Photo Innovation: The Lumenator Is a Continuous LED Light and Flash Diffuser in One

January 15, 2014

By Josh Root

With more photographers switching between lighting systems as they shoot both video and stills, Drew Strickland created the Lumenator as a way to let photographers use their electronic flash and an LED light at the same time.

Videography requires a continuous lighting source rather than the strobes used for still photography. LED (light-emitting diode) lighting has become increasingly popular for video work in recent years due to the advent of affordable high-output LEDs. They are significantly more efficient than their halogen and incandescent forerunners, and give users a longer run time for a given battery size. In addition, LEDs offer a multitude of output colors, meaning that true daylight-balanced fill lighting is easily possible without any filtering. Because of these advantages, LEDs from companies like Litepanels and Fotodiox have become commonplace on everything from a wedding photographer’s digital SLR to a broadcast TV on-location rig.

There are, however, drawbacks to using continuous LED lighting for still images. Not the least of them is that it takes a giant LED light panel to equal the lumens output produced by even a very small Speedlight. This leaves many working pros with no choice but to switch back and forth between two lighting systems, both fighting for the single hotshoe on their DSLR. Drew Strickland, founder of ColorRight and inventor of the popular FlashRight diffusers, says he wondered to himself: “Why isn’t there one small, simple unit that lets you use your electronic flash with an LED at the same time?”

Strickland set out to develop one. His newest product, the Lumenator, is a combination flash bounce diffuser and LED light panel. It can attach to any Speedlight flash with Velcro. It is just slightly over half of an inch thick and weighs in at just over one pound, including its battery pack. It uses a patent pending technology that ColorRight is calling LEDNatural, which was designed to provide very diffused light with minimal power loss. The Lumenator can be used as a standard, if slightly bulky, bounce diffuser for electronic flash, but it also offers the ability to light stills or videos with daylight-balanced LED light. The Lumenator has an output of over 3,000 lumens, which is approximately equivalent to the output of a 300-watt bulb. Power options include both a 2,800 mAh battery pack and an AC adapter for studio work.

Having designed and released a number of ColorRight products, Strickland is well versed in the traditional product development and production process. But for the Lumenator, he chose to go in a different direction and use indiegogo, a crowd-funding website. “Crowd funding has been a really cool experience for us because it provides instant feedback on our product offering,” he says. “Thanks to a lot of new technologies, like 3-D printing, we have been able to make improvements and refinements to products on the fly, before we commit to the final design. The participatory element of crowd funding cannot be overlooked. I think involving your customers in designing, and in financing, your dream of a product produces much better results for everyone involved.”

ColorRight has taken advantage of an innovative idea (a lighting option for both photos and video), using a new technology (high output LEDs and new diffusion) and used production methods that were not available even a mere five years ago (3-D printing and crowd funding). Says Strickland, “There seems to be a sense of ownership that takes place when you go the crowd-funding route. I think we owe a lot of our success with the Lumenator campaign to this feeling of ownership and participation.”

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