One popular topic for channels on YouTube is unboxing videos. Here people enjoy showing off a shiny new product by removing it from its box and then forensically exploring all of its features in minute detail. If you use available light in an unboxing video then your products can look washed out and flat (and therefore unprofessional).
To achieve this, you'll need the best lights for YouTube. The SmallRig RM01 mini LED Video Light Kit consists of three mini LED lights that you can use to add more professional-looking three-point lighting to your products. In a three-point lighting set-up, a key light acts as the dominant light source. A fill light can be used to fill in the harsh shadows caused by the key light. A backlight helps add a rim of light around the edges of the object so that out stands out from the background. Three-point lighting helps accentuate the shape and form of your subject by adding ‘modeling’ light to it.
Output: 1000Lux @0.3m
Colour temperature: 5600K +/-200K
Run time: 60 mins
Features: Four levels of brightness adjustment, Cold shoe head, Rain and dust proof
Dimensions: 36mm x 38mm x 38mm
Each of the three LEDs in the RM01 kit are COB (Chip on board) lights. Their closely packed LED chips create a bright and constant light source which is perfect for illuminating subjects in your video shoots. The lights have a high CRI (Colour Rendering Index) of 95+, which enables them to reproduce accurate colors. They also have a high Television Lighting Consistency Index (TLCI) of 96, so you shouldn’t need to do any post-production color correction.
Because COB lights can’t change their color output like standard SMD (Surface Mounted Divide) LEDs, SmallRig includes a collection of colored gels in the RM01 kit. Simply pop a red or green gel into a mount and then clip it onto the front of the lamp to create a colored light source.
The clip-on mount also contains four mini-magnets which enable you to attach other supplied accessories to a light, such as Barn Doors. You can adjust the Barn Doors to create a wider to narrower beam of light.
Other accessories in the kit include cone-shaped snoots (or blasters) that magnetically attach the front of the LEDs and create a narrower spotlight effect. There are also honeycomb accessories for each lamp that create a more focused and softer light source. You can also pop a white silicone diffuser over each LED to create a softer light source with less harsh shadows.
You can also modify the intensity of the light produced by each LED by tapping a button. There are four levels of intensity. Each light also comes with a mini tripod that can be extended to a height of 17cm.
Build & Handling
At approximately $100 for three lights and a bundle of accessories, this is a budget lighting kit, so you’d expect it the lights to be made of plastic (as indeed they are). Each LED in the SmallRig kit is a similar size to the JOBY Beamo, but that lamp costs considerably more due to the metal components in its body. As LED lights don’t get as hot as conventional lamps the SmallRig RM01’s rugged matte plastic build doesn’t affect its performance. The RM01 lights can also be purchased individually.
The majority of the accessories in the kit are plastic too, but this makes them light enough to mount magnetically on the front of each lamp. In fact, you can mount both a honeycomb fame and bar doors to a light at the same time. As the battery is built into each LED you can plug in a USB cable and leave it to charge (with no fiddly battery replacement required.)
The three mini-tripods that ship with the RM01 kit enable you to position the lights around your product to produce professional three-point lighting that ‘models’ the subject. You can just the height of each tripod (between a range of 7.5 cm and 13 cm.) The tripods have adjustable ball heads so you can change the angle of each LED in the your point lighting set-up. With the four-leaf barn doors attached to each stand-mounted LED your desktop will look like a mini Hollywood studio.
We lit some sci-fi action figures with a range of coloured gels using a classic key, fill and backlight set-up and were impressed with the modelling and atmosphere that our three-point lighting set-up produced. Check out this review’s supporting video to see our creative lighting set-up in action.
We also found the RM01 lights were also very useful when talking via our PC’s webcam. Normally that light from our computer’s screen creates a bland and flat-looking face with washed-out colors. By placing the RM01 LEDs strategically around our desktop we were able to create a brighter and more three-dimensional-looking face. The lights also look interesting when they are visible in the frame so they can ‘star’ in your Zoom call as well as produce a more flattering appearance.
Each LED in the RM01 kit has a cold shoe head adaptor so you can take them out of the office to illuminate your location footage. You can use the cold shoe head to attach the LED to your camera or mount it on a taller tripod. This portability enables you to cast more light in a host of subjects.
One of my hobbies is toy photography (check out @scifitoyphoto), so I’ve been using a wide range of LED lights to illuminate my plastic subjects. What I love about the RM01 LED kit is the fact that I can use it as a mini three-point lighting set-up and illuminate my toys as I would with real actors. Thanks to the magnetic accessories I can quickly change gels to change the mood of my shots or add a diffuser to reduce the presence of harsh shadows. When it comes to my home studio I think the RM01 kit is going to be a permanent addition to my desk (plus it also helps me look better via webcam!).
Read more: find out more about the best photography lighting kits in our guide.