Creative Lighting Without Limits? Fstoppers Reviews the Godox TL60
Whether you’re a photographer or videographer, you know the difference lighting can make in creating a compelling shot. While there are dozens of tools and techniques you can leverage in your next shoot, the Godox TL60 tube light might offer the creative possibilities you’re looking for, particularly for video work. Want to see what makes it so special?
One of the first things that stands out about the Godox TL60 tube light is the unconventional form factor. Unlike a monolight or panel, this light looks like a fluorescent light tube with some end caps, but it’s so much more. At one end is an LCD readout and a few buttons, serving as controls for all the light’s functions. At the other end is an on-off switch.
Inside the tube itself is the RGB light strip. It shines through the translucent half of the tube that makes up the main body of the light. The other half is opaque, giving the light about 180 degrees of spill. The translucent section softens the light, but doesn’t completely obscure the fact that the LED elements are individual. In use, the light is very floody, offering only a foot or two of throw, with rapid fall off.
The light can be operated off the built-in battery or via a wall adapter. Additionally, it can be controlled directly from the light, via app interface over a wireless connection, via a remote, or via DMX.
There have been a number of tube-style lights and light wands in the past, but one thing that sets this light apart in my eyes, over a white or even RGB option, is the number of modes.
The most basic option of ”white” even offers variety, allowing you to adjust the color temperature from 2700K to 6500K. With this, you can warm or cool the light to match ambient or other light sources you’re using.
Beyond white, you have the full gamut of RGB. Setting a specific color is much quicker with the app, rather than the button interface, but either method is nice for getting an exact match to your desired color. In the color modes, you also still have control of the brightness of the light as well.
A unique option is the choice of selecting Rosco or Lee gel filters by name. While I only had a few to test against, they seemed to accurately replicate the look of that gel over a light, making it possible to integrate this light right alongside other sources that are already gelled.
The final set of modes will be particularly interesting to video users. The special effects, of which there are 39, range from cycling rainbow spectrums and faulty fluorescent lights, to campfires and ambulance light bars. Within each style, there’s a range of variations, typically revolving around speed, frequency, and duration of each effect. Assuming you can get the light positioned in a realistic position, it can create a reasonably convincing imitation of whatever the named effect is.
The internal battery is 2600mAh, capable of powering the light’s 18W output for about 2 hours at full power in 2700K or 6500K. I think that’s a reasonable runtime, especially because this is quite bright at full output. For longer duration use, it’s easy to extend the runtime indefinitely with the included power supply — I noticed no heat issues, and wouldn’t expect to run into any over extended use.
The light quality itself is quite pleasant, with a stated CRI of 96. CRI, a measure of how faithfully colors are reproduced under the light, is really key to integrating a light like this into a video workflow. It does no good to have bright light that wrecks skin tones or leaves you clipping channels.
Fortunately, you’re not giving up power to retain that color accuracy. At 100% brightness, the light is putting out 1500 lux. Lux, and the general state of measuring light intensity, gets pretty messy in terms of being user-understandable. As this isn’t meant to be a main light to light an entire set with 1 stick, but instead to serve as a supplemental light, I think it’s more than powerful enough to do the job.
The TL60 is very nice to use, but might take a bit of creativity to get the most from it. While much of the promotional imagery shows it being used right in the shot, I think you’d need multiple lights to really get the best results from that approach (I think Godox knows this too, offering 2 and 4 light kits in addition to the single light). Instead, if you’re using a single light, I’d consider this to be a great way to get some color or special effects in smaller productions, in b-roll, or for tighter shots, where you could hover the light right off frame.
For photographers, the high CRI, smooth light profile, and relatively strong brightness for a continuous light make it a nice option to use over a gelled flash for things like product photos or for more creative shoots. While I haven’t had the opportunity yet, I’m sure you could do very interesting things when it comes to light painting with this product, especially when you consider some of the SFX modes.
The Godox TL60 is a very versatile option, perfect for creatives of all types. I could see using it to good effect in both photo and video (and with the DMX controls, I’m sure DJs and lighting techs could find a place to use the light as well). On the technical side, there’s virtually nothing to complain about. It packs all the features I’d expect on the software side.
The mounting is a bit less standard than your typical LED panel, however, relying on a clamp that goes around the body of the light with some threaded inserts. While it includes some wire rope, I think most people will end up using the light handheld or mounted with that clip. I’d love to see a threaded insert on the body of the light itself, but I get that might not have worked with the layout of the electronics.
The included accessories are all nice to have, even in the single light kit. They include a well-made carrying case, the power supply, and that mounting clip. In the multi-light kits, they include a remote and some more mounting options, as well as a bigger case.
The thing that sets this light apart, the form factor, is also one of the biggest weaknesses, in my opinion. It’s very floody, but falls off so quickly that you’d really be limited to using it in frame, or under very specific circumstances. It’s bright, but so diffuse, that it can’t compete with more directional lights. As a single light, you’re really limited to very specific use cases, but for multiple lights, things are going to get very expensive and awkward to rig up compared to a gelled light or similar.
Overall, if you’re looking for a creative LED option, a unique form factor for your next continuous light kit, or a light with a variety of special effects options, this is an interesting choice. It’s currently available in a single light, two-light, or four-light kit.
What I Liked
Good light quality and brightness
Relatively unique form factor
Easy to use software/menus, with plenty of built-in options
What Could Be Improved
Overly diffused and lacking any ability to add directionality to the light
Limited rigging options
A remote in the single light kit would be nice