Thoughts on the Z96 On-Camera (and Off-Camera) LED Light

When I was making the Great On-Camera Mic Shootout 2010, I had a lot of trouble properly lighting my on-camera talent. Even though I own three Arri 650plus lights, it was still really difficult to keep light on the presenter’s face, as she stepped forward and backward across the room, testing the range of each microphone. The whole time I was setting up I was thinking… Man, if I only had one more little light to stick somewhere…

I decided to buy an on-camera light. This, of course, meant that I spent several hours, days, even weeks researching the best option (for the least amount of money). Picking an on-camera light wasn’t as simple as I had hoped, but I eventually zeroed in on the Z96.The Z96 is a relatively small light with 96 LED elements, and a dimmer dial. It gets really bright, and with the dimmer and filters, you can be really subtle with how you light things too. It comes with a swiveling camera shoe mount, so you can bounce it off a wall or the ceiling. It also has a 1/4 20 thread at the base of the swivel mount, so you can put it on a tripod. I bought a $20 Joby Gorillapod so I could stick it in more places besides on top of the camera.

I bought my Z96 from a place called It’s a really strange name, but they had the best price. I believe they’re based in Hong Kong. If you’re wary of buying stuff online from a distant, faceless entity, the Z96 has a US distributer as well. It’s a bit more expensive, but you’ll have the peace of mind from the customer support they’ll provide (if you need it):

Or if you prefer a more familiar retailer, the Z96 is also available at Amazon:

So far I’m happy with this little thing. It throws out an even amount of light. I’m not super crazy about the look of LED lights in general (it looks like laptop light to me), but for LED, the hue of this light is decent. Two thumbs up.

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Writer, musician, photo taker and video maker. When not writing somewhat longish articles for this blog, I write incredibly short things on Twitter: @SamMallery

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