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What They Are & When to Use Them

Are you considering buying COB LED lights?

That’s a smart move! Here, you’ll find all you need to know about COBs – from what they are to their pros and cons in photo and video making.

I’ve also included some popular brands and models if you’re looking for recommendations.

What Is a COB Light?

Credit: wdwd, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A COB light is a type of continuous LED light. The name COB is an acronym for Chip-On-Board because COB LED lights are formed by many LED chips tightly packed together.

The advantage of this technology is that it increases the light density, creating a uniform light source. Plus, they work on a single circuit with just two contacts.

COBs create an ultra-bright light, consuming much less energy.

What are COB Lights Used for?

COBs are the latest technology in LED lighting. These innovative light sources can be utilized in a variety of settings, from compact and powerful torches to large-scale, bright floodlights.

They’re commonly used in videomaking and some types of photography.

What Is the Difference Between a COB light and an LED?


COBs are a type of LED light. However, when you think of LEDs, you usually think of individual LEDs, such as the ones used in light strips, signs, or panels.

Instead, COB LEDs are made with multiple LED chips put together to form a single light source.

Using the chip-on-board system, these lights only have one circuit, while in other types of LED lights, each one has its own circuit.

What is the Difference Between a Panel Light and a Cob Light?


A panel is done with SMD (surface-mounted device) LEDs. This results in more LED sources than COBs, which are a single source regardless of the number of LED chips.

COBs have a higher light output, and the light is more evenly spread. However, panels allow you to control the light’s color.

Are COB Lights Good for Photography?

Many photographers are turning to COB LEDs as they are affordable, energy-efficient and versatile.

You can use them for portraits, still life, and even real estate.

Advantages of Using a COB LED Light for Photography

COB LED lights use less power than other continuous light sources yet are brighter than different types of LED lights, such as panels.

You can find various COB LED lights available in the market today. They are quite affordable, and there are many accessories available that can be used to model the light as you need.

The light is consistent and uniform, which makes them very reliable.

Disadvantages of Using a COB LED Light for Photography

You can’t change the color of the COBs as you would with an LED panel.

Additionally, if you want to freeze certain subjects, a COB light may not be powerful enough. In those cases, a flash or strobes are preferred.

Using COB Lights for Videography

COBs are a commonly used light source for video making as they are more efficient than LEDs and have a higher quality beam of light.

Advantages of Using a COB LED Light for Videography

COBs offer a good level of energy efficiency, which means they can be used for extended periods even with battery operation.

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They cast a uniform and powerful light.

Disadvantages of Using a COB LED Light for Videography

COB LED lights need an active cooling system. The sound of the fans could create problems if you’re recording sound.

How Much Power Do I Need for a COB Light?

With COBs, there’s a smaller trade-off between the high-quality lumen output and the battery power it consumes. That’s why COBs are perfect to use on location – considering a same-size battery, they would last longer than regular LEDs.

3 Tips for Using COB Lights in Studio Photography

A woman is standing in front of a camera in a studio.

Credit: Harrison Haines

Tip 1 – Choose wisely

With all the options on the market, it’s easy to get confused. It’s also tempting to go with the price factor if you’re unsure what you need.

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Before you buy a COB, check out the maximum output, color temperature, lighting modes, power supply (battery life – if applicable), and cooling device.

Tip 2 – Experiment with position and distances

You must position your lighting in the best way to achieve the effect you want. COBs are great for lighting subjects from above, but feel free to experiment.

Tip 3 – Add accessories

Most COBs have a Bowens mount, which allows you to attach different light modifiers. Use this to your advantage and make the most out of your light.

What Are the Top COB Studio Light Brands?


Godox is one of the leading brands in photography and video lighting. They have a wide variety of COB LEDs to choose from.

SmallRig is another brand popular for its COB LED lights. The same goes for Aputure and Westcott. They all offer enough price range in their product to suit different types of users, from amateur to professional.

Here are some popular models.

Aputure 60x Light Storm Bi-Color

Wescott L60-B 60 Watt Bi-Color Video Light

SmallRig Video RC350B Bi-Color

Godox SL100D

COB Light FAQs

Do COB LEDs get hot?

COB LEDs generate much heat in a small area, so they need a passive and active cooling system.

What are COB lights for?

COB LEDs are versatile lighting solutions primarily used in videography and photography. They give a steady, bright light that’s perfect for making everything look clear in studios. They’re also good for everyday lighting because they save energy and last a long time.

How much do COB lights cost?

The cost of COB LEDs varies greatly. You can find them in the $150 to $900 USD range.

Which is better – a COB light or a panel light?

For an even and constant light, it’s better to use COBs. Panels are better if you need to change the color of the light and create effects.

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