5 weird and wonderful photography lights that break the mould

A few photographic lights have bravely dared to experiment with unconventional form factors. Did they succeed?

Paparazzo Light for iPhone

If you’re in the market for a new photographic light, an awful lot of them look pretty much the same. There’s your big stand-mounted studio head, your cobra¬†flashgun, a few hybrids and, among snap-happy¬†stalwarts, the venerable hammerhead/potato-masher.

Is that all? Some companies have ‚ÄĒ for better or for worse ‚ÄĒ tried to break the mould, launching lights in entirely unique form factors. Let’s see how they get on. After you’ve had a read through, pick your favourite and share your thoughts in the comments below!

1. Mmbel Digital LED Studio Flash

LED modelling lamps and monolight-shaped video lights are becoming increasingly common. But what if instead of shrinking a rectangular¬†LED panel to fit the strobe head, you did the complete opposite? That’s what Mmbel, a Chinese manufacturer, tried with their MB-301 Digital LED Studio Flash.¬†Strangely,¬†the form factor hasn’t caught on and it no longer¬†appears in the company’s online catalogue.

Mmbel MB-301 Digital Studio Flash

2. Hink Spacefish

Described as the world’s first flexible flash, the Spacefish has a War of the Worlds-type look to it. That, or an office desk lamp. The¬†key benefit of this flashgun’s bendy neck is being able to point it any direction you like, rather than being limited to 270¬į of swivel as found in many more conventional lights. There are also some other features, like a plastic filter system and LED modelling lamp. It’s had a couple of¬†false starts with crowdfunding projects so it’s not clear when (or if) you’ll see the Spacefish on shelves. (Or desks.)

Hink Spacefish

3. Fiilex P200 Flexjet

“Spice up boring lighting situations,” says Fiilex. If you’ve reached the stage where Rembrandt and butterfly setups are totally old-hat, have a go with this colour-changing fibre-optic skipping rope instead. It’ll amaze your models and photo assistants in equal measure, leaving you “limited only by your imagination”. And maybe your bank balance, as it’s $800.

Fiilex P200 Flexjet

For a flash version of this, try the Elinchrom EL26430.

4. CononMark iQ Ring Flash

Shenzhen-based CononMark were inspired enough to come up with this monstrosity, informally known as the “Frankenflash” here at¬†Lighting Rumours¬†HQ. The iQ, presumably¬†made up¬†of whatever was lying about the warehouse, has four cobra flash heads and four LED modelling lights in a ring-shaped configuration. It succeeds in being both incredibly¬†unwieldy and absolutely unlike a ring light in its output, simply giving you four unflattering shadows at once.

CononMark iQ ring light

And there’s a¬†smaller¬†Lomography ring flash¬†for hipsters:

Lomography four-colour ring flash

5. Paparazzo Light for iPhone

This one shouldn’t really be in the list, as it is clearly the greatest thing ever. A magnificent blend of old and new. I would sell my DSLR and switch to this if it were available. But the community didn’t¬†agree with me for some reason, leaving¬†the Paparazzo Light unable to reach its $50k funding target on Kickstarter.

Paparazzo Light for iPhone

There we have it. Are these lights silly or just misunderstood? Which is your (least) favourite?

David Selby
Based in Paris, France, David Selby is editor of Lighting Rumours, a part-time photographer and a quantitative analyst.
selbydavid.com