Videographers and photographers are always looking for great ways to add additional light when they need it and there is no doubt that LED lighting is the wave of the future. The problem is that budget LED lights often suffer from poor color and issues with flicker and higher dollar lights are…well…more expensive. Switronix has designed the TorchLED TL-50 to fill the gap between these two extremes. The TorchLED TL-50 light provides the equivalent of 50 watts of 5600k daylight balanced light, up to 3 hours of operating time and is the only compact LED light fixture to include an integrated rechargeable battery pack. Sounds good so far, but let’s dig into it some more and see if it is as good as it seems.
What Is It?
The Switronix TorchLED TL-50 is a DC powered dimmable light with 50 LEDs. The unit is made from aluminum and not cheap plastic making it very durable. The LED housing unscrews to give you access to a replaceable lithium polymer battery. On the top and bottom of the housing are 1/4-20 thread mounts allowing numerous mounting options. On the rear are a set of three LED’s to show the battery level, an LED for charging indicator, and a dial which turns the unit on and controls the power output.
Size: 4.1″ x 2.43″ x 2.5″ (90mm x 61.8mm x 63.8mm)
Weight: 0.57lbs (260g)
Power Consumption: 3w
DC Input: 5v DC (for charging only) Light Source: 50 MATCHED light emitting diodes (matching insures proper color temperature)
Light Output: 760 Lux @ 1m, 5600K daylight, 50w equivalent cool white
Mount: 1/4-20 thread, top and bottom
Includes: Clear protective, frosted, and indoor CTO (3200K), pop-on filters, battery charger
(battery charges through external port)
Included 5V Charger Input: 90-240VAC 50/60Hz
Who Is It For?
The TL-50 is designed primarily for video work although some photographers will find uses for it, especially with macro photography. For video work the long 3 hour battery life should get you through a typical wedding reception. With the included hot shoe adapter you have a huge variety of mounting options from direct on-camera fill light to off-camera key or fill light.
The TL-50 does not have the same output as a speedlite so it’s not a replacement for flash, but it is equivalent to a 50w tungsten light which certainly can have its uses. At just half a pound, it should work just fine with most mounts and friction bars letting you put it in just the right position.
How Does It Work?
Usage couldn’t be simpler with just one control for power and dimmer control. The light output is 5600k (daylight balanced) which is fine for outdoors but indoors you often have to deal with much warmer light. The TL-50 comes with a CTO (color temperature orange / 3200k) filter to match tungsten light. The TL-50 also comes with a protective clear filter and a frosted filter for adding some diffusion.
Most of the cheap Amazon/eBay LED lights suffer the most from poor battery performance but our test results showed that the Lithium polymer cell in the TL-50 easily hit the three hour mark. For around $65 you can buy a replacement battery and ensure that you have plenty of available battery life.
How Well Does It Work?
I am really impressed with the battery life and the quality of the light output. LEDs still have a way to go in terms of light output for their size so trying to use modifiers like umbrellas or, my favorite portable modifiers, the Rouge Flashbenders will cut down too much light. The included diffuser gel does help soften the light a little by spreading it out in a wider angle. i am really looking forward to using the diffuser gel when doing ring shots at the next wedding.
Video shot using a single TL-50 in an overhead dish
The Final Verdict
If you are really on a tight budget you can buy a handful of YN-160s LED lights but you are not going to come close to the light quality, consistent color temperature, lack of flicker, and outstanding battery life. At $174, the Switronix TL-50 is significantly cheaper than competing big-brand products but still has a professional quality feel. The Tl-50 is affordable enough for beginners and yet good enough for professionals. If you want a light that is going to give you great results without breaking the bank than you need to look at the Switronix TL-50.