GVM PRO-SD300B Review: Excellent Quality Light in a Handsome Package

The Lowdown

The GVM PRO-SD300B is an attractive piece of gear with excellent fit and finish and high build quality that can withstand various types of filmmaking and photography production challenges.

My only minor complaint is the connection between the standard cover and the Bowens mount. While the softbox interlocks with the Bowens mount snugly and securely, the standard cover feels loose and rattles a bit. There is no chance that it will come off, but the looseness seems an easy fix.

Overall
5

Pros

  • Bright enough for most applications
  • High quality of light
  • Excellent build quality, fit, and finish
  • Easy to use app
  • Many enhanced features

Cons

  • The standard cover could interlock more snugly with the Bowens mount

GVM (Great Video Maker) offers a line of assorted products for videographers and photographers, including monolights, tube lights, panel lights, flexible lights, and pocket lights. They also produce camera sliders, wireless microphones, teleprompters, and other accessories. GVM products are often aggressively priced compared to the competition while offering similar features and overall quality. GVM has certainly stepped it up with their new line of spotlights. This review examines the GVM PRO-SD300B, a 300-watt monolight specifically designed for today’s shooting environments.

The GVM PRO-SD300B

At the heart of the GVM PRO-SD300B is the COB lamp bead.

GVM PRO-SD300B COB light

If you are unfamiliar with the term, here is a definition:

Chip-on-Board or “COB” refers to the mounting of a bare LED chip in direct contact with a substrate (such as silicon carbide or sapphire) to produce LED arrays. COB LEDs have a number of advantages over older LED technologies, such as Surface Mounted Device (“SMD”) LEDs or Dual In-line Package (“DIP”) LEDs. Most notably, COB technology allows for a much higher packing density of the LED array, or what light engineers refer to as improved “lumen density.” – Silicon Lightworks

The advantages of COB lamp beads result in an impressive CRI (Color Rendering Index) of 97+ and a TLCI (Television Lighting Consistency Index) of 97+.

In general, getting lost in the technology and terminology of production lighting is easy. I will try to demystify the measurements as much as possible. In this case, high CRI and TLCI values mean accurate and consistent color rendering.

The GVM PRO-SD300B offers many features that will appeal to professional filmmakers, videographers, and photographers. Some of these features include the provision of four dimming rate curves, support for mesh Bluetooth networking, integration with the dedicated app, and intelligent cooling.

GVM PRO-SD300B with GVN Quick Release and Portable Softbox installed.

For this review, I am also including an optional accessory, the $139.99 GVM Quick Release and Portable Softbox, which measures 35.43″ and is commonly called 36″. This product adds multiple layers of adjustability to the spotlight, making it even more useful in various shooting applications.

Unboxing the GVM PRO-SD300B

When you unbox the GVM PRO-SD300B, you are first presented with the handsome gray cloth carrying case. The manufacturer’s “GVM” logo is on top, and there is a spot on the front to insert your business card.

Unzipping the top of the case reveals the soft partitioned interior, which shows the “standard cover,” a black metal shroud with a reflective interior that fits onto the standard Bowens mount on the front of the light, the power adapter, and the cable.

Removing the top shelf on the right reveals the light, which ships with a plastic protective cover over the COB lamp beads. Removing the spotlight reveals the power strap and wire ties.

What’s in the box:

  • GVM PRO-SD300B Monolight
  • Light Mixing Mirror (Lens)
  • Standard Cover (Snoot)
  • Zippered Padded Carrying Case
  • AC Power Adapter
  • Power Cable
  • COB Protective Cover
  • Power Supply Strap
  • Wire Ties (3x)
  • User Guide

The GVM PRO-SD300B is a good-looking product. Its red aluminum alloy finish stands out beautifully from the textured black plastic elements of the sides, handle, and front enclosure. The top of the unit features a honeycomb pattern of holes for ventilation with a large “G” in white across them.

The left side of the light has a white GVM logo frenched into the metal, which glows when the light is powered. Some may find this a bit flashy for a professional or prosumer product, but I find it quite handsome and in tune with the rest of the product’s aesthetic.

The front of the light features the COB lamp bead, with a standard Bowens mount for the many available accessories.

The back of the light includes an LCD screen that shows the menu and various settings, as well as a series of buttons, knobs, and inputs, as well as the power switch.

The top row of buttons includes “Mode” for switching between light modes, “Menu” to enter the settings menu,” Back” to go back one level at any point in the menu, and” Cool” to start a large volume of cooling airflow until the temperature is reduced to a level comfortable to the touch.

Below these buttons are two knobs which also function as buttons labeled “INT/Selector” and “CCT/SPD.”

The first is a multi-functional knob that by rotating and pressing, can select various modes, including CCT mode for adjusting the color temperature and brightness, Source mode, which selects which type of light you wish to emulate, Effect mode, which facilitates the choice of the 12 different effects: Bad Bulb, Fire, Lighting, Candle, Paparazzi, Welding, TV, CCT Loop, Pulsing, Strobe, Explosion and Fireworks.

GVM PRO-SD300B settings

The second knob controls the adjustment of various settings for DMX networking, the Dimming Curve, which switches between linear, logarithmic, exponential, and S curves, Wireless settings, Studio, which restores previous settings after a power failure or resets to default factory settings.

Also controlled by this know are the frequency settings for dimming, settings for the fan mode, language selection, and system settings.

The main power switch, the input for the power supply, and the DMX in and out ports are on the bottom row of the controls. DMX (Digital Multiplex) is a protocol that controls primary groups of lighting devices. DMX signals are unidirectional and travel from the first fixture to the last.

The right side of the GVM PRO-SD300B

The spotlight is supported with a U-frame with adjustable lock knobs on both sides that allow for positioning the light at any angle. The bottom of the frame features a standard light stand interface with a knob.

GVM PRO-SD300B Specifications

Maximum Output at 1 Meter (3.28′) (11800 lux) 13700 lux
Maximum Output at .5 Meter (1.64′) 49200 lux
Power 300 watt
Type COB Lamp Bead
Color Temperature Range 2700K~6800K
Voltage 100-240V AC
Power Supply Mode 60V/5A DC
Length 11.5″ (292 mm)
Width 5.1″ (130 mm)
Height 5.3″ (134 mm)
Weight 4.6 pounds (2.1 kg)

Using the GVM LED App

The controls on the back of the GVM PRO-SD300B are robust and easy to use, and some may prefer to use them regularly. With its graphic interface, I found that the free GVM LED APP makes all of the adjustments and selections easier to locate and understand. Also, it is possible to control and coordinate many lights simultaneously when using the app.

The app is available for iOS and Android and can be found by searching either app store. It is also downloadable via the QR code in the User Guide or on the side of the spotlight itself.

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Pairing the light is simple. First, navigate the menu to the Wireless settings and set the Bluetooth reset to “Yes,” then open the app and click “Add Device.” I found that the light was added quickly and then appeared in the list of “My Devices.”

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From this point, the app is similar to the menus on the back of the light. When selecting the GVM SD300B Pro from the list, the app provides three options: CCT, Source Matching, and Effects.

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The CCT options allow for adjusting the color temperature and brightness, either manually or using presets, as well as changing the Dimming Curve.

Source Matching allows users to select a lighting type from 12 presets. The preset lights can then be further adjusted manually to taste.

The Effects menu offers access to 12 presets, as listed earlier. Once an effect is selected, options are presented to fine-tune each.

The GVM Quick Release and Portable Softbox

As mentioned, I reviewed the GVM PRO-SD300B independently and with the optional $139.99 GVM Quick Release and Portable Softbox. The Softbox ships in a zippered carrying case with a handle that comes with inner and front white fabric diffusers and a black fabric grid.

The quick-release portable softbox features integrated locking rods that make setting it up and tearing it down quick and easy. It is attached to the spotlight with the Bowens-type speed ring.

The softbox interior is silver to maximize output and provide a punchy light, which the user can then regulate using the inner and front diffusers to achieve the desired level of softness and contrast.

I found that using the softbox along with the controls on the light and in the app provides a great level of control, and I have been able to quickly create the type and amount of lighting in the situations where I have used the light.

The softbox is not the only accessory available for the PRO-SD300B. GVM offers cases, Fresnel lens attachments, remote controls, and stands. Another option is the $79 GVM-SD300BOX, a V-Mount Battery Plate Adapter for PRO-SD300B LED Lights, making the light portable for location shooting.

For use with the battery plate, GVM offers two batteries: the 4124 BV-95 Battery and the 4164 BV-160 Battery. Both offer D-Tap and DC outputs. I must admit that I could not discern the difference between the two battery options. Also available is the $499 GVM Micro-Series BV-98 Li-Ion V-Mount 2-Battery with Dual Charger Kit.

Using the GVM PRO-SD300B

In the past, using lights from this market segment cable to output enough light of the right quality often meant putting up with high heat, increased cost, and usually increased weight. The days of hot lights for these types of productions are gone, replaced by inexpensive, lightweight LED lighting.

It has been my experience that LED lights are not always capable of emitting enough light or the right quality and temperature of light required for every situation.

The GVM PRO-SD300B spotlight is very bright. Its optical lens, positioned in front of the COB lamp bead, increases brightness fourfold.

The exact measurement of the light output (at one-meter distance) is sometimes listed in GVM’s product information as 11800 lux and in other places as 13700 lux. In any case, the spotlight is powerful, and combined with stepless dimming and the ability to control the quality and temperature of the light, you have a winning combination.

LED lamps do not get very hot even after long segments of use, but to ensure that heat is not an issue, the GVM PRO-SD300B employs intelligent cooling and silent fans.

The spotlight incorporates intelligent cooling technology, actively monitoring and adjusting the internal temperature to prevent overheating. This helps maintain consistent performance and prolong the lamp’s lifespan.

In addition, the GVM PRO-SD300B is equipped with specially designed silent fans that effectively dissipate heat without creating excessive noise. If heat becomes an issue, the light includes the cooling airflow feature accessed via the Cool button mentioned earlier.

The GVM PRO-SD300B is an attractive piece of gear with excellent fit and finish and high build quality that can withstand various types of filmmaking and photography production challenges.

My only minor complaint is the connection between the standard cover and the Bowens mount. While the softbox interlocks with the Bowens mount snugly and securely, the standard cover feels loose and rattles a bit. There is no chance that it will come off, but the looseness seems an easy fix.

The GVM PRO-SD300B’s light output, color accuracy, ease of adjustability, many enhanced features, and relatively low cost make it a great choice for professionals and those looking to step up their game.

The light’s flexibility makes it a great choice for short films, videos, and photography, especially when paired with the optional softbox. With the ability to control many lights simultaneously using mesh Bluetooth networking, the light can become part of a toolkit for more ambitious productions.

The GVM PRO-SD300B Monolight sells for $389.00; it is available directly from the manufacturer and other retailers, including Amazon.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Bright enough for most applications; High quality of light; Excellent build quality, fit, and finish; Easy to use app; Many enhanced features

What Needs Improvement: The standard cover could interlock more snugly with the Bowens mount

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About the Author

Charles Kliment
A lifelong gearhead, as a teenager Charles was obsessed with high-end audio and musical instruments and through the years has focused on computers, mobile devices, 3d printing and drones. Both in his career and hobby, he employs a wide range of video, still and VR cameras. An avid gamer, dog lover and father of three adult sons, Charles is married to Jane Randel and lives in New Jersey.

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