Polaroid is a brand many have forgotten, a true classic of yesteryear, but today they seem to continue to push out new and innovative products that can be used by any type of photographer. Last week I reviewed the Polaroid Snap Touch and today, I am checking out the latest BrightSaber. A powerful yet portable light in a form factor many find appealing to those on the go or wanting to simplify their gear.
As a photographer, I pride myself in not relying on more gear than I can handle and attempt to master what I have before moving on to something new. Working myself away from natural light the last couple years has been a slow but natural process and one I have fully accepted as a step in the right direction. Though finding that soft touch of natural light in artificial lighting is the sweet spot I always look for. Now, as a minimalist when it comes to gear I want something that is light and incredibly portable for on the go shooting. Even while in studio I don't want to rely on something that is large and power hungry like strobes and stands because those can't be emulated anywhere. Luckily, that is where I found a small piece of the answer in the portable lighting game and the BrightSaber, as silly as a name as that might be, is pretty great.
Design and Portability
The design of the light is fairly simple. At one end you have the 98 High-Powered LEDs that build the actually light housing. At the base you have the handle and battery which also acts as the controller to dial between 10 power settings. Just a few buttons are present including the power on/off as well as two more arrow buttons to bring the light up or down in brightness. The portability of the light comes when the 12 inch LED section breaks apart from the 4 inch handle to make it slightly more portable. Not the smallest of breakdowns but it's enough to sneak into most DSLR packs or camera bags.
The weight comes to right around a pound which is solid for this type of lighting equipment. Another nice touch is the included lighting gel options to click onto the main light. This gives a solid range of 3200K to 5500K to choose from when lighting products or even portraits.
One piece that I never questioned after opening the BrightSaber was the build quality. Absolutely top notch and strong enough to throw in and out of my camera bag without worrying about breaking it or cracking the LEDs as I would even my Canon strobes which are made of plastic. The entire light portion is made of a tougher white plastic while the handle is made of either a strong aluminum or metal.
Something of a weak point in the light is the connection. I felt like I was going to break the thing every single time I ripped it apart and placed it back together. I have yet to have an issue, but felt it was more difficult than it should have been to put together. Battery life is outstanding, I haven't charged it since receiving it over a month ago. I actually just realized inside the box under the packaging was the charging cable. Not thinking, I have only really used it a few minutes here and there so I haven't put it to the test of how long it can last but in my regular use it has yet to die or lose its brightness.
The entire point of light sticks in general is to have something light, portable, and fast to go on and off while on the go.
In one example, I connected the light to my Job Gorilla Pod and strapped it to the end of my cameras tripod to shoot an ad for Bud Light themed "Shower Beers" in prep for the final games of the NFL season before the playoffs. Using my newly refinished bathroom and the lighting inside the shower it was nice to be able to fill in just a bit more light to the left side and really help the can and interior of the shower.
The final shot with the light brings in a nice element of shine to the can and also with the natural wand style lighting it brings the perfect sliver of catch light.
I shoot plenty of product shots in-house and within studio and its been quite impressive to see this come in handy in so many various spots. Slightly turning the light gives me a softer look while directly facing gives a more harsh look. At the price point of just under $70 its a solid buy for anyone looking to add a light and portable lighting option to any situation.
Another situation I found this very useful was for a watch company Daniel Wellington and their "His and Hers" collection. This shot was planned quickly and had to go up for social posts the next day. With no natural light to help here and only warm lighting from overhead desk lights I was able to use the BrightSaber just off camera left from a distance to create a more organic light source to the surroundings. Then in post I was able to bump up the darks and bring in the final edit to where I wanted it.
What I Liked
- 10 levels of brightness
- Build quality
- Price point ($69)
What Could Be Improved
- Separation/Connection (Slightly odd, as if I was going to break it, could be smoother)
- More portability (Smaller LED panel could make this even more portable
Overall, this is a great option for anyone looking for a very affordable light wand with a solid build quality. What I found incredible was the battery life, as I had no idea it came with a charging cable until recently. The build quality is solid and shows a well done design to how someone might use this product in and out of a camera bag. For under $70, you can't beat the cost of this light setup. A fun thing to play with is the catch light to portraits and product pieces since the light source is a long rectangular wand. If you want to learn more check out the product link here.