Tag Archives: camera

Lume Cube Panel Mini Review



In addition to my writing for Geek News Central, I record the occasional product review video to accompany some of the articles. Over the years, I’ve been improving my equipment – tripod, boom arm, lavalier mic, cage  – and now it was time to improve my lighting. After some market research and a friend’s recommendation, I decide to buy a Lume Cube Panel Mini. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now, so let’s take a look at the Panel Mini in more detail.

The Panel Mini is a pocket-sized LED lamp roughly the size of a credit card (90 mm x 55 mm) but quite a bit fatter at 10 mm and it weighs in at 85 g so it’s heavy for the size. The Mini’s case is made of metal in a gunmetal grey with softly rounded corners and it feels like a quality item. In the box with the Panel Mini is a rubbery white softening diffuser, a simple hot shoe mount and a USB C charging cable.

Looking over the Panel Mini, the array of 60 LEDs is visible on the front,  and on two sides there are 1/4″ threads for mounting the light in a preferred orientation. On the third side, there is on/off/select button, a rocker dial and a USB C charging port. Finally, round the back is a small monochrome OLED display showing battery life, brightness and white temperature.

The Panel Mini powers up with a long press on the small button on the top right. Once turned on, the same button toggles between brightness and colour temperature, and the rocker dial is used to control brightness and temp. The brightness goes up in 5% increments and is rated at 550 lux at 0.5 m on 100% brightness. The white colour temperature goes between 3200K and 5600K in 100K increments and allows matching colour temperature to the ambient light.

At maximum brightness, the display shows around 1.2 hours of use: that’s 1 hour 12 minutes. In one test, I got 1 hour 7 mins but as soon as the brightness comes down, the battery life goes way up. The spec says 1.8 hours for recharging and I wouldn’t quibble about that.

I have my Panel Mini mounted onto a SmallRig frame as shown in the picture on the right. In that shot, the light diffuser has been put on. Overall, the Panel Mini works really well both for pieces to camera and for doing product reviews on the bench.

Frankly, the only issue I have is the softening diffuser and there are two problems. First the hole in the rubber is 1/4″ size so when using the supplied hot shoe mount, the retaining wheel slightly crushes the diffuser. It would have been much better if the hole in the diffuser had been a bit bigger. Secondly, the black rubber washer on the top of the mount is discolouring the white rubber. Look closely at the area around the hole in the diffuser in the first photograph and the yellowish fading can be seen.

In terms of price, I paid GB£69 for it at Amazon.co.uk but it’s priced 51.95€ and US$59.95 on Lume Cube’s website so there was definitely a bit of premium added there. Watch out for that and see if you can get a better deal than I did elsewhere. Aim for between GB£50-£60.

There are a number of copycat lights out there with dubious names for half the price and although I haven’t any direct experience of these, my feeling is that you get what you pay for: the Panel Mini feels well made.

In summary, I bought the Panel Mini on the back of four promises: Lume Cube’s reputation, 1+ hour battery life, white colour temperature adjustment and USB C charging. I think it’s been a good call and I’m really expecting the Panel Mini to give my product reviews and presentations a lighting boost. Watch out for more videos coming soon.


Beautiful Tracking Shots with Wiral at CES 2018



Tracking shots have traditionally been the preserve of the professional filmmaker or broadcaster, first with cameras on dollys and tracks, then with  Steadicam and now there are cable or wire systems (SkyCam) that can move in three dimensions to get some really amazing shots. While these are all still expensive, the amateur filmaker can achieve a similar effect with Wiral Lite at a fraction of the cost. Todd hangs tight with Emilie.

The Wiral Lite system consists of a steel cable plus a motorised camera mount – the cable cam – that hangs from the cable and it’s a little like a miniature cable car. The cable is strung between two strong points, say, a couple of trees or street lights, and the cable cam is hung on the wire under tension. It needs the tension so that the rubber wheels can grip on the cable and move about. Cameras up to 1.5 kg / 3.3 lb can be carried by the cable cam so it can easily hold a GoPro. The remote control  moves the cable cam back and forth on the cable with adjustable speed.

The Wiral was successfully funded on Kickstarter in the autumn raising over US$1,000,000 and is now also crowdfunding on Indiegogo. There are currently perks at US$239 with delivery expected in August.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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Clap for Kano’s Camera Kit at CES 2018



Kano‘s mission is to encourage people, particularly children, to see computers not as unchangeable appliances but as tools to be made, shaped, coded and shared. Their kits plug together bits, boards, buttons and cables to make individual and personalised computers. Bruno gives Todd a hand to develop a selfie camera from their new Camera Kit.

Kano’s approach is to challenge each young developer into programming simple apps that achieve technical goals. Using Kano’s development tools it’s really easy to build programs as the tools come with code building blocks for things like taking a picture or responding to noise via a microphone. Consequently, even Todd can code an app to take a picture when someone claps.

The Camera Kit’s not expected until next year but you can sign up to hear the latest news. Expect the price to be around US$99.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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Olloclip Pivot Grips Smartphones at CES



Olloclip is well-known for its clip-on lens system for the Apple iPhone, though new at CES is the Olloclip Pivot, a grip for smartphones, cameras and GoPros. Todd finds out more from Patrick.

The Olloclip Pivot grip is a bit different from an ordinary handheld smartphone holder as it incorporates an articulating hub which provides 225° of rotation so that the camera can be positioned conveniently to capture the best shot, whether skating, boarding or simply at the beach. The Pivot is water resistant so can be taken swimming or snorkelling.

The Pivot holds smartphones between 4″ and 5.5″ wide, and also takes a GoPro. There’s an integrated cold shoe mount too for lightweight accessories like a light or microphone.  Priced at US$49.99, the Pivot is available now. I want one!

In addition to the Pivot, Olloclip have a new set of lenses for the iPhone 7, including wide angle, fish eye and macro. The core lens set is US$100.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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Smanos Launches K1 Smart Home at Gadget Show Live



Smanos LogoIn the last of my smart home interviews from Gadget Show Live, I look at one of the new entrants to the market, Smanos. The Dutch firm announced their new K1 Smart Hub at the show and while it’s a good-looking piece of kit, the K1 is coming into an increasingly crowded space. I chat with Rafael about Smanos and the difference it brings.

Coming from a security background, Smanos has brought its understanding of that space to the smart home. The first iteration of the K1 focusses on security: the starter kit includes a siren, door/window sensor, motion sensor and keypard with the Smart Hub. As might be expected, the devices use Z-Wave for communication and there’s an app for managing and controlling the system, so additional sensors can be added easily.

Smanos K1 Smart Hub

In order to set Smanos apart from the competition, the K1 has well designed sensors that wouldn’t look out of place in a bijoux pad. All white and chrome with surface detail, it’s clear that the sensors are part of a matched set, and not awkwardly thrown together to meet a functional need.

K1 Smart Home

In addition to the K1 Smart Hub (GB£249), Smanos launched the UFO panoramic Wi-Fi HD camera (£149) with a massive field of view, and a smart video doorbell (£159). Both of these look neat.


Cupris Smartphone Scopes at Wearable Tech Show



Cupris LogoThe smartphones in our pockets have cameras that could only have been dreamed of a few years ago, yet most only take a couple of selfies. So why not use these miracles of engineering to do more? Cupris‘ phone case converts the smartphone into a digital medical instrument. Helene tells Andrew more about their upcoming products.

The Cupris smartphone case mounts specialist medical lenses in front of the smartphone camera to take images and videos. The first device is an otoscope (right) for examining the eardrum and the second is an ophthalmoscope (left) for retinal imaging. The big benefit of digital imaging over the traditional scopes is that the pictures can be added to the patient record for review at a later date.

The otoscope will be available soon for less than GB£100.

Cupris Medical Imaging


Kodak PIXPRO 4k 360 Action Cam at 2016 CES



Kodak Digital DevicesTodd Cochrane talks with Paul Meyhoefer, Vice President, J.K. Imaging Limited, Kodak about the Kodak PIXPRO 4k action camera. The Kodak PIXPRO 4k action camera uses a 4k sensor to record 360 degree video with a 235 degree band of view.

The unit is able to use WiFi to produce a lower resolution live view on your Android or iOS mobile devices so you can check your camera aim. The device includes stitching software and editing software for both Windows and Mac.

The unit can support up to a 128 gigabyte Class 10 (or higher) Micro SD card. An RF remote control is sold separately for $45. Underwater housings and other mounts are available for sale on the website.

Kodak PIXPRO 4k pricing is $449 for the camera by itself. The Premiere Pack which includes various accessories is priced at $499. The Dual Pro Pack is priced at $899 and includes 2 cameras and accessories. The 360 degree videos produced are compatible with both YouTube and Facebook.

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