I’ve had the chance to play with the new Lume Cube Panel Mini for about two weeks (full specs here). An early release version was sent to me for review. This light is virtually perfect and very affordable. As a user of the other Lume Cube lights, I was curious about what would change from the original Lume Cube Panel to get the price down.
What is a Lume Cube?
When Lume Cube first burst onto the scene, they made a big splash with their small waterproof lights that are shaped like Cubes. These lights are quite durable and have gone through a few revisions with different features. All told I’ve bought more than 20 of their small lights for use in my video/photo business.
The new form factor
While the original Lume Cubes are still an essential part of my kit, they aren’t as useful for video interviews or product photography. The Lume Cube panels are better suited for both close-up work or when a more diffused light is needed. I also find them a bit easier to pack and carry as they are thinner and easier to slip into a pocket like a phone.
Introducing the Lume Cube Panel Mini
I’ve been looking for a light like for some time. First off, it’s super affordable coming in at $59 USD, which makes it easy to add multiple ones to your kit. It’s about the size of a deck of cards (3.6” wide x 2.2” tall x .45” deep). But this small size doesn’t skimp on features.
LED lights in the Lume Cube Panel Mini
With 60 LED lights, the Panel Mini is bright. It’s also accurate with a 96+ Color Rendering Index value. Half the lights are daylight balanced while the others are tungsten. This means you can easily mix the two LEDs for color adjustability from 3200k to 5600k.
The light offers a maximum of 550 lux of brightness at a half meter distance. That’s a decent amount of light, but it means this is best for tabletop photography or close-up video. But don’t worry, the light looks great close-up thanks to the included silicone diffuser that can easily slip on or off. Even without the external diffuser, the light is gentle as there is a built-in diffusion panel.
Battery life for the Lume Cube Panel Mini
The new Panel Mini has good battery life for its size. If you’re using it at lower power, its possible to get 10+ hours. But practically speaking you’ll see about 80 minutes at full power and 140 minutes at half power. The LCD screen shows you an estimated time remaining display, which is really helpful when shooting.
Need to charge up the battery? That’s simple as any USB-C cable will do. You can charge from a computer port but will see faster charging using a USB charger. It’s also possible to leave the light plugged in and run it from a wall outlet. I’ve done this and left the light on for four days straight with no issue. I could have tested longer but couldn’t think of a reason to push the light any further.
Controls for the Lume Cube Panel Mini are great
The controls are simple and elegant. With just one button and one rocker dial, this light can be operated single-handed and even without looking at it. But the intelligent LCD makes precise operation a breeze thanks to simple controls.
To power on, press and hold the main button for three seconds. The same holds true to power off. This means no accidental changes in lighting or draining the light’s battery when it’s packed in your bag.
Tap the same button to switch between power levels and color temperatures. You can easily adjust the power from 1% to 5% to 10%, all the way up to 100% (in 5% increments). The same goes for color temperature as you can toll between 3200 K and 5600 K.
Mounting the Lume Cube Panel Mini is easy
The light offers two 1/4″ 20 tripod mounts on the bottom and side. These work with almost all accessories. Included in the box is a low-profile hot shoe mount for DSLR, mirrorless and video cameras. But it’s also easy to attach the light to a mini tripod.
With two mounting points, the light is easy to mount in a variety of angles and works very well with a gooseneck. I was very pleased with how it worked with the Platypod Gooseneck kit. Since the light was so light, it didn’t tip over when angled even dramatically.
The bottom line on the Lume Cube Panel Mini
I enthusiastically recommend the Lume Cube Panel Mini light. I already own four of the Lume Cube full-size panels but will pick up an extra one of these. It’s perfect for my macro and product photography work. I also like its lightweight size for mounting to a cell phone or my mirrorless camera. Highly recommended — a must-buy, and at $59 it’s the most affordable light in my professional kit.