Recently I was sent some small LED lights from both Litra and Lumecube. I decided that the most beneficial thing to Stuck In Plastic readers would be to compare the two. So I reviewed both specifically for toy photography to let you know which light might be right for you.
Litra and Lumecube
For those of you who have never heard of either of these companies, let me give a little background. Both of them have come on the scene in recent years offering “action” LED lights. “Action” as lights that are great for action sports or active lifestyles. The lights are fully waterproof and come in tough casings that can survive a drop or
They are typically made for filming video or documentaries, or when you only can take the most minimal of gear. They are also great for strapping to a drone, surfboard, or kayak so you can see more at night. Just take a look at the Lumecube and Litra Instagram pages. You’ll see that toy photography is not the main application by design, and so I was interested to put them to the test.
Litra and Lumecube in toy photography
However, toy photographers have been discovering these lights. They have become instrumental in getting some amazing lighting setups that before were much harder to obtain. In fact, Jonny Wu a.k.a. @sgtbananas has recently done a series of videos on Adam Savage’s Tested YouTube channel. He shows a variety of scenarios and effects all lit by Lumecube lights.
Many photographers in the toy photography community also love Litra gear. For example, @joecow who shows his setup with the lights here.
Seeing all of this content recently made me wonder what all the fuss was about. It also had me wondering which of the lights, if any, were right for me? Below I will break down some key things I was looking for in a lighting setup. Then I will declare the winner of each category.
The Quality Of The Actual Light Produced
There are a few different factors here to look at like brightness, light pattern, and color temperature.
Brightness and light pattern
When it comes to overall brightness the Lumecube is the winner. It has about 1500 lumens at full power compared to the Litra’s 800 lumens.
The Lumecube allows you to adjust from 1-10 in terms of brightness. The Litra only goes in 3 steps from 1-3. This means that not only is the Lumecube brighter, but it also allows you to go dimmer as well. This is something that is important to me. Sometimes, I want a very dim light for a moody effect or a little accent in a certain part of an image.
However, the light pattern was much much better on the Litra. It casts a more evenly spread beam whereas the Lumecube has a bit of a hot spot in the center.
As far as color temperature goes, the Lumecube is a little cooler out of the box. However, both come with plenty of gels and diffusers that make it easy to get a warmer or cooler light. Given that the Lumecube is brighter but the light pattern of the Litra is better, I’d say it’s a dead heat in this category.
Accessory Options & Versatility
Since both of these lights are mostly used for things that aren’t toy photography I was worried that they wouldn’t provide enough versatility and accessories that work good at such a small scale. I was pleased to find though that they both had some great things to offer. Here are images of what accessories were included with the lights.
The Litra torch itself comes with a bubble diffuser for making the light a little less harsh. It slides right on to the front. The filter set also slides onto the front. It is essentially a little frame that you snap colored gels or diffusion material to further diffuse the light or change the color tone. It works quite well and turns the Litra torch into a little lego sized softbox.
The Lumecube kit came all packaged up in a nice little box. It holds two lights, two barn doors, bubble diffusers, snoots, honeycomb grids, and gels.
This is honestly where Lumecube knocks it out of the park for me. These little snoots and barn doors are so small they are perfect for toy photography. Although the Litra has some diffusers, they do not offer any barn doors or snoots for the Litra torch. These modifiers are a game changer and totally essential for me. Indeed, it takes these tiny lights from acting like an umbrella light that spills light everywhere, to modified lights that give you fine control over your light setup.
It gets even better too… All these attachments snap on to a magnetic modification frame on the front of the light. This means they are incredibly easy to change in and out and you can stack them on top of one another. For example, you could snap on a diffuser square, then a colored gel, then a snoot if you wanted. Litra simply has a more painstaking process when it comes to changing out the gels and you can’t combine as many things seamlessly.
WINNER: Lumecube (and it’s not really close)
Battery Life and Connectivity
The battery life on the Lumecube light is much better than the Litra given that it outputs more brightness. If I have the Litra at full power the battery will run out fairly quick (maybe an hour). With the Lumecube at a very similar brightness, it lasts about 2 hours. Another note about operating at full power… both lights do get warm. The Lumecube light gets noticeably warm, but the Litra after 30 minutes on full power is nearly too hot to touch. This makes it hard to move around often if you are constantly shifting lights around during I shoot as I do!
I have not had time to extensively review the Bluetooth features of the Lumecube yet, but Lumecube does have a smartphone app that you can use to control the light. It allows you to adjust power to any setting between 1-100% and check your remaining battery power. Litra does not have any Bluetooth connectivity.
Price & Portability
The Litra Torch comes with plenty of accessories (bumper, clip, dome diffuser, and a few others) and costs $75.00, although I have seen it as low as $60 at times.
The Lumecube costs $79.99 and comes pretty much bare bone. If you want all the goodies, prepare to spend quite a bit more on other accessories. The “Professional Lighting Kit” I got, which comes with two lights and accessories, cost $300.
The Litra light is also smaller as you can tell in the image I posted above that shows them side by side.
Overall these are both extremely fun tools and allow a lot of lighting possibilities for toy photography at a pretty affordable price (but it can run up significant if you cash out for all the accessories). If you are on a budget and just wanting to test the waters I’d say go for Litra. If you are willing to go all in though, I found Lumecube to be the better tool given the accessories, B
Disclaimer: Litra sent me the Litra Torch to review. They now have the Litra Torch 2.0. If I get my hands on one of those in the future then I may have to update some of my thoughts here to see how it compares to the Lumecube.
Here are a
In this photo, I had a Litra cube outside the window on the right with a green gel on it sending light through the window. Then two Lumecubes on the left-hand side. One with a red gel and snoot pointed at the back wall. The other with a snoot and a diffuser pointed at the subject. Add in some atmosphere aerosol to get the haze, a laser that I was able to draw using the Procreate app, and I’m very happy with how it turned out.
Kenton received independent review sets of Lumecube and Litra to test them out and make them part of his toy photography, and was willing to share his review with us here on SiP.
Thanks Kenton for the comparison of these light system.
I was wondering about it, and now I know that I have to sell some of my internal organs to pay a Lumecube system… ;)
That is the one issue with the Lumecube accessories. They can get quite expensive, but they are a blast!
I think they can be also a bit of a rip-off and not very eco-friendly.
They all come in packs and sometimes you only need one of them. For example, the only accessory I really need for the Lumecube is the diffuser dome. To get one, you need to buy 4 of them for 30USD (https://lumecube.com/collections/gels-diffusion/products/diffusion-bulb-pack). But personally, I only need the strongest one, the 3 others are useless to me. So not only I have to buy the full pack, but if I lose the dome I use, I need to buy again the 3 other domes too…
Thanks a lot Kenton – I have a litra and wanted to complete it with a second cube. I had already thought of the Lumecube, especially because I like the barn doors and snoot so much. I also like the longer battery life and the lower heat development. After reading your review, I am sure it will be a Lumecube
Thanks, Kenton for reminding me that I should get to work and finish writing that blog post I’ve been planning to write about my experience using the Lumecube for several months now. (Spoiler alert: I’m not using it that much because I’ve found better and cheaper ;-))
As an outdoor toy photographer, I have quite a different opinion about how good the Lumecube is. For example, I think the light quality is terrible because it’s not accurate to daylight. Even with warming gels, it is extremely greenish (and ugly) compared to real daylight or better quality artificial light.
I am curious to know what you are currently using for lighting. I always like to learn about new options.