The Godox ML60 – The ultimate lightweight and portable interview light?

Tips & Techniques

The Godox ML60 is an interesting little light. I say little because it’s similar in size to the company’s AD300Pro strobe, which is really tiny. The ML60 isn’t a strobe, though. It’s a 60 Watt continuous LED light and it can be powered either from an AC adapter in the studio or a pair of NP-F style batteries out on location.

For its size, it puts out a whole heck of a lot of light, and with the Godox S2 modifier, you can use it with Bowens S mount modifiers. It’s also near-silent, too, which has been a big problem with a lot of LED lights over the last few years. But how good is it? Let’s take a look.

While Godox hasn’t officially announced it as such, the ML60 seems to be widely regarded as the successor to the very popular Godox SL60W, even if there is a bit of a price difference. After all, we’ve seen Mark II versions of more powerful Godox SL series lights, like the Godox SL150II and SL200II, but no such Mark II replacement has arrived for the SL60W (yet?). The ML60 does offer a number of very distinct advantages over the SL60W, although I don’t think it’s really a successor. It’s more of a cousin.

The Bag

For a start, the Godox ML60 comes in a really nice bag – the SL60W just comes in a box. It’s actually quite big, given the size of the light itself, giving you plenty of room for the reflector, AC adapter, NP-F adapter, and various other bits. It’s not ridiculously huge, though. Here it is with the bag for the Godox SZ150R (review coming soon) and the packaged up AD-S60S softbox for a bit of a size comparison.

The bag has a pair of handles on top, and there’s a shoulder strap included that attaches to each end of the bag for when you want to carry it hands-free. The bag is quite thoughtfully designed. There’s a large mesh pocket on the inside of the lid that covers most of its size and the lid also has straps on either side so that when you unzip it and pop it open, it’ll sit upright. The straps are adjustable, and they have quick release clips for when you want to just let it hang down all the way behind the bag.

Inside the bag, we have an array of dividers, allowing us to separate out the different components easily to access whichever bit we need. The ML60 light lives in the hole in the middle closest to the front, flanked by AC and DC power options on the left and the Godox mount reflector on the right. At the rear, we have the handle and a couple of mounting straps for attaching the battery plate to a light stand if you’re using the Godox S2 bracket to mount the light to a stand instead of the supplied handle.

User interface

The interface on the back of the unit is simple and straightforward. You have the DC input socket, a toggle button for power, and two dial buttons for adjusting the brightness or sifting through the menu options. Above these is an OLED display telling you the current power output, whether the fan’s on or not and various other bits of information.

That’s it, really, it’s pretty simple. It can also be remotely controlled by the Godox RC-A6 remote. The remote isn’t included with the ML60 as standard and is a separate $10 purchase, but it is included in the bag by some sellers on Amazon.

The RC-A6 is an update to Godox’s previous RC-A4 remote for many of their earlier lights, however, the two are not interchangeable. The RC-A6 will not control Godox’s older lights and the RC-A4 will not control their newer ones. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. If you’re running a mix of older and newer lights, as it potentially gives you more group options – you just have to get used to using two separate remotes to control them all.

Construction and build quality

The body of the light itself is fairly hefty. It’s not “heavy” as such, but the weight is significant for such a small light and quite solid. You definitely feel it in your hand. The exterior appears to be plastic that simulates the look and feel of powder-coated metal. It’s not metal, obviously, but the plastic does feel pretty tough. For general wear and tear and the occasional scrape, it should handle pretty well. As to how well it would do in the event of a good drop, I don’t know. That’s one test I’m not willing to perform because I happen to quite like this light and want to be able to continue using it.

On the front, where we find the COB LED module and the Godox mount is metal. This acts as a heatsink for the LED while also providing a solid mounting point for modifiers.

The rear of the light contains something that many Godox AD200 owners wish their lights did… A recess for the controls. The back of the ML60 is designed in such a way that if your stand did fall and the rear of the light were to impact the ground, the outer edge of the casing extends beyond the display, sockets and buttons, minimising the risk of damage to the electronic components. A very thoughtful consideration.

The handle screws firmly on underneath with no signs of wiggling, wobbling or working itself loose easily over time as it’s used and performs rather well. It holds the angle you set it to rather well when using modifiers, although the only native modifiers are the lightweight Godox mount ones. If you want to use Bowens mount modifiers, then you’re using the Godox S2 bracket, at which point the ML60 handle’s holding power largely becomes irrelevant.

Power Source

The Godox ML60, as mentioned, can be powered from either an AC adapter (the light requires 16.8v DC) or a pair of Sony NP-F style batteries and no, it doesn’t dim the light when running on batteries. It offers the full brightness the light can produce regardless of which power source you use. On AC power, it’ll run pretty much forever – assuming you don’t have a power cut.

On batteries… I’m using a pair of DSTE NPF-970 batteries with a combined total output of 117 Watt hours. In my tests, with both batteries charged to 100% and the ML60 running at full power, I managed to get 1 hour, 28 minutes and 52 seconds before the batteries went flat enough that the light turned off. Consecutive tests produced similar results, differing by not much more than a minute or two either way.

Batteries not included

The above timer test was done with the cooling fan turned on, too. And while the fan is extremely quiet (for real, I could not hear it at all unless I put my ear right next to the light), it is possible to turn the fan totally off to eliminate the noise completely. When you turn the cooling fan off, though, you’re limited to 50% power output, so you lose a stop of light. This should more than double the battery life, though and last longer than running at 50% with the fan on as the battery doesn’t have to power the fan, too.

The battery plate attaches to the handle and the fit seems solid and firm. You’re not worried that it’s going to fall off at any moment, and when you need to place it down, it actually acts as a base to stand it on. Of course, if you’ve got a softbox on there, gravity and the wind might have other ideas.

I am a little disappointed that there’s no D-Tap cable included with the light. This would’ve been an ideal powering option for those who have V-mount batteries and prefer to use those on location instead of NP-F batteries. They last much longer and it’s one less battery type to have to charge and deal with.

Power Output

The big thing people want to know about this light is the power output. And what better way to compare it than with Godox’s own and very popular SL60W?

I’ve been using the SL60W, along with the Godox FV200 and various other lights for a while now to light my videos. The fan noise on the SL60W is sometimes an issue (not usually, though, with where I have the microphones placed), although it’s never a problem when I’m just shooting b-roll because I don’t need the sound.

But how does the 240v AC powered Godox SL60W compare with 16.8v DC powered ML60 when both lights claim to be putting out 60 Watts?

Well, I did five tests.

  1. Godox ML60 Bare
  2. Godox SL60W Bare
  3. Godox ML60 with the supplied Godox mount reflector
  4. Godox ML60 in the Godox S2 bracket with a standard 7″ Bowens mount reflector
  5. Godox SL60W with a standard 7″ Bowens mount reflector

I set the light on full power, set my Sekonic L758DR to continuous mode at ISO100 and a shutter speed of 1/50th of a second 1 metre away from the LED itself and here’s how the five tests metered.

  1. ML60 Bare = f/4.5 (and 1/10th)
  2. SL60W Bare = f/4.5
  3. ML60 + Godox mount reflector = f/9
  4. ML60 + 7″ Bowens mount reflector = f/6.3
  5. SL60W + 7″ Bowens mount reflector = f/5.6

As you can see, as a bare light, both LEDs are putting out an almost identical amount of light, as you’d expect when both claim the same power. When we put the reflectors on, however, it’s a different story entirely.

The SL60W with the supplied Bowens reflector meters f/5.6. But when you put that same reflector on the ML60 with the Godox S2 bracket, you gain a 1/3rd of a stop over the SL60W with the Bowens mount reflector. But what was really surprising is that when you put the Godox reflector on the ML60, it meters a very impressive f/9. It’s projecting a lot more of that light forward and not spilling it off to the side – essentially gaining two whole stops over the bare LED.

If you want the ML60 and Godox mount reflector to act as a hard light source on your subject or perhaps as a rim or background light, that means that at 50% in silent mode with the fan turned off, you’re essentially getting about the same light output as the SL60W at full power with the 7″ Bowens mount reflector. If you’re a YouTuber or live streamer who’s jumped onto the SL60Ws, but you’re annoyed by the fan, this alone is a great reason to look into the ML60.

Remember, to use the ML60 with Bowens mound modifiers, you need the Godox S2 bracket. And for completeness, here’s what that looks like, along with an inside view of the pattern on the two reflectors. The pattern on the inside of the Godox mount reflector being as shiny as it is should’ve meant that its increased output shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise. I wasn’t so much surprised that it was more powerful, but by just how much more than the other reflector – which was also more efficient on the ML60 than it was on the SL60W.

When placed in modifiers like softboxes, both lights are pretty similar. So the main advantage the ML60 has over the SL60W in that kind of softbox setup for a permanent studio setup is noise – which is drastically reduced on the ML60, even when silent mode isn’t enabled. Notably, the light output when running the ML60 off battery power is the same as when running off the AC adapter – unlike some other LED lights on the market.

Portability

Ultimately, while an AC adapter is included, this light is primarily geared portable battery power for use on location. Sometimes they’re locations in the middle of nowhere that don’t have power. Sometimes it’s just less hassle to plug in batteries instead of trying to find a wall outlet. Plus, it comes in a really handy travel bag.

So, how well does it handle?

Well, if you ask me – which you kinda are if you’re reading this – pretty darn well. The included dual handle screws into the 1/4-20″ socket underneath the light and has two locator pins to prevent it from spinning itself loose and falling off.

But what I particularly like about the handle is that you’re able to attach the battery plate to it. So, you can carry around a complete self-contained unit in one hand.

Anywhere.

This means that once the world opens back up and we’re allowed to travel, I can head off into the Scottish wilderness and film or interview people in dark woodlands and caves without having to worry about plugging in. The handle also acts as a light stand mount attachment and with the battery pack attached, it can even act as a desktop (or shelf, or whatever flat surface you can find) stand thanks to a foot that flips out from the bottom of the battery plate.

Everything fits very neatly into the bag, and if you’re not using the reflectors, you could actually fit a pair of ML60 lights, AC adapters, battery plates and associated cables inside one bag quite comfortably.

Straps on the lid of the bag allow you to secure a small Godox mount octabox or two on top of the bag. Something like the Godox AD-S60S, for example. The Godox mount modifiers are much smaller than their Bowens mount counterparts, as illustrated here. There isn’t a huge range out there just yet, but for the kind of output you can get from the ML60, a 60-85cm softbox is pretty reasonable in size.

Conclusions

I’ve been using the Godox ML60 for a couple of months now. Sometimes it’s acting as the key light with the ambient room light as a fill, but often I have it working in tandem with my Godox FV200 as the key and the ML60 as a fill or a background light. In all of those situations, the ML60 has performed as well as I’d hoped it would. The colour is pretty consistent throughout its output range and it pairs well with the FV200.

If you’re regularly shooting video out on location, then the Godox ML60 is a fantastic option, especially if you don’t need to light a whole environment. For things like seated interviews where you might only need one or two, it’s a nice little portable setup. But you can also a bunch of them working together to create some interesting and dramatic light in a location for more narrative pieces, too. And when running on batteries, the duration is pretty decent, even during those times when you do need to run at full power. You’ll definitely want to carry some spare batteries, though if you’re going to be out filming on location for a while.

For those creating spoken content direct to camera, like for Youtube content where you’re shooting in the same location every time and always have plug-in power available, I still think the Godox SL60W might be the more cost-effective solution. At least, it is if the fan noise doesn’t bother you or get picked up by your microphones. If the fan noise of the SL60W is an issue for you, though, then the ML60 is a fantastic solution to the problem – albeit quite a bit more expensive – and it gives you the option to bust out of the studio with your lights from time to time, too.

Again, a D-Tap cable would have been a nice inclusion. The fact that one doesn’t come in the back is the only real negative point for me of the ML60, given that it’s designed specifically as a light to be used on location running off battery power. Not being able to get power from V-mount batteries right out of the box is a pain. Sure, there are cables out there that you can go and buy, but it’s an extra hassle and not including one in the bag seems like something of an oversight.

Overall, though, I do really like this light. It’s found a permanent place in my portable kit now (or, it will when we’re allowed back outside again in Scotland) and I regularly use it indoors alongside the FV200. My SL60W doesn’t really see any use at all now and just sits on the shelf as a backup, gathering dust. And if I didn’t already have the FV200, I’d have no hesitation in using the ML60 as a main key light for shooting video here in a controlled environment.

It’s a great little light that has a lot going for it and I might have to pick up a couple more at some point. I hope Godox explores this small form factor more in the future with their continuous LED lights.

The Godox ML60 is available to buy now for $269 and is already shipping.

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