Ultimate Compact Video Light: We Review the Zhiyun M20

When it comes to equipment, I'm looking for ways to simplify. I try to find tools that make my life as a photographer and videographer easier. And with the Zhiyun Fiveray M20 and M20c lights, I can achieve that, as I show in this article.

I love to make YouTube videos, but I only have limited time because I'm not a full-time photographer. This is why I need an efficient workflow for my recordings. And having a good set of studio lights is a crucial aspect of that.

Before Zhiyun reached out to me, asking if I wanted to test their Fiveray M20 pocket lights, recording a video in my office involved around 10 minutes of setup time. A big part was setting up the light and finding a camera angle that wouldn't show it or any lens flares caused by it. This part was always tricky because I have a very confined office space, and I couldn't just keep my light set up after a shoot.

There's nearly no setup time with the M20 and M20c lights. I put the M20 on the hot-shoe mount of my camera and the M20c on a shelf behind me as an effect light. In the feature video, I show how this looks.

Those tiny lights are so powerful that I can point the main light at a white wall behind the camera and use the reflected light for a soft appearance.

Fiveray M20

The M20 allows you to select a color temperature between 2,700 and 6,500 kelvin. With a CRI rating above 95, the light quality is very good. And it's also bright. Getting 20 watts of power out of such a small light is unique. As I show in the feature video, the light alone fits into the palm of my hand and weighs just a bit over 200 g. If you buy the combo, which includes a cage with different mounting points and magnetic light formers, the weight of the complete set is still just a bit over 350 g.

This compact build requires active cooling. The M20 is not weather-sealed, and the fan will be active when operated at high power. But I found although you can hear it a bit, a lavalier microphone you have close to your mouth will not pick it up. But you should avoid mounting the light and microphone closely together.

In addition to the fan, you'll also find two knobs at the backside of the light. You can use them to control the light's color temperature, brightness, ten special effects, and music mode.

The build quality is good. The light feels robust, although it's made of plastic. The battery attached to the light provides power for 40 minutes of continuous operation at its highest output setting. If you don't reflect the light from a wall like I do in my office setup, you will usually need much less power than that, and getting over one hour of operation should be no problem.

It's also possible to charge the light via USB-C. You can use the light while charging with a strong enough power bank.

The M20 is available for $79 for the light alone, and for $109, you get the light combo.

Fiveray M20c

The RGB color version of the M20 will cost you $50 more and includes several additional features. The color temperature is adjustable between 2,500 and 10,000 kelvin, and you get a full-color RGB & HSI dimming mode. You also get 16 light effect modes, instead of 10. It might help with some video shoots, but for the kind of videos I do, I'm not interested in those. The ability to switch to different colors is the most important feature for me, as it makes this the perfect accent light.

You can also connect the ZY Vega app to the M20c to remotely control the light via Bluetooth. I found that the app is responsive and works very well. It's a great feature that comes in handy when using the lights outside, where the distance between light and camera might be a bit larger than in the office.

Light Combo

As mentioned, the M20 and M20c are available with a combo pack. It comes with a cage with various mounting points - including a magnetic mount - and a set of magnetic light formers. This combo makes the light very versatile. You get a 4-leaf barn door, a honeycomb, and a diffuser. You can combine those via the integrated magnets. Switching between different setups is quick and easy.

If you have multiple lights, you can combine them in a grid-like setup via the cage's mounting points. This way, you can increase the light's output and surface area.

Since the combo will cost you just $30 more than the individual lights, I'd strongly suggest getting it if you purchase one of the Fiverays.

What I Like

Being able to indirectly light my office with a light of such a small form factor is the biggest selling point for me. It makes my life a lot easier. Because they are so lightweight, I can also bring the lights to my photo shoots. The M20c with the remote app will be perfect if I need an effect light to create a gloomy woodland photo.

I also like the included light formers. The magnets work very well, and the formers attach firmly to the cage. Yet, it's easy to remove and switch them.

What Could Be Improved

I'd love to see an additional light former that increases the surface of the light. A small, foldable softbox would be awesome. I would also prefer an exchangeable battery. With time, those batteries lose capacity. Being able to get a new battery would be great. The current design of the Fiverays doesn't allow that.


If you want compact yet powerful lights without spending a fortune, the Zhiyun Fiverays are a great choice. You can use them in the studio and outside. They are robust and versatile, and open up many possibilities for photography and video. Because of the active cooling, you cannot use them in the elements, though. It is something to be aware of - don't get them wet. All in all, the M20s can be an awesome addition to any photography gear.

Michael Breitung's picture

Michael Breitung is a freelance landscape and travel photographer from Germany. In the past 10 years he visited close to 30 countries to build his high quality portfolio and hone his skills as a photographer. He also has a growing Youtube channel, in which he shares the behind the scenes of his travels as well as his knowledge about photo editing.

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