Tube lights are all the rage. So, when a new one comes on the market, it better have some type of stand-out feature to differentiate it from the pack.
At the core, the Lume Cube Tube Light XL is similar to most offerings on the market. It’s 4 feet in length, offers full RGB with over 16 million different color options, it has CCT from 2,700-5,700K, and has a host of built-in effects for video creators. Its CRI is on par or better than other lights, with a rating of 96+, and the battery lasts a close-to-average of 96 minutes at 100%.
Where things start to diverge is when we talk about things like power, durability, built-in features, price, and accessibility. For ease of comparison, I’m going to be comparing the rest of my talking points between this Lume Cube XL and the Nanlite Pavotube II 30X. While the Luma Cube XL is about $100 cheaper, both lights are advertised as 4-foot RGB tube lights, and I own both, so it's the simplest comparison I can make. I have also used a handful of tube lights, and so far, my favorite has been the Nanlite PavoTube, and it also seems to be one of the most popular among creators, so it makes sense to compare the two.
When it comes to the build quality, both lights feel sturdy and durable. Both have physical buttons on the device as well as app control if that's what you prefer. Both also have a handful of built-in mounting points, but I prefer the options available on the Luma Cube XL. While the Pavotube has a ¼-20 mount on both ends as well as one on an end cap, the Luma Cube though has multiple more options, with mounting on both ends, on both end caps, directly in the center, and on the bottom of the tube. Not only that, but the Luma Cube offers both ¼-20 and ⅜-16th threads for the ends and center mounting locations. Another small but noticeable feature with the mounting is that the Luma Cube end caps both have a sort of soft, rubber inlay. This rubber allows the mounting to almost lock into place, similar to using a rubber washer on a bolt.
From here, both lights are durable and drop-resistant. I have unfortunately and accidentally tested this on both lights and have had zero issues. But where the Luma Cube stands out is that this light is also weather-resistant. So, while you can't fully submerge the light, you should be fine letting it sit out in the rain without issue. And while the Nanlite version has a completely submersible housing you can purchase for fairly cheap, it’s nice having the general weather-resistant feature built into the Luma Cube.
In terms of build quality related to light quality, one of the biggest things to watch out for with tube lights, especially when using them as practicals in the frame, is visible pixels. Thankfully, both lights pass the test here, and even at lower exposures, the built-in diffusion seamlessly blends the individual pixels together into a seamless length of light. Unfortunately, the Luma Cube is limited to individual colors throughout the entire tube while the Nanliet gives you the ability to control the light at the pixel level, which unlocks an entirely different realm of creativity and effects.
Another aspect of the build that's worth noting is the physical length of the tubes and the end caps. While both tubes are advertised as 4-foot light, they are not actually the same length. Where the Nanlite is actually 45 inches in length (a full 3 inches short of a true 4-foot length), the actual light emitting element of the tube is 43 inches. For the Luma Cube, the full length of the tube is 48 inches (a true 4 feet), and the light emitting element is 47 inches. So, the Luma Cube actually has a longer overall length, a longer light length (by 4 inches), but then actually has smaller and more discrete end caps. Som if you were to put two tubes end-to-end, there would be less of a visible gap between the two Luma Cube in comparison to the Nanlite. Though, if you are looking for a zero-gap option, the Apature INFINIBAR looks to be a more ideal solution.
From here, if you are looking to use a bunch of tubes in a full production-type setup, the Nanlite may be a better option. That’s because it offers the ability to control the light via DMX, which is why the Nanlite only has a ¼-20 mount on one end cap. The other end cap space is reserved for both the DMX port and the power post to charge or power the light. But when it comes to powering and charging the lights, the Nanlite charges from the AC port or can run off the power block while plugged in. The Luma Cube, on the other hand, gives you the same options with an AC power port, but you can also charge the tube via USB-C port if you want to leave the bulky power brick at home and don't need the faster charging or constant power. Not only that, but if you are in a pinch, you can use the USB-C port on the light to charge other devices like your phone or camera. While the Nanlite Pavotube also has a USB-C port, this port seems strictly reserved for firmware updates.
The last thing I want to talk about is power. While both lights look to have the exact same battery run time of 96 minutes at full power, the Nanlite Pavotube is only rated for about 1,200 lumens, while the Luma Cube is rated for a substantially higher 3,400 lumens. And when I turn the two lights on side by side, this spec sheet power difference seems to hold true. If I set the Luma Cube to about 50% power, it pretty closely matches the Nanlite at full power (I don't have a light meter, so I'm estimating by eye). That said, the Nanlite seems to have a bit wider beam pattern, and even so, both still look fairly close when comparing the two at full power. So, while the Luma Cube is technically more powerful, I think you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference in real-world use.
What I Liked
- Cheaper then competition
- Technically brighter with accurate color output (though in the real world, the power difference would be hard to notice)
- Durable and water-resistant out of the box
- USB-C port can be used to charge the tube or use the tube to charge other devices (goodbye, bulky power brick)
What I Didn't Like
- No pixel control
- No DMX
While the Luma Cube has some missing features found on the Pavotube, it does so at a less expensive price. It’s also weather-resistant out of the box and is a true 4-foot tube with a larger surface area of light, along with shorter end caps. It also has some useful USB-C functionality. So, if you are a creator that doesn't really need DMX or the ability to control individual pixels, then the Luma Cube XL may be a better buy.