Verdict: 5 stars ★★★★★
You can get the same amount of light – and more – for a lot less money, but the Lumimuse 8 scores on build quality, its size/output ratio, convenient USB recharging and accessory filters. The Bluetooth control is surprisingly useful, too. (Sorry, but that natty little stand is separate.)
£105 is a lot to pay for a small LED light that clips on to your camera’s hotshoe, but then there’s a lot more to this kind of light than meets the eye, and there’s a lot more to the Lumimuse 8 in particular.
First, the basic specs. This is an 8-LED light with a power output of 550 lux at 1m. To put that in context, it’s not going to be much help out of doors in regular daylight, and it’s only going to come into its own after dark or indoors. In these situations, though, it provides a surprising amount of light for its size. You could use it as a sole light source in near-darkness or for supplementary light for window-lit portraits or still lifes, for example.
What can it do
The key here is not to think of the Lumimuse solely as a camera-mounted light. You can use it for that, but the light will always be flat and harsh, just as if you were using on-camera flash.
Instead, you should experiment by moving the light off-camera to control the direction of the light on your subject, light the background instead or even bounce the light off a reflective surface for a softer kind of illumination.
You need to keep in mind that there’s not a whole lot of power for these kinds of experiments. You press a button on the side of the Lumimuse to cycle through four different brightness settings, but even though the brightest looks pretty intense to the naked eye, it’s a long way short of the kind of power you get from even a modest flashgun.
This means you’ll need to bump up the ISO setting and probably use wider than usual lens apertures to get reasonable handheld shutter speeds. However, if you use a tripod the exposure times won’t matter and you can experiment a lot more freely without compromising the image quality.
This makes the Lumimuse very effective for still life shots, for example, or even for adding some targeted lighting in outdoor night shots. Its great advantage is that its continuous lighting. What you see is what you get, and you can use the camera’s own meter to gauge the exposure.
Your experiments can take on a new dimension when you use the three filters supplied in the box. Each filter has two small lugs for clipping them into the supplied filter holder, which attaches to the Lumimuse with a quick and simple snap fit. The filters and holder come in a separate circular box small enough to fit in a shirt pocket.
These filters include a diffuser to help soften the light (it does, a little, but not really by enough to notice) and two warming filters to help you match the colour of the lighting to ambient artificial lighting, for example, or to give portraits a warmer look.
In fact you can get further Multicolour, Portrait and Classic filter kits for £16.95 each, and each one contains 8 different filters that attach in the same way. Is this going a bit too far? Perhaps – but if you get bitten by the portable lighting bug it might be worth it.
Don’t forget that the Lumimuse can be used for video too. You wouldn’t use it for corporate shoots or commercial videography, but it’s perfect supplementary lighting for bloggers, vloggers and Instagram influencers.
Included in the box is a small square accessory shoe. You slide this into the base of the Lumimuse and you can then attach it to a camera hotshot or, via a tripod socket in the base, straight on to a tripod. This is where it gets interesting. You could attach it to one of Manfrotto’s now PIXI table-top tripods, for example, or to the brilliant MP3-D02 pocket camera stand, with its dinky little fold-out feet – both are sold separately.
Also available separately is a small ball head, which slots into the base of the Lumimuse where the shoe adaptor goes. The ball head doesn’t come in the box, even though it appears in some of Manfrotto’s product shots (tut tut). This is handy where you want to change the angle of the light but you’re not using a tripod with its own ball head.
So why Bluetooth?
So far so good – but surely the Bluetooth control is overkill? Actually, no – in fact it’s rather useful! You won’t need it if you’re shooting with the Lumimuse within arm’s reach, but if you start placing it in different parts of the scene to light specific areas, it really is useful to be able to adjust the intensity without having to keep going to over to the light. Manfrotto’s free Lumimuse app is super-simple to use, and once it’s been paired with the light it will automatically recognise it whenever it’s switched on and within range. In fact, the app can control separate Lumimuse lights too, adjusting the intensity for each independently. Oh, and there’s one more thing – while the button on the side of the Lumimuse offers just four different light levels, the app lets you set the intensity steplessly between 1 and 100%.
There are just two more things worth mentioning about the Lumimuse 8. The first is that its metal bodied construction feels in a completely different class to the cheap plastic alternatives flooding the market. The second is that it uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery rather than removable AAs. This will power it for around an hour between charges, and you can recharge it via a USB cable from your computer, laptop, mains adaptor or portable power bank. This is just so much better than relying on regular AA batteries.
Manfrotto Lumimuse 8 with Bluetooth verdict
The Lumimuse 8 isn’t cheap, but it’s beautifully made, pumps out a surprising amount of light for its size, and is powered by a convenient, reliable and easily recharged lithium-ion battery. You can have a lot of fun swapping out different-coloured filters, and the tripod adaptor makes it easy to try out much more experimental off-camera lighting. And with the Bluetooth control and the potential for adding more lights, this isn’t just a portable light, it’s part of a clever little lighting system.
Anything that gets you experimenting with light and photographic techniques has got to be a good thing, and for that alone the Lumimuse 8 deserves some serious consideration.
Find out more: Manfrotto website