It’s clear that the iPhone has become a serious photography tool; we need look no further than Apple’s various Shot on iPhone campaigns to see the incredible things that can be done with the iPhone camera system. Despite this, however, there’s still lots of room for third-party accessories that enhance the photo experience even further; after all, there’s only so much that Apple can cram into the iPhone itself, which has created a market for everything from Pro lenses to mounting and lighting solutions. Today we’re taking a long overdue look at one of the most popular ways for iPhone photographers and videographers to shed a bit more light on their subjects: the Lume Cube.
As the name implies, the Lume Cube is a small, cube-shaped light that the company sells in a variety of different kits and configurations. For our purposes, we’re naturally looking to the Apple-focused version, the Lume Cube’s Creative Lighting Kit for iPhone, which is an Apple exclusive package that can mostly only be bought in Apple Stores (Lume Cube lists it on their own web site, but it’s perpetually out of stock and sold for a higher price there). The kit includes a single Lume Cube light as well as a clip for iPhone mounting, and a collection of diffusing filters and warming gels that can be used to adjust the lighting that Lume Cube puts out.
The idea behind Lume Cube is really quite simple: It’s a 1,500 lumen LED light source that can be clipped onto your iPhone and used either always-on as a video light, or setup to work in flash mode for still photography. A free companion app, Lume-X allows you to configure and control the Lume Cube via Bluetooth, and of course you’ll need to use the Lume-X app to actually take photos as well if you want the Lume Cube to fire off as a flash when you take a photo, but you can also just switch Lume Cube to an always-on and use it with the built-in iOS Camera app or any other third-party camera app of your choice.
In always-on video light mode, Lume Cube supports 10 different intensity levels, and the collection of three LEE diffusing filters and the plastic diffusion bulb offers a comprehensive set of options for spreading and softening the light from the Lume Cube, which is especially useful if you’re shooting with wider-angle lenses — Lume Cube with a diffusion bulb makes an especially great companion to Olloclip’s Super-Wide Pro Lens that we recently looked at. Lume Cube puts out relatively cool white light, at 5600K, but also includes two CTO gels for warming things up a bit — particularly useful when you want to ensure balanced colors when shooting under traditional incandescent or tungsten lighting.
The Lume Cube can also be actuated manually using two buttons on the top. The left button turns on the light for video mode, and toggles through the ten illumination levels, while the right button initiates Bluetooth pairing and can be used to toggle the optical trigger mode, which allows Lume Cube to respond in sync as a “slave” unit to another flash (although it’s worth mentioning that the iPhone LED flash is not strong enough to trigger this). Lume Cube is also waterproof up to 100 feet, and even features a “Dive Mode” that can be enabled from within the app to ensure that it stays on properly underwater, regardless of pressure.
Lume Cube is charged via a USB power source, using the included USB-A to micro USB cable, and takes 90 minutes to reach a full charge. Sadly, you’ll only get about 20 minutes of steady video lighting at full intensity on a single charge, although Lume Cube can operate while connected to a power source, so even an external USB battery pack can be used to supply additional power if you plan on shooting longer than 20 minutes at a time. Lume Cube of course provides considerably more life when used as a flash for still photography, however.
The Lume Cube app also includes a battery gauge, prominently displayed on the main screen, so you’ll know when your light is getting lower on power, and the app can also manage multiple Lume Cubes, so if you purchase a second light (for another $80), you’ll not only be able to swap out for a backup, but can also place another cube elsewhere in the room to use it as a second flash for backlighting. The app also allows you to toggle on a red-eye reduction mode, which works in the same way as on most standard cameras, providing a short burst of flash to close the irises of your subjects just before the main photo is taken.
If you’ve been struggling with how to get more out of your iPhone camera when shooting in darker settings, you’ll appreciate what Lume Cube is offering, as it’s a solid video and photographic lighting solution that provides a lot of versatility, and while the $150 asking price may seem expensive for an iPhone accessory, when you consider how much professional camera flashes and video lights sell for, it’s actually quite reasonable, particularly when you factor in the versatility provided by the filters and the overall ruggedness and durability of this little light. It’s a great solution for lighting up your iPhone photography, and while it would be nice if it could offer longer battery life, when you consider the size of the light, we’re actually kind of amazed that it can run for as long as it does on a single charge.
Company and Price
Company: Lume Cube