Hobolite found a way to take the design from its first three LED lights and make one small enough to earn the “Micro” moniker. This light is cute in the way most small things tend to be, which is to say that it’s diminutive, practical, and fits in the palm of your hand.
The $160 Hobolite Micro also comes with interesting shifts and tweaks to accommodate the shrunken design and is available in a Creator Kit for $269 that includes useful accessories. It’s too small to be a key light for larger subjects, but certainly could act as a fill or accent light depending on the setup you’re going for. Small enough to fit in just about any bag, it also comes across differently than other mini or micro lights already available because of how it looks.
The Micro was made for photographers of all stripes who want to utilize something this convenient, yet it’s also accessible enough for rank novices to play around with. Everything about this light’s 8W output and 500 lumens illumination is modest by design, given the feathery 0.52-pound weight, but that’s the point. In a crowded market of minis and micros out there, what does it take for this one to shine through?
Hobolite Micro: Design and Build
Credit to Hobolite for not straying from the tasteful design of its existing LED lights. The Mini, Avant, and Pro all look nice, and the Micro lines up next to them like a baby in the family. Despite different mechanics, it resembles the others in just about every way, from the two knobs and screen in the back, faux leather veneers on the sides, vent at the top, and V-mount below.
Two big differences stand out this time. First, there’s a latch at the top to dislodge the battery so that you can easily swap and slot in a replacement. The Creator Kit comes with a charging dock and two extra batteries, which is how Hobolite can claim a longer total battery life. You can still plug in via the USB-C port and keep the light on at the same time while plugging in another cable into the dock to fill up the other two.
The other major change is the lens mount is magnetic, greatly simplifying how to attach gels and other accessories without having to put the barn doors on first, as is the case with Hobolite’s other lights. It also makes it possible to stack the small gels on top of each other if you want to try things out that way.
The lens mount itself twists off, which you can replace with the Fresnel lens included in the kit. It has the same magnet, so putting it on concentrates the output into a narrower beam, either on its own or along with the gels or frosted dome in the kit. One of the best parts of this new system is the kit’s barn doors attach just as easily, and with its own magnets, the gels and dome also attach with minimal effort. The simplicity involved here not only saves time in the field or studio but also builds confidence for those learning on the job.
The one challenge is keeping track of everything. Hobolite includes an excellent carrying case with compartments that smartly fit all the pieces included in the kit. Except with everything being smaller, it oddly increases the chance that you might misplace or lose something. I found myself almost having to do a roll call for everything when packing it all up.
Hobolite Micro: Putting it Out There
Hobolite sent me extra accessories not included in the Creator Kit, namely the Adjustable Lens and Foldable Beauty Dish and Softbox (along with color gels). These two expand the Micro’s versatility as a fill light, but if you were wondering about what it can do without them, the range still isn’t bad.
As with Hobolite’s Mini and Avant, you get the best results within one meter. As an example, it can hit 138 lux up to one meter away at 2,700K, only to weaken down to just 12 lux five meters away. At 6,500K, it’s 196 and 17, respectively. Use the Fresnel lens, and you more than double the lux within one meter, while falling just short of doing so at five meters.
The numbers are modest, but the results will probably be better than you might expect because you have options. If you know how to handle light, even with something as pint-sized as the Micro, you’ll likely find some way to use it. For its part, Hobolite would like to see TikTok and other social media users get into the Micro, and I can see why. It’s small, easy to carry, and ripe for experimentation.
Not to mention the Hobolite app would fit right in. I had trouble setting up the Micro with the Android app, yet ran into no problems on an iPhone. I doubt you will have the same issues, though. You can access the same effects on the Micro’s screen itself, only I find the app is more intuitive when you want to make multiple adjustments and see the effects of those changes in real-time. Despite my Android bugaboos this time around, the app is generally more polished now than it was months ago.
Either way, it’s best to keep the extra batteries close by. Hobolite rates the Micro at 50 minutes at max brightness, which is pretty accurate, but not very long during a photo shoot. The two backups did wonders for reducing anxiety over how long the light could go.
Below are some example photos that I lit with the Hobolite Micro.
Good Quality in a Small Package
My job requires that I take photos of lots of products that I test and review, among other things, and the Micro is easy to work with under those conditions. Along with the V-mount, you can also put it on any 1/4 tripod mount — especially the mini ones that are easier to set up in tighter spaces considering the Micro’s limited range. The thing is also so light that you could set the camera on a timer, put it on a tripod, and move the light around by hand to see what works and what doesn’t.
In effect, the Hobolite Micro almost became a toy as much as a tool. I will readily admit I didn’t think through or plan what I wanted to do in advance most of the time, but just maneuvering the Micro around was enough to come up with ideas. Paired with other Hobolite apps, or even a second Micro, you could always try effects on one with a key or accent light on the other. On its own, the Micro can only take it so far; it needs something stronger to better light up a scene.
As an accent light, however, I grew to really like it and find ways to use it, especially for adding color or filling light from a different angle. For video, I can see YouTubers and content creators try all sorts of things with it. Light enough to work with a rig or have someone simply hold it a certain way for the desired effect, the Micro is capable of producing excellent results.
Are There Alternatives?
It’s also up against a swath of competitors who make small lights, too. In fact, I experimented with the Micro using the Aputure MC RGBWW Mini LED Light, except it’s not as bright. At least it’s double the battery life at max brightness. While the Sidus Link app is more varied than Hobolite’s, the Micro offers more flexibility through the kit’s accessories. Despite that, I still wholeheartedly use both products together to complement one another.
The Rotolight Neo 3 comes with many of the same features Hobolite and Aputure have, including a high-speed sync flash and peak brightness that dwarfs the other two. It also comes in different kits, except the Starter Bundle is significantly more expensive, much less the other two. On a tighter budget, you won’t find any shortage of choices to consider from the likes of Zhiyun, Neewer, Ulanzi, and countless other brands.
Should You Buy It?
Yes, but consider what works best first. The Hobolite Mini is only $30 more for the Standard Kit and $130 more for the Creator Kit. If you need more lux at the same distance, that might be the way to go. For portability, though, the Micro is hard to beat.