Small But Mighty: A Review of the Zhiyun Molus B Series LED Lights for Studio Photography

Small But Mighty: A Review of the Zhiyun Molus B Series LED Lights for Studio Photography

As a seasoned studio strobe shooter, I put the Zhiyun Molus B Series LED lights through their paces. Transitioning from my usual larger, heavier strobe studio lights, could these be powerful enough for my needs?

Whether you shoot portraits, still life, or anything in between, a photography studio gives you the opportunity to fully control the lighting in your images. Starting in darkness and slowly designing how the light illuminates a subject is always a puzzle to solve, and one which I thoroughly enjoy. Balancing the quantity, quality, and intensity of light, along with the right direction, can be a lengthy process, but once you have found the right formula, the results make all of the hard work worth it.

I was intrigued by the spec of the newly designed Zhiyun Molus B Series LED lights and decided to put the B200 and B500 models through their paces. The Molus B Series offers portable and professional lighting solutions with units ranging from 100 W to 500 W. These lights feature an innovative industrial design that integrates the cooling system within the light, inspired by a vortex to be more compact.

What Is So Special About These Lights?

The Zhiyun Molus B Series features COB LEDs. A COB (Chip on Board) LED light features multiple LED chips packaged together as a single lighting module. This design creates a uniform and efficient light source with enhanced brightness, increased heat dissipation, and energy efficiency. This combination makes for an excellent choice for a wide range of lighting applications in the fields of photography and videography where consistent and high-quality lighting is crucial. Despite their high power, these lights are up to 70% lighter than equivalent products, occupying a fraction of the space. Zhiyun's B Series lights boast the MK V-type DynaVort™ Cooling System, which significantly improves thermal efficiency. This system includes two pressure sensors to eliminate turbulence and optimize airflow, resulting in better heat dissipation within a smaller volume.

The B Series lights operate within a color temperature range of 2,700K to 6,500K, providing pro-level color rendering suitable for a wide range of uses. With easy-to-use and intuitive dials, you can quickly adjust color temperature and brightness from 0-100%. The ZY Vega App and K1 Controller panel offer additional ways to control the lights remotely, enhancing user convenience.

Weight and Size

If you are used to studio strobes or larger LED lights, you will certainly find these smaller and lighter than what you are used to. The B200 model measures 146 x 181 x 160 mm and weighs 1.4 kg, while the B500 model measures a still compact size of 245 x 190 x 159 mm and weighs 2.8 kg.

Output and Colour Accuracy

The downscaled size of these lights meant that I expected a low-powered output, but they really pack a punch. In terms of light output, the B200 delivers 8,370 lux at 5m500 K without a reflector and 39,900 lux with a reflector, whereas the B500 provides 19,200 lux without a reflector and 76,400 lux with a reflector, which is impressive when you consider that this is in the lux range of bright sunlight.

Both models have a high Color Rendering Index; the B200’s CRI is ≥96 and the B500 has a reading of ≥95. These high values mean that the lights produce very accurate color representation, so you can be sure that you will achieve the desired results.

These features, combined with the compact and lightweight design, make the Zhiyun Molus B Series LED lights a fantastic choice for me, and I am sure that there would be many other photographers and videographers looking for high-quality, portable lighting solutions such as these.

Testing the Lights

When to Use LEDs Over Strobes

They say never work with children or animals, but if you work with either or both, an LED lighting setup might be a better option for you over strobes. Newborns, small children, and animals can be easily startled by the sudden burst of a flash. Continuous LED lighting provides a softer, non-intrusive light source, keeping them calm and comfortable.

Photographing Children

Photographing young children can be challenging, and just when you think you are engaging well with them, strobe lights can really knock their concentration and cause overstimulation and tantrums. Using the Zhiyun Molus B500 as my keylight and B200 as a fill provided a non-intrusive light source, which kept the kids calm and comfortable. This steady illumination allowed for candid moments to be captured without startling them, allowing me to direct the children to pose through play and imagination.

Pet Photography With LED Lighting

Using continuous LED lighting for photographing dogs proved to be highly effective. Animals, like small children, can be easily startled by the abrupt flash from traditional strobe lights. The steady light from the B500 ensured the dog remained calm and relaxed throughout the session, allowing concentration on commands and waiting for his next treat. This allowed me to capture the dog's attention and focus on illuminating his beautiful eyes. Additional vital equipment for this shoot was an endless supply of smoky cheddar to reward the dog for good behavior and patience.

Fashion Photoshoot

During a two-hour fashion shoot, I primarily used the lights at full output. They handled this extended use remarkably well. Although the fan did come on as expected, it is a normal part of the operation, and importantly, the units did not overheat. I was able to concentrate on engaging with my model, making them feel at ease and ensuring that each look was captured as intended. Additionally, an unexpected benefit during this long session was that the studio remained much cooler compared to sessions using traditional strobes, which was a pleasant and much-welcomed change.

Still Life Photography

Moving away from portraits, I wanted to experience a still life shoot with these lights, and ended up completely enthralled in the process. I love shooting still life; it allows me to slow down and sit with my subject uninterrupted until I get it right. I set up several still life scenes with flowers, spending hours enjoying the experience. The B200 model handled these scenes perfectly, with more than enough power, allowing me to see my lighting in real-time rather than relying on the camera’s preview screen as with strobes. Adjusting still life scenes was effortless with these lights. Unlike using strobes, there was no need for test shots to see how the light would fall on the subjects; I could make live adjustments to the positioning of each object and, of course, to the lights through both the controller and the app. This real-time visibility made the process not only easier but also more enjoyable.

Final Thoughts on the Zhiyun Molus B Series LED Lights

Ease of Use

The straightforward operation of the lights with the controller, along with the capability to change power settings remotely via a phone app, added to the convenience. Although I usually prefer hands-on adjustments, I recognize the potential benefits of the remote feature once I become more accustomed to it.

Transportation and Storage

After a busy weekend of shooting, transporting and packing these compact lights away was another highlight. One of the most convenient aspects of these LED lights was the ability to pack them away immediately after the shoot without waiting for bulbs to cool down. This efficiency is a significant advantage, especially for photographers on tight schedules.

They fit into a much smaller kit bag than normally required for strobes, making them incredibly easy to transport to and from the location. No more tiring myself out before I have even begun shooting, dragging large heavy bags from place to place. My old strobes are stored in a travel case the size of a large suitcase, whereas the B200 and B500 fit into a small travel case with room to spare for accessories. This feels like a much better solution for me.

Moving Away from Studio Strobes

As a photographer, I trained using studio strobes, and that is what I have always stuck with. If you have your own dedicated studio premises, you might not mind using large heavier lights, but when it comes to location shooting or regularly setting up and taking down lights, the size and weight of traditional studio strobes can become a bit of a burden. I had previously tried 60 W and 150 W LED continuous lights in the past, which were around the same size as my old strobes with an extremely noisy fan that came on after a short period of use, and I was not convinced to switch as they were not powerful enough. While the Zhiyun Molus B Series LED lights are not exactly the lowest budget option, you do get what you pay for, and the output of these lights is nothing short of impressive. I can tell that these will be my go-to lights now unless I need strobes for specific reasons such as freezing movement.

The Zhiyun Molus B Series LED lights provided a versatile, efficient, and high-quality lighting experience. I am impressed with their compact size, ease of use, and quality of build. The many benefits of these lights make them an excellent addition to my photography toolkit.

Kim Simpson's picture

Kim Simpson is a photographer based in the West of Scotland. Her photographic practice is an exploration of the human experience, with a particular emphasis on themes of identity and belonging.

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Translate for us strobe lovers...what is 76,400 lux in terms of a strobe? 600WS? 400?

Ooh thats a lot of maths for a Sunday! watts = lux × (square meters) / (lumens per watt). Lux and watts are completely different measurements so cant be directly compared, but the equivalent wattage of the B500 is listed as 500w, and the B200 as 200 watts and so on, when used with the reflector.

Is the Bowens mount made out of plastic or metal?
The smaller Zhiyun lights have plastic mounts that is worth about with larger modifiers