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Review: Photojojo's Pocket Spotlight

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April 4, 2013

Gizmag takes a hands-on look at Photojojo's Pocket Spotlight photographic light source

Gizmag takes a hands-on look at Photojojo's Pocket Spotlight photographic light source

Image Gallery (11 images)

Never before have I so wished that I could use a device for taking photos of that device. That was certainly the case with Photojojo’s US$30 Pocket Spotlight, however. It’s simply a tiny battery-powered array of 32 LED bulbs, that provide a source of soft, even light as an alternative to the harsh light of a flash. While serious photographers will already have proper lighting systems of their own, it’s a nice tool for all the point-and-shooters out there.

When I’m taking photos of small items for reviews like this one, I almost never use a flash. Instead, I find an area where there’s indirect sunlight, and use that. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of sunlight at night, or on cloudy days. Additionally, the indirectly-lit areas don’t always have the neutral backdrop that I’d like. With its ability to softly brighten up any area, I figured that the Pocket Spotlight would be just what I need.

The light comes with three interchangeable mounts. One allows it to be stuck into the earphone port of a smartphone, one is designed to slide into a camera’s hot shoe, and one is ... well, I don’t know what the other one is for. The light does work completely independent of the camera, so I simply held it in place on top of my hot shoe-less compact Canon.

The Pocket Spotlight recharges via a USB connection

The Pocket Spotlight's 3.7-volt lithium-ion battery charges from a computer via an included USB cable – a built-in indicator light changes from red to green when charging is complete, which takes two to three hours.

When I first fired it up, I found that its light was indeed bright, yet soft. Because the LEDs are arranged in a rectangular grid, it gives off a much wider swath of light than one would get using something like a flashlight (which I’ve tried).

For taking pictures of small objects right up close, I noticed that its intensity was initially pretty close to that of the flash on my camera. The nice thing about the Spotlight, however, is that you can move it farther back in order to soften its light – it would be nice if there was an intensity adjustment right on the light itself. You can also see what the lighting looks like before snapping the photo, plus you can light the subject from different angles.

The difference is more obvious in wider shots, in which a flash really gives subjects a glaring, corrupt-politician-on-the-front-page-of-the-paper look.

Doing some serious smartphone photography, with the Pocket Spotlight

The Pocket Spotlight’s lower intensity, however, does mean that longer shutter speeds will be required. After a certain point, that means you’ll need to use a tripod. By contrast, one of the advantages of using a built-in flash is the fact that your camera will automatically set itself to a relatively fast shutter speed. That said, I found that the Spotlight was a very welcome addition on my camcorder, where shutter speed isn’t such an issue.

Upon looking over my flash vs. Pocket Spotlight still pics, I noticed that the Spotlight’s 5200 K color temperature is definitely towards the blue end of the spectrum – it’s pretty similar to overcast natural daylight. I was able to address this somewhat by manually adjusting the white balance on my camera (something that most point-and-shooters aren’t likely to bother doing), or simply by tweaking the color after the fact in iPhoto.

In the three photos below, you can see my remarkably still-intact DJI Phantom quadcopter lit with my camera's built-in flash (top); with the Pocket Spotlight; and with the Spotlight, with the camera's white balance set to "cloudy day."

A shot of my DJI Phantom, taken using the camera's built-in flash
A shot of my DJI Phantom, taken using the Pocket Spotlight
A shot of my DJI Phantom, taken using the Pocket Spotlight and with the white balance set ...

Photojojo lists the battery run time at “up to an hour,” but in the case of the light I received, that’s wrong – it’s actually longer. Along with the use it received while I was taking the photos for this review, it’s been sitting on my desk continuously shining away for over an hour and a half now.

In summary, the Pocket Spotlight is a great little device for doing things like getting photos of items for eBay listings, doing creative lighting in snapshots, or shooting handheld video. You might need to use a tripod for shooting some stills, however, plus you may find its color temperature to be a little too cool.

Product page: Photojojo's Pocket Spotlight

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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3 Comments

Why would anyone call this a "spotlight" when, as should be obvious, a spotlight produces a spot of light. A floodlight such as this however produces a flood of light to illuminate a larger area. Is this too complicated?

professore
5th April, 2013 @ 08:48 am PDT

professore I think there called engineers ?

Jay Finke
5th April, 2013 @ 11:15 am PDT

Call it what you want to call it, but the Photojojo Pocket Spotlight does exactly what you need it to do. It provides a continuous light source so you can take better photos in low light.

Right now I'm sending links to my mom about the different "gadgets" I use to take family photos and pics for "The Facebook." I think she's buying Christmans gifts (I hope she gets ME something from Photojojo).

This little light has became a family fav on our last vacation and it's great for taking photos after dinner when we're all standing outside a restuarant together... Yuh know, moms love that.

Beyond family photos, I like to use this as a hand held spotlight or a light source for my camera. It's super portable, rechargable and for the money you can't go wrong. Try it out, or get one for your mother for Christmas :)

stewnk
30th October, 2013 @ 07:02 pm PDT
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