When lighting is an issue while trying to shoot a photo or video, Ultimaxx’s LED Light Kit may be just small enough to help lighten things up.
Size does matter when it comes to this piece of kit. The Ultimaxx LED Light Kit is a small light running on a rechargeable battery that also comes with a variety of ways to mount it. You can use it with a camera or smartphone, and requires no digital connection, nor any real physical legwork to set it up.
The light itself is made up of 36 LEDs arrayed along a panel, housed inside a chassis measuring just under 2.5-inches on every side. The squared form factor makes it fairly small when compared to larger LED lights out there, and at 65 grams, it’s lightweight too.
At the bottom lies the traditional hot shoe screw mount, easily tightened by turning the dial above the shoe. The design means you can mount it a few different ways. The screw underneath will work with any tripod or monopod, while the hot shoe slides right into the mount cameras have as standard for external flashes, lights, and microphones.
The sides and top have their own mounts. Ultimaxx did this to enable users to attach and stack multiple lights together in an interlocking fashion. It can be as small or as large as you need it to be, but beyond six of these lights, you may as well just get a larger light with higher brightness.
The built-in diffuser keeps the light coming off softer, despite the fact there is no dial to dim its intensity. The battery compartment is easy to open and slide the battery in. Flipping the on/off switch is easy enough to do on the back.
Ultimaxx includes two batteries with the light, letting you quickly switch when you run out of juice. Both are lithium-ion rechargeables and come with a dedicated charger that you plug into an outlet.
Then there’s the aluminum straight bracket. This is in case you want to set up the light on either side of a camera. Attach one mount to the camera, and then the other to the light—convenient if you need the camera’s hot shoe for something else.
Technically, Ultimaxx doesn’t mention smartphones in this scenario, but there’s no reason you can’t do it. What you’ll need, though, is a spring-loaded bracket that can mount onto the screw. I tried it and it was pretty good, except for the lack of a handle to better control movement.
Using the Ultimaxx LED Light Kit
The light has a 180 Lux brightness, equivalent to a 180-watt halogen bulb. Its range is up to 25 feet and has a 65-degree illumination angle with a 5600k colour temperature. Basically, what that comes down to is a bright white light with a relatively narrow field of view. It’s better when mounted on top of a camera, but tilt it slightly when it’s to the side, and you get a nice effect anyway.
For me, shooting video as I review products here on the blog, I was interested in seeing how versatile this light could be. It can function in both a primary or supportive role. For example, if I slid it onto my camera’s hot shoe, I had a focused set of light facing the subject. If I held it with my free hand, or propped it up on a tripod on either side of the subject, I had a different look to work with.
The built-in diffuser is fine, but without the ability to dim the intensity, I improvised by using a white piece of paper in front of it. Basically, anything that is white and can allow some light to pass through should work reasonably well to dim and soften all at once. You can experiment with colour gels—flimsy plastic pieces of different colours—to play around with shades and colours that way.
Using the whole kit with a smartphone is convenient because it feels like one large piece, but it’s not as practical. One thing I found that helped was the tightening wheel, which has a screw mount itself. A reasonably short selfie stick essentially becomes a handle to better articulate the angle and keep it all stable.
I didn’t get a chance to add additional lights to create a wider and brighter field, though I wish I did. Having some modularity to any light source when shooting photos or video is nice.
Battery and recharging
Ultimaxx rates the battery to last for two hours per charge. That wasn’t exactly what I experienced, but it’s close. I never had the light on for two hours straight when using it. For the purposes of this review, I tried leaving it on. I noted a dimmer intensity after 90 minutes. About 15 minutes later, it dimmed further and then was done five minutes later.
Turning it on and off repeatedly as necessary to conserve energy helped it last longer, albeit over time. I went days before having to replace it with the full-charged second battery.
The LED Light Kit is a niche accessory filling a particular need. You won’t be looking for this if you’re shooting random photos with your phone. But if you do need portable light sources for your photography and videography, this is an option.
However, it is a pretty focused light. It doesn’t spread out quite as wide on its own, which is why Ultimaxx made it modular. You can attach more of them if you want wider and brighter light, so long as you’re okay with carrying additional pieces.