Manfrotto Lumie Play LED camera light review
Manfrotto Lumie is a range of new compact, inexpensive, high performance photography lights. They sit below the high-end Manfrotto Spectra range of LED light panels but, as with most Manfrotto kit, would happily suit the prosumer or enthusiast level of photog.
My first experience with a light panel came by way of a suggestion from a professional photographer friend when I asked about how to get better results from shooting at shows, especially A/V expos. He suggested an extremely budget panel that did the trick but is also quite large and cumbersome.
There are three sizes of the Lumie light available: the smallest is the Lumie Play, which I have here, that features three LEDs. The medium-sized Lumie Art has six, and the largest, the Lumie Muse, has eight. As you’d expect, the bigger the unit the more light power it’s capable of outputting.
Manfrotto have recently rebranded this line which is now called Lumimuse.
Lumie Play design
All of the Lumie range packs Manfrotto’s new super-bright surface-mount LED technology. What this means is that the panels utilise fewer but bigger and brighter LEDs than the Spectra models.
The Play is loaded with three of these lights and the panel is really compact and sleek looking. Measuring only 1.1 x 3.4 x 2.3-inches / 28 x 86 x 59 mm and weighing just 73g the Play will happily fit in any pocket or camera bag.
What I really like is that instead of taking AA, AAA or even camera batteries (like my current panel), the Lumie series has a Li-Ion battery that recharges via Micro USB.
One remark needs to be made at this point though, be warned that the rubber plug that protects the micro USB port isn’t attached and, I for one, nearly lost it within seconds of opening the box and getting the Lumie Play out.
I have no complaints regarding the build quality of the Lumie Play at all and that’s to be expected from a brand such as Manfrotto.
Lumie Play performance
The colour balancing filters that come included in the Play bundle help adjust the colour temperature of the light and simply snap-fit onto the front.
The 3-step dimmer is also very useful to get the right amount of illumination on your subject. The colour temperature is quoted as being 5600° K – that might mean something to some of your but, all I can say, is that it is quite white.
Light output is 220lux and is bright enough to provide enough lighting on your subject without bleaching the scene. Above are three photos using the diffuser at the different lighting levels.
Using the included colour filter, you are better able to match the lighting with skin tones – ok, so the small rhino isn’t the ideal model, but above you have the 3 lighting levels with the colour filter on.
Mounted on top of my Canon EOS the Play is hardly noticeable in so far as weight is concerned. Even though I had rotary control with my monster lighting panel I found the three levels provided by the Play was enough in most situations and definitely more subtle than the built-in flash on the EOS.
The battery lasts around an hour of constant use so it is worth remembering to turn the light off in between rooms at an event such as Sound & Vision in Bristol. To this end, I would’ve liked a low battery warning or a way of checking the battery level so as not to be caught out.
The Lumie Play does have a green notification light just above the USB port which flashes when charging and lights when you press the button to go through the lighting levels, all it needs to do is appear red when the charge is low. Is it really that much to ask?
I realise that a ball mount is available but, for the play, I think that a simple hinged adjustment could have made it even better value.
Manfrotto Lumie Play review conclusion
I found the Lumie Play great for what I tend to snap which are mostly stationary objects – Hi-Fi, phones, headphones, etc.
The Play’s 3 LEDs are capable of covering this kind of thing and its small size allows me to get me in close at Hi-Fi shows.
Yes, the port protector could go missing at any moment and the panel is fixed in position but these aren’t deal breakers. Neither is the lack of a battery indicator – these are all ‘like to haves’ rather than must haves and I think Manfrotto knows this.
The Manfrotto Lumie Play is a very versatile and useful tool and, as my photography pal said, “flashes are so 2010”.
There are cheaper on the market but the Play is well priced for a lighting panel from such a respected manufacturer. Check out the Lumimuse range on the Manfrotto website.