By Dan Brotman, Editor-In-Chief
Special To Future Filmmaking
As part of their continued expansion into portable LED lighting, Manfrotto has released the ML360H Midi Hybrid, a LED targeted towards entry level DSLR owners who are looking to add a versatile auxiliary light for video applications. With it’s included plastic flash shoe mount, it is made to be utilized on top of a DSLR, but can be implemented on a stand, or other supports via its standard 1/4″ thread.
We tested the ML360H with four different reviewers (their observations in quotes below) and found the unit to be a worthwhile contender, but not a standout due to several shortcomings. The ML360H falls right in the middle of Manfrotto’s Continuous LED Lighting range between the $49.95 Pocket 12 and the $289.99 Maxima 84 (numerals indicate the number of LEDs in each unit). The ML360H has a couple of unique features including a 0-100% dimmer, battery or AC power, and the ability to be used as a flash.
Manfrotto claims the ML360H delivers 420 LUX at a distance of 3 feet via it’s 36 continuous light LEDs at a constant temperature of 5600°K Daylight. We weren’t able to replicate that figure, and “the light drops off dramatically at real world distances of 6-8 feet.” With a limited effective range, “the dimming feature won’t get much use aside from close up product photography/video work, but it does execute well in that application.” Interestingly, Manfrotto chose a matte, black backing behind the LED diodes instead of a white or reflective surface, which would have certainly helped its output.
» Mounting Method: Double Shoe Mount
» Battery life – Alkaline: 36 min
» Battery life – NiMh (1000mAh): 1 hr Claimed (not tested)
» Battery Type: 4 x AAA
» Beam Angle: 30 degrees
» Color Temperature: 5600K
» CRI: 80
» Dimmable: 0%-100%
» Flash Mode: yes
» Luminosity: 126 lumen
» LUX: 400
» Number of LEDs: 36
» Recycle time: 110 ms
» Weight: 0.44 lbs
The ML360H’s chassis is an all plastic affair, which cuts down on weight. Our reviewers found the plastic to be durable with no problems encountered with the included ball joints. However, we would “suggest carrying the light encased in a microfiber cloth,” since the “clear lens scratches very easily.”
At this price point, which is significantly more expensive than competing products with close to the same feature set, as well as the Manfrotto marquee, our reviewers expected more from the ML360H Midi Hybrid. It was able to execute on it’s product promise to an extent, but not enough that we can recommend the ML360H without reservations.
+ Hybrid Technology
+ Does Not Get Hot
+ Product or Macro Photo/Video
+ Included Power Adapter & Sync Cable
– Could Be Brighter
– Scratches Easily
– Short Battery Life
– Flash Just OK
Manfrotto’s ML360H costs $185.95 and can be purchased via Amazon.
The Future: In our long-term test there were a few items that should be revisited should Manfrotto decide to revamp their ML LED lineup. The clear plastic lens needs to be resourced since it picks up scratches faster than dog hair on a black couch. We would also suggest replacing the black backing LED plate to something more reflective to facilitate additional output. And, any improvement to battery life would certainly be welcomed.