Having a compact light source in your bag is always useful, from adding a little fill light to helping illuminate a difficult to shoot subject. The Manfrotto Lumimuse8 is one of the smallest and most powerful LED’s out there. Now with the addition of Bluetooth for remote control, it could well be a kit bag essential.
Build quality is typically Manfrotto, well designed, solid and stylish. From the outset, this feels like a quality piece of kit. In the box alongside the lamp and micro USB charging cable, there’s a 1/4-inch hot-shoe adapter and two clipin orange filters along with a diffuser.
Once charged and ready to go the power button can be held down for three seconds to connect through Bluetooth to the Manfrotto Lumimuse App, only available sadly for iOS.
In use the lamp performs well, adding light where needed and it’s surprising just how much light those small LEDs can kick out 550 lux to be exact.
The Lumimus8 LED with Bluetooth is an impressive piece of kit and well worth a look if you need a light that can be controlled remotely. The wireless control is an incredible feature and really makes this lamp stand out against others.
If you’re an Android user then opt for the cheaper Lumimuse 8 LED, you’ll save yourself £30 over the Bluetooth version that you can’t connect to anyway.
It surprising just how handy a small lighting source is. Pop it into a scene to lift shadows, dial it down to add fill light or use it to splash a constant source of illumination into a close-up time-lapse.
The Lumimuse8 despite its small size is incredibly powerful and with Bluetooth connectivity it’s an ideal solution for all sorts of environments.
Being Manfrotto the price is expensive so the big question is, is it really worth the money and do you pay extra for the Bluetooth?
Illumination and colour accuracy is at the heart of all lighting. As you’d expect from Manfrotto the stated accuracy of the lamp is >92.
As there is no on-device colour adjustment, it’s balanced at 5600k, essentially daylight, and Manfrotto has included a couple of orange clip-on filters to balance the light under different conditions.
The two orange filters balance Tungsten light and then there’s a soft diffuser to tone down the slightly harsh LED illumination.
Illumination without the filters and at full blast is 550 Lux, this is around 50w and offers surprising power for such a small light.
Internally there’s a rechargeable battery that will last for about an hour at full blast. There are four power settings and dropping the brightness down to the lowest setting you’ll get around 5 hours of light.
As the LEDs are quite tightly packed together the throw of the beam isn’t huge, this is a close proximity light best used for still life, portraits or adding light into a scene to lift shadows. The beam angle is 50º.
There are two versions of the lamp, the standard 8 which retails for around £80/$104 and the Bluetooth version for £109/$134 which I’ll be looking at in this test.
Bluetooth enables you to control the lamp through an App for iOS, if you’re an Android user then you’ll have to settle for the standard version as there isn’t an Android App.
Charging and possibly firmware updates in the future can be applied through the Micro USB port on the side.
Build Quality and Handling
As Manfrotto show on their site, the Lumimuse is about the same size as a cassette tape, if your unsure what one of these is, then it’s about the same size as a pack of cards, maybe a bit smaller.
There are no two ways about it the Lumimuse is high quality with a tough shell and ergonomic design that reflects the quality of the Manfrotto brand.
On the front are the eight powerful LED lights that project the 550 Lux of illumination. The surround features a simple design that enables you to click in filters with the aid of the filter holder.
The filters and holder are all simple enough and the three that come in the box will get you started with balancing tungsten light and diffusing the intensity of the LEDs.
As well as the two filters and diffusers included in the box there are three aftermarket accessories that can be purchased for around £15/$20 a piece. These kits offer a garish multi colour selection, classic and portrait options.
On the side is the large power button that once the light is switch on enables you to switch between the different brightness settings, on the other side is the micro USB and activity light; green on, flashing Blue pairing.
On the base is a slot for the hot shoe adapter. The adapter is a simple H affair and has a 1/4-inch thread on the base so it can be screwed into a Pixi tripod if needed or slotted directly into your cameras hot shoe.
In use without connecting to Bluetooth, the Lumimuse works fantastically well. Pop it in place select the power and you’re ready to shoot. The inclusion of the filters gives you a few more options for creative effects and it’s size and weight make it incredibly easy to manipulate and move.
As a compact light, my initial thoughts were that it would be relatively limited in use, but as time goes I found it a handy go-to source of light when additional illumination was needed.
The only issue is the spread of the light isn’t as great as large lighting systems, but this is a compromise for the size.
Adjusting power is easy enough, but as the light is small and the spread is limited changing the power often means picking up the light and then having to reposition.
Not, a huge issue I know, and one that you resign yourself too as a photographer. Constantly moving props, lighting, objects and diffusers to get the lighting just right.
This is where the Bluetooth option really kicks in. Once connected you can load the app and then you have control over the brightness of the lamp.
A slider at the top of the screen enables you to adjust the brightness and works fluidly.
Again as with some of the other Manfrotto Apps, things are a little limited and the workflow of the App although functional has certain quirks.
As default the App boots into phone camera mode so you get a preview from your phone’s camera on screen. Great if you’re using the lamp with your phone but not so if you’re using it with your camera.
Tap the slider icon at the top, and the screen changes to just the slider which can then be moved up and down to adjust the brightness. Simple but very effective.
Having the default set to the phone camera does make sense, but a way to set the preferences for your prefered default mode, i.e without the phones camera kicking in, would have been a nice addition.
It’s a small box that packs a lot of power. Used as a standalone light and the illumination is impressive and in use mounted on a Pixi became invaluable during two photo shoots I’ve been on this week.
It fits in places that other lights just can’t go and with a little tape to hold it in place it added illumination in places that I would usually be resigned to losing in shadow.
The design also made it easy to handle and the slightly curved design and texture on the back enable you to get a better purchase on it as you move and shift it around.
Mounting the light on to a camera and it worked well with the diffuser for adding a subtle fill light to video and portrait.
I did find that the diffuser was a constant, as the small LEDs can be harsh if left uncovered.
The adaptability of the lamp really made it stand out from larger LEDs panels that I consider small. Although not as large or as powerful as the Rotolight Neo 2’s I found in many cases the Lumimuse was just enough.
The mounting options along with the size also made it ideal for use on camera, although a little more height from the camera would have been good in some instances with longer lenses.
Used in combination with a hot shoe mountable ball head and the use of the light was transformed for Macro work at the lowest light setting, and it also acted well as fill in when used off camera for portraits.
But, these are all features that the £30 cheaper Lumimuse 8 offers, so is the additional cost of Bluetooth worth it?
If you’re an Android user then no, as there isn’t an Android App so having Bluetooth on the lamp is pointless.
For iOS users, an additional £30 does seem like quite a steep price to pay for the addition of Bluetooth, but then it’s convenience that you’re paying for.
The difference between having and not having the Bluetooth feature is stark, once you’ve tried it, it’s hard to go back.
Yes, £30 is a lot to pay for what seems like a relatively small additional feature, but it is a non-essential essential.
One thing that is consistent with Manfrotto’s consumer Bluetooth enabled products is that the hardware is spot on with bucket loads of potential, but then you get to the app.
Look at the Digital Director and the Lykos lights, all brilliant products that are functional with well thought out apps that make your life as a photographer easier.
Then you look at the Pixi Pano and now the Lumimuse8 with Bluetooth, brilliant hardware but slightly convoluted Apps.
The apps work, but the workflow of each just misses the point. The products have so much potential but then your hit with the feeling that the products have solely been designed for use with iPhone.
On using the Lumimuse8 you can see it’s potential and it is a brilliant device, you can then connect the App and it boots to the iPhones camera which is just annoying.
Clicking on the sliders takes you through to the screen that you want and all is good. It’s not so much the need to tap the slider icon to shut down the phone’s camera and isolate the slider you need, more the initial confusion when the App starts previewing the desk, your lap or something else rather than letting you just get on and use its base function.
Then there’s the fact that the App isn’t available for Android, iPhone may have been dominant for the last decade, but now Android leads the field and that cuts out the Bluetooth features for an increasing amount of photographers.
The function of the light is also so good that one just doesn’t seem enough, but add another and there’s no ability to adjust two lights at the same time or individually through the App.
That said, it’s easy enough to navigate around and locate the function and features that you need, and on that front the function for a single light is excellent.
Clip on filters and the inclusion of the hot shoe mount all show the expertise and experience that come from the Manfrotto stable.
The conclusion is that the Lumimuse8 is a little steeply priced but well worth the money. It’s powerful, versatile and does what you want it to do, but at the back of your mind, you know it could do so much more if the App was just that much better.