REVIEW – With the huge improvements in camera phones lately, the procedures for getting better shots have migrated from the “megapixel/lens” level of discussion to such perennial photography topics as light quality management and filters. To this end, SandMarc has recently released two light sources that promise much more control over some of these issues. I was sent one, their ProLight RGB and have been using it for a few weeks as I explore this new level of phone-tography. (There are so many horrible portmanteaus out there, this seemed the least offensive. I’ll try to refrain going forward.) They also have a similar unit called the ProLight Bi-Color that will switch from warm to cool lighting.
What is it?
The ProLight RGB is a pocket-sized, battery-operated light source that can produce light in any color and intensity.
What’s in the box?
- ProLight RGB
- Double HotShoe Mount
- USB-C charging cable
- MicroFiber Pouch
- Color Temperature: 1000-10000K
- Max Brightness: 770 Lux at 0.5m
- Color Rendering Index (CRI): 96+
- Battery Life at 100% Brightness: 90 Minutes
- Brightness Range: 1%-100%
- Built in Li-Polymer Battery: 3000mAh
- Dimensions: 4.4″x 2.8″ x 0.53″(112*71*13.5mm)
- Weight: 6.7 ozs (190g)
- Power: 15W
Design and features
The SandMarc ProLight RGB is like carrying a powerful, bright lighting unit and a full-range series of lighting gels in your pocket. With 770 Lux, it will illuminate almost any scene. At ~4.5” x 3”, it’s about the size and just a bit heavier than a deck of playing cards. On the bottom long side, there is a centered 1/4-20 socket so you can attach it to any standard tripod mount. Opposite that edge, there is the USB-C charging port and a silver metal on/off button. On one short side, there is a thumb-wheel that allows for up/down movements, as well as a push-in toggle. On the back, there is a small LCD screen to show mode and current setting (changed with thumb controller). The other face is an 8X9 LED grid under a frosted plastic window. Included in the box is a silicon diffuser that mounts over the unit for a bit of cushioning and to soften the intensity of the LEDs. It is not a waterproof or shockproof cover!
The on/off switch gives you two levels of control, one for effects like strobe, color cycling, etc., and another mode that gives complete control of color through HSV (hue, saturation, value) adjustment. All in all, it’s a very flexible bit of kit for everyone from live streamers wanting a backlit background for their studios to product and portrait photographers wanting to liven up color washes for shots. It can also be used simply as a fill light for better video or photos. The small size and no wires means you can take it on any shoot, and place it almost anywhere.
I’m including a few photos of the earlier studio shot to show the difference small lighting changes can make. Let’s just take a couple in white light, shot in my portable studio with no other lighting .
This first shot shows little shadow, and little texture in the seamless backdrop.
Notice the difference with the lower angle of the light. The shadows lengthen, and the exposure on the product sheet moves higher. Wrinkles in the backing fabric start to show.
Now let’s take a few with different colors:
Multiply this by 16.7 million colors and infinite angles. Then add another light to your setup, and you can do almost anything.
What I like
- Full range of color
- Huge amount of light for a very small package
- Mounting socket is great
- Included coldshoe is a nice touch
What I’d change
- Maybe another 1/4-20 socket on the unused short side?
According to some experts, the four things that make good photos are lighting, framing, subject, and timing. Most recommendations for improving your photos start with improving or managing your lighting. There are many solutions on the market for this, but SandMarc has been consistently improving its offerings recently. This joins the lenses, filters and other lighting options in their suite of tools to help improve your photography.