Nothing even comes close to the level of quality and connectivity we find at the Trailblazer’s price point, making it one of the most potent values on the market today.
While I tend to be a creature of habit when it comes to gear these days, a recent upswell in video demand has me exploring a variety of lighting solutions to help meet this growing need.
A few months back, I had the pleasure to review an interesting new light — the Genaray Trailblazer T40D (40w) Daylight LED — via our friends at B&H Photo. For those who can relate, my hope is this informal review will be of use and aid in your journey as well.
Beginning with a quick delineation of terms, let’s dive in to what sets this new design apart from its predecessors.
What exactly is a COB LED?
For those unfamiliar with the terminology, the LED descriptor refers to a single “Light Emitting Diode.” The LEDs we’ve become accustomed to over the years — those units containing any number of individual LED beads — are known as SMD, or “Surface Mounted Devices.”
The SMD array is particularly useful in its versatility in regard to color variation, which is why we typically see this arrangement in practical background lighting units, such as the popular Godox LED RGB Light Stick, Lume Cube Panel Pro and Aperture MC.
The term COB LED, or a “chip-on-board” arrangement, is a new approach that refers to a cluster of multiple diodes (typically nine or more) combined as a single light emitting source with a focus on output uniformity and power.
Designed with efficiency and (single) color accuracy in mind for broadcast purposes, the COB arrangement is capable of producing a significantly brighter and far cleaner result, such as those found in larger key-lighting products like the Godox VL150 and Aperture 120D.
Uniquely sized for either stand-mounted or compact hand-held use, the Trailblazer T40D is capable of delivering a continuous 8010 lumen, 40-watt flicker-free punch that lends itself nicely to a wide range of applications with easily repeatable results.
Daylight-balanced at 5600K, the T40D’s COB LED array boasts a Color Rating Index (CRI) of 97.1 with an impressive Television Lighting Consistency Index (TLCI) rating of 99. This not only brings the Trailblazer’s color accuracy to the front of the class in terms of overall color rendering, it means we can say goodbye to the problematic colorcasting inherent to previous designs and the corrective gels required to achieve an accurate daylight balance.
For added insight in regard to CRI and TLCI color rating metrics, the following article covers the subject at a high level: “Understanding CRI & TLCI: The Importance Of Color Rendition.”
Overall construction and feel
Measuring just over 6-inches (15.9cm) in length and weighing-in at a scant 1.3 pounds (0.59 kg), the T40D’s housing is constructed of durable ABS plastic with a rubbery veneer that feels solid in hand, making it a breeze for quick hand-held applications in the field.
Positioned at the top-rear of the housing are two control dials for power ON/OFF and single-increment dimmer adjustment — both are oversized and easy to locate by feel. The rear-facing LCD display is brightly-lit, providing easy-to-read feedback for current output level and battery life.
Equipped with a standard 5/8-inch stud and adapter mount, the T40D is ready for connection to any stand straight from the box. While the stud and body themselves are inherently sturdy in design, the actual point of connection is somewhat frail and flexes easily under a front-heavy load. More on that in a few.
Conveniently designed to operate via the included NP-F style battery or on worldwide voltage, the T40D ships with a multi-voltage AC adapter and cable that is compatible for use on 100-240 VAC, 50/60 Hz power. However, the included plug is designed for use in the United States. To power the unit internationally, a plug adapter is required to convert the USA plug to the plug used in your country.
Angle of throw
The Trailblazer is fitted with a mid-to-narrow 40° beam angle that — unless sufficiently modified — very much wants to be a spotlight. The integrated diffusing lens, much like the lenses encasing our vehicle headlights, serves well in softening the beam and minimizing harsh shadows. The integrated Bowens S-mount is milled with a setscrew fit for added stability of mounted accessories.
Usage and versatility
In view of overall size and leverage, the folks at Genaray recommend a max load in the 2 to 2-1/2 pound range to avoid over-stressing the point of connection. Upon testing the T40D with a 12×48-inch strip box and grid, the unit-side connection point failed and — while not severing completely — did flex and pull away from the housing with relative ease, so do be aware of this limitation.
Requiring the compact 40-watt Trailblazer frame to perform as a box-mounted key light simply exceeds its currently designed intent. While a future yoke-mounted option would be a welcome addition, the level of functionality designed around the Trailblazer’s 40-watt output is impressive and appreciated.
So, where does this unique tool find a permanent place in today’s creative workflow?
For my purposes — as my unit now lives full-time in a Godox VL-150 reflector hood, scrimmed with a 7-inch diffuser sock for added gradation — the T40D has become a convenient go-to solution for edge-lighting video in the studio or providing daylight fill anywhere in the field. Be it portrait or product, the punchy COB array is right at home in either application.
But we’re only scratching the surface in terms of true potential, so let’s not stop there. My wife and daughter, for example, run a small Etsy shop where they sell handcrafted hemp-blend totes and bags, among a variety of other items. Always in need of quality imagery to accompany their products, the Trailblazer has become a quick and easy resource for them — and there are tens of thousands of others out there currently awaiting the very same solution.
Price vs. performance
The Trailblazer T40D’s compact form and budget-friendly price tag are capable of reaching a far greater potential than that of the average professional photographer and filmmaker — many of whom likely already possess the tools they need.
But this is not so for the average layperson seeking that one solution — that one tool to aid in setting their products apart and help take their own humble businesses to the next level without breaking the bank.
The Genaray Trailblazer T40D delivers more than 8000 lux of continuous color-accurate creative power in a mere 21-ounce package. Even the most cursory comparison search finds this single light standing in a class of its own. Nothing even comes close to the level of quality and connectivity we find at the Trailblazer’s price point, making it one of the most potent values on the market today.
Just large enough to accommodate the modifiers we all use, yet just small enough to handle with a single hand in the field — whether photographer, filmmaker or craftsman, professional or layman — the Trailblazer lives up to its name in every respect.
- Color Temperature: 5600K
- Light source: COB LED
- Dimmable 100% to 5%
- Lamp life: 50,000 hours
- Luminance: 8010 lux @ 3 feet
- Power source: AC/DC or NP-F Battery
- CRI: 97.1
- TLCI: 99
- DC connector: Barrel
- Dimensions: 6.25″ (L) x 5″ diameter
- Weight: 1.3 lb (without battery)
- Locking 5/8″ stand adapter and umbrella mount
- Padded carrying case / shoulder strap