DIY LED Light Panel


Gosh this post is so “old” now! My how the years just click on by.  You can thankfully find so much better and cheaper options now.

Yes I still use this light every now and then! Here are some recent photos from 2020. 😉

Nikon J1 (such an underrated camera!)

Nikon D50 and LED lights

Nikon J1 and 18.5mm

Canon EOS RP and LED light

Our 24″ x 24″ (600mm x 600mm) LED light panel Rev 1

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So here’s our latest project, an LED light panel assembled using an ordinary ceiling light fixture (from China*) and some parts we made, like the aluminum swivel bracket and the mounting support.  Combine that with a lightstand and a power outlet, and all of a sudden I have a low wattage, cool to the touch, ridiculously bright (but not so bright that you can’t look at it) studio/cinema light.  🙂

As a disclaimer, most of our projects aren’t the typical DIY stuff, meaning the kinds that have a shopping list with readily available parts from the dollar store.  Having access to a full machine factory, we make this stuff for my own photography fun.  Shining a light on something/someone isn’t exactly a new concept, and in the age of so many experts on the internet we seem to get lost in all of that.  Smart engineers will have a field day picking apart the light quality and innards of the electronics, but hey, take it up with the quality control over there in China. 😉 I’ll just use it to take pictures and move on.

*This panel is similar to the ones you can search for on Alibaba (search for 600x600mm Light Panel), but I don’t know if it is the same as far as lumens, CRI, etc.  Our source tells me this one is much brighter than the average panel.  Some of the places do have a minimum quantity order so don’t be fooled by the low price.  In the future, I’m sure hardware stores will start to carry all types of LEDs and all this will become forgettable.


LED lighting fixture exposed, the formed aluminum bar hasn’t been painted yet, and the mounting base hasn’t been CNC’ed yet.  The things we can do in an afternoon with a machine shop. 🙂

I’ve always loved shooting with just the modeling lights on studio lights through softboxes.  It’s just that a good amount of my brainpower is devoted to on and off camera speedlights, because I mostly shoot on location, where you have to create your own light.  Speedlights can fit in a bag, and are powered by batteries, so therein lies their strengths.  Problem is, flashes don’t provide a realtime preview of what they are going to do to a scene, a person’s face, etc.  Every photographer or artist out there should hopefully be able to recognize quality and interesting light in all shapes and forms, so this LED light panel can get me back to doing what I enjoy the most, portraits of people with honest emotions, without the oftentimes annoying rinse and repeat nature of strobe based photography.


(LED Light revisited–this photo was made about a year after I made the lights and this blog post. Just felt like posting it here. One light panel and black and white conversion in Capture NX2.)

These lights are really bright, it’s hard to show their illumination power in photos.  It’s bright enough to light up an entire room, and uses less power than a 40W bulb.  I could see using these lights just as a work light or figure drawing light.

Some test photos, with the camera sitting on the LED light panel and the other shining down on it.

My favorite model. 😉

This was when the full panel wasn’t quite finished, but good enough for test shots. Mounted on a Manfrotto Nano.

(D600 Video Clip, lit using two LED panels)

w_b-vong.com_vid_i_pcc_1(Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera, lit using one LED panel, color corrected in DaVinci Resolve)

So here’s the light quality of the LED panel with real people.  Most of these shots are from my Nikon’s.  I just prefer them when shooting like this as opposed to the Canon.  The fixture is not dimmable, but maybe I can change that by hooking up a different driver.  The LED’s are 6000K, but I’ve found that all my cameras struggle with the white balance, even when shooting with it set in degrees.  As always, I’ve found it easier for me, to just shoot AWB and edit the RAW’s later.




Nikon D600. Vignetting control wasn’t turned on in the camera, so the light spillage is actually pretty even.

You can see the LED light on the right. The light is very reminiscent of larger softbox lights.

This photo was actually taken with the Sigma Foveon sensor, which requires a ton of light to do its magic. The LED light panel about 2 feet away is not too shabby.

A pretty light for pretty girls. 🙂


Here are the LED panels set up in our makeshift “studio” before the 3em concert/fashion shows.  Being able to see in real time can make for easier image creation.



This is just one of the LED panels lighting up the step and repeat banner. (The umbrellas have speedlights and thus no modeling lights)

As you can tell by the shadow, the light is bright enough to use without a flash.

Since the back of the LED panel is just a plain square I thought I might as well use it for shameless advertising!



I found another use for our LED light panel, using it as a light table to “scan” my recovered Fuji FP100C negatives!  Basically just taped up, photographed with the 105mm Micro and color inverted and corrected in Capture NX2.

This photo was shot with a 50 year old Polaroid with modern Fuji instant film and a Nikon SB800.  I think my viewfinder is off a bit because I do frame the subject with ample room above the head, but it always crops. What a great costume!


For more posts and images with this LED light, click on the tag below!

To see some of our random Photography Projects: Design

For more inspiration, please check out one of my favorite websites: DIY Photography

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  1. Pingback: Lighting Portraits With 24″ by 24″ LED Ceiling Panels | Tips for the Unready

  2. Great idea, and looks quite simple to build, thank you for sharing! 🙂 I must try to do the same.
    May I ask you: what kind of LEDs you`ve used – cool white or warm white?

  3. Hi Sergey, thanks! I believe the LEDs inside the panel are 6000K. To our eyes it is really bright cool white, but to the camera, there can be a slight greenish tint.

  4. The mount is a CNC’ed aluminum rod. Bottom piece is rounded out to fit the spigot on the light stand. The top is 3/8 tapped for a screw. In a future rev we’ll countersink the hole in the bracket so the screw is flush. All parts are powder coated.

  5. it would be great to know where to buy this lights, the brand, company or something. i can’t wait to have one myself

  6. Pingback: Lighting Portraits With 24" by 24" LED Ceiling Panels - DIY Photography

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