Manfrotto (36 LED) Midi Hybrid Light
WHETHER you’re a photographer or a videographer, this 36-LED light from trusted photographic experts Manfrotto is a great all-in-one tool.
As the hybrid name suggests, this unit combines the functionality of a dimmable light for video applications along with an LED flash unit for photographers.
Lightweight and compact, this light simply connects to your camera using the hotshoe mount as a fixing point.
The clever design of this light means that it can be mounted in either a horizontal or vertical position and the hotshoe mounting clip can be used to link multiple units together should you require a higher light output.
Maximum brightness for this light unit is an impressive 5600K — which incidentally, is the same colour temperature rating as daylight.
Testing the light on full output in a darkened room, it was possible to illuminate objects without causing the bleaching effect — illumination was so good, I was able to take handheld photographs without switching to flash mode.
The beauty of LED lighting means that it is low power consumption and low heat.
For this review, I only used the unit in five to 10 minute blocks but officially, the light can be used for up to an hour without any loss of brightness — powered by just four AAA batteries,
Low heat output also makes the light comfortable to use — especially if you are reliant on the viewfinder rather than your camera’s LCD screen as the last thing you need is a scorched forehead from a hot lamp.
Or worst still, if you are shooting macro photography with this unit you would risk scorching or damaging delicate objects placed close to what would become a heat lamp.
A key feature to this hybrid lamp is the dimmable power output.
Although 5600k colour temperature with an illuminance of 420 LUX at a distance of one metre is impressive, you don’t always want full power.
Sometimes a gentle glow is all you need to create dramatic effects and the Manfrotto’s variable dimmer control makes this possible.
The light output from this device covers a 30 degree span which means at full power it can illuminate a person standing three metres away from the camera.
Low-light settings usually mean that you will be working in the dark — to aid navigation around your camera, the unit also includes an LED light specifically angled so that it illuminates the back of your camera.
Using the unit as a flash is equally easy.
The flash is controlled through a sync cable rather than your usual hotshoe connection. Most professional SLRs have sync cable sockets built into the body of the camera — if yours doesn’t, hotshoe adapter plates are readily available.
With the sync cable connected, the flash is easy to operate through a single on/off button on the back of the unit. This button glows orange when the flash is fully charged — and it has a quick recharge time of just 110 milliseconds.
Firing the flash produces brightness four times brighter than the continuous light the unit can produce.
Photographers used to using professional hotshoe mounted flash units will probably find the flash options quite restrictive — you cannot alter the flash power output, you cannot alter the pitch of the head for bounce-flash lighting nor can you use the unit for off-camera flash work without either investing in a very long sync cable or an expensive wireless flash signal sender.
I tended to use this hybrid unit for its continuous dimmable LED lighting rather than for its flash capabilities.
You can create artistic effects by remote mounting this unit as a continuous light and then using your standard hotshoe flash as normal. Utilising the unit in this way gives you a good alternative to bulky studio lighting in a very compact and lightweight unit.
Overall, this is a superb addition to any kitbag. It gives you light when you need it for video work, it doubles as a flash unit when you need it and its dimmable to best suit your requirements.
Not forgetting that it’s lightweight, compact and four standard AAA batteries provide enough power for about an hour of continuous lighting.
The Manfrotto brand also fills you with confidence that it is built to last and built to meet the demands of the world’s best photographers.