The Genaray Full Moon 18″ Bi-Color LED Light is the latest edition to my home photography studio. It is a B&H exclusive. B&H has lots of house brands (which go by a variety of brand names.) I actually have many of their B&H exclusives in my studio. I’ve used some of them years. I’ve tested most of their stuff and in a way most reviewers do not. I have used the gear on actual photo shoots, including some assigned work and other work bound for publication. I have conducted many long term tests of their gear. This gets me really acclimated to the products.
Many reviewers don’t actually use the products. They play with them for a few weeks and then give their opinion. I am not saying there is anything wrong with that. I am saying that I think my reviews may offer more credibility because I actually use the gear.
I will talk more about that below. Back to the light…
For context, I describe a basic setup using two smaller LED lights from B&H here – in my post on Picturemethods. This 18-inch light is much larger than the 9-inch Raya lights and will serve a different purpose.
During the pandemic, I took up studio photography. I couldn’t travel so my bird photography had to be put on hold. But I couldn’t stop making pictures so I started doing product photography and generally focused most of my time making images of my guitar collection.
It was during this time that I turned to B&H for some affordable gear that I could use for one of my two camera rooms in my house. (By the way, my house is now essentially a commercial production studio.) It’s a three-bedroom tract house – nothing special. It looks like every other house in my area but on the inside it’s very different. I only use the kitchen, bathrooms and one of the three bedroom as a residence. I work out of the rest of the house which includes the den, dining room, two spare bedrooms and the large master living room. I have a recording studio set up in one bedroom. I have a second bedroom set up as an editing bay/storage room. I have the dining room set up as camera room number one and the living room set up as camera room number two.
I use this light in my larger camera room. It’s the kind of light that could be used for almost any studio purpose. It would work for portraiture, interviews, beauty shots, product photography, macro and more. The 18″ Bi-Color LED Light packs a 1280 LEDs into a fixture with variable color from 3200 to 5600K that earn a high TLCI/CRI rating of 97.
Unlike other lights I’ve tried in this price range, the Genaray is flicker-Free and has a light intensity that is variable –from 100 down to 10% (I do wish it went all the way down to 1% but it’s not a big deal) and while you can make color and dimming adjustments locally on the fixture, you can also do it remotely with Genaray’s optional MB-WRT transmitter. The Full Moon can also be controlled remotely from a console via onboard DMX. I haven’t tried using a console but I have tried the remote. It works well.
The wireless remote for the Half Moon LED makes it easy to adjust the light while you’re behind the camera. It’s only $35 and frankly, I wish they had just included it with the light, but it’s worth investing in. It has a claimed range of 98 feet. I don’t have that much room in my studio but I got about 50 feet away and it worked perfectly. You can adjust both brightness and color temperature. It does require two AA batteries (not supplied in the package.)
I really like the fact that B&H has designed this light to work with a variety of power options. The light is ready for worldwide use, thanks to its 100 to 240 VAC adapter but you can also run it on two optional V-mount batteries when you can’t access an electrical plug. Also, while it might seem like no big deal, this light ships with a very long AC power cord. It’s gotta be at least 20 feet. This gives you lots of freedom in terms of light placement. I’ve never seen such a long power cord on a studio light and I really like it.
What’s next? If we’re gonna talk studio LEDs we have to talk about illuminance.
B&H claims an impressive 7000 lux. I didn’t measure that but I have no doubt it’s accurate. It’s EXTREMELY powerful when you turn it up to full power. It does all that with a low power draw. I have one bad circuit in my house and just running the toaster and the microwave at the same time can pop the breaker. I plugged this unit into that circuit thinking it would be a good test. And no problem.
I should have mentioned earlier that I gave up traditional “hot lights” years ago. LED technology has come a long way. The fact that this light is THIS bright and doesn’t get hot is a good thing. Because when I get busy in my studio I tend to lose myself in the shot and have in the past – absentmindedly grabbed a light when and where I shouldn’t. So I switched to LEDs and this one works like a charm in that regard.
Since I am one to use gels or correct or add color in post, I don’t get too worked up about color fidelity, but if you’re doing color critical work, this light will do the job. As I said earlier – the Half Moon LED’s color temperature is variable from 3200K (tungsten) to 5600K (daylight) or anywhere in between while earning a CRI/TLCI rating of 97. You have to spend a whole lot more money to get more than 97 CRI and I can’t see the value proposition in doing that.
If you’re planning on using this light in a video situation you’ll be fine. You can dim it without flicker which means you can run either high frame rates or slow motion with no problems. More on video below.
Now about the fan…
I started doing a lot of video a few years ago and it was only then that I started to notice how noisy all the gear we work with really is. If a fan is running in the background it can ruin the audio for your video project.
The Full Moon 18 Mini uses what B&H calls “intelligent temperature control” to turn on the fan when the LED gets hot (inside.) They describe the fans (there are two of them on the back of the unit) as “whisper-quiet” I’d say they are quiet enough. They are needed for long shoots. They protect the light’s electronics and make for a very long life for its LEDs. But here’s the good news. You can always just flip a switch and turn them off. That will be valuable to video shooters who need a quiet set. You just don’t want to run for hours that way. It will shorten the lifespan of the product but it’s nice to have the option.
Oh and just for fun, I used the back of the light – including the fans – as a background for my photo of Darth Vader.
The Full Moon LED sets up and breaks down quickly and easily to stow in the provided case for storage or transport. I generally don’t travel with my gear and because of that, I think that this light is more than sturdy enough.
You can spend more for a large LED/Studio light like the Full Moon 18″ Mini but I don’t think most people would see any benefit to doing that. Like most of the B&H house brands, the Genaray Full Moon 18″ Bi-Color LED Light punches WAY above it’s weight.
I have been using it almost daily for more than three weeks and it has never given me the slightest problem. It’s easy to use, powerful, offers lots of options for power and control and delivers a beautiful, reliable light source when you need it without breaking the bank.
My recommendation ratings go from HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (The best of the best) to RECOMMENDED (Not quite perfect but darn good) to ACCEPTABLE (Something that performs as promised but may be too expensive or have other problems that make it sort of a MEH recommendation) to NOT RECOMMENDED (Self-explanatory.)
I rate the Genaray Full Moon 18″ Bi-Color LED Light – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.