In March 2023 Hobolite released a collection of beautifully designed and feature-packed bi-color LED lights - the Hobolite Pro, the Avant, and the Mini. Check out our review of the Avant and Mini.
August 2023 sees a new member being added to the Hobolite family - the Hobolite Micro. The Micro - as its name suggests - is the smallest and lightest LED in the Hobolite range, but its diminutive size comes with advantages. The Micro is sold in two kits - the Standard Kit ships with the Micro, a frosted diffuser dome, a fresnel lens, and a pair of barn doors, while the aptly named Creator Kit is packed with extra accessories such as six colored gels that enable you to creatively change the mood of your shoots.
Luminous Flux: 500 LM
Battery: 3.7V 2000mAh, 7.4Wh
Light Dimensions: 2” x 2.7” x 3”
Light Body Net Weight: 0.52 lbs
Color temperature range: 2700K - 6500K
CRI Index: ≥96
TLCI Index: ≥96
Wireless method: Bluetooth
Wireless operating max range: 65.6FT
As with its larger siblings, the Hobolite Micro enables you to change accessories using magnetic mounts, so you can attach a supplied frosted dome to diffuse the LED light source, add barn doors to control the spread of light, and also add colored gels for creative lighting scenarios. As the accessories instantly attach and detach to the Micro magnetically there’s no need for any time-wasting fiddling with catches or clamps.
A smart thermal response fan enables the Micro to remain cool, though it did produce an audible whirr that could be picked up when in close proximity to a subject in a video interview. Fortunately, you can turn the fan off, but this limits you to 50% output. As a bi-color LED you can rotate one of the two dials on the rear of the lamp to change color temperature between a range of a warm 2700º K to a cooler daylight of 6500º K. This enables you to make the light emitted by the Micro compliment the color temperature of available light in most locations.
As with its larger siblings, the Micro boasts a set of eight preset lighting effects, including those that mimic the flash gun of a photographer’s camera or the glare of a distant explosion. These presets should make the Micro attractive to drama video producers.
A key difference between the Hobolite Micro and its larger siblings is of course output. The larger Hobolite Avant is a 100W light that’s great for studio and location shooting while the Mini’s 20W output will make it attractive for product shoots in a home studio. The Micro’s 8W output produces a weaker 500 lumens, but that’s perfectly adequate for intimate portrait location shoots as we demonstrate in our supporting video. The light is calibrated to achieve high CRI and TLCI metrics of 96+, so you can rely on accurate color rendering of your subjects.
Build & Handling
In line with its larger siblings, the Micro is also an effective combination of form and function. The curves and angles on its silver-grey frame evoke a 1960s vibe (which I find particularly pleasing as a child of the 60s!) This retro look is reinforced by the brown faux leather panels on the sides of the Micro, complete with a silver metallic Hobolite logo branded on the leather.
You’d expect the Micro to be a scaled-down version of the Hobolite Mini, but it actually bears more of a resemblance to the larger Avant, with two knurled control knobs on the rear of the light positioned below the color LCD display panel on the rear of the lamp. These knobs also double up as buttons to access various set-up menus and effect presets via the display. I particularly like the font used in the LCD display as I find it evocative of some of the onscreen ‘futuristic’ fonts used in the seminal 1960s movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is an example of the Micro fusing retro and futuristic elements into its design.
To illustrate Hobolite’s keen eye on branding the Hobolite logo also features on the barn doors that ship with the Creator Kit. The logo is also on the charging dock and on the two extra batteries that clip into the dock. You can detach a fully charged battery from the dock and pop it into the Micro, or link the dock to the Micro via a USB-C cable to power it for longer on the go. With three batteries you’ll be able to illuminate a subject for up to 150 minutes at full brightness (and you can always charge two batteries simultaneously by plugging the dock into a power supply while the third is powering the light).
Like many LEDs, the Hobolite Micro boasts a collection of animated presets effects. However, as a Bi-colour light, these effects are more limited compared to the effects produced by an RGB LED. An RGB LED can mimic the red and blue flashes of an emergency vehicle whereas the colors produced by the bi-color Hobolite are limited to a range of warm 2700ºK to a cooler 6500ºK. Despite the color limitations, the animated effects on the Micro are very effective, especially the warm flickering Flame effect and the cooler flashes of Lightning. Plus the Hobolite has its magnetic gels to mimic some of the colours emitted by an RGB LED.
To test the Micro I headed to the streets of London for a portrait shoot. As a fan of iPhone shooting the Micro’s small size was perfect as it fitted easily into my small kit bag. I do like to travel light. The Micro has a 1/4” thread at the base so I was able to mount it on a Joby Gorillapod and clamp it to bits of street furniture such as railings so I could get it close to my model Paulina. Because the Micro was lightweight the Gorillapod supported it with ease, so this is a big plus point for shooting in urban locations. Even in bright daylight, the 500 lumens produced by the light were strong enough (at close proximity) to add a key light and corresponding shadows that helped bring out the contours of my model’s face.
Thanks to the Micro’s magnetic mount I was able to quickly experiment with colored gels to capture portraits with different moods. These gels encouraged collaboration with my model who chose a red gel to add a vampiric wash of color to our urban portrait session.
The Micro can also be controlled by the Hobolite app courtesy of its built-in Bluetooth feature. At first, we couldn’t get the app to talk with the Micro until we found a sub-menu on the Micro’s LCD that enabled us to reset and pair the app with our smartphone. The app gives you the same controls that you’ll find on the Micro’s LCD with the additional option to loop the animated effects.
The Hobolite Micro is the smallest light in the Hobolite range, but its small stature makes it the perfect portable accessory for location shoots where you want to travel light. Despite its small stature it emits enough light to provide modeling for a portrait and the six magnetically attachable colored gels enable you to add a range of mood lighting to location and studio shoots. Video makers will also find that the 8 animated preset lighting effects can be a springboard to creatively enhancing your footage.