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Gear Reviews

Lume Cube | Is This Tiny LED The Perfect Continuous/Flash Combo?

By Anthony Thurston on November 28th 2015

The fact is that many photographers these days are finding that they have to shoot both stills and video in order to make their living. When lighting those jobs, it has always come down to needing strobe/speedlights for stills and continuous or hot lights for video work.

The Lume Cube is a small 1.5″ by 1.5″ LED that boasts an impressive 1500 Lumen output and Bluetooth technology, but its real trick is that it acts as both a continuous video light or a flash/strobe. Is this the perfect accessory light for any gig?

Lume Cube SLR Lounge

[RELATED: Lume Cube: A Light For Any Occaison]

My Thoughts On The Lume Cube

I first became aware of the Lume Cube when I wrote about the project being funded on Kickstarter. They blew past their initial goal of $56,000 and earned almost $230,000. That was over a year ago, but this week, I finally received a review unit, and I was excited to check it out.

Upon opening the package, I was not sure what I would find. I honestly had forgotten that I even had a unit coming in for review, and could hardly remember what the unit was supposed to do. But once I turned the Lume Cube on and started playing around with it, I realized what a gem this little light actually is.

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But just to refresh your memory, in case – like me – you don’t recall or maybe never heard about Lume Cube in the first place, here are some spec highlights:

  • 1.5″ by 1.5″ Cube LED
  • Dimmable Between 0–1,500 lumens
  • ¼ 20 Mount Attaches to Tripods & Action Cam Accessories
  • Fully Adjustable Flash Duration & Brightness via Smartphone App
  • Optical Sensor For Easy Off-Camera Triggering
  • 5600K Color Temp
  • No Recycle Time Needed Between Flashes
  • ~2-Hour Battery Life @ 50% power & 1-Hour Charge Time w/ USB Charger
  • Waterproof to 100′

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The build of this little light is actually remarkably solid. Let me put it this way, I would have no issues letting my 2 or 6-year-old play with this light. They could throw it, hit it, etc., and I have every confidence it would hold up. That said, due to the brightness of the unit, I don’t recommend letting your children play with it; it could damage their (or your) eyes.

The main ways that you interact with the Lume Cube is through an iOS or Android app, which I will get to in a minute. But as far as physical buttons, there are two located on the top of the unit. These allow you to set the mode of the light without needing to open your app. That said, though, to change any advanced settings, you will need to have your phone handy to connect to the Lume Cube.

lume-cube-top

One button turns on the optical slave, essentially putting the Lume Cube into strobe mode. This will cause the light to flash, just light a Speedlight, upon registering another Speedlight firing. The other button turns on the continuous video light, which is deceivingly bright.

On the bottom of the Lume Cube, you have a standard 1/4 20 thread which makes mounting the Lume Cube to any standard Light stand, tripod head, or accessory arm incredibly easy. You can almost literally put this thing just about anywhere.

The back of the unit features this screw out stopper that covers, and protects, the Lume Cube’s micro USB port with is used for charging the unit’s internal battery. That battery is rated at 20 minutes on full power (continuous) or up to 2 hours at 50% power (continuous).

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The Apps

As mentioned previously, to interact and control the Lume Cube, you use an iOS or Android app. There is a free version and a $2.99 paid  ‘pro’ version. The free version, as you would expect, is rather limited. It does not allow for more advanced control of the light, mainly making the Lume Cube a fun phone accessory.

The paid $2.99 ‘Pro’ app, on the other hand, allows for some really fun customization of your Lume Cube. You can modify your flash duration, light output, turn on a red-eye reduction mode, the optical slave, etc. It also tells you the battery level and the Bluetooth signal strength of your connection to the cube.

You can also control up to 5 separate Lume Cube’s from a single phone. This allows you to have some fairly elaborate lighting setups without much fuss at all. It’s quite neat really.

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My Initial Verdict

The versatility of the Lume Cube makes it a really valuable accessory in my opinion. Just throw a couple of them in your camera bag and you have some extra lights on hand to enhance your shot, or take over in case one of your dedicated lights craps out. The ability to use these for both stills or video, with your camera or just your smartphone shows that these little lights pack a lot of possibilities.

They are not perfect; not being able to trigger them in flash mode from your real camera without a Speedlight is a flaw that should be easily remedied with some sort of on-camera trigger. The battery life could also be an issue if you need them for prolonged use at higher brightness settings. Those issues aside, though, at only $79 each, these are going to be finding their way into my bag for sure.

Still, more testing is needed to be sure of exactly how useful these would be in a professional setting. Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at the Lume Cube in the future.

lume-cube-car-back

If you are interested in checking out the Lume Cube for yourself, you can learn more over on their website here. If you are interested in picking one up, you can also purchase directly from Lume Cube via their website or you can pre-order them now via B&H here. They come in Black, Gunmetal Grey, and Silver.

Quick & Dirty Night (With Lume Cube & Without Example)

  • Before/After Before Before/After After

    Before/After

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Alessandro Zonin

    I own two of these Lume Cubes and I use them very often, for shooting commercials and feature films. They’re useful and very handy, no doubts, but the color temperature is my biggest concern: the claimed 6000K aren’t real nor consistent from lamp to lamp, they’re something between 6500 and 7500.

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  2. Andy Moore

    So I used these at a wedding yesterday. I used them as a continuous option for the first dance taped onto my flash stands. They got insanely hot…. The tape melted on one of them and fell to the floor, picked it up and wow …. Thank god a kid did not grab it. They are useful and I only used as continuous to add some small catch nights outside. Very very blue….feels like More than 5600k …. With out a way to trigger from camera it remains to be seen if flash option is worth it as you still have to run a flash anyway. TBC….. Used on ring shots but over priced for that….. All in all not sure they are worth the money yet. Will go on drone soon but not convinced how effective they will be. Also don’t turn on and look to check as you will have a dot in your eye for a while .

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  3. Paul Empson

    Does look interesting.. having visited their site… though no mention about how changeable the battery is which always leaves me feeling a little uninformed.

    size looks great, very versatile, portable.. of course if I could just fire them via a radio trigger..
    as with everything.. plusses with a few caveats..

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Hi Paul,
      The battery is not removable. So when it’s dead, you need to charge the light up before you can use it again. Luckily it doesn’t take a ridiculous amount of time to recharge, but its still a wait.

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    • Ulysses Ronquillo

      I guess that means you can’t run it and charge at the same time if you plan to be using it for an entire day for example. Bummer.

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    • Gerald Balaka

      I bought one at the SXSW Trade Show last week, in Austin. And, talked with the LumeCube people for a while before my purchase. I have plugged in the LumeCube to a charger and was still able to use it. This is consistent with what the company rep told me. I lit up a large oak tree at night with one. At full power, they said it can shoot out 75 feet. I believe it. Use a gel sample, book and adjust the light with a small strip and rubber band. The company will soon come out with accessories. Some that were mentioned are ways to attach several together. There will probably be small glass color filters to avoid plastic ones melting. If using at full power, the light will shut off after 30 minutes to avoid overheating. Even a small translucent plastic bottle cap (with a rubber band) is a good diffuser. Shop the Container Store for a variety DIY light modifiers. It can fit inside a small Tupperware container to create the effect of a mini umbrella. The official weight is 3.6 oz according to the company. I am planning to purchase more. You will want to use several since it creates shadows. 4 of them would be great, and weigh under 1 lb. Look for very small light ball heads (about 3 oz each) that attach to bendable mini tripod legs, suction cups, clamps or selfie sticks. The weight of the LumeCube and a ball head is about 7 oz. For approx 2 lbs of extra weight, you can have a fun portable lighting system.

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    • Paul Empson

      but is their proprietary battery replaceable.. not after its discharged.. but after it expires for good.. can it be replaced or do you have to throw it away and but an entire new cube?

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Ah, gotcha, I don’t know the answer to that. But, I will inquire.

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  4. Cary McCaughey

    New flash unit ideas? Loving it. Innovation at its best…especially for run-n-gunners.

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  5. Mark Romine

    Nice little toy! You could put this inside of small tight spaces.

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  6. Paul Empson

    definately intriguing.. compactness is a big plus.. need to read more details on their site..

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  7. Chuck Eggen

    Looks like a video run-N-gun dream. Not to mention other possibilities via the slave mode.

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  8. Andy & Amii Kauth

    Intriguing for sure, esp. being able to control 5 at a time.

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