Hobolite has recently entered the market with what could possibly be the most aesthetically pleasing LED lights created by any company within the past decade. In this article, we will be looking at the new Hobolite Avant, a mid-tier 100-watt LED light.
Design and Build
Taking inspiration from vintage lights from the 60s, Hobolite has produced one of the most beautiful led lights that's on the market right now. The construction and build quality of this light are second to none. As soon as you take it out of its case and handle it you can tell that it's a premium product. The dense feel of the metal, the sturdiness of the buttons and switches, and even the lock on the handle feels like each piece was milled individually out of a block of metal.
Even the accessories such as the barndoor attachment, diffuser dome, cables, and V-mount clamp all retain the premium feel. It is quite honestly an experience handling this lighting system. The sound when you attach a diffuser to the front of the light, or the way the V-mount clamp snaps into place when you attach it to the power supply unit, everything just clicks into place and attaches in a way that's extremely satisfying.
Additionally, the intuitive design of this light is a feature. For most people, the ability to change the brightness and color temperature is enough and I fit into that category. For that reason, I appreciate how simple and straightforward the design of this light is. Between the two knobs on the back of the light, you can quickly change the brightness and color temperature. And this I assume for most people is enough.
The screen on the back offers information in a clear and simplistic manner. The fonts are large and the bi-color bar indicates clearly what temperature you have it set to. Other features can be accessed via the buttons on the back too such as lighting effects and the ability to control the light with an app.
The only downside that I experienced with this light is the fact that it does not come as standard with a Bowens mount. There is a Bowens mount adapter that can be purchased with the light, however, in my experience, the adapter has been pretty poor for several reasons.
Firstly, it doesn't lock in the same way that other accessories do. The adapter moves around and feels loose, which is disappointing considering just how impeccable every other aspect of this lighting system is. The poor implementation of the adapter sticks out like a sore thumb.
Secondly, a Bowens mount as standard would have made more sense even if the light required a larger front element. The reason I say this is because the 300-watt big brother to the Avant comes with a Bowens mount as standard. It seems a little out of place that Hobolite decided to have different mounts for lights that sit in the same series or line-up. Other than this one relatively minor flaw, I'd say this is easily one of the best-built and designed lights I have used so far.
1/320s Shutter Speed, ISO 100, Aperture f/1.8
With any kind of light, color is extremely important and this is where the Hobolite Avant performs extremely well. With a CRI rating of 96, it's easy to produce vibrant and eye-catching results. The image above has not been edited or color grade. Only a few adjustments were made in Lightroom where I brought down the shadows a little.
The power output of the Avant is pretty good too. Although it's not the most powerful light on the market and you'll likely need to place it relatively close to the subject, the light does have enough power. You could comfortably shoot at around f/4.0 with a shutter speed of 1/100.
Of course, if you need more power then Hobolite does have a 300-watt light available too. Although that light is much larger, heavier, and not as portable. The Avant is the goldilocks light in the line-up. It's not too large but, offers sufficient power for many applications.
Final color-graded image.
One of the things I love about continuous lights is how it allows you to capture movement even when shooting with a high shutter speed. With a flash, a tiny moment in time is captured and any movement is frozen. This is great for some types of high-speed photography, however for portraits, I prefer a continuous light for how it captures the little movements. There's somewhat of a more natural look.
I'd compare it to watching a movie at 24 frames per second as opposed to watching it at 60 frames per second. There's something a little too crisp about watching a movie at high framerates and it doesn't sit right with most people. In a similar way, I prefer the look of that continuous lights offer.
Finally, one of the results of this light is the reaction people have had upon seeing it. It looks nothing like any kind of current light or modern camera equipment. It stands out from the crowd and gets people asking questions. Sure, for some aesthetics of any product isn't important, however, many photographers and artists appreciate good design and beautiful-looking equipment. This light is well-made, produces fantastic results, and is objectively beautiful.
What I Liked
- Well made to a fault, you will feel bad when you inevitably scratch this light.
- Beautiful design.
- Genuinely an experience to use.
- Intuitive and easy to use.
- Great results.
What I Didn't Like
- It's pricey.
- I'm not personally a fan of faux leather, either use proper leather or don't (minor point).
- Does not come with a Bowens mount as standard.
- The Bowens adapter doesn't fit properly and has been poorly implemented.
The Hobolite Avant is a relatively expensive light considering the many budget options that are out there. However, this is not a budget light and that becomes apparent as soon as you pick it up and hold it in your hands. It's a beautiful piece of design in a sea of bland and boring. Holding it in the palm of my hand reminds me of holding a Hasselblad camera.
Additionally, it's an incredibly practical piece of equipment due to its size, weight, and intuitiveness. If you have the budget and enjoy beautiful gear, the Hobolite Avant is a brilliant option. The standard kit is available for $799 (£799) on the U.S. Hobolite website or European site.
Sorry but this is comical.
I get the appeal of 'hipster aesthetic' when it comes to camera bodies, speedlights, neck straps, even camera cages (SmallRig's steampunk thing), but for lighting?
If the light was excellent I can understand trying to push it as 'premium' and adding all the trimmings to make it more visually appealing (like a Hasselblad), but from what I'm reading it's not even good at it's primary function as a light. Why would anyone make this?
For its primary function it's brilliant. I don't see why you would think it's not good as a light. There are only two things you could look at for its performance, colours and usability and in both areas the light is excellent.
A CRI of 96 is basic/standard nowadays amongst LED lights. So it's not bad, but it's certainly not special. You also pointed out that the Bowens adapter doesn't fit properly, so it's a no for anyone working professionally. Then there's the cost, more than better performing and more powerful lights, it's competing with this kind of thing https://cvp.com/product/zolar-vega-30c-5-colour-light-panel-cv
Fair point, thank you for sharing.
However, I don't think it's competing with the Zolar Vega because I wouldn't consider that option. It's big and heavy, doesn't work well as a hard light and I can't put modifiers on to it.
Having said that, I see what you mean.
You're right, not the best example as they are different types of light, I went for that as it's the most recent light I've seen reviewed and the colour rendering is supposed to be among the best you can get. But theres a plethora of other tiny 100w cob lights out now by brands like Amaran, Yongnuo and even Zhiyun with similar or better specs than these. Video light companies have been in a race for a few years and it's the customer who's benefiting.