There are still times in modern photography, despite today’s camera technology, where you may wish there was more light in a desirable scene. Using flash is one way, but there is also a strong trend towards continuous light systems. A very interesting representative of this type of lights is the Lume Cube!
Lume Cube – a powerful light for photo & video
I don’t use flash very often, especially since I bought into the Fuji system. The Fujis deliver good image quality even at higher ISO numbers, so in general I try to get the picture without additional light sources. There is even a term for this style: It’s called “available light photography.”
But sometimes there is no chance to get a decent image of a scene or shoot acceptable video footage without additional lighting. If you often prowl around in black alleys, you may want to take a look at the products of Lume Cube. They are from a company based in San Diego which originally started with the help of Kickstarter and quickly grew to a successful business.
Lume Cube offers their identical sounding product – a very small, extremely durable and water resistant LED light for all kinds of image capturing. I bought a set of four Lume Cubes some months ago to put them to the test in my everyday life.
When I finally received my quad pack of Lume Cubes, I realized that they are smaller than I thought they would be. A Lume Cube has a side length of 42 mm (1.65”). But despite its small size, it’s not fragile at all. Every Lume Cube is made from robust aluminium and feels substantially built, weighing 103 grams each.
Each cube has a LED with a fresnel lens and a small optical sensor for slave mode at the front. On the bottom there is a ¼” thread for tripod mount, on the back is a waterproof screw-in plug covering the micro USB socket. On top there are two buttons, a red status light and that’s it.
Using Lume Cube LEDs in practice
Operating the Lume Cube is quite simple: The left button turns on/off continuous light mode and cycles through ten brightness levels. With the right button you may wake up Bluetooth and turn on the optical sensor for flash slave mode.
What I immediately liked about this LEDs, was not so much the impressive amount of light they are delivering, but their homogenous light spread and their colour temperature. This is very important for photo- and videography. The light beam is wide and smooth, without harsh differences in light intensity and without any artefacts. This is where the fresnel lens really pays off – the makers did their homework here.
The LED colour temperature seems to vary between 6000 and 6200K, which is okay and as advertised, but the outer edge of the illuminated area shows a slightly yellowish tint. That’s one thing which bothers me from time to time, since it is not easy to get rid of the yellowish edge crossing the picture in Lightroom, in case the subject moved to the edge of the light beam.
Having said that I think this is still a minor issue, since the Lume Cubes are performing far better than any other portable LED light I have seen till today. Just align your cubes carefully at your point of interest and you will be rewarded with perfectly soft light.
Built-in wireless control and triggering
With activated Bluetooth you may change the settings of every cube wirelessly. Just download the free Lume Cube app, which is available for iOS and Android, enter the serial numbers of your cubes upon first usage, and you’re ready to go. Now you may adjust the brightness of all your lights independently in continuous mode, set them up for optical slave mode with your DSLR flash or use them as flash for your smart phone camera – without even touching them.
Bluetooth capability and the app connection is an awesome feature when you are setting up your scene. Attach one Lume Cube to a tree, put the second one on a pole, the third on the ground, the fourth behind the subject etc. Then move away with your camera and adjust the brightness of each cube on your smartphone in search for the best effect. Nothing is more comfortable than that!
And since Lume Cubes are water resistant up to a depth of 30 meters (100 feet), you may even put them on your surf board, use them in rain and snow, or drop them in the pool without problems. I once even taped some Lume Cubes to my Ural Ranger sidecar motorcycle, because I felt the need for an additional light source during a rainy off-road adventure at night!
With a full charge you may expect a runtime of nearly one hour at 100% brightness, and a bit over two hours at 50%. Just consider that at full power and at higher ambient temperatures, the case of the cube will get quite warm after some time. But the Lume Cubes have a temperature control built in and will throttle down when they get to warm, so you can’t fry them by using them too much.
I am really happy with my set of Lume Cubes, although they were not cheap. Since they are so tiny, I have them with me in my shoulder bag every day. The Lume Cubes offer extreme flexibility and make it possible to set up a stage in the most remote corners, without carrying a truckload of equipment. And since lume cubes are water resistant up to a depth of 100 feet or 30 meters, they may unleash a lot of additional creativity.
The following swimming pictures were done in complete darkness, only with four Lume Cubes at the bottom of the pool.
Please don’t steal my images – just kindly ask, if you want to use one of them. All rights reserved.