Daylight or Bicolor: Which is the right lighting choice for me?

Whether you’re lighting a studio, or a news desk, or your purchasing lighting to use in the field, the question will inevitably come up: Should I get daylight fixtures or bicolor fixtures? It’s the single most asked question we hear when helping clients. Here’s a list of the pros in favor of both to hopefully make your decision a bit easier! If you have more questions after this, feel free to give us a call at 856-324-2892 or contact us here.

Daylight (Single Color Temperature)

1. Daylight Lights Have Higher Output

Dracast single color light daylight light in product photography.

At the end of the day, you’re purchasing a light for the output of the light. With a single color light – whether it’s daylight color temperature (5600K) or something else – you’re simply going to get more output. Why? Well, in a daylight fixture all of the LEDs on the LED board will be the same color temperature. With bicolor fixtures, some (typically half) of the LEDs will be dedicated to one color temperature (usually 3200K) and the other half will be dedicated to another color temperature (typically 5600K). As you change the color temperature, what you’re really doing is dimming half of the LEDs down while you increase the output of the other half of the LEDs. This cross blend of color is what creates the bicolor effect.

2. You Can Still Change Color From Daylight

It’s a best of both worlds situation: you can actually make your 5600K daylight light whatever color you want using filters and gels. These gels come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and have been around for years. They’re also fairly inexpensive, so adding some color to your kit while retaining the high output of a single color daylight fixture is possible and relatively easy to do.

3. They’re Cheaper Than Bicolor Lights!

As a general rule of thumb, daylight 5600K light fixtures are less expensive than their bicolor counterparts. Since there are fewer components involved the lights just generally cost less. In that sense, you really are getting “more” for “less”.

Bicolor (Variable Color Temperature)

1. Bicolor Lights Are Versatile

Dracast Camlux on camera bicolor light

This could probably be number one, two, and three on this list since it’s really the primary reason people end up choosing bicolor lights. But it’s an important reason! A lot of people need to be able to adjust the color of their lights faster than using gels will allow. If you’re using lights in the field and need to be able to get the right lighting quickly, bicolor might be the way to go. If you’re lighting a studio that will need color temperature adjustment and the fixtures are high out of reach, bicolor will probably be the right choice. Versatility matters when it’s needed!

2. Bicolor Lights Are Precise

Dracast bicolor panel light on interview set

Using filters is a fine way to change color temperature or hue for many of us. However, many users are going to need to create a match to existing ambient lighting from another light source. Having the ability to fine-tune the color temperature of your lights gives you the ability to color match other lights on a set. This might seem like a small details, but ask the folks in post-production and they might tell you a different story!

3. Bicolor Lights Have A Longer Battery Life

Dracast S-Series panel light with npf batteries attached

Since bicolor lights are using fewer of their LEDs at any given time, they typically have a longer battery life compared with their single color daylight counterparts. This usually overlooked perk comes in handy for users that are primarily running their lights off of mains power (e.g. ENG crews and other field users).

So Which Is Right For Me?

If you’re at this point in the decision making process and you find yourself stuck, I’ll give you the real answer that I tell customers: they’ll both work just fine. There are several other factors that will go into which lighting fixtures you decide to buy. Things like size, weight, cost, light quality (CRI / TLCI), are all equally important. Color temperature is just one of the factors to consider when choosing lights. The good news is that we’re here to help. You can call us at 856-324-2892 or contact us here and one of our experts can help find the right daylight or bicolor fixture for you.

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