I’ve followed my friends Eric and Kim for some time, often marveled at their creativity and the tech side of things, too. Watching people that make art like they do, well, it makes you want to try it out! I can’t dance, and I don’t really have access to the locations those guys do, but I still wanted to try it out. Jump forward and I’m offered a review unit of a forthcoming tool called Magilight by Fotorgear.
Magilight is still available on IndieGoGo for $199 + Shipping as of the time of writing this review.
What’s in the box
Breaking it down into basic terms, Magilight is an aluminum strip with a handle. The strip has 144 RGB LEDs along it, and the handle has batteries and the controls. The handle is plugged into the strip via a curly cable (attached and included). After you charge it up (charger included in the kit) and insert the two batteries (also included) into the handle, it’s a simple single press to turn the Magilight on, and then a case of selecting what you would like to do.
You have multiple options for what sort of things you can do with the light, including images that you can “print”. Or you can just make a neat pattern surrounding a model or a subject of some kind. For example, using the Magilight behind a model as seen below, or lighting an object.
So, I’ve now taken delivery of the bright little aluminum beastie, and upon first inspection, it’s very well made. Although if you don’t pack it back in its bag with the included protection tube, and you treat it badly, you might bend it. But if you have any common sense, that’s easily avoidable!
I will admit, I didn’t charge my batteries right away, I was keen to see what it could do, so I put them in and took the light out in the backyard at night to try it out!
Ease of use
I will admit that if the unit did come with instructions, I didn’t read them right away! These are a digital download and include a very good quick start guide. But it’s very easy to navigate the menu and find the different included light patterns (I’m not 100% sure what to call them…presets?). Switching between a line drawing and any of the included presets on the MicroSD card that came with the unit is very easy.
The two photos above are from the first night I had the unit and just flicked it on to see what I could do. Well, I’ve since used it for half a week and while it certainly does take a little while to get used to, it’s a great lighting tool.
The aluminum handle has a 1/4″ 20 thread in its base, so if you wanted to you could mount it to something. It also has a sleeve around the main handle that you can hold to spin the whole unit around and make those cool light circles. It works well, as long as you don’t get too excited and hit it against things while spinning (apologies to my 8-year-old, he wasn’t impressed haha!).
Getting the hang of it
It takes a little trial and error, getting to know how fast to move the light, what settings you should set your camera to etc. But it doesn’t take all that long to get the hang of it, and there are many tutorials on the web (you can start with the basics of Light Painting here on dPS). I was pleasantly surprised that within about 10 minutes I could get a really fun image out of the Magilight!
After four or five evenings messing about with Magilight, the batteries were still going. But they are also easily recharged using the included charger, and the unit can be all packed away in the included, well-padded black nylon zip-up case.
Upon searching to see what info is out there about this light, I came across this page (remember I mentioned Eric and Kim up the top). Well, I had no idea… (but it makes perfect sense) and there’s a video of Eric and Kim using the light – great!
There were a couple of little minor things that bothered me. One was that I should have removed the batteries to transport the unit. I think all the moving around in the case had turned the unit on, and I traveled a few hours and then went to use Magilight and she was flat. Thankfully the included charger plugs into any USB power source!
The other minor issue being that the little memory card, I think, needs a little protective cover or door of some kind. I found that if I moved a certain way (I can’t actually pinpoint which way I was moving when it happened) that I could pop the MicroSD out of its slot. It didn’t come out fully, so it wasn’t lost, but it had to be put back in and then I had to re-select all the options.
The last thing is that when it beeps, it’s kinda loud. So when I turned “sounds” off, I sort of expected them to be off, but they come back on! I have heard that little things like this will be fixed by launch.
In summary, this Magilight is a really fun and innovative tool for light painters, the build quality is really good (though, naturally we’ll see how it goes after 6 months) and the functionality is very good.
I give this wannabe Lightsaber a brightly lit 4 out of 5 stars rating. (if the niggles are worked out for launch, you can call it a 5!) Great job.
Editor’s note: This product will be competing with the popular, but more expensive PixelStick. Let’s see how it does!