Fstoppers Reviews the Portable and Powerful Polaroid Travel BrightSaber

Fstoppers Reviews the Portable and Powerful Polaroid Travel BrightSaber

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. 

Build Quality

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. 

Studio Anywhere

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

  • Weight
  • 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

Conclusion

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.
 

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27 Comments

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Looks pretty cool

Anonymous's picture

So here's a question: If you had to choose between 7 Brightsabers or 1 Ice Light, which one would you choose?

Andrew Griswold's picture

Wow, just saw the cost on the ice light. That is INSANE! Just on paper the Polaroid beats it in battery life, weight, and portability. Ha! I would easily grab the Polaroid over the Ice Light any day.

Ariel Martini's picture

Thanks for the review, but there's some other things i'm curious about and would like to see:
- comparison with regular/pro brightsaber
- comparison with flash/other lights
- portrait performance review with samples
- size comparison (photo of someone holding it for instance)

Andrew Griswold's picture

All good points, thanks for the feedback. I was given harsh comments in previous reviews where I compared products to other things or even too much with just a single mention so I try to stick with simply the product.

Yann Langeard's picture

Hi Andrew, nice review. How many f stops or iso improvement when using this bright saber ?

Nice review. Wish you had atleast a 30sec video of you holding it to see the size of this thing or the portability...

Andrew Griswold's picture

I debated for the last week if I wanted to do a review video on my YouTube channel here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRIpuuseLnNUIVOB7bN6ajw but didnt know if anyone would be intersted. Maybe I will rethink doing a smaller, shorter review video and overall thoughts and add it here in the article. Thanks!

user-137748's picture

I've bee looking at an Ice Light for some time now. The price is what was driving me away.
This gives me the price point of a yongyuo, but with a bit of better design.
Any ideas as to where I can get one?

Andrew Griswold's picture

After looking at the ice light today, I would easily grab the Polaroid. The battery life and weight are both better than the Ice Light.

Andrew Griswold's picture

Also, added links to product on top and bottom of article.

Joacim Hansson's picture

Would it work as a "on camera" portable light for filming as well?

Andrew Griswold's picture

I honestly havent tested the long running battery life but in the few shoots I was using it I was shooting easily for 20-30 minutes and it had no issues with running that long. if you are filming I wouldnt see why you couldnt have it for that. On camera? Its fairly big, so that wont help much if you literally put it on camera but handheld off camera or on a tripod is perfec.t

Wow, added this to my next thing to purchase. I have been looking for a portable LED lamp but a lot of them are bigger, bulkier, and more expensive. The only downside I can see is that there arent any barn doors available, or at least, perhaps I am missing them.

Andrew Griswold's picture

You bet, this thing is pretty badass and easily compactible to bring anywhere you are. The bar doors might be something you would have to add on yourself and fake it to emulate the look you want but overall its a great little setup.

Natalie P's picture

So many great reviews for the price. Thanks for this awesome tip!

Andrew Griswold's picture

Thanks! You bet.

Dude! Great Review Andrew! Deff gonna look into this for my night portraits now!!! I bought an aukey USB LED desk lamp but i don't have too much flexibility with light output. only 2 settings. this is definitely what i'm looking for. Thanks for the amazing tip!

Andrew Griswold's picture

You bet man, always looking for the damn good products that fly under the radar.

"while the handle is made of either a strong aluminum or metal." :
aluminum is metal

Andrew Griswold's picture

Ha! I would say its likely aluminum but could any ANY metal. Usually a low cost aluminum is the metal of choice though.

Jay Jay's picture

Thanks for the review! This is perfect for my camera, which doesn't need much light to get a good exposure in low light. Does it come with a carrying case of any sort? Does it have a filter that works with tungsten lights? (I know the bigger brother to this is offered with a tungsten filter).

Mike Folden's picture

The link seems to take me to a different version of this light? Anyone else have this issue?

Yup, totally different product in the link, but same brand and name.

Tony Reitz's picture

If you click on the link, it will take you to the correct spot on Amazon. The professional is curved and about $150. The travel is flat and $70

At the moment there are two "hits" on Amazon (U.S.) for this product. Neither resembles the one shown in the illustration that goes with this article, and they're priced at $150 and $170. Both appear to have a tubular, not flat, design. Where did you obtain the $70 item reviewed in this article?

Tony Reitz's picture

If you click on the link, it will take you to the correct spot on Amazon. The professional is curved and about $150. The travel is flat and $70