The Lume Cube is a pocket-sized auxiliary LED light for use with both still and video cameras. It was introduced at the PhotoPlus show last fall with a splashy campaign and lots of fanfare, but does this little light live up to the hype? We’ve been testing it for four months with five different evaluators and found while it’s quite useful for $80, but it does have some shortcomings.
The Lume Cube is available in Black, Silver and Gunmetal (not shown) color schemes
Whether planned or not, the Lume Cube came out after the GoPro Session camera, and matches that form-factor, as well as the Polaroid Cube, which GoPro allegedly ripped off. However, unlike the Knog [qudos], another GoPro LED, which we previously reviewed, the Lume Cube has a few tricks up its sleeve for still photographers who are looking to supplement their front facing flash. The Lume Cube comes with a free companion app (iOS & Android), allowing you to tweak basic parameters. However, if you want to control multiple Lume’s (up to five), and make additional adjustments, the company requires you upgrade to the $2.99 paid version. Why they decided to punish their customers who buy more than one unit by nickel and dime-ing for an app upgrade is beyond marketing comprehension, but that’s the deal. For going into your wallet a second time, the Pro version allows you to adjust the level of the light output, change your flash duration, turn on a red-eye reduction mode (doesn’t work very well), and turn on/off the optical trigger. The app also provides a battery level indication, as well as the Bluetooth connection strength from your phone to the cube.
The Lume Cube Pro app for iOS and Android is available for an additional $2.99
The Lume Cube measures 1.5” on each side and claims to punch out up to 1500 Lumens of Cree LED light at a 6000K color temperature. However, it’s not exactly lightweight for its diminutive size, and many will think twice about packing it for a night out on the town just to augment their selfies. That said, the density of the Lume showcases its top-flight build quality and robust nature. The aluminum enclosure claims to be waterproof down to 100’ – one of our reviewers tested the unit scuba diving in the Caribbean down to 60’ and experienced no problems. At full brightness, he found the Lume Cube’s internal rechargeable battery lasted about 22 minutes, which was most of his dive. Lume Cube’s battery will last much longer at reduced brightness, although your mileage may vary depending which one of the 10 different levels you choose. While not everyone will take the Lume Cube diving, the waterproof feature and small size makes it a great companion for filming in wet or muddy environments, which was what another one of our reviewers did when taking it spring skiing.
With the 1/4″-20 female thread on the bottom, our reviewer was able to attach it to her extension pole with a Joby action clamp. “I got great results by positioning the Lume Cube just off-center line of the camera to provide a nice fill light.” To further test the unit, as well as cause serious embarrassment to herself, she also strapped it on to her Chesty during that annual spring skiing, rite-of-passage, the pond skim. She made it about five feet before face-planting in the mud. The Lume Cube came out unscathed. She didn’t fare so well.
Where the unit fell flat (pun intended) was in the still photography arena with flash sync. The Lume Cube has a built-in optical sensor and when hit with a strobe, the unit is supposed to fire a complementary flash. The documentation that comes with the Lume Cube is “piss-poor at best,” according to the still photographer and his results trying to get it to fire appropriately were about the same. Even using a top of the line external flash unit, the Lume only fired about 20% of the time.
The reality is while the concept of using the Lume as a miniature flash unit sounds nice on the spec sheet, continuous light is where the unit makes its money. The Pro app works quite well, provided you’re line of site and not farther away than 25′. And even if you can only get the flash to work some of the time, you do have the ability to adjust the brightness of the output.
For still photography, our reviewers found it works great with macro shoots where you may need to fill in or highlight a particular feature. The ten levels of brightness add substantial versatility to your delicate lighting needs. For videography, the Lume works great as an eye light, as well as a way to highlight certain background elements without having to set up a whole rig. In fact, Lume packages the Cubes in a Four-Pack, which brings the price down to about $50 each. Marry that to the Pro app, and you can control up to five at once, instead of having to adjust each one separately. Interestingly enough, you’ll find that unless you use the Lume Cube’s on a daily basis, you’ll gravitate to the app, since trying to relearn the unmarked buttons on the top, as well as the combinations to get them to do what you want, is cumbersome.
Lume Cube has developed several innovative accessories, including a smartphone mount, DJI Drone mounts and a side-by-side GoPro mount
The Lume Cube is a compelling lighting solution for micro video productions, or pro users who may want a fast and dirty way of solving lighting problems on set. It’s only major competition is the aforementioned Knog [qudos], which does have removable batteries and a slender silhouette, but not an app for making much needed adjustments. In addition, Lume makes a terrific double lighting mount for a GoPro Session rig, and sells the Cubes in packages for increased value. Recommended.
The Lume Cube costs $79.95 and is available now.
+ Build Quality
+ Light Output
+ Brightness Levels
+ Excellent companion app
+ Waterproof to 100′
+ Small Size
+ 1/4″-20 connection
– Pro App costs $2.99
– Unmarked buttons
– Internal Battery
– Sync Flash Performance
– Can Get Very Hot