Litepanels MicroPro LED Camera light Mini Review

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Lightpanels.jpgLitepanel MicroPro photographic lighting grabbed my attention when I walked into a Canon Pro day late last year. An off camera light that didn’t heat up, used AA batteries but didn’t drain them in minutes, is easy to carry around and relatively small…

The compact little unit that is the MicroPro is very easy to stow in my camera bag and lightweight enough to mount on my hot shoe should I want to. It has a neat little (Included) swivel bracket that sits between your hot shoe and the MicroPro unit itself. It is a well designed product that is easy to use – it’s on or off with a rotating dial to control how much light you want in-between.. from 100% to 0… It will run for about 6 hours if you keep it down low and if you crank it, you’re going to get about 1.5 hours out of it – these are factory figures, my garlic wasn’t going to sit there for an hour and a half!

Litepanels MicroPro Review

I didn’t have a model, I got creative with Garlic…

All shot with Canon 5DMk2 / 24-70 f/2.8L

Garlic – 1/160th @ f/4.5 (ISO 400) – Light just out of frame
Roses – 1/60th @ f/2.8 (ISO 400) – Light about a foot above subject
Ugly Bloke – 1/20th @ f/6.3 (I was mucking about!) (ISO400) – Light about 2? away


For these photos I was using 1.2v rechargeable batteries (I love my 2850’s – Ansmann 2850mAh) and I’m not sure if that was effecting the light output or not.

Specifications for those of you that like the numbers…

  • Size: 5.5″ W x 4″ H x 1. 5″ D
  • (139mm x 101.6mm x 38.1mm)
  • Weight: 10.5 oz (300g)
  • Power Draw: 9 Watts
  • Six AA batteries (internal)
  • 5600°K Daylight Output (cool white)

What are the advantages?

  • Heat-free LED technology
  • Produces bright, HD friendly soft light
  • Integrated dimmer 100% to 0
  • All-in-one with no external cables
  • Absolutely flicker-free light output
  • Runs 1 to 1.5 hrs. on 6 AA batteries (HD Alkaline)
  • 5 – 6 hours on E2 Lithium batteries
  • Uses standard or rechargeable batteries
  • Lightweight and compact

But does it work?

The short answer is yes, if you’re in nice and close! From about 2′ away the Litepanels MicroPro will give you a nicely lit portrait, any further than about 2′ though and you’re starting to push the limits of what is usable. I didn’t have a model and frankly you’re better off not having let me do self portraits… I had some near dead roses and some left over garlic from dinner… So I played with the MicroPro with what I had. I actually really like the results of the MicroPro on still life’ish stuff.

Litepanels MicroPro Review

Litepanels MicroPro on old roses…

If you’re working in tight and want a light to fill in shadows or provide some interest, this could be the light for you. You can have it in dead close as it doesn’t heat up unless you drop it in a toaster oven!

Well, actually, here’s what I did just now, a snap shot if you will…

Litepanels MicroPro Review Gtvone

Quick, turn away before your eyes explode!

Hand-held with the light about two feet away (That’s 6o.96 centimetres folks) a bit to my left.

I like the MicroPro for fill and adding interest, but not as a main light. What are your thoughts?

Get a price on the Lightpanels MicroPro LED Camera light on Amazon.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Litepanels MicroPro LED Camera light Mini
Author Rating
3

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Sime (aka #gtvone) is the customer support manager for dPS, and lead blogger in our Cameras and Gear Blog. He's a Melbourne based photographer, www.gtvone.com and please feel free to follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

  • Franklin

    I wonder how this compares…. at least to the micro not the pro:

    http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.33297

  • Hey Franklin, Yeah, not sure – interesting though – in that link I found this…

    “Cons: * CANNOT be used with rechargeable AA batteries (which each supply only 1.2V not 1.5V). Proper alkaline batteries must be used or your light will be useless”

    Which is what I have been using in the LITE panels product…

    Sime

  • Chris

    $500 for that?! I could pick up a couple SB’s and some modifiers for that much.

  • I’d like to know what f-stop/shutter-speed you were using when you took these photos. It looks as though the MicroPro has a very short throw, but I’d need to know the rest of your setup first.

    As is, this might be a nice addition for macro work. However, after looking up the price I was rather shocked (at $400). I can buy a regular off camera flash for the same amount of money, which would yield much more use.

    But in the future, as LED’s come down in price, items like this could be useful for macro work.

    I believe the draw for these items is more for video than photo. But even in those scenarios it looks as though the light output might not be sufficient as a main light.

  • Hey Ron, It is quite short…

    All shot with Canon 5DMk2 / 24-70 f/2.8L

    Garlic – 1/160th @ f/4.5 (ISO 400) – Light just out of frame
    Roses – 1/60th @ f/2.8 (ISO 400) – Light about a foot above subject
    Ugly Bloke – 1/20th @ f/6.3 (I was mucking about!) (ISO400) – Light about 2′ away

    I work in video (day job) and you’re right, there is more draw that I’ve seen in video for these lights – I can see a great application in Macro, as you said… good control over the light and infinite adjustment could make for some really interesting stuff.

    Sime

  • I would have to say that for the price the convenience, size and power cannot compete with a speedlight. Also, since I never tend to use the light unmodified, I can see where this will become an issue if you lose a stop in a typical softbox.

    As a fill light it might be useful, but I often like my fill to be very large so I would probably end up reflecting this tiny source on a wall, and with the power level it has it might not be very useful. The cost is what kills the deal for me. It it was around $100, I would probably have a few of them just for accent lights.

    http://www.lightshootedit.com

  • I should add however, that I really did enjoy your post. Even if I think the product is a bit overpriced and underpowered, you sure did a great job of exploring it and passing on the info about the product. Well done sir.

  • Hey Scott, thanks… How are the Alien Bee 1600’s working out for you? (Cool blog, btw) I almost went with AB’s but ended up with Elinchrom… (UK distrib for AB’s almost non-existent!) –Sime

  • Wow, I hadn’t thought about getting something like this before, but I do like what it did for those roses.

  • Chris

    It’s funny that it is $400.00+. Truthfully you can get white or light blue LED’s on the cheap. Actually, I may make one just to see the cost.

  • Sime

    Chris, you make one and document it in pictures… And we’ll write about it – your time starts….. NOW! 😉

    sime

  • Zim

    That’s the best garlic shot I’ve ever seen. Interesting unit!

  • I like how the lighting works on the roses. $400 does seem pretty steep for something that is not recommended as a main light, at least to me.

  • As a wedding shooter that uses video light, I do agree that the halogen type of light is cumbersome and the battery only lasts 20minutes, LED would be a fantastic alternative. But 1/20th second @f6.3 two feet waay, that is not enough juice to light a bride at 6feet I’m sure.

    When the prices reach the real value of the components and they use higher output LEDs I’ll consider it.

  • Rodrick

    After looking at the product pictures I calculated the MicroPro has probably no more than 200 LEDs. A bit of google search lead me to this particular LED http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-bin/store/index.cgi?action=DispPage&Page2Disp=%2Fspecs%2FW18030.htm which I believe is at least as powerful (if not more) than the ones the MicroPro uses. 200 LEDs would cost $158 + ship + tax. Less potent LEDs are a bit cheaper but they will still cost more than $100. You will also need some not too fancy electronics that add to the costs but overall I think the main components and other materials would be less than $200. Then, however, you have to assemble the whole thing in such a way that it doesn’t come appart (or ignite) at the moment you try to turn it on. Not to mention it needs to cast an even light on your subject (mind about LED alignment). The MicroPro is still way too expensive since I’m sure Litepanels cuts a lot of the costs via mass-production in China (my guess is each unit costs them roughly $200). But for the average guy this is a quite challenging and no so cheap endeavor. Unless, of course, you’re the average guy who knows his way around electronics assembly/design and you have a couple hundred LEDs lying around. By the way, I don’t know for a fact that these are made in China. I’m just assuming since everything is, er, made in China.

  • Franklin

    Cost is a major concern for the product in this review … I guess one can buy several of the china knockoffs in the link i posted. If it’s just an array of LEDs i’m not sure where reliability comes in; it’s just a board with LEDs.

    How exactly do you hold the video light when ur using them in a wedding?

  • Franklin, With your hand? On the hot shoe? On a stand? In your teeth!! (It really is very light)

    There are many various models / knock-offs of this product around…

  • Mary Anne

    Chris – I’d be very curious about what you can put together, too. I like the IDEA of this, but don’t have the money to spend, as I’m truly an amateur/hobby photographer.

    I’ve used my Ottlite craft light for some still lifes at home, and it gives a nice, fairly “natural” light that works out well and cost me about $30 on sale, with a coupon.
    I’m still waiting on my husband to build me a light tent 🙂

  • Franklin

    Haha, yes i could use those. but with the hot shoe mount I’m just curious how ppl usually hold it in their hands.

  • Hey Franklin, I just sort of held it in my left hand, shot with my right – though that isn’t ideal, and holding a Canon 5DMk2 with a battery grip and a 24-70mm lens is quite tricky! — I guess, Ideally, I’d like an attachment that is sort of bendy, it would attach to a tripod or a light stand and be flexible and let me move the MicroPro around into any position… Might have to make something — Sime

  • Like the others, seems really nice until you realize it’s $400 and only good at a 2′ working distance. $400 buys two 285HV’s, light stand brackets, and modifiers / gels.

  • Jer

    Everyone’s comparing this to speedlites and that’s silly. This has one major difference from a standard flash: it’s continuous light, and therefore you get this if you plan on doing video, not stills. If you’re doing event coverage and interviews with your DSLR you’ll probably want something like this. If all you do is stills your money is 100% better spent on something else.

  • thanks Sime, I have been wanting more info on these lights Im saving for one and think it will be just what i need for weddings when light challenged. Many thanks PJ

  • YukonDar

    a photographer friend of mine discovered this light http://www.canadiantire.ca/AST/browse/3/HouseHome/Lighting/WorkLights/PRD~0525085P/NOMA%252BLED%252BRechargeable%252BTrouble%252BLight.jsp?locale=en (hope the link works). He uses it as a fill light and said it works really well. Just needs a rig for mounting if needed…

  • Judith

    Thanks for the Canadian Tire link, yukondar. I’ve been using a similar product from Canadian Tire (as a continuous/fill light) for quite a while. When you use 2 or more, they provide a nice even light and enough power/brightness for a small studio. It took a little modification (and duct tape) to create a stand for them but just use you imagination!

  • Eeps

    You’ll find a lot of LED based continuous light systems on ebay and they go for less than a 10th of what this one costs. I’m not sure of quality or effects produced by those lights but maybe the poster could experiment with those too. Do a comparison test or something.

  • Russell Wilson

    Hey, looks really “cool” man, sorry for the pun, unintentional at the time, but it’s highly appropriate.
    Your article’s a little bit “misleading” or confusing though,as are the shots on the Litepanels site — it looks like a much less powerful than it is — especially liked the garlic shots, but light just out of the frame (only to reduce the spill of the light, for effect) and also would seem a cheaper product than it actually is — and it is NOT cheap, checked with my local supplier in New Zealand and it’s $800+tax — sheesh! I had placed it on my “lighting on a budget” list for my private blog site, obviously it is “lighting on a budget”, if your name’s Donald Trump 🙂

    Truly, Litepanels looks to make some really cool and great products, but they’re way out of my league.
    Cheers,
    Rusty

  • I have been using the Micro pro lite panels for the past two years and I find them an invaluable field resource for low budget productions. Additionally I have been using duracell rechargeable batteries and have not had any problems. There is however one very serious problem, they are faulty and I am not sure what the cause is. I own two of them and they now no longer function, so I don’t imagine that I have been unlucky twice (though that is not beyond the realm of possibility.) I purchased a new lite panel in December last year and I am ready to throw it in traffic. Anyone had a similar experience?

Some Older Comments

  • Paolo Kernahan September 30, 2011 02:10 pm

    I have been using the Micro pro lite panels for the past two years and I find them an invaluable field resource for low budget productions. Additionally I have been using duracell rechargeable batteries and have not had any problems. There is however one very serious problem, they are faulty and I am not sure what the cause is. I own two of them and they now no longer function, so I don't imagine that I have been unlucky twice (though that is not beyond the realm of possibility.) I purchased a new lite panel in December last year and I am ready to throw it in traffic. Anyone had a similar experience?

  • Russell Wilson April 19, 2010 06:43 am

    Hey, looks really "cool" man, sorry for the pun, unintentional at the time, but it's highly appropriate.
    Your article's a little bit "misleading" or confusing though,as are the shots on the Litepanels site -- it looks like a much less powerful than it is -- especially liked the garlic shots, but light just out of the frame (only to reduce the spill of the light, for effect) and also would seem a cheaper product than it actually is -- and it is NOT cheap, checked with my local supplier in New Zealand and it's $800+tax -- sheesh! I had placed it on my "lighting on a budget" list for my private blog site, obviously it is "lighting on a budget", if your name's Donald Trump :-)

    Truly, Litepanels looks to make some really cool and great products, but they're way out of my league.
    Cheers,
    Rusty

  • Eeps April 18, 2010 03:25 pm

    You'll find a lot of LED based continuous light systems on ebay and they go for less than a 10th of what this one costs. I'm not sure of quality or effects produced by those lights but maybe the poster could experiment with those too. Do a comparison test or something.

  • Judith April 16, 2010 08:45 am

    Thanks for the Canadian Tire link, yukondar. I've been using a similar product from Canadian Tire (as a continuous/fill light) for quite a while. When you use 2 or more, they provide a nice even light and enough power/brightness for a small studio. It took a little modification (and duct tape) to create a stand for them but just use you imagination!

  • YukonDar April 11, 2010 04:13 pm

    a photographer friend of mine discovered this light http://www.canadiantire.ca/AST/browse/3/HouseHome/Lighting/WorkLights/PRD~0525085P/NOMA%252BLED%252BRechargeable%252BTrouble%252BLight.jsp?locale=en (hope the link works). He uses it as a fill light and said it works really well. Just needs a rig for mounting if needed...

  • petajolley April 11, 2010 12:08 pm

    thanks Sime, I have been wanting more info on these lights Im saving for one and think it will be just what i need for weddings when light challenged. Many thanks PJ

  • Jer April 9, 2010 06:44 pm

    Everyone's comparing this to speedlites and that's silly. This has one major difference from a standard flash: it's continuous light, and therefore you get this if you plan on doing video, not stills. If you're doing event coverage and interviews with your DSLR you'll probably want something like this. If all you do is stills your money is 100% better spent on something else.

  • Mike Panic April 9, 2010 02:10 am

    Like the others, seems really nice until you realize it's $400 and only good at a 2' working distance. $400 buys two 285HV's, light stand brackets, and modifiers / gels.

  • Sime April 8, 2010 05:04 pm

    Hey Franklin, I just sort of held it in my left hand, shot with my right - though that isn't ideal, and holding a Canon 5DMk2 with a battery grip and a 24-70mm lens is quite tricky! -- I guess, Ideally, I'd like an attachment that is sort of bendy, it would attach to a tripod or a light stand and be flexible and let me move the MicroPro around into any position... Might have to make something -- Sime

  • Franklin April 8, 2010 08:36 am

    Haha, yes i could use those. but with the hot shoe mount I'm just curious how ppl usually hold it in their hands.

  • Mary Anne April 8, 2010 12:11 am

    Chris - I'd be very curious about what you can put together, too. I like the IDEA of this, but don't have the money to spend, as I'm truly an amateur/hobby photographer.

    I've used my Ottlite craft light for some still lifes at home, and it gives a nice, fairly "natural" light that works out well and cost me about $30 on sale, with a coupon.
    I'm still waiting on my husband to build me a light tent :)

  • Sime April 7, 2010 06:53 pm

    Franklin, With your hand? On the hot shoe? On a stand? In your teeth!! (It really is very light)

    There are many various models / knock-offs of this product around...

  • Franklin April 7, 2010 06:44 pm

    Cost is a major concern for the product in this review ... I guess one can buy several of the china knockoffs in the link i posted. If it's just an array of LEDs i'm not sure where reliability comes in; it's just a board with LEDs.

    How exactly do you hold the video light when ur using them in a wedding?

  • Rodrick April 7, 2010 04:33 pm

    After looking at the product pictures I calculated the MicroPro has probably no more than 200 LEDs. A bit of google search lead me to this particular LED http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-bin/store/index.cgi?action=DispPage&Page2Disp=%2Fspecs%2FW18030.htm which I believe is at least as powerful (if not more) than the ones the MicroPro uses. 200 LEDs would cost $158 + ship + tax. Less potent LEDs are a bit cheaper but they will still cost more than $100. You will also need some not too fancy electronics that add to the costs but overall I think the main components and other materials would be less than $200. Then, however, you have to assemble the whole thing in such a way that it doesn't come appart (or ignite) at the moment you try to turn it on. Not to mention it needs to cast an even light on your subject (mind about LED alignment). The MicroPro is still way too expensive since I'm sure Litepanels cuts a lot of the costs via mass-production in China (my guess is each unit costs them roughly $200). But for the average guy this is a quite challenging and no so cheap endeavor. Unless, of course, you're the average guy who knows his way around electronics assembly/design and you have a couple hundred LEDs lying around. By the way, I don't know for a fact that these are made in China. I'm just assuming since everything is, er, made in China.

  • MV Photography April 7, 2010 01:28 pm

    As a wedding shooter that uses video light, I do agree that the halogen type of light is cumbersome and the battery only lasts 20minutes, LED would be a fantastic alternative. But 1/20th second @f6.3 two feet waay, that is not enough juice to light a bride at 6feet I'm sure.

    When the prices reach the real value of the components and they use higher output LEDs I'll consider it.

  • Jason Collin Photography April 7, 2010 12:40 am

    I like how the lighting works on the roses. $400 does seem pretty steep for something that is not recommended as a main light, at least to me.

  • Zim April 6, 2010 11:27 am

    That's the best garlic shot I've ever seen. Interesting unit!

  • Sime April 6, 2010 07:35 am

    Chris, you make one and document it in pictures... And we'll write about it - your time starts..... NOW! ;-)

    sime

  • Chris April 6, 2010 07:24 am

    It's funny that it is $400.00+. Truthfully you can get white or light blue LED's on the cheap. Actually, I may make one just to see the cost.

  • Shannon April 6, 2010 04:46 am

    Wow, I hadn't thought about getting something like this before, but I do like what it did for those roses.

  • Sime April 6, 2010 04:24 am

    Hey Scott, thanks... How are the Alien Bee 1600's working out for you? (Cool blog, btw) I almost went with AB's but ended up with Elinchrom... (UK distrib for AB's almost non-existent!) --Sime

  • scott April 6, 2010 04:14 am

    I should add however, that I really did enjoy your post. Even if I think the product is a bit overpriced and underpowered, you sure did a great job of exploring it and passing on the info about the product. Well done sir.

  • scott April 6, 2010 04:12 am

    I would have to say that for the price the convenience, size and power cannot compete with a speedlight. Also, since I never tend to use the light unmodified, I can see where this will become an issue if you lose a stop in a typical softbox.

    As a fill light it might be useful, but I often like my fill to be very large so I would probably end up reflecting this tiny source on a wall, and with the power level it has it might not be very useful. The cost is what kills the deal for me. It it was around $100, I would probably have a few of them just for accent lights.

    www.lightshootedit.com

  • Sime April 6, 2010 03:35 am

    Hey Ron, It is quite short...

    All shot with Canon 5DMk2 / 24-70 f/2.8L

    Garlic - 1/160th @ f/4.5 (ISO 400) - Light just out of frame
    Roses - 1/60th @ f/2.8 (ISO 400) - Light about a foot above subject
    Ugly Bloke - 1/20th @ f/6.3 (I was mucking about!) (ISO400) - Light about 2' away

    I work in video (day job) and you're right, there is more draw that I've seen in video for these lights - I can see a great application in Macro, as you said... good control over the light and infinite adjustment could make for some really interesting stuff.

    Sime

  • Ron Gibson April 6, 2010 03:20 am

    I'd like to know what f-stop/shutter-speed you were using when you took these photos. It looks as though the MicroPro has a very short throw, but I'd need to know the rest of your setup first.

    As is, this might be a nice addition for macro work. However, after looking up the price I was rather shocked (at $400). I can buy a regular off camera flash for the same amount of money, which would yield much more use.

    But in the future, as LED's come down in price, items like this could be useful for macro work.

    I believe the draw for these items is more for video than photo. But even in those scenarios it looks as though the light output might not be sufficient as a main light.

  • Chris April 6, 2010 03:03 am

    $500 for that?! I could pick up a couple SB's and some modifiers for that much.

  • Sime April 6, 2010 02:34 am

    Hey Franklin, Yeah, not sure - interesting though - in that link I found this...

    "Cons: * CANNOT be used with rechargeable AA batteries (which each supply only 1.2V not 1.5V). Proper alkaline batteries must be used or your light will be useless"

    Which is what I have been using in the LITE panels product...

    Sime

  • Franklin April 6, 2010 01:01 am

    I wonder how this compares.... at least to the micro not the pro:

    http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.33297

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