As more photo gear goes mobile, lighting gear seems to stay in their traditional lane. That’s about change. One of the more innovative systems to appear in the past year comes from the people at Lume Cube. Lume Cube is a compact lighting system that’s targeting photographers and videographers doing action and mobile image capture. I first saw the Lume Cube at the 2014 PhotoPlus Expo when it was in the early stages of its KickStarter campaign. The device is a 1½ cube that packs 1500 lumens of lighting power. The unit is both a continuous light source and a flash unit that is wireless through Bluetooth controlled by a smartphone app. While the Lume Cube is being pushed as an action camera lighting accessory it is so much more.
For location photographers or those doing environmental portraits, the Lume Cube can be an essential piece of lighting equipment. First off, it’s extremely small and light weight. This 1½ cube weighs in at about 4 ounces. It has a standard ¼ inch tripod mount, so it can be used with any standard light stand or Gorillapod type flexible tripod. As a continuous LED light source it is dimmable from 0 to 1500 lumens with a color temperature of 6000K. The unit is waterproof up to 100 feet, has a built-in flash slave that with its iPhone or Android app can fire up to 100 units simultaneously. Its flash duration is controlled with the mobile app via its built-in Bluetooth connectivity.
The battery life sounds limited at first. If used at maximum power the unit will last only 20 minutes, but can last to as much as 45+ minutes on 90 percent brightness, 120+ minutes on 50 percent brightness. However, the Lume Cube is really very bright. 50% power is probably the “average” setting. The non-replaceable Li-Ion Polymer rechargeable battery is USB chargeable. When changing it, nothing special is needed. So having a portable charging unit like the Anker power charger can provide the juice needed while you’re out and about.
If you’re new to photography and lighting systems, Lume Cube offers a series of accessories for you to get up and running, especially if you’re using a GoPro action camera. However, if you are an experienced photographer, you probably have enough gadgets and gizmos to do some very effective lighting setups. If you’ve been using speedlights for location or studio lighting, you have everything needed to use the Lume Cube efficiently on location.
So how much is the little light jewel going to set you back? Not much. The single Cube is $79.99, the Duel Pack is $149.99 and the Quad Pack is $299.99. Lume Cube offers a series of accessories like GoPro mount bundles, a smartphone mount and a mini ball head cold shoe mount. What they really need to provide is a soft diffusion solution. This thing is really very bright. Just mounting it on your video camera will blind your subject! It’s really that bright. But like I mentioned, any speedlight solution you have will probably work. If you don’t have a diffusion solution, Westcott offers a series of options you should explore. However, if you don’t mind people talking about your DIY approach, a paper towel or facial tissue and a little duck tape will do the trick.
There’s a lot of tech going on inside the Lume Cube. Its build quality is excellent and at an amazing price point it’s worth having at least one of these small gems in your photo/video tool kit.