Polaroid is in an odd place these days. Its classic business, instant film, is now covered by the Impossible Project, and it bounces around, applying its iconic brand (second only to Kodak in the public consciousness of image-making) to a variety of products. It has even hired Lady Gaga as a creative consultant.

Into this mix, Polaroid released the BrightSaber (following the BrightSaber Pro from a few months ago), a hand holdable LED light wand designed for photography. And they are unbelievably cool. Not the Star Wars reference, which is geeky in the best possible way but probably not "cool."  The cool part is that there's such a cheap LED wand, designed for photographers, available when you need it. The BrightSaber even has a detachable handle to make it smaller for transport, so you could stow one away in your luggage and not be that sad when it gets crushed in your luggage. $99 sad. Which is way better than $999 sad.

Brightsaber_in_useBrightsaber in use.Credit: Polaroid

Polaroid markets the lights for their handheld use. This could come in handy (pun intended) to give a little edge light on a long walk and talk, or to add a little eye light from behind the camera on a Steadicam shot, or sometimes as a key light on a very simple set-up. The small, color balanced unit has a rechargeable battery built in, so you don't have to worry about cabling for power, though reports are the battery only gives you 20-30 minutes of use.

In addition to being handheld tools, these LEDs could be very popular for last minute lighting tweaks. Imagine that you're viewing the monitor during last looks, and, while hair and make-up are doing their final fixes, you notice a tiny area where you'd like to add a touch of light, or a touch of color. A lightweight, battery- powered unit that can be taped up to the ceiling or hidden behind a piece of the set could be perfect. Of course, you could do that with a lite panel too, but these cost one tenth as much.

Will these inevitably get broken by 2 PAs having a lightsaber battle?

The less expensive base model is $99, with only 98 LEDs and no internal battery. Most filmmakers will want to stick to the pro version for $165. Both are available on Amazon. The truth is, neither model will really match a blaster (which I guess would be the classic 1K fresnel lamp), but in the hands of a skilled operator, they could be very useful. There are some comparable lights on the market, like the $500 Icelight or the $70 Yongnuo YN360, but they dance around the obvious lightsaber comparisons. Polaroid embraces it. You gotta respect that.

What do you think, an elegant tool from a civilized age or an ancient weapon from a hokey religion? Will these inevitably get broken by 2 PAs having a lightsaber battle?

Tech Specs (Pro version):

  • 298 LED
  • 1500 lumen output
  • 5600k low-heat LED 
  • Wrap-around tungsten filter
  • Threaded tripod mount
  • Infrared remote
  • Rechargeable battery
  • 50,000 lamp hour lifespan
  • Removeable handle for easy transport
  • Sub-2 lb. weight
  • Comes with 4 color filters