What’s up Film Jammers?! Today we’re taking a look at the NanLite PavoTubes. We saw these at NAB last year and really loved the features they had, along with the relatively low price for an RGB Tube. The Film Jams team bought a two-light kit right after NAB, and we’ve already used them on a number of projects, including our new feature film, Elfette Saves Christmas. Now after some experience using them in the field, we’ve put together a NanLite RGB Tube review!

The PavoLite RGB Lights are very comparable to a Quasar LED Tube, which we also have (and love them as well!). Make sure to check out our Quasar reviews if you haven’t seen them: Quasar Science RGB Rainbow LED Light and the Quasar Crossfade LED Tube Light – which is the Bi-color only version.

If you want to pickup the NanLites or the Quasars, links are below:

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NanLite RGB Tube Review: Specs

The biggest differences between the PavoTube LED lights compared to the Quasar RGB Tubes comes down to power, battery, and price. We’ll break each of these down below.

Internal Battery Power

The NanLite PavoTubes have an internal battery which lasts up to 2 hours at full power – or 4 hours at half power. We found this really convenient on shorter shoots or exterior night shots, when AC power wasn’t available. We thought that the integrated rechargeable battery would add weight, but they weren’t noticeably heavier than the Quasars. It’s probably the biggest thing to set the NanLites apart from the RGB Quasars. Quasar does offer a Quasar battery bracket for their lights, which is also a good solution for remote operation. But the integrated battery of the NanLites, make them a bit more convenient, and ideal for car scenes or other spots where it can sometimes be difficult to rig power to your lights.

Nanlight RGB Tube Review Bag and Accessories
The Nanlight PavoTubes have their own nifty carrying case!

Integrated Effects

The PavoTubes have internal effects included – so you can simulate Police Lights, Storm (basically lightning), Strobe or Flash, Candle Mode (similar to fire light), SOS mode, and Color chase.

The NanLite LEDs really open up a lot of creative possibilities with these FX combined with a full RGB spectrum of light. It’s nice to have these tools available to us as filmmakers at a relatively low entry cost compared to just a few years ago, when these effects and RGB lights cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. 

We will say that the effects on the Quasar Science RGB lights are a bit more realistic, and more customizable. So for more pro users, the extra price of the Quasars may be worth looking at.

Syncing the RGB LED Lights

With the NanLites, you can daisy chain the lights with a short included cable that allows you to sync other PavoTube lights in the sequence. You just create the desired effect on one light and set it to “Master Mode.” Then you set all the other lights to “Slave Mode.” This enables easy syncing of the effects – for example if you want to make all 4 of your NanLite LEDs create a Police Siren effect in sync together. It’s a nice feature, though we do wish the sync cables were longer – they’re less than a foot each so the lights have to be really close together to sync them. Hopefully they’ll offer after-market extension cables at some point.

The Price

This NanLite LED kit of two 4’ PavoTubes is currently $739 or only $370 per light. It includes a carrying case, some cable safeties, 2 mounting shoes with ¼ 20 screws for each light, the charger, the sync cable, and of course the internal battery.

The Quasar RGB lights were previously quite a bit more money, but have recently gone on sale. To compare, the 4’ Quasar RGB Tubes are currently $750 for 2 or $375 per light. This makes them just $5 more than the PavoTubes, and with the PavoTubes you get the internal battery. So we think they are going to be pretty popular. The NanLite Pavotubes don’t have the name recognition or durability that Quasar does, but they’ve worked well for us so far. They make a lot of sense for those looking for a budget option RGB tube LED light.

The Fixture

It’s kind of an interesting design choice to have the instructions for the light printed on the actual body of the fixture. But it is nice if you need a little refresher on how to use them or you’re renting them out.

Nanlight RGB Tube Review Menu and Presets
The RGB PavoTube LED lights have similar presets to the Quasar RGB tubes in the menu.

On one end of the Pavotube, you have two dials that control all your menu settings and let you adjust intensity, saturation, select effects, etc. On the other end, you’ve got input for AC power and for the link cable that lets you join two or more fixtures together. By doing this you can sync the effects to multiple lights quickly. But you don’t have standard DMX so keep that in mind.

NanLite RGB Tube Review: Cons

One downside for us is that the two light kit only came with one power supply. If you want to power them off house power, you’ve got to tether them with the included splitter cable which only let’s you set the lights about 2 feet apart. We looked into purchasing a second AC Adapter so we could run them separately, but it doesn’t look like it’s available yet anywhere to purchase. If we want to use them now, we have to set them really close together or rely on battery power, which again only lasts up to 2 hours at full power.

I Got the Power!

Another downside is that the 4’ PavoTube LEDs have just 30 watts of power – which is 20 watts less power than our 4’ Quasar Crossfades or 4’ Quasar RGB tube lights. The 4’ Quasars have 50 watts of power. That extra 20w does make a big difference – especially if you plan to diffuse the lights. So hopefully in the next version they can pack a little more power in.

The Quasars have a nice solid locking PowerCon connector. While the PavoTubes only have a small power jack that can more easily get pulled out when on set. It’s a bit too flimsy for our tastes, so something to keep in mind.

Nanlight RGB Tube Review Power Connector Cons
We’re not the biggest fans of the PavoTubes not so secure power connector.

Another Pavo-bummer is it’s difficult to tell when the PavoTube LED lights are charging. The only way we could tell that they were connected to power was an LED faintly glowing behind the screen. Unless you turn the light on and go into the menus, there’s no way to see how much the battery is charged. We feel like this could have been an easy addition to the light and not sure how it got missed in the design. It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s more difficult than it should be to make sure your lights are charged.

Final Thoughts: NanLite RGB Tube Review

So overall, the NanLite RGB lights are a great step forward for tube lights and for cheap RGB lights for filmmakers. We love the internal battery, the integrated effects, and the fact they are RGB. The power system could be a little better designed, and we wish they had more wattage. But for the price, these lights are really hard to beat! And they have really added a lot to the projects we’ve used them on.

If you’re looking for an even cheaper RGB LED light, check out our AndyCine R1 RGB LED Light Review – which is currently just $69. We just picked up two and have been using them a lot in our film productions.

What do you think of this NanLite RGB Tube review? Are they going to give Quasars a run for the money? Let us know down in the comments and we’ll see you next week!

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Filmed on location at: https://www.LitewaveMedia.com in St. Petersburg, FL

Special Thanks to the St. Petersburg Clearwater Film Commission Digital Creator Program

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