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Home » Gift Guide, News

Kickstarter: The Kick – a pocket sized lighting studio for photo & video

Submitted by on June 18, 2012 – 7:27 pm

(If the above video doesn’t play on your device, try this link: http://kck.st/Kt33ML)

Here’s a very interesting Kickstarter project that should interest any photographer or vidoegrapher. The Kick is a versatile, pocket-sized lighting solution. It hasn’t achieved its funding goal yet, but it should by its deadline of July 18.

This is a very cool idea. In this price range,  I haven’t found anything else like The Kick Plus available. If you pledge now, you’ll get a pretty significant discount on the device.

Keep reading past the jump to find out more about The Kick and what I think about it.

Prototype rendering of The Kick lighting unit

Basically, The Kick is a lightweight, extremely portable and versatile lighting solution for photo and video. It comes in two versions — The Kick and The Kick Plus.

The Kick Plus is the full version of the device and has everything: built-in WiFi, white and colored light, built-in effects, and you can control it from your iPhone using the Kick App. The free Kick app lets you control multiple Kick Plus units.

The Kick Basic is a more standard portable light and lacks many of the features that make The Kick Plus an intriguing device. The Kick Basic is geared toward users who just want a small and simple portable white light. It does not have WiFi. You don’t get colored light, or animated effects, and since there is no WiFi, it can’t be controlled from the iPhone app. However, unlike most portable LED lights in this class, you can adjust brightness and color temperature with buttons on the device.

The Kick lights can be used with any camera or smartphone camera. You can use your iPhone as a remote control for Kick Plus devices or you can manually use a Kick Plus or Kick Basic with non-iOS devices.

Both Kicks don’t have a huge throw. According to the developers, “You won’t be able to light a cathedral with it.” My best guess looks like The Kick units have about a 45W maximum equivalent array, which should be adequate for lighting scenes up to a 10′ (or more) range. The Kick devices are for more closer, more personal set-ups. You won’t be lighting a soundstage with just one or two of these.

You can read more about The Kick Basic and The Kick Plus on the Rift Labs website  or on The Kick’s Kickstarter page.

This is not a hands-on review of The Kick devices. I don’t have a prototype unit, so my thoughts on these devices are purely from the demonstration videos.

I think the Kick Basic addresses some of the issues with portable LED lights — brightness and color temperature. With many photographic LED lights in this class, adjusting the brightness is an all-or-nothing option — off or on. It looks like the Kick Basic allows you to adjust the brightness up or down — a great feature to prevent blown-out highlights if your subject is fairly close. It also looks like you can adjust the color temperature somewhat making the light warmer (for better looking skintones, for example) or cooler for a more pure blueish-white light. Many other lighting units only offer this option as external filters.

This is the image that sold me on the The Kick Plus:

The Kick Plus looks to be a much more versatile light all around. In addition to all the features of The Kick Basic, I like how you can change the light array to any color. I like that not only can you select the light color from a palette, but you can also grab any colors from your screen or video.

From a practical photography standpoint, look how using The Kick for fill light improves the warmth of the image, even in an already decently lit image. Not only will The Kick Plus help create really warm, natural skin tones like in the sample above, creatively you can also add some great, extreme colored lighting effects using any color you can choose or grab from the scene. This is only a small part of what The Kick Plus is capable of. You can create some outstanding video lighting effects as well with several of these units.

Both Kicks have a standard threaded tripod mount. The addition of a cold shoe mount would be nice for those with an ALM mCAM Stabilizer Mount (OWLE Bubo) or a Diff Case Photo/Cinema rig.

The Kicks are going to retail for $129 and $179 when released. You can save $30 on each device by pledging to the Kickstarter campaign before it ends on July 18.

The Kick isn’t for everyone. For many mobile photographers, the iPhone or Android’s built-in flash provides a useful fill. However, for more advanced lighting for both mobile photographers and videographers, The Kick Plus is a unique piece of hardware. There is no LED lighting unit in its price range that is as portable and as versatile as The Kick Plus.

Although The Kick Basic is still a huge improvement over other lighting rigs in its class, the real gem here is The Kick Plus. From the Kickstarter preview, for me The Kick Plus is worth the additional $50.

=M=

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Marty Yawnick

Marty is a self-employed graphic designer in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. He is an avid Rangers baseball, Chicago Cubs, Packers and Highbury Arsenal fan. In addition to capturing random moments with whatever camera is close by (usually his iPhone), his other interests include coffee, film, music, and traveling in seats 5E and 5F with his fiancé.