Zhiyun FIVERAY M20C: Light Up The Sky!

Zhiyun Fiveray M20C

Drone light painting empowers photographers to craft avant-garde content using photographer-controlled light from the sky. The Zhiyun FIVERAY M20C is sufficiently small and lightweight to be installed on most consumer drones, allowing the creation of viral social media content. With more than 16 light modes, it will make your drone look like a UFO. Its built-in battery allows about 40 minutes of working time at the highest light level (20W). Of course, the primary purpose of the M20C is to be used as a studio or field light for photographers and filmmakers.

Whether working with a mirrorless camera, DSLR setup, or shooting on your camera phone, the Zhiyun FIVERAY M20C will give the light needed for the perfect composition. The M20C is not just a simple fill light. It features many light modes and is designed to work in a team with centralized APP control. The FX mode offers unique light effects, including Lightning, Fireworks, Paparazzi, Cop Cars, Faulty Bulbs, SOS, TV,  Disco lights, and more.

Fiveray M20C LED light installed on FPV drone

Fiveray M20C LED light installed on FPV drone

With one hundred ultra-bright LEDs (40 RGB + 40 White + 20 RED), this light panel produces up to 1950 lux of light (0.5 meters) and will enhance your photo and video projects. In CCT mode, you can adjust the color temperature on the Kelvin scale from 2,000 K to 10,000 K.

Zhiyun FIVERAY M20C review

Disclosure: I received this drone light in a product review collaboration with Zhiyun. Although the product was free, all the opinions in this review remain mine.

ZHIYUN Tech is a world leader in camera stabilizers (gimbals) for everyone, from amateur social media content creators to professional filmmakers. The company also has two video light series, the FIVERAY (M20C/M20, M40, V60, F100, and FR100C) and the MOLUS (G200 and X100).

Included accessories with the Fiveray M20C LED panel

I received the FIVERAY M20C in a combo kit that included 4-leaf barn doors, honeycomb grids, a diffuser, an extension bracket, and a nice silver storage pouch. The unit measures 7.8*7.8*3.6 cm and weighs 200 grams. It adopts an open frame structure, so you should not expose it to rain or snow when it is used outside. On top of the light cube is a USB Type-C Charging/Firmware Upgrade Port. It has a tiny neodymium magnet in each corner to attach one or more accessories from the Modifier Pack.

The built-in 4500mAh battery is not removable, but its case is part of the design. If you peek inside through the vent holes, you will see that the RGB LED panel is installed on ample copper heating. It features 100 LED chips in a 7.5×7.5cm square. In the center of the back, there is a cooling fan that starts only if the light is used on high output.

Mounting cage

For mounting, you’ve got a standard cold shoe with a 1/4-20″ threaded socket on the removable extension bracket. The M20C cage also has three additional cold shoe mounts for external accessories such as a microphone or stack multiple M20C lights. A rear-mounted neodymium magnet allows you to attach it to metal surfaces. This is handy for putting lights in challenging places, like underneath a metal shelf or sticking to a pipe, bike, car, or fridge. The cage is the magic part behind the system, and you will probably use it permanently.

Fiveray M20C attached to fridge using magnetic mount
M20C attached to the fridge using the magnetic mount

Zhiyun FIVERAY M20C: Controls and display

The M20C has only two dial buttons, one in each upper corner, with a tiny OLED display among them. The left allows turning the light panel on/off, and the right changes intensity. You can easily navigate between menus and change settings using these two dials. Surprisingly, the physical control buttons give you access to more functions than the mobile APP.

Controls and OLED scren
Dial buttons and OLED screen

You can switch between CCT, HSI, RGB, FX, and Music modes using the left dial when powered on. Each mode has its adjustment parameters.

Price, Availability, and Options

The retail price for the FIVERAY M20C combo with included cage, barn doors, diffuser, and honeycomb grid is $159 / €179, while the M20C light on its own is $129 / €149 at the Zhiyun store. The “Modifier Pack” (combo kit’s extra accessories) can also be purchased later at the price of $59 (€59). You can also order the M20C and other FIVERAY lights from Amazon and other platforms.

20W portable Video LED light

20W portable Video LED light

Nine Key Features of FIVERAY M20C Video Light

  • [Pocket-Sized with Big Impact] Packs a mighty 20W punch with high-power output, professional dimming, and innovative features. Its sleek design lies a world of creative potential, ensuring every snap and masterpiece is stunning.
  • [Stunningly Chilled Illumination] The ZHIYUN FIVERAY M20 series boasts the exclusive DynaVort Cooling System™ MARK II, significantly slimming down the heat sink thickness, optimizing airflow, and reducing drag. Challenge conventions and enjoy uninterrupted, professional-grade cooling and illumination every time.
  • [Glorious Spectrum] The high-density chip layout shines bright with a radiant full-color RGB glow. Coupled with HSI precise dimming, you’re just a touch away from painting with light.
  • [Every Illumination is a Party] Offers ten creative lighting effects, music mode, synchronized speed, and temperature adjustments. As for the M20C, an additional six immersive RGB moods are added along with seven vibrant color-brightness variations in music mode, standing ready to match every beat and mood, painting your scene in perfect hue.
  • [Intuitive controls and OLED display] From subtle glows to dramatic effects, they are all under control within the button dials. Seamlessly switch modes and fine-tune brightness with intuitive ease.
  • [Magnetized] The fill light’s adaptability doesn’t just fit into your setup—it enhances it. The ZHIYUN FIVERAY M20 series effortlessly magnetizes to tables, walls, and even vehicles using the all-new, dedicatedly designed extension accessories.
  • [Always Stay Energized] It’s not just about lighting up—it’s about lighting up with style and stamina. The fill light runs a solid 40-minute at full 20W power. Compatible with PD protocol power banks and charging adapters, the ZHIYUN FIVERAY M20 series allows simultaneous charging and lighting.
  • [A Whole Lighting Team in Your Hand] Powered by Bluetooth mesh networking that once only featured in pro lighting, this pocket-sized dynamo can also be a creative ecosystem. Stack multiple units for expansive brilliance, or synchronize them effortlessly through our dedicated app for unparalleled remote control.
  • [Cinematic professional modifier pack]: Diffuser, Honeycomb grids, and 4-leaf barn doors

In the video below, Mackey Cameron gives some helpful input about how to get the best results from the M20C light.

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Zhiyun FIVERAY M20C: Takeaways

First of all, you can connect the FIVERAY M20C to your phone using the ZY Vega APP. With a smartphone, you have more flexibility in defining colors. You can even pick up a color from the environment and make M20C reproduce it! The app allows you to control multiple M20C lights at the same time.

ZY Vega mobile APP user interface

FIVERAY M20C has a “Music” mode when it switches between colorful lights. It is cool to have when you organize a party at home or outdoors. Thanks to the built-in microphone, it can follow the rhythm of the music like a veritable disco strobe. The light effect is highly customizable to get the expected results.

The multitude of predefined light modes surprised me when I entered the “FX” menu. You can toggle between SOS, Paparazzi, Candle, Bad bulb, TV, Lightning, Strobe, CCT Loop, CCT Flash, CCT Pulse, Police car, Disco, Firework, HUE Loop, HUE Flash and HUE Pulse modes. Again, all the before-mentioned special light effects are freely customizable.

4-leaf barn doors
4-leaf barn doors

The barn doors allow manipulation and shape of the light to obtain the perfect cinematic illumination. The honeycomb grid aims to narrow the spread of light, allowing you to focus and guide the illumination precisely where you want.

Honeycomb Grid
Honeycomb Grid

Color space: RGB and HSI

The FIVERAY M20C allows the mixing of light colors in both RGB and HSI standards. In the RGB model, each color appears in its primary red, green, and blue components. The HSI Model (Hue, Saturation, Intensity) describes the color as an angle from 0 to 360 degrees. Zero degrees means red,  60° degrees is yellow, 120° means green, 240° means blue, and 300° degrees is magenta. You can pick your desired color from the ZY Vega APP pie chart. HSI is similar to how the human eye senses colors.

FIVERAY M20C: Working time

Regarding battery life, you get about 40 minutes of use at maximum output from the fully-charged built-in 4,500mAh battery. And that internal battery charges up in 120 minutes, using a 27W PD charger. You can effectively keep it powered by a USB charger without running out – or you can use a PD USB power bank if you need extended working time away from the wall or outside.

FIVERAY M20C: Technical specifications

Output power 20W dimmable (0~100%)
Color Temperature Range 2500k~10000k
LED chips 40 pcs RGB
20 pcs warm light
20 pcs cool light
20 pcs red light
Illuminance at 4300K/100% 1 meter: 539lx
0.5 meter: 1950lx
0.3 meter: 5300lx
RGB Illuminance (LUX, 1m) R 255, G 280, B 103
Battery Capacity 4500mAh
Runtime 40min CCT mode, with a color temperature of 4300k, and a brightness of 100%.
Charging time 2 hours with PD27W
Connectivity Bluetooth
Product size 78x78x35.75mm
Weight 200 grams

FIVERAY M20C: Best alternatives for your money

If you don’t need fancy APP control and RGB illumination, ZHIYUN’s M20, priced at $89, is an excellent choice with the same output power. Many consider the Aputure MC PRO the best pocket video LED panel, but having only 5W, I don’t believe it is worth the $199. The M20C is priced less and produces four times more light. If you want your light close to the microphone, with passive cooling (no fan), the MC PRO will probably fit your needs better, even if you need to pay extra.

Portable video LED panels
Comparison of 3 Portable video LED panels

Ulanzi’s LT003 has 15W output power, 360° full RGB color, and is priced at only $59. This LED panel is a good option for those looking for a studio light, but a diagonal of 10″ isn’t too portable.

Of course, there are other pocket LED lights to consider, but I will let you discover them yourself.

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