Lume Cube Review

Back in December of 2016 I bought a set of Lume Cubes and I wanted to give them a good run though before writing a review for their product. For those of you not familiar with Lume Cube they are a small yet fiercely powerful light and can be used in a variety of settings and activities.

The light dimension is about a 1.5” cube to give you an idea of its size, it comes in blue, black and sliver/gray casings. Lume Cube has made some special give away cubes that were red and other colors but I have not seen those for sale (cause I would love a red one). The light color is around 6000K so it does have a light blue tint to it and it is extremely bright.

The light itself is really simple to use it has two push buttons on top one to operate the light. With the back of the light facing towards you the left button operates the light on its own. Once it is turned on you can tap the button repeatedly and increase the power of the light in 10% increments. the right button is activates the Bluetooth function of the light which allows it to pare with your phone or tablet.  From there you can modify the light in single percent increments.

The App for the Lume Cube has recently been up dated and for the most part is still the same. You can pair up to five Lume Cubes at one time and active them all with the touch of the screen. The one thing I like about the app is that it remembers the intensity percentage of the light when you turn it on and off the lights or the App. The one down side I did notice in the App is when you do modify the light brightness on the App the results are not immediately visible it does require you to turn the light on and off again with the little light power button on the app. The distance the light works with is the App is based on the power of its Bluetooth and your mobile device. I use a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet and Motorola X Pure phone and the distance from where it works to where it doesn’t is about 40 feet for my devices. So results may vary depending on your mobile device.

When the light is on full power it will last about 20 to 30 minutes depending on surrounding conditions. Lume Cube says on full power expect about a 22-minute run time. So what I have experienced is within stated running time  With the light below 75% power one can expect anywhere between a 45 minute to an hour and a half run time. The light does tend to get a bit warm with time especially on full power, not by any means that this is a down side but it is something to be aware of.

The one thing I love about this little light is that it is water resistant/proof up to 100 feet. I live on a lake with a max depth of 40 feet and this winter while the ice was on the lake I did pare both lights up with my Contour Camera. They work quite well in low level light and a depth of around 35 feet.

As for charging there is a screw off cap on the back of the Lume Cube to access the charging port. The cap has a rubber O-ring on it so it keeps the water out when screwed on tight. It can be easily removed for charging with a quarter or a nickel. The charging port is a USB type C connection and it will charge the Lume Cube in about an hour and a quarter to an hour and a half from being completely dead. Even if the Lume Cube is not being used for long periods of time the battery will still slowly drain, so the night before you use it to put it on the charger for a while just to make sure you are prepaired.

Some of the other uses I have found for Lume Cube is working on my vehicles because of their small size it has allowed me to get light into a small area where you can’t normally fit a normal flash light.  It also works well in flagging a passing by snowmobile with the pulse setting on the app when you are broken down on the side of the trail.

Lume Cube also offers a multitude of accessories for their lights. I am looking forward to getting the light house case and along with the honey comb pack and defuser bundle when they are released. By the looks and current online information, they will be held to the case by magnets so it will be interesting to see how they hold up with jarring and shaking. You can currently also get mounting accessories kits for the DJI Phantom series, Inspire series, also for the Yuneec Typhoon H and the Autel Robotics X-Star Drones.

The Lume Cube light is a small light that packs a big punch and is extremely versatile and it worth the $79.99 price tag. So if you are in the market for a small compact light it is worth the purchase and addition to your lighting arsenal.

Pelican 1450 Review

In today’s blog we discuss carrying your equipment in the Pelican 1450.

Recently I was invited to a weekend in the U.P. to ride snowmobiles with friends through the beautiful back country of “Pure Michigan” (I always thought that was a great slogan). Of course, I jumped at the chance to be out in the back country with an opportunity to photograph some hard to access areas and to get away from the hustle and bustle of living just outside of Milwaukee.

After some planning and trying to come up with how to transport my camera gear one Nikon D-800, a 24-70 F2.8 and a 70-200 F2.8 Nikon lenses and two Lume Cubes, I concluded that placing them in my NatGeo camera backpack or my shoulder bag was not the best equipment to do the job and I risked serious damage if anything happened. After some research, it was decided that buying a hard case was the best option for this trip.

I invested in a Pelican 1450 medium case which was just large enough for the gear I was taking (if you live in the Greater Milwaukee area I recommend Mike Crivello’s Cameras). It cost me around 150-160 dollars but safely protecting your gear is worth the cost.

1450 it comes with pluck foam, which is great you can pull out what you need to fit your camera and lenses so they will fit nice and snug without any movement inside the case.

It’s also water proof which was perfect for what I was doing because being attached to the back of the snowmobile meant it was bombarded by snow and ice flying up from the track of the snowmobile and other passing ones. I can say that after 350 miles of riding over the weekend there was no moisture inside the case.

The case is also made of a think hard plastic which makes it a little bit on the heavier side but it is worth every bit of the extra protection it provides as I can attest to.
In addition to buying the case for the trip I figured I would build a rack for the case so the travel bags could still be attached beneath my seat. The rack worked great, it held the case and kept it right where it was supposed to be until about mile 75, then though vibration and metal fatigue (note Aluminum is not the best to bend without reinforcing) causing the case to fall off with the rack and bounce down the trail and into an encounter with a trailing snowmobile. After fearing the worst, we recovered the case unlocked it and to my surprise everything was still where I left it and in great working condition like nothing had ever happened. It then got strapped with a 5-dollar ratchet strap to the back of my sled and stayed there the rest of the 200 miles we rode the first day.

After some serious hard testing of the Pelican 1450, I can say the case/brand is something a photographer should consider investing in. The ability to securely hold your gear, to be locked shut and the fact that it is water proof are all great pluses. The only downside is the weight, it’s about 7 LBS with the foam and no camera gear. Once I added my camera gear it weighed around 12-14 LBS but the weight does come because of the thickness off the plastic which keeps your gear safe.
The case measures about 16.5″ x 13.00″ x 7” which it not all that large, it will fit under the seat of an airplane if you are traveling it also fits quite nicely under the seat of a truck or larger SUV so it can be hidden from sight of would be robbers. I cannot say if it will fit under a car seat seeing as I do not have access to a small car.
Pelican say it will float with about 30 LBS of gear in it but I am going to take Pelicans word on seeing as I don’t wish to put 30 LBS of weight in it to test it out.
The case also comes in an array of colors I went with the standard black, but it also comes in gray, yellow orange, green and tan.

If you’re planning a trip to the back country where it might be  bouncy, dirty or wet and a backpack or satchel bag won’t cover it consider investing in a hard case. You make look like you’re carrying the nuclear launch codes (as my friends said on the trip while stopping in a pub) but at least your gear is as safe as those codes are.

Year in Review 2016

As the year draws to and end and I sit here and enjoy the last breakfast of the old year and eagerly await the beginning of the new, it’s time to sit back for a minute and reflect on what a good year it has been for Vagabond Photography.

Vagabond Photography had a good year with some ups and downs. While at Imaging USA in Atlanta in January, I decided it was time to start writing down some of our experiences in the photography industry. This has turned out to be a good way to communicate with you our clients and readers.

Bookings didn’t come in quite as quick as I had hoped for, for weddings and senior/portraits in the first half of the year but we did have a large expansion into the Corporate photography niche, with this new area now comprising about a quarter to a third of our business.  Something that I learned from my father is that even though you may have intended for your company to serve/provide one style of service, sometimes it can take on a life of its own and move in a different direction.

In April and May we had the joy of teaming up with two non profit groups in Milwaukee called Sweetwater and the Water Council of Milwaukee. They both have a great mission Sweetwater aims to help clean up the Milwaukee River, Menomonee River and Root River basins. While the Water Council of Milwaukee looks at ways of restoring our aquafers and delivering clean water to the area. It was such a great experience to be able to work at both of their conferences, I learned a lot even though I was just there to document the day for them.

Over the summer, we saw the launch of our new website for Vagabond Photography. www.vbphoto.co  For many years, I used and loved the hosting company Zenfolio, they have great layouts and custom designs but with diminishing returns though search engines and a lack of being able to do customized SEO, I decided it was time to make a move. After some research beginning in late July I decided on moving our hosting duties to Square Space. It took a little while to get everything set up and also, I had to find a new hosting platform for our client galleries and for that we settled on a little-known company called Pixieset. I was able to integrate both platforms to create a seamless new website that I think looks marvelous.

As the fall approached we moved to the last of our Senior Portraits and a few weddings. It was so great to a part of our wedding client’s special day.  I really love fall weddings so much more than summer weddings. There is such a great wide range of colors from golden hues of yellow, fiery reds, hazelnut browns and every other color in-between.

At the end of October/beginning of November I interviewed with an auto auction company called Mecums to possibly photograph cars for them part time while still being able to run Vagabond Photography full time. It didn’t pan out but I am thankful for the time to learn from there master photographer David Newhardt. I always love to learn new things and in a couple of days photographing with them it turned into a great learning experience. Learning something from a gentleman that has photographed classic cars for over 40 plus years is a great treat.

As Christmas approached we moved back into our Corporate Christmas season. I was great, to have our friends at MUZA Metals in Oshkosh ask us back for a second year even though getting there it did happen on one of the more hazardous snow storms we have had it Wisconsin in a while. But it was fun, they all were but this one stick out in my mind the most because the getting there was just as interesting as the actual event was.

Christmas was spent back in my home town with my family and it was great to have some down time and to be able to be with friends and family for a few days.  I keep telling myself one of these years I need to bring my gear home with me and photograph a Gumz Family Christmas on Christmas Day but I have yet to do this. It’s a great time with mom and dad on my dad side of the family all the aunts and uncles show up with all the cousins and it turns into a great time when you stick 75 to 100 people into a town hall with the same last name. I guess next year should be the year to do that before the family starts to dwindle.

As we look forward to the new year it comes with hope and a little apprehension of the unknown. I cannot wait to get to San Antonio in the first part January for Imaging USA’s annual convention and trade show and to escape part of the cold Wisconsin winter.  We are still working on bookings for 2017 and I would love to be a part of your wedding or collaborate with you on your senior or family portraits. No idea is too big or too small for us. For our corporate clients, we would enjoy teaming up with you and photographing your summits, meeting and conventions and we can work with you based on your business size.

Have a great and safe New Years Eve folks, if you venture out tonight and you find you had a little too much to drink call a friend or a family member because a little lecture is better than not having your presents to enjoy. And as my favorite character Sherman T Potter from Mash says “Here’s to the new year. May she be a damn sight better than the old one, and may we may we all be home before she’s over.”

I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you in the New Year.

Best wishes,

Tim Gumz
owner and principal photographer

 

Magmod Product Review

 

Complete-Kit-632898983Back in January while at ImagingUSA I was introduced to a company call Magmod. They are a company that produces light modifiers for hot shoe flashes.

Magmod has a great concept that use magnets embedded in a thick rubber band (Mag Grip) that attaches to your flash head to make it easier to switch out the different modifiers needed on a regular basis.  Currently they offer several different attachments from snoots, grids, spheres, bounces and a few different sets of gels. With a new product called a Mag Beam in development.

I have purchases and used for Vagabond Photography the snoots, grids, gels and sphere. When I first started to use them I noticed the Mag Grips seemed tight on my Nikon SB-800s and I did have a slight fear that it might somehow damage the flash head. My fears were unfounded before putting them on I stretched them out a little and have had no issues. They have been attached for two months with no issues. As I stated they do fit quite snug which is a good thing cause when you a moving around the flash head one does not want them to slide off or back causing the modifier to fall off.

Each attachment that I have bought does have the ability to place a gel card into each unit. This is a big money saver, by not having to buy a separate Mag Gel 2 kit if you want to run a gelled light on more than one flash head.

The snoot is also very versatile by being able to change the distance from the flash head one can change how broad the light striking the subject is. It is also very useful in hair lighting when you are trying to pop ones subject out from the background.

The only slight down side I have found is the Mag Grip does add about ½ to ¾ of an inch to the left and right side of the flash head which being used in conjunction with my traveling soft box(SDMV Diffuser) makes it hard to fit though the hole in the back of the soft box.

In the past I have used grids and gels that use a velcro and heavy cloth to hold in their grids and gels to the flash head. The problem here was over time the vibration and movement would cause them to fall off and slow our sessions down. After dealing with this issue though two other companies I decided the switch to Magmod was and has been the correct choice.

I cannot recommend this company enough, if you have the time check them out and take the time to use and get to know their product line.

*Please note that we at Vagabond Photography has in no way been paid or sponsored to give reviews about products or companies read in our blog postings.