An iPhone Case That is Also a Ring Light? Introducing Lightstrap
The iPhone 5s is slowly becoming one beast of a tool when it comes to smartphone filmmaking, and it's not just because it now records 120fps. All of the accessories and extras, from anamorphic lens adapters to lav mics, are helping filmmakers build a decent toolbox for on-the-go/spontaneous filming, and now Oakland-based Brick & Pixel have developed an iPhone case called Lightstrap that will give you 10x more light to work with than the built-in flash, as well as control over brightness levels and color temperature. Currently on Kickstarter, Lightstrap may be a good solution to low-light problems.
Lightstrap is essentially a ring light for your iPhone 5/5s that provides not only 10x the brightness of the built-in flash, but also that much sought after soft light thanks to its diffusion ring.
You can also control the brightness and color to fit your needs with its 7 brightness and 6 color temperature settings. Lightstrap is also triggered by the flash on your phone, which means two things: 1.) You don't need to push any additional buttons. 2.) You can use any photo/video app that can access the flash.
Granted, if you're working with a compact system already and you don't need a bunch of filmmaking gadgets for your phone, this may not interest you. I, for one, know that I don't want to lug around all of my heavy and expensive gear every time I leave the house, so for (lazy/paranoid) people like me, adding stuff to something you already have on you at all times is attractive.
More light usually means better pictures. Brick & Pixel send Gizmodo a prototype of Lightstrap. They do a great write-up which you should definitely check out, but here's a bit of their first impressions:
Because there's just so much more light to brighten up the scenes, the iPhone switches to a higher shutter speed and a lower ISO. That means much less blur and much less noise. The light is more evenly spread, too, which helped reduce places that were blown out next to places that were lost in shadow. The improvement in skin tone is probably the most dramatic difference.
Though this tool has some great things going for it, one of the major downsides, other than the occasional "darker than expected" images reported by Gizmodo (which has been addressed in a firmware update), is its battery life. Now, the battery design is kind of a good and bad thing. For one, it runs on its own battery that can be charged with a micro USB cable, which means that it won't drain the battery on your phone. However, you're only going to get 30 minutes of recording time with each charge, which may not be practical for some users.
The first 450 pledges will get Lightstrap for $87, and every pledge after that pays $97. They hope to ship by April 2014. To learn more about Lightstrap, check out their website or Kickstarter campaign.
What do you think of Lightstrap? Does this seem like a good solution for shooting iPhone footage in low-light situations? Let us know in the comments below.