A must-have for mobile photography.
They say that the best camera is the one you have with you. Well, in my case, that would be my iPhone 12 Pro. While I love the feel of a DSLR, my iPhone is constantly by my side, and therefore, it ends up capturing 99% of the photos I take these days. Even though the iPhone 12 Pro’s camera adjusts beautifully for low-light situations, it still takes better photos when there is proper lighting available. Most people wouldn’t think about carrying around light with their iPhone on the off case that you might need extra lighting for photos. But, iPhoneographers would think about that and that’s what the LumeCube Panel Mini is designed for.
The Panel Mini by LumeCube is a small bi-color LED panel light. It’s about the size of a credit card and it has an easy-to-use display screen. The light comes with a frosted lens for built-in diffusion (additional softening diffuser included) and simple controls. The light can be adjusted between 1% and 100% brightness and it has a color temperature range between 3200k-5600k. There are two 1/4” 20 tripod mounts built-in and the light has a CRI > 96. The battery runtime is up to 14 hours at 1% (1.2 hours at 100%).
What’s in the Box
- One (1) LED Light Panel
- One (1) USB-C Charging Cable
- One (1) DSLR Mini Shoe Mount
- One (1) Silicon White Softening Diffuser
The Panel Mini comes in a simple well-branded box. It’s made from some sort of reinforced/wrapped cardboard. The package is very strong and will keep the light secure when it’s in transit. The light has a few accessories that are shipped with, but it is pretty self-contained in its case. One of the things I really like about this light is its super simple controls. There is a power button that also functions as the ‘mode’ button. Once the light is turned on by a long, 3-second press, you can press the mode button to cycle between brightness and color temperature. Then you can adjust either of those settings by toggling the dial beneath the power/mode button. The light recharges using USB-C (cable included). This was refreshing to me because I’ve seen a lot of smaller accessories like this that still recharge using Micro USB, which I feel is outdated technology. I’m also just really glad to see that it’s rechargeable in general because some smaller lights like this do run off of batteries, too.
I’ve grown accustomed to using the LumeCube Air for most of my mobile photography, but I have found that I actually like the Panel Mini better. It is much more portable and easier to carry around with an iPhone than the LumeCube Air. It’s also easier to handle. Because it’s a flat rectangle, it’s easy to hold in the palm of your hand and position while you take a photo with your iPhone in the other hand. I also like that it can stand up on its own on a flat surface. The light provides a maximum of 550 lux of brightness at a half-meter distance, which is perfect for smaller tabletop photography sessions. I think the silicone diffuser that is included really helps soften the light when you use it close-up and it makes it easy to use.
To show what a difference the Panel Mini can make in a photo, I’ve taken a photo of my keyboard and shown it without any supplemental lighting, then with the Panel Mini at full power on 3200K (warm) and 5600K (cool). I used my iPhone 12 Pro to take the photo and it did a little bit of automatic lighting adjustment, but you can still see the difference between the available light set-up and the photos taken using the Panel Mini.
This tiny light is perfect for supplemental lighting. I love that it’s so portable and easy to just drop into a pocket or camera bag – even smaller ones. Even though it only provides white light, the variety of color temperature and brightness intensity really comes in handy. I think the Panel Mini really is a must-have for any photographer.