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JOBY Beamo (and Beamo Mini) review

With the Joby Beamo you can light up a gloomy location with a portable compact LED that really packs a punch

Joby Beamo
(Image: © George Cairns)

Digital Camera World Verdict

The JOBY Beamo LED can dramatically improve picture quality in low light locations. Its compact form means it doesn’t hog space in your kit bag and in conjunction with the free MY JOBY app you can program a collection of Beamo LEDs to instantly produce lighting set-ups (such as the classic three point lighting). The Beamo will benefit both videographers and photographers without blowing their budget.

Pros

  • +

    Strong diffuse light source

  • +

    Programmable via app

  • +

    Can operate manually

  • +

    Waterproof

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    Wireless charging

Cons

  • -

    Diffuser can easily fall off

The Joby Beamo is a modern solution to a modern problem! Today's cameras and smartphones are pretty good at shooting stills and clips in low light, but the results can sometimes look disappointing. A high ISO setting will make a camera more sensitive to light but it can add ugly digital noise to your footage. 

Professionals can rig up lamps on stands to help their camera to capture noise free shots, but this is not always practical (especially if you’re shooting in a crowded location where a light stand could topple over). The JOBY Beamo, however, is a compact LED that you can mount directly on your DSLR’s hot shoe mount.  

On the other hand, the light from a camera-mounted Beamo can make a subject look flat as it sits directly above the lens. Fortunately, the Beamo can also be threaded onto a tripod head which is useful for providing off-camera light sources. Having additional portable Beamos on tripods can give the subject  a more ‘modelled’ and three-dimensional look. A Beamo can also give your smartphone’s camera a brighter flash source,  helping it illuminate more distant objects when taking snaps. 

Specifications

Weight: 0.13 kg
Dimensions: 4.7 x 5.1 x 5.1cm
Battery: Built-in Lithium
Waterproofing: 30 m
Material: Aluminium, ABS Plastic, TPU
Lumens: 1500
Battery Life: 40mins @100% brightness, 100mins +/- @50% brightness hrs
Color Temperature: 5100 K
Mounting Method: 1/4"-20 tripod mount, cold shoe mount x 2
App: iOS / Android

Key features

The Beamo can be mounted on DSLRs, tripods or via smartphone mounts such as the JOBY GripTight Pro2. (Image credit: George Cairns)
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Beamos assemble! Use the Beamo’s double cold shoe mounts to combine up to four LEDs. (Image credit: George Cairns)
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The JOBY Beamo can clip onto a smartphone mount such as the JOBY GripTight Pro2 (which is what we used in our test to team up the Beamo with our iPhone 13 Pro). Despite its compact form (it’ll fit happily in your palm) the JOBY Beamo LED beams out a blinding 1500 Lumen, which is enough to reveal a subject’s colours and details in a dark location. 

The Beamo also has a brother – the Beamo Mini. Although they are identical in build, the Mini’s LED emits a weaker 1000 Lumen. 

You can dock up to four of the Beamo and Beamo Mini lamps together to create a more powerful lighting array. While the Beamo can be charged wirelessly, the Beamo Mini needs to be charged via cable, but it compensates for this by being magnetic instead. It’ll clamp solidly to the bonnet of a car for example. Both Beamo variants are waterproof for up to 30 meters which should make them attractive to underwater photographers and videographers.  

Build and handling

The optional diffuser helps reduce the presence of hotspots and creates a smoother more flattering light source. (Image credit: George Cairns)
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You can shine a much needed light into dark locations to bring out more colour and detail. (Image credit: George Cairns)
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The Beamo’s aluminium body feels sturdy and solid. It can also feel very hot after prolonged use. Simply press and hold on one of the Beamo’s two buttons to turn it on. You can then use the buttons to increase or decrease the strength of the lamp by 5 increments. By using the free MY JOBY app for smartphones you can adjust the intensity of the lamp through 100 increments which gives you much greater control.  The app uses Bluetooth to quickly detect and pair with active Beamos. You can control them individually and save a group of Beamos’ intensity settings as a Scene for later use. 

For example, if you have three Beamos one could be a key light set to 100% brightness, the other a fill light at 60% and the third a backlight at 45%. You can save these brightness settings as a Scene in the app and activate all three lamps in a tap which helps you work more quickly and effectively. The app also enables you to make the lamps flash, shine constantly or even strobe (though we’re not sure how useful the last option is).

Performance

Being a very compact LED, the naked light source from the Beamo can look a bit too narrow and focussed. This can lead to burnt-out hotspots on your subject. You can alleviate these hotspots by popping the supplied diffuser over the lamp. This creates a wider and softer beam of light that is more flattering to the subject.  

At a color temperature of 5100 degrees Kelvin skin tones don’t look too warm either. The diffuser can easily get knocked off the lamp, though as it’s made of soft rubber it shouldn’t get damaged if trampled on at a busy location. 

We took the Beamo for a test drive at the Beamish museum. Many of the rooms were unlit or dimly lit so the LED proved invaluable in teasing out more colour and detail in the gloomy locations to reveal fascinating objects from bygone eras.  Check out our supplied video to see the results of our test, plus learn how to control a group of Beamo LEDs via the MY JOBY app.

Verdict

Control multiple lights via the MY JOBY app including presets that you can launch in a tap. (Image credit: George Cairns)
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A JOBY Beamo (or three) should be a valuable asset for videographers who have no control over available light in a range of rooms (such as at a wedding location for example). 

The Beamo also extends your freedom to shoot in dark locations without adding nasty noise to your footage. The free MY JOBY app gives you extra control and the option to create presets for groups of Beamos (though you can still use the Beamo as a light source when recording via other apps thanks to its physical buttons).  

A Beamo won’t hog valuable space in your kit-bag but it could save the day when you need an extra light source.

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George has been freelancing as a photo fixing and creative tutorial writer since 2002, working for award winning titles such as Digital Camera, PhotoPlus, N-Photo and Practical Photoshop. He's expert in communicating the ins and outs of Photoshop and Lightroom, as well as producing video production tutorials on Final Cut Pro and iMovie for magazines such as iCreate and Mac Format. He also produces regular and exclusive Photoshop CC tutorials for his YouTube channel.