TL:DR If you have been looking for a compact bicolour LED panel light that’s cheap but not a load of rubbish then this is just for you The Lume Cube Panel Mini.
Welcome to the saturated market place of LED travel lights. Compact LED lights are a favourite accessory of mine. There is always the need for more lights right?
Lume Cube Panel Mini is the name of the light im looking at, not mini panel which I appreciate would roll off the tongue better. So before you get on my case in the comments thats the name get over it.
Maybe you just need to drop some light in the background of a shot. Or it’s a main light you need to attach to your cell phone tripod or just something reliable to mount on top of your DSLR. Whatever the situation you will be looking for a solid light with good battery life.
Having played with Lighting from the super cheap to the super expensive and mostly on this channel, I wanted to see what the solid brand Lume Cube could offer at $69. Full disclosure I loved their original cube light and lusted after it when it came out. So I am a bit of a fan.
First up straight out of the box you get the light itself. Found wearing its snug silicone white diffuser. You become immediately aware of the quality of the materials in hand, the diffuser does add a third more thickness to the size of the light. Once removed you see a matt frosted finished lens with the bicolour led’s tucked behind. Flip to the reverse of the panel you see there is a built in battery that is stated as 3.7v – 1200mAh. That is a good sized battery for any bit of filming you have planned. There is also a small display screen, a mode button and a control wheel for switching between brightness or kelvins. There is also a usb c port for 5v fast charge. As for mounting options There are two ¼ inch thread points for cold shoe attachments so you can mount both portrait and landscape.
In the box you also get an instruction manual, a cold shoe mount and usb C to usb A charge cable. So with the first looks out of the way lets checkout the good bits of the Lume Cube panel Mini.
So I loved the original rugged waterproof cube light, so the excitement to get to play with this light was high. Charging the lights internal battery takes just under two hours from empty. The lights most desirable feature is that it can perfectly produce 3200 kelvin through to 5600 kelvins, the adjustments are made in 100 kelvin increments. There is no flickering making it great for video. The 60 LEDs can be adjusted from a very bright 100 percent right through to 1 percent. The increments are drops of 5 percent at a time.
The device is 85 grams and barely bigger that a bank card which makes it convenient to carry with you. Finally I think the greatest feature is the battery remaining feedback shown on the rear display screen. Although its more “ISH” than “exactly” its pretty accurate. However; Lumecube say it will last for 1 hour 14 minutes on a full charge. Obviously we had to test that and we found that on full brightness after around 20 charge cycles of use we got 1 hour 15 minutes before exhausting the battery. The good news here isn’t the extra minute but the fact the light didn’t dim or fault in any way before switching off. But what should you look out for and is it really worth it?
Now the light comes with a one year warranty from proof of purchase date. However a quick look at the instruction manual and it becomes clear that pretty much most circumstances of it failing to work won’t be covered under warranty. It seems there are many warnings for user error that will not see you get a replacement unit should the light fail.
That is about it… I can’t really fault anything about the actual product.
The Panel Mini from Lume Cube is close to being a very perfect light, if they introduced coloured gels it would be incredible for making backgrounds interesting. I love that this compact pocket friendly light. It kicks out a huge amount of lumens and has warm light from 3200 kelvin or cool light up to 5600 kelvins. The usb C fast charge isnt particularly fast at a couple of hours for a full charge BUT you can plug in a battery bank on the fly and the light supports bypass so it will illuminate while taking power.
With all that said it is possibly the best build quality credit card sized led panel I have seen yet for 69 dollars. To get this light closer to perfection I would expect to pay around a hundred dollars. That should see a water resistant casing and an option for smaller increments of both the kelvins and dimming settings in the menu.
So should you buy this, well you wouldn’t be disappointed you get a very capable set up. They are going to be the ideal solution for photographers who shoot the occasional bit of b-roll especially great for lighting those macro shots. But lets face it this is for mobile video creators and providing you keep it dry this could well be the biggest impact tiny light for the money. If you are looking for a more durable option then ten dollars more could get you the Lume Cube 2.0 which is waterproof.
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