Creating long exposure is fun, but having the right tools to paint magic shapes with light makes it even better. The Magilight by Fotorgear is meant to help you bring to life the most insane long exposure you’ve ever dreamed of. Here is its review.
The Magilight is designed by Fotorgear and was introduced on Indiegogo a little while ago. It quickly reached its goal and is going to come into production soon. I received a unit a couple of weeks ago to play with, and I’ve been pleased to see that it can have a lot more uses than what it’s advertised for.
The light design is simple but elegant, with all parts made of titanium alloy excepted the diffusing cover. It’s made of a 144 LED strip measuring 3.2-feet long and a handle. On the handle, you’ll find different buttons, a micro-SD slot, and a small LCD to set up your lighting the way you want.
The Magilight felt quite robust in hand and was designed to be easy to move to create special effects. One of these design features is a ring found on the handle that allows you to spin the LED strip easily and create perfectly circular shapes (think of a planet, for example). The handle can also move up and down so you can create more random effects.
The only downsides I’d have to bring up regarding the design and build quality is the diffusion cover. It’s great once it’s on, but it’s kind of a pain to slide it on and then click it in place. Also, the microSD slot is not covered and doesn’t give much confidence regarding water resistance, despite the announced IPX4 notation. And if you have big clumsy fingers, you may encounter some issues taking the card out.
The Magilight can be used in different ways. The most straightforward use is as a color-adjustable continuous light. Set whatever color you want your light to be, switch it on, and it’s light that you can rely on for long exposures at night, product photography, fill light for portrait photography, or anything else. Its battery lasts up to eight hours, so even for video, it can do the trick if the 800 lumens it produces are bright enough for you.
The other one, which is a bit more fun, is creating shapes, gradients, and drawing, or pictures with the LEDs. Create bitmaps — yes, it still exists — with the correct dimensions, and then save it to included microSD card. Once you reboot your lightsaber, you’ll see that the force is with you! Joking aside, it’s amazing how effortless the process is, and you can make pretty much anything from a planet like shown above, to a blinking eye if you are shooting a time-lapse, or even a gradient to light your products when shooting still life.
I tried to create specific shapes, and despite the import process being easy, the "drawing" part isn’t. It will most likely require a couple of shots before you can get to create the perfect shot in camera. You see, because you have to move with the tube, you’ll have to walk at a precise speed to form the shape as it is meant to. Otherwise, you’ll encounter some sort of distortion. Magilight did, however, add an option to set the length of time it should take from start to finish. So it does help a bit. But the easiest thing would be to have a slider and time it correctly to avoid any jitter or distortion.
The only down side I found with the light when creating long exposures is that the LEDs are not close enough from one to the other to form a continuous streak of light. You’ll notice the different LEDs in the shapes you paint depending on your settings, and that’s a bit of shame.
The Magilight is available from $199 including the travel bag, the light itself, the microSD card, the batteries, and a charger. It’s cheaper than many continuous lights I see portrait and wedding photographers use but comes with a lot more perks. It’s well designed, lets you create things you wouldn’t otherwise be able to, and it’s very portable (it weighs just 2.2 pounds).
What I Liked
- 3.28 foot long LED strip
- Bright enough to be used for other applications than light painting
- Easy to use
- Well built
- Battery life
What Could Be Improved
- It’d be fantastic to have a sound/beat to give you a rhythm to move at when recreating shapes and drawings to avoid any distortion
- I wish the LEDs were even closer together to make the streak of light continuous no matter what
- The diffusing cover attachment works but is not extremely practical
- microSD slot is not designed for people with big fingers
All in all, it’s an excellent product for an affordable price that will make light painters as well as still life photographers happy. It’s not as cheap as some more basic LED light strips, but it goes further and is very well built. The ergonomics to handle the light are great and won’t make you afraid even when moving around fragile objects if you use it for product photography.
For more information about the product or to order your own Magilight, check out Fotorgear's Indiegogo page.