Falcon Eyes BL-30TD II Review | Aerial Guide
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Falcon Eyes BL-30TD II Review

Publish Date:
Mar 18, 2020
Categories:
Research, Production

Video lighting is one of those things that is a never ending process of finding the perfect light for your needs. There are so many options out there and each light has a different output, colors, features and price tags. I've been using a mix a LED lights, Neewer light panels and reflectors so far on the channel and they have all had their pros and cons - but in this article were taking a look at the Falcon Eyes BL-30TD II. An LED light that has some pretty high output and is Bi-color with the ability to adjust color temperature - at a fair price when comparing it to other single color lights on the market with this output.

Falcon Eyes BL-30TD II Bi-Color Light

I’ve been interested in checking out more lighting options for a while now, I started shooting macro product photography lately and realized how much light it takes to shoot small products with a wide depth of field so the whole product is in focus. It takes a lot of light! More on that later, but the ability to tone this light down and use at 5% for my talking head YouTube videos and then crank it up higher when I need more light is really beneficial. It's also interesting how much you can adjust the color with this light, going from 3000k to 8000k, 3200K is tungsten, I typically use 5600K for my videos, which is a warmer white. 8000K is a pretty cool white, not sure when I'd use that - but It's nice that there is the option to go that cool if needed.

Custom Scene Modes on the Falcon Eyes BL-30TD Gen II

This second generation of this light has a 9 different preset "Scenes” available to use. The different Scenes are

  1. Lightning 1
  2. Lightning 2
  3. TV
  4. Candle
  5. Paparazzi
  6. Double Flash
  7. High Low Beam Flash
  8. Strobe
  9. Warm Breathing


Not sure why I would use any of these modes, but if you’re a filmmaker that makes more creative videos - I’m sure you’ll have a use for these.

Does the BL-30TD II Flicker at Higher Frame Rates?

One of my biggest questions I had when first using this light was, does the Falcon Eyes BL-30TD II flicker when I'm shooting slow motion with my mirrorless camera? I've been filming at 30, 60 and 120fps with my Sony A7III and I haven't been able to see any noticeable flicker when I'm filming at those frame rates and playing them back in realtime or interpreted. This is a huge benefit for me since I'll be able to film at higher frame rates with this light without issue - my Godox light flickers when I film at 120fps.

Output Shift at Very Warm or Very Cool Temperatures

The BL-30TD II is the brightest in the 5000-6000 kelvin range since the light has 2 different sets of LEDs - one is warm while the other is cool. At 5600K, both LEDs are full power, while at the warmer or cooler you adjust the light, the dimmer it becomes since the light is only using one of its sets of LEDs.

Fan Noise from the Falcon Eyes BL-30TD II

The fan noise is something else I was worried about since this light has a fan on the power supply and a fan on the light itself, I was worried that my shotgun mic would pick up some of the fan noise. My mic is very close to the light, and if I keep the power control box on my desk while filming - my microphone could pick up that noise as well.

While using both the Power Control Box and light in close proximity to my microphone, this is the worst-case scenario for me. I tested this setup with my previous video and wasn't able to hear any fan noise while I was talking, but for long extended periods of silence - the fan noise became more notable when using my Sennheiser shotgun mic. After processing and de-noising my audio in Adobe Audition (like I normally do for all of my videos) I wasn't able to hear the fan noise. If you're not used to doing this, however, this does add an extra step to your post-production process. I kept this setup for my Twitch stream and wasn't able to hear any fan noise however when using my Shure SM7B. The pickup patterns are different on these microphones, so that's an interesting thing to keep in mind.

How I use the Falcon Eyes BL30-TD 2

I’ve been using the Falcon Eyes light as my key light in my YouTube videos and Twitch streams and have used it on both ends of the output spectrum. For these talking head YouTube videos and Twitch streams, I use the light at about 5%-10% in my double diffused 28inch deep parabolic softbox from the glow. When I’m filming close up products however, I’m using this light from 60-100% just to have the best image possible. With my previous Godox light, if I was filming products I would have to use it at 100% and crank up my ISO if I wanted the entire product to be in focus. The Falcon Eyes light has more output than my other Godox light, so I can increase the output of my Falcon Eyes light, and keep my ISO low and in return have a clearer image as well.

I typically only use lights at 5600K, as that’s the temperature that I set my camera - but as soon as I turned the dial and saw the temperature shift, I thought that this is going to be helpful for a particular client's videos at work. We film quick product videos in their lab, and the overhead lighting is LED, but it’s a funky light blueish color. Taking this along will help out a little in the future. It’s nice you can adjust the color temperature, output percentage, and functions from the power supply and not on the light itself. This is handy if you use your light on a stand that’s high in the room. You can also use the included antenna and purchase a remote separately to control the unit wirelessly. I don’t have this, so I can’t test it.

Something to note, 3000K to 3050K is a pretty significant color jump, as well as 7950K to 8000K, seems like a big jump instead of a gradual gradation.

My Opinion of the BL-30TD II

After using the Falcon Eyes BL-30TD II for some YouTube videos and over 8 hours of total Twitch streaming, here are my opinions about the light.

I like that there is an extension cord and carrying case included. When it comes to making YouTube videos or Twitch streams, I like to use my key light on a monitor arm attached to my desk, shout out to Caleb Pike from DSLR video shooter for the ideas! If the monitor arm had to hold the power supply as well, it would definitely tip over. It also is nice because I don't have to adjust the settings on the light that is suspended above me, I can change the settings on the power control box that is usually on my desk or just under it.

As for the carrying case, it’s a solid case for what it is. I’m spoiled by my pelican cases, so the quality is less than a pelican case but is still good enough that you can transport the light to different locations safely. Just don't put the case through too much abuse, not that you should be doing that anyway. I also like that the case has cut out spots in the foam so nothing moves around. It's a very tight fit, but in my opinion - tight fitment in a case is a good thing so nothing rattles around in transport.

The Bowens mount is a nice feature. I already had Bowens mount light modifiers so this was a simple task to switch out lights without needing to buy any other adapters or modifiers. Generally, you can find Bowens mount softboxes for pretty cheap online, or even cheaper if you can come across them on Facebook marketplace.
I can’t really see myself using the different modes that the Falcon Eyes light. To me they are gimmicky - but if you’re looking for features like that they could be helpful. These features would make more sense for indie filmmakers for certain scenes or looks.

The Dual V-mount battery slots for powering the light in the field is a great addition, but everything I shoot is within range of a power outlet. This is a nice feature to have if you want to go out and film but doesn’t have access to power. One con is that V-mount batteries are pretty expensive if you don’t have any already.

As far as to build quality, this is not built like a tank, but that being said, it’s the nicest piece of lighting equipment that I own. I would feel confident taking this to an indoor location or an outdoor location without a lot of wind while using the light modifier that comes with it. If you're using a large softbox, I wouldn't use this outside if there is any wind around. I’m not sure how the mount would handle wind pushing a large softbox around, but it fine for indoor shoots, like YouTube talking head videos and indie productions.

One point that concerns me is the vertical head adjustment, if you don't unscrew it all the way before trying to adjust the light it's possible to strip the grooves that keep the light in place. Some lights I've used have the ratcheting handle that is very helpful and deliberate, the knobs are a little harder to use and I would also like to see these grooves to be made larger and more deliberate to avoid stripping these out. So just make sure while you're adjusting the light up and down, to unscrew the light completely before adjusting.

Fan noise comes from both the light and the power supply. The noise from the power supply fan seems louder, but the good thing is that with the included extension cables, you can put the power control box further away. The fan on the actual light is about the same as my Godox SL-60W.

One thing that concerned me was the Overheating issues. I read on Amazon that the lights were overheating after 10-20 minutes of use. I also noticed that the first version and the second version of this light are under the same listing - the person who reported the shutdowns were the first generation, while I have the second generation. I'm not sure if there was an update to the cooling with the different versions (I don't think there was), but this is the very first thing I tested. My product video shots will be done at 80-100% and typically take a few hours to film so this was a big deal to me.

I understand that if the unit stops working, it's a safety precaution to make sure no damage is done to the light, but that shouldn't be happening in the first place.
Straight out of the box, I used this on my twitch stream for 6 hours. 1 hour at 40%, 1 hour at 60%, 1 hour at 80% and 3 hours at max brightness and never had any issues. I made sure that the Power Control Box was on my desk in an open spot with none of the intake or exhaust ports blocked on the unit and it worked out great. There were no shutdowns or power cycles in the entire stream. It was a bright 3-hour stream, but it worked flawlessly.

This light is complete overkill for streaming, especially at 100%, I typically use the light at around 5-10% while streaming. One of the reasons I could see this light overheating, is if you're using it and push the control box near a wall or keep it on the carpet. Anything that cools using a fan, like a computer or light control box, should be on a flat surface that doesn't obstruct the airflow and away from dust. And in my case, away from German Shepherd hair.
One downside to this light is that it doesn't come with a remote. It comes with an antenna for a remote, but the remote must be purchased for $72 separately. I think if the remote was included in this light it would make this an even sweeter deal when considering the competitive pricing. I don't like that the remote is separate and that it's so expensive.

Conclusion

If you need a Bi-color light and are okay with the output shift at warmer and cooler temperatures, the Falcon Eyes BL-30TD II is definitely worth checking out. Considering the light output and ability to shift the color from 3000K to 8000K. I’m not aware of another light in this price range that can do this. This light competes against the Aputure 300D in terms of output and functions, but that light is only daylight balanced or tungsten balanced. This light can shift between the spectrum of those two. I don’t have a 300D to test, but I’m sure that light has it’s pros, but it also has a bigger price tag too.

About the Author:

Keith Knittel

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 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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