth tip is to use these lights with battery power or connected to the wall for continuous power. At 5600k I got a little over an hour and a half at full brightness on battery power, but you can connect these lights with the included chargers you can run them as long as you need. Each light comes with it’s own charger, which is nice since these lights draw too much power to use a USB-C cable and a power brick to charge.
My 10th tip for the GVM lights is to understand their limitations and strengths. When you consider the length of these tube lights to their price, they are a pretty affordable option when compared to other tube lights, but the cheap plastic construction that comes along with these lights is limiting if you want to use these out in the field.
The temperature ranges are a little limiting at only ranging from 3200 to 5600 kelvin, but at the same time I typically only film at 5600k or in an HSI mode if I need a certain color. If you like to change color temperatures over 5600k in camera to achieve some cooler lighting you’ll have to use an HSI mode to achieve that.
There is also no green or magenta shift in the CCT modes, so if you’re matching these lights with other lights, this could be a problem.
These are cheaper than the Nanlite Pavotubes, and they are pretty comparable to the Godox tube lights. The Godox tube lights have more features, but the lights are shorter.
No matter which tube lights you’re looking for there will be strengths and weaknesses to each light, and a light that has fewer compromises will cost more money. One isn’t better than the other, it just depends on which light best suits your needs.
These were some tips, tricks, and things I’ve learned while using these lights for a few shoots and hopefully this has helped you use these lights better if you’re looking to buy them make a more informed purchase.
I'm a designer from Cleveland, Ohio and love to shoot photos & videos. I made my first website in 2004 to show friends photos & videos (before YouTube/Flickr/Instagram were things) and have been shooting and designing ever since! I have a deep passion for making and helping others create.
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