Lume Cube External Smartphone Flash Review
Smartphone cameras these days are relentlessly improving and only in a short period of time. They offer good exposure, sharp details, and decent low light performances. Although when we really need to illuminate a scene and the phone’s built-in flash isn’t enough, we might need to resort to other products. This is where Lume Cube comes in as it functions as an off-camera flash and light source for mobile photography and videography in a robust, compact body.
Design and Construction
Shaped as a cube (hence the name), the Lume Cube measures 1.5 x 1.5 inches and has a gunmetal body that’s robust and could definitely take a beating. The entire thing is pretty simple — up front, we have the LED lights protected by a small piece of glass.
Also seen here is a small dot on the upper right side that is the sensor to turn it into an optical slave flash which we will further discuss later on.
Up top is where the company’s logo is placed and the round buttons seen here protected by a rubber cover are the only two buttons you’d see on the device which serves different purposes depending on how you press it:
– Turns on Constant Video Light
– Click multiple times to cycle through the 10 brightness settings
– Hold for five Seconds to shut down the cube
– 1 Click “Wakes Up” Bluetooth
– 5 Second Hold activates Optical Sensor
– 1 Click turns off Constant Video light
At the back is the microUSB port for charging the device. It is protected by a screw-on cap that makes the Lume Cube waterproof up to 100 feet.
Meanwhile, down under, we have the 1/4-20 thread so you can mount the Cube on flash stands, tripods, and other accessories depending on how you’re going to use it.
The Lume Cube comes with additional features that should improve the user experience and make it more appealing to consumers. Let’s take a look at them.
Constant light and flash mode – The Cube offers two kinds of light source — steady and strobe. The former is for videos while the latter acts as a flash for photos. As a steady source of light, users can cycle through 10 brightness presets that intensify as you get higher.
Optical slave capability – As mentioned previously, you can use the device as an additional flash for DSLRs. It has a sensor that could be triggered by the camera or you could also get a hot shoe adaptor so it attaches directly to the DSLR.
Bluetooth for a dedicated app – It has an embedded Bluetooth for wirelessly connecting to a compatible device and operating its dedicated app.
Control multiple lights simultaneously – Using its dedicated app, you can connect and control up to 5 Lume Cubes and adjust their brightness at the same time — all from your phone.
Pairing the Lume Cube to a smartphone was pretty easy. After opening its dedicated app, it will prompt you to register the product by keying the product code in.
The app has its own camera software and that’s where you can adjust the brightness of the Cube(s) before you start shooting. When taking a photo, what we noticed was that the software had a hard time focusing on its subject and it doesn’t automatically focus until you tap where to do so.
Another thing is that when shooting at night, the flash doesn’t stay on long enough for the camera to automatically adjust the settings. This results in images with uncalibrated white balance.
Using our phone’s standard Camera app, however, yielded better results. Thing is, you can only sync the Lume Cube for its flash to go off at the same time you press the shutter when using its dedicated app. If you decide to use a different camera app, you’ll be forced to use its continuous light that’s originally dedicated for videos.
Still, even though we didn’t operate on its dedicated app, we were able to come up with images like these:
What we’re saying here is that the Lume Cube works just fine on its own but the app that should make things easier for the user doesn’t really deliver.
Using it as a steady source could also be applied to another use, not only to mobile photography. We mounted it on our hardtail bicycle and left to hit the trails at night. It was able to illuminate the way effectively and made cycling in the dark pretty fun. We also show the 10-stages of brightness at the beginning of the video below:
Additionally, the Cube understandably heats up since it pours out 1500 lumens. This makes the entire thing really hot to handle with your bare hands at times. As a safety measure, the Lume Cube has an internal heat sensor that makes it shut down when it hits the maximum heat to ensure the internals won’t get damaged.
As for the battery life, the company claims that it could last for 30 continuous minutes when the brightness is at its highest. On 50%, it could last for 2 hours. Putting it to the test, it was able to last for about 18 minutes before it got too hot and shut itself down. After a few minutes, it turned on again for another 8-9 minutes — pretty close to the claimed duration. Charging takes about a bit more than an hour to refill the battery.
Lume Cube is a handy tool to have around especially when you’re traveling and plan to shoot along the way. Its form factor is small so you could just throw it in a bag along with your other shooting gear. We also like that it’s fully waterproof — eliminating the need to be extra careful when using it. The dedicated app, for us, still has a long way to go before it can make us use it and ditch our native Camera app. It’s a shame, really, since they were able to create an interesting hardware but fell short on the app’s software.
As a standalone lighting device, having a Lume Cube gives you flexibility since you can use more than one and control the intensity separately (and manually).
One Cube is priced for Php3,980 and getting two will set you back Php7,380. There are also other mounts and accessories for it which you can find below.
Lume Cube specifications:
1500 lumens (150 lux @ 9ft.)
Fully waterproof up to 100 feet
Rechargeable Li-Ion battery
6000K color temperature
1.5 x 1.5in. (dimensions)
What we liked about it:
- Compact design
- Durable casing
- Really bright
- 10stages of brightness
- Flexible lighting
What we didn’t like:
- Too hot to hold when used for a long time
- Unimpressive app