LED lighting has come a long way since its introduction many years ago.
The first models had inconsistent light temperatures, low brightness and offered very little benefit over conventional light sources.
Like the first mirrorless cameras, LED has improved exponentially and has now become a great alternative.
Light wands are becoming a common occurrence on night shoots, and there are now hundreds of models of light panels. The advantage of LED is the WYSIWYG outcome and the compact size.
The Lume Cube 2.0 is a compact LED light. With a name that includes 2.0, you’ve probably guessed that this is the second iteration of the Lume Cube.
Let’s take a look at what it is and how it’s changed since the original.
Table of Contents
Lume Cube 2.0 Specs
- Battery life
- Needs a little more power to be more versatile
- Small light source poses challenges
- Hotshoe mount throws shadow with larger lenses
- 1.6″ x 1.6″ size (approx. the size of a Golf Ball)
- True Daylight Balanced 5600K Color Temp & 95+ CRI
- Custom Lens /w 80º Beam Angle and ZERO Hot Spots
- USB-C Charging
- Durable Aluminum Body & Water to 30 feet
- 750 LUX @ 1M
- 1.5 Hour Run Time @ 100% Output
- 2 Button Control System (increase & decrease brightness manually)
- Wirelessly Control via Lume-X iPhone/Android App from 60 feet away
- 360º Optical Sensor for Slave Flash Capability
- Built-in 1/4″ 20 for Tripod Mounting
- Low Light Mode (adjust in 1% increments) for Night Photography
- Accessories Included (Shoe Mount, Warming Gel, Diffuser, etc.)
In the box, you will find the following:
- Lume Cube 2.0 LED Light
- Modification Frame for mounting Gels & Diffusers
- Magnetic Softening Diffuser
- Magnetic Warming CTO Gel for warming colour temperature (down to 4500K)
- Camera Shoe Mount
- USB-C Charging Cable
- Quick Start Guide
The Cube 2.0 is constructed from aluminium, so durability shouldn’t be an issue. Button quality seems good – they required solid presses to work, but it’s not so excessive that I would have major concerns.
Unlike the previous model, the new version comes with a modification frame, gels/diffuser and a hotshoe mount.
The gel filter and diffuser are a mixture of plastic and magnets that are effective for what they’re designed to do. The magnets are strong enough to ensure they won’t fall off even with solid bumps.
One of the annoyances I had with the previous version was the coin-style cover on the rear to access the charging port. The new version uses a rubber cover for the charging port but is still waterproof.
It’s good to see they’ve now gone USB-C for the charging port over the micro-USB version they had in the past.
This is one of the first things I check for these days as I hate having to carry around too many cable types. (I was shocked when a new helmet Bluetooth headset from an established (and expensive) brand came with a mini-USB cable. Talk about lazy designing.)
Size & Handling
At about one and a half inches in size, the Lume Cube 2.0 is super small and portable.
Don’t be fooled by the small size, though – the light output is substantial. Bright enough to be extremely unpleasant if someone puts it in your face!
There are two buttons on the Lume Cube 2.0. The one on the left has a power icon and minus icon on it, the one on the right has a plus icon.
Hold down the power button for just over a second and the light turns on. Press the plus button to increase power. Press the minus button to decrease. Pretty easy.
There are some extra bits of functionality; some available in the app, some available through holding down buttons.
The low light mode is handy for gear photography, where pressing both buttons together for 3 seconds allows you to adjust the power from 1% to 10% in 1% increments.
The app functionality allows you to switch between continuous and strobe, adjust power or switch on redeye reduction.
The makers of the Lume Cube 2.0 claim it produces a 5600K daylight temperature. With my tests, I picked up around 5970K without the diffuser.
Add the diffuser, and it changes to 5640K, so the diffusion panel is required if you want something closer to 5600K. You do pay the price as you will lose power through the use of the diffuser.
The colour temperature changed to 5930K (without diffuser) at minimum power, so there isn’t much of a variation in colour temp across the power range from high to low.
The quality of light is fair considering the size of the unit and the cost. Obviously the warming gel will adjust this slightly.
With the Lume Cube 2.0 mounted on the hot shoe, there is one issue: If the lens is too long, it throws a shadow. To get around this, be sure to use it with smaller lenses or with the light off-camera.
Lume Cube claims 750Lux at 1 meter (around 3 feet). My tests seemed to indicate that it dropped to around 300Lux at a meter. I tested with the battery recharged.
Add the diffuser to the Lume Cube 2.0 and the power at 1 meter drops to about 150Lux. I needed to have it about 30cm away from the light meter to read 750Lux.
It’s still pretty bright for a unit that size, but it’s worth noting that it’s too small a light source to use for portraits (without a modifier). Unfortunately, the modifiers soften the light too much.
The lens photo was taken about 30cm from the subject at full power in a 25cm softbox, and it was just enough power for that.
If you’re planning on using the Cube for any portrait photography work, you have to work around the power limitations, and it’s not an ideal light source – see our guide to softbox lighting here.
I’d recommend bouncing it off a silver reflector or a beauty dish with a highly reflective surface. I tested it with a beauty dish (with the Lume Cube 2.0 taped to the back) and it wasn’t bad.
It was a substantial improvement over the diffuser and I think Lume Cube should consider making a reflective beauty dish. It would offer some better portrait options.
I don’t see this as a portrait lighting setup unless you’re looking at video applications with the light mounted on the hotshoe.
It’s also worth noting that these units don’t need to be a priming light source – you could use them to accentuate existing light. They’re powerful for their size and really easy to carry with you.
Value for Money
At around $90, the Lume Cube 2.0 is priced low enough to be accessible to the majority of photographers.
The question for many is whether it will be suitable for their requirements and, of course, only they’ll be able to answer that.
There aren’t many competitors, at least not in this size range.
Getting a more substantial light source is going to cost more. The Godox LC500 is one of the more cost-effective light wands and retails for more than twice the price. Plus it isn’t as easy to carry as the Lume.
The Lume Cube 2.0 is small enough to remain in your bag permanently where the LC500 would only be carried when required.
When you take that into account, and the flexibility of the Cube, I think the pricing is quite reasonable.
Lume Cube 2.0 Review | Conclusion
The Lume Cube 2.0 is a great improvement on the previous version. The diffuser and gels provide added flexibility, but it’s important to be aware of the power constraints.
The reality is that this is a 1.5″ light source and a pretty good one for the size. Expecting miracles out of that is setting yourself unrealistic expectations.
I’m going to leave one in my camera bag permanently as I think there are a lot of occasions where having it available will be an added advantage.
Combined with a compact reflector like a Lastolite Halo, this could offer some compact lighting options for emergencies (or when you haven’t planned on needing one).