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Godox Knowled M300Bi Light Review – A Competitively Priced Bi-Color COB Fixture

October 31st, 2022 Jump to Comment Section 2

The Godox Knowled M300Bi enters a crowded COB (chip on board) LED lighting segment with a compelling $989 price tag and a bi-color range of 2800K to 6500K, complete with a Bowens S-Type mount. Let’s find out if it can compete. Here’s our review on the Godox M300Bi.

Until this review, I admit I was not very familiar with the manufacturer Godox. My perception of the brand was that they are more photography-focused, existing at the lower end of the market in terms of price point and feature set. My first minutes with the Godox Knowled M300Bi fixture changed that perception. For one, it scored the only perfect 5600K scores for Kelvin accuracy (using my Sekonic C-700U Spectrometer) I’ve ever seen. Granted, Kelvin accuracy isn’t everything, but that was certainly eye-opening.

Will this fixture become a go-to on my next production, and can it hold up in the occasionally bumpy world of field production? Let’s see.

The familiar silhouette of the Godox Knowled M300BI.
The familiar silhouette of the Godox Knowled M300BI. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon/CineD

Godox M300Bi – First impressions

You would be forgiven if, at a distance, you confuse the $989 Godox M300Bi for any of the several other COB fixtures on the market. The lamp head feels and looks the same as several other manufacturers’ products out there. That similarity meant I was able to dive into this review without much setup time.

A few potentially competing products include:

  • Aputure LS 300X ($999.00)
  • Nanlite Forza 300B ($819.00)
  • GVM SD300D ($590.00)
  • FotodioX Warrior 300 ($749.00, but Daylight Only)
  • Rayzr 7 300W Bi-Color LED Fresnel ($1599.00, but not Bowens Mount)

This list begs the question: do we need another Bowens COB fixture? At this point in the review, my answer is yes. More quality competition serves to keep the price down and the features improving, and that’s good news for filmmakers.

The external build quality of the Godox M300Bi, relying as it does on plastic and occasionally metal parts, feels on par with other competitors in the 300-watt draw space. I don’t feel great about this fixture holding up in a rental environment, and at this price point, it feels like the target for this light is probably the owner/operators anyway. There is also a 1200-watt Godox light in development which, given the anticipated higher price point, would make more sense as a rental item.

The spiffy case

The spiffy case keeps everything in place and is protected by hard plastic ridges at the base. The yoke of the lamp head actually fits inside the reflector attachment — which took some getting used to but works fine in practice. The yoke doesn’t bang around inside the reflector because a molded piece of foam keeps it secure. The case is well-built, and the design makes sense — a good sign all around. Where I find manufacturers drop the ball is with the little stuff like head cables or yokes or cases, but here everything is looking good.

The spiffy case and Dodox light
Image Credit: Graham Sheldon/CineD

I do wish the nearly 30 lbs. case had wheels. If you are reading this, please spread the word that all cases should be wheeled in an industry known for being physically challenging. #wheelsoneverything

All the cables have sturdy locking connectors. The head cable isn’t very long, but I wouldn’t be mounting something with this output high off the ground.

My first impressions are mostly positive. While Godox doesn’t seem to be reinventing the wheel here with the design of the M300Bi, it all works, and the case is excellent. Let’s look at a few accessories.

Godox M300Bi – Accessories

Godox was nice enough to send me their P120 Parabolic Softbox ($149) and FLS8 Fresnel ($159) for testing along with $99 barn doors meant for use with the FLS8 Fresnel. The P120 Parabolic softbox is a standout. I’m not sure when people started nailing the design of larger softboxes, but softboxes went from being absolutely a pain to build a few years ago to being a snap, and it all has to do with the mechanism that keeps the overall softbox rigid.

The P120 takes only a minute to build, and it feels like a higher quality of construction than the $149 price tag would suggest it has any right to be. At this point in the review, I’m leaning towards the M300Bi being a solid owner/op travel key light paired with the P120 softbox.

P120 Parabolic Softbox
P120 Parabolic Softbox. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon

Everything with the softbox clicks solidly into place, and the accessory itself serves to soften the overall output of the light. So far so good. Turning to the FLS8 Fresnel!

FLS8 Fresnel
FLS8 Fresnel. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon

Despite Fresnel accessories being fairly common in the Bowens mount lighting world, I find it really tricky to nail the feel of the truly great fresnels of decades past. The shadows never feel quite right, and the edges of the beam vary in quality from the softness normally enjoyed on a classic built-in fresnel fixture. To me, the FLS8 feels plasticky to the touch, so I don’t see this accessory as being able to take many hits. It does move from spot to flood, giving a substantial output bump, but it doesn’t quite nail the look I was expecting in the shadows. However, for narrowing the beam of the M300Bi fixture, this accessory works in a pinch.

I will say the $159 price tag of the FLS8 goes a long way to making this a no-brainer purchase.

The Godox M300 Bi
The Godox M300 Bi. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon/CineD

Color temp and output testing results


I’ve gone ahead and tested the output using lux and color handling (Kelvin) of the M300Bi at a distance of three feet. I used my Sekonic C-700U Spectrometer and here are my results, with a kit reflector with a target of 5600K.

Color temp and output testing results

Wow! That’s a perfect 5600K result with a target of 5600K. (Just to check that I wasn’t making a mistake or misreading things, I tested twice.) The output is also fantastic for a fixture of this size and cost, resulting in a really excellent cost-to-lumen ratio on this fixture overall.

Let’s test with a target of 3200K:

Color temp and output testing results

No, it’s not 100% perfect, but a result of 3313K is pretty darn accurate — just not as accurate as the 5600K target. You do see a significant drop in output as you move away from the daylight Kelvin range, but it isn’t out of the norm, and in my opinion, not large enough to warrant concern.

Now for a target of 4700K:

Color temp and output testing results

We landed at 4815K here with the reflector attached — just 100K and some change away from our target. Again, very consistent results overall regarding the kelvin accuracy and overall output of the M300Bi. These are impressive results from a brand that I once considered to be a budget manufacturer.

Controls

Controlling everything through the ballast is easy, and the menu is intuitive throughout. You also have access to wired, but not built-in wireless DMX. There aren’t quite as many effects built-in as I’m used to seeing in fixtures like this, but Godox does provide fire, candles, and a few others. I don’t often use effects from fixtures like this on my projects, but it’s good to know they’re there if needed.

Controls
Image Credit: Graham Sheldon/CineD

In my opinion, the Godox Photo app for controlling the fixture over Bluetooth could use work. The app could go beyond basic with updates to appeal to a more professional filmmaking crowd. As of publishing time, the app is called “GodoxPhoto” and a simple tour of the app returned multiple error messages like: “the current system does not support Bluetooth synchronization” on my iOS device (tested on iPhone 12 with the latest OS updates). There’s also a standalone “photo” feature inside the Godox Photo app that feels out of place.

Controlling basic functions of the light like intensity and Kelvin number over the app is easy. You can set six custom presets to your favorite Kelvin and intensity settings. And that’s about it when it comes to controlling over the app. My preference at this time is to use the onboard manual controls over the app — they’re very clear and work quickly.

I went ahead and tested the app on my newer iPhone 14 Pro Max later in the review process and found further compatibility issues that returned error messages. Note I was running the app on version 1.9.4 on iOS.

Update: After publishing the Godox team suggested using their Godox Light app available for download here. I tried the new app with the M300Bi and did find a few bugs with account creation, but my Bluetooth connection was very quick and the general intensity and color temp features worked fine for me. Be aware there are many comments on this version of the app about compatibility issues with various Godox products so proceed with caution.

Knowled M300 BI
Image Credit: Graham Sheldon/CineD

Final thoughts

Putting criticism over the app aside, the light itself is quite good. The case, accessories, lamp head, and ballast are all well executed. The Godox M300Bi deserves serious consideration if you’re in the market for an LED COB bi-color light.

At $989 for the base kit, this fixture competes with brands like Aputure and Nanlite, although those brands have a more fleshed-out accessory ecosystem and arguably better Bluetooth apps. With the M300Bi, Godox has shown it can compete in the big leagues of the COB LED market, and I’m very excited for their upcoming higher wattage fixtures like the MG1200Bi.

What do you think of my review on the Godox M300Bi? Will you be adding the Godox Knowled M300Bi fixture to your kit? Let us know in the comments below!

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