Lume Cube, the high-powered portable photography light, is now available in an exclusive kit at Apple Stores country-wide. The Lume Cube Creative Lighting Kit includes a number of accessories with the compact flash to refine the photography experience.
The team at Lume Cube had recently reached out to us asking if we’d like to take a look at what the small cube could do. As I’ve been getting more and more into mobile photography, a portable lighting system piqued my interest. After having received a review unit from Lume, I set out to see what all the fuss was about.
Lume Cube is a small, tank-like, portable LED light. Cranking out 1500 lumens of flicker-free lighting, Lume Cube pushes the envelope in miniaturizing studio lights into a photographer’s hands. I’ve watched as Lume Cube gained traction over the past few years with different travel photographers, even amongst some of the electric skateboarding communities.
The Apple Store exclusive Lume Cube Creative Lighting kit includes accessories that help improve the lighting system’s experience. Inside the kit are the Lume Cube, three separate Lee filters, two warming gels, a diffusion bulb, a phone tripod mount, and the light housing system. For $149.99 the price of the kit appears steep, but I’ve been hard-pressed to find a suitable alternative at the Lume Cube’s size.
Let there be, bright, light
Picking up the Lume Cube, I was immediately surprised at just how great it felt. It was like holding a small tank with an LED light as ammunition. Lume states the cube is waterproof to 100 feet and based on the construction of the light, I don’t hold any doubts about it. The controls are simple with only two buttons atop the cube, leaving little room for confusion.
The stand out feature of the Lume Cube has to be just how bright it is. The packaging warns not to stare directly into the LED, and on the few times I’ve done so accidentally, I’ve regretted it. Even at the lowest setting. There are ten separate levels in the light’s intensity, and I found myself sticking around the first five to light various scenes. The higher in levels I went with the light, the harsher the shadows it would cast on a scene.
One of the downsides of the Lume Cube is just how unflattering the LED lighting can be. It’s an unnatural blue shade that can make skin tones appear to be lit by hospital room lighting. It’s a vibrantly bright color, but something seems off. Thankfully, the Creative Kit includes different diffusers and gels to help with that. I found the lightest shade of the warming gels to be near perfect for lighting skin tones. It didn’t create harsh shadows or light reflections on someone’s face. The stronger warming gels cast too pink of a hue and looked like overkill.
If you’re not going to be shooting portraits, then the diffusers might be a better option. The three different Lee filters come in a light, medium, and strong strength and I found that the medium was just right for me. I could light a scene and again avoid any harsh shadows or strong reflections.
In testing this kit, I did notice that the slave flash feature rarely worked. Based on Lume’s instructions, the slave flash feature would detect ambient light changes and flash the Lume Cube’s light in sync. This sounds great in theory, but I could never get it to sync with my iPhone X. Although I had no issue with it firing off when using my Sony RX100V’s flash.
Lume provides an iOS application to take pictures and videos with the Lume Cube, although it is pretty barebones. It doesn’t offer much control in photography, but it does allow for pictures taken in-app to sync with Lume’s flash. It’s really worth digging into more if you own more than one Lume Cube or want to control the Lume remotely.
After using the Lume Cube for a few days in various lighting scenarios for photography, I wanted to share a handful of tips I’ve learned along the way.
- Use the Lume Cube as a fill light when shooting during the day. By using the Lume Cube as a fill light in a poorly lit environment, you can improve the overall lighting in a scene. The Lume Cube is sufficiently bright enough to work even in outdoor lighting.
- Bounce the Lume Cube’s lighting away from the subject. The Lume Cube is so bright that directly pointing it at a subject will cast a light source reflection. By pointing it away from the subject, and allowing the light to bounce back, it will more evenly light a scene.
- Mix and match different warming gels and diffusers. The gels and diffusers that come in the Lume Cube Creative Kit all attach using magnets. This opens the possibility of stacking different combinations atop one another for new effects. If a warming gel is too intense, adding a diffuser atop it could help tone it down.
The above sample images (taken on an iPhone X) show how intense the Lume Cube gets in a pitch black room and the light’s effect pointed both at and away from the subject. Depending on your environment, you’ll want to play with the subject and light’s distance.
I’m not a professional photographer by any means, but I do understand that thoughtful lighting can make or break a photo. Considering the size and versatility of the Lume Cube Creative Lighting Kit, I’d recommend it for anyone looking to take powerful lighting options on the go. Not only is it built around the phone in your pocket, but its flexibility allows for usage in nearly any photography scenario.
The Lume Cube Creative Lighting Kit is available now exclusively from Apple.com and Apple stores for $149.99. Included in the kit are the Lume Cube, the Lume Cube Light House, three Lee filters, two warming gels, a diffusion bulb, and phone tripod mount.