Ikan Micro Spot Review: The best portable light money can buy

Yesterday while visiting Dodd camera in Chicago I was drawn to a small flashlight like led light that is made by Ikan. I picked one up and hit the streets to test it out. In the article I will share why I purchased this light as well as the pro’s and con’s that I found while using it to light my subject. 

   Note, all of the images in this article were lit with this light, the ikon mini spot
  Note, all of the images in this article were lit with this light, the ikon mini spot

Don’t you have enough lights?

That was a question that I asked myself when I was checking out the Ikan micro spot. If you are a gear head like me then you know that the answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT! That being said, I didn’t want to just throw money away I wanted to figure out how this light would move the needle. What part of my workflow would this improve? What gap does this light fill? How can this light help me to make better images? My goal in this post is to explain exactly those points. 

 Here is how we used the mini spot (on the right) as a key light throughout the shoot. 
Here is how we used the mini spot (on the right) as a key light throughout the shoot. 

How powerful is the mini spot?

Im not going to lie, this light is not the brightest light I have ever used, there is by far brighter lights on the market but none that are this easy to control and fit in the palm of my hand. That being said, this light is perfect for when the sun goes down or you are working inside somewhere. 

In order to use this as a key light you are going to want to have a pretty dark scene. All of the images in this post were photographed after the sun went down so I didn’t have to compete with any strong ambient light.  

This light will however be bright enough to light up a subjects face on a sunny day for things like interviews and videos where you can have the light in close.  

 Using the mini spot to create edgy looks while controlling the spread of the light with the barn doors. 
Using the mini spot to create edgy looks while controlling the spread of the light with the barn doors. 

Reasons to purchase this light:

1. Rechargeable Batteries

I hate having to have different batteries with me when I travel. The Ikan mini spot solves this problem by utilizing a USB Micro connector to recharge the battery. This is great for me because I am always traveling with several USB devices and USB batteries to keep all of my electronics charged and ready to go. Now I don’t need to worry about carrying a separate and specialized charger. In my experience, I shot with this light for 2 hours last night (on and off) and it did not show any signs of dimming or losing power.

According to the Ikan website, the expected life of this light is from 90 to 120 minutes. 

2. Barn Doors

I love a light that has manual control in order to shape the light. Barn doors allow you to easily control where you want the light to hit and it allows you to work super fast. 

3. Diffusion and CTO

This light has 2 barn doors that are not black, instead one of them is a CTO gel and the other provides some level of diffusion. This is great to be all in one but I think this light would benefit from a different gelling mechanism. The CTO gel barn door is great to match different color temperatures when working with difficult lighting circumstances. 

4. Dimming Control

This light has a dial on the side of the unit that allows you to raise and lower the power with ease. There were several times last night that I needed to intensify the power and after a few minutes of using the light I was able to accomplish power control with ease. 

5. Mounting Options

 View of the cold shoe as well as 1/4 20
View of the cold shoe as well as 1/4 20

One of the things I don’t like about other LED lights on the market is their inability to mount anywhere and everywhere. With small lights, I look to them to be my Swiss army knife and be able to light any situation I encounter. This light has both 1/4 20 mount as well as a cold shoe base that can slide in on top of your camera. This is great for still photographers and videographers alike as you can mount it on top of your camera on attach it to a cold shoe on your cage. 

How will I use this light? 

This is a light that I will always travel with, it will never leave my bag and it will be ready to use at a moments notice. Whether using this light for portraits in the street or details at a wedding, its compact size makes it a no brainer to keep in your bag. 

What could improve?

  1. I would love to see the ability to add colored gels
  2. I would love to see a more powerful version of the light (isn’t this what we always wish 🙂 ) 
  3. A way to see the battery charge
  4. The ability to add solid doors instead of translucent

What is the cost?

This light has an MSRP of $52.95 and can be purchased on Amazon or your local camera store!  

https://amzn.to/2Eblgem

 

 

Specs: 

Beam Angle: 30 Degree Beam Angle at 3ft

Build Material: Heavy Duty Plastic

Control: Dimming Knob

Cooling System: Passive

Fixture Size: 5 x 2 x 2 in.

Fixture Weight: 4.5 oz

Focusing: N/A

Head Type: Daylight 5600K

Lens: 30 Degree Lens

Light Source: 1 – 4 watt LED

Mount: Camera Mount

Power Supply: 5v @ 1A USB mini

Rating: 5v @ 1A

Shipping Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 5 in.

Shipping Dimensions (Metric): 12.7 x 12.7 x 12.7 cm

Shipping Weight: 1 lb

Shipping Weight (Metric): 0.45 kg

UPC Code: 847983013135

Godox Triggers For Panasonic Explained

You may be taken back by the sheer amount of triggers that are available in the Godox line of lighting products. In this article I try to unravel the differences between each trigger in hopes that you can find the trigger that works for you.

 

Introduction

 

There is really 2 differentiators when it comes to purchasing a trigger in the Godox lineup, capability and price. If you are someone who won’t fully utilize TTL or are not a fan of high speed sync then you can get by with cheaper options. In this article I want to go over the differences between the different triggers in hopes that you can find the one you need for your Panasonic camera.

TTL & HSS Options

 

 

Godox Xpro-O – $69

The top of the line trigger as of writing is the Xpro-O. The O in the model numbers denote that it will work on Olympus or other M43 systems. The letter designation also is a dead giveaway for things like TTL and High Speed Sync as those standards are not universal and differ from system to system.

TCM

TCM is an AWESOME technology for TTL shooters. Anytime you use TTL, the flash sends out a pulse and the power fluctuates up and down based on the metering. TTL is a great technology with 1 issue, every time you take a photo there is potential for change because it always meters and re-meters the scene in order to get proper exposure. TCM takes your TTL settings and converts them to a manual value so you will retain consistency between shots.

TCM Workflow

To fully utilize TCM I recommend zooming all the way into the subject filling the frame with the subjects face and take a shot. Click the TCM button and zoom back out. By doing this you are guaranteeing that the flash level will always produce a perfectly exposed face in your image.

Pro’s

  • TCM (TTL – Convert – Manual)
  • Better ergonomics
  • Easier to change settings and functions
  • High-speed Sync (up to 1/8000)
  • Control flash power remotely without having to lower your lights
  • Compatibility across the entire GODOX lineup of products

Con’s

  • You can no longer place a flash on the top of the unit

Who is this trigger for?

I see this trigger being the perfect fit for the portrait photographer that does not use any on camera flash. The photographer that wants to fully utilize TTL but also wants the ability to lock the TTL into a manual mode to improve consistency.

Note this unit uses AA Batteries, I recommend the Eneloop batteries from Panasonic

 

 

Godox X1T-O – $46

The X1T line up of triggers has been on the market for about 2 years now. This trigger was Godox’s first exploration of using TTL with different brands of cameras and lights. The X1T can pear with the X1R which is a receiver in order to use your existing speed lights and trigger them within the Godox ecosystem. Think of it as a bridge between your new toys and your old gear.

Pro’s

  • TTL capable trigger for off camera flash
  • Highspeed Sync (up to 1/8000)
  • Compatibility across the entire GODOX lineup of products
  • Ability to use a flash on top of your camera
  • Control flash power remotely without having to lower your lights

Con’s

  • No TCM ability
  • Horrible controls
  • Many functions are hidden deep in confusing menus

Who is this trigger for?

This trigger is for the budget conscious buyer that wants to use HSS and TTL and also wants to have the ability to have an on camera flash.

Note this unit uses AA Batteries, I recommend the Eneloop batteries from Panasonic

 

Manual Options

For all of you manual shooters out there or beginners just getting started, this section is dedicated to you. Manual triggers are great because they tend to be very straight forward and not a lot of bells and whistles. Manual triggers are also tend to have better dependability as they do not have to compute as much data.

 

 

Godox XT32-N – $46

As you may have noticed the above model number does not have an O like the other one and that is because the XT32 never came out with an Olympus / M43 version. That being said this is still a great remote for people who want remote power control without having to touch their light.

 

Pro’s

  • Large display to change power settings
  • Ability to control multiple groups of lights

Con’s

  • No TTL Support
  • No HSS

 

Note this unit uses AA Batteries, I recommend the Eneloop batteries from Panasonic

 

Godox XT-16 – $40

The XT16 is one of the older triggers in the Godox lineup. The XT16 allows you to have basic triggering and power control in a small form factor. This system is very manual in that it still uses dip switches to differentiate the channel identifier. The XT16 will trigger using 2.4GHZ and utilizes the small Godox 16 receivers that plug into the side of Godox flashes.

Note this unit uses AA Batteries, I recommend the Eneloop batteries from Panasonic

 

Pro’s

  • Simple
  • Dependable
  • Inexpensive

Con’s

  • No TTL
  • Group wheel is easy to bump / change
  • No flash can be used on the camera hot shoe

Who is this trigger for?

This trigger is for someone that has older Godox gear that is still kicking! This kit is also for people who want a simple trigger that is dependable that doesn’t take much to setup and get it going.

 

 

Godox FT16 –  $17

Note about transmitting frequency. If for some reason you have older flashes that used the FT16 and clipped into your flash, you can upgrade to the newer 2.4ghz option by purchasing these receivers.

 

Master Flash Options

Another option when it comes to triggering your off camera flash is a technology called master / commander. You utilize the flash on the top of your camera to control the other flashes that you have in your system.

Master / Commander is a good solution for wedding photographers that want a flash on camera for those candid shots. This configuration is also good for people just starting out as you can buy two very capable flashes for under $130 and trigger one off camera.

Note: The three flashes below are my 3 favorites in the Godox line. They also offer a AA battery powered TTL flash as well as a lithium ion powered non TTL that are not listed here but have the same functionality. 

 

Godox V860II-O – $179

The V860II is the flagship flash in the Godox lineup. This powerful flash runs on a lithium ion battery and has a guide number of 60. This flash can sync up to 1/8000th and it can run in master and commander mode. The V860 has built it remote triggering built in which also allows for hands free power control.

Pro’s

  • Rechargable lithium ion battery
  • TTL
  • Master / Commander
  • Remote Triggering

Con’s

  • More expensive then the Non-TTL version

Who is this Flash for?

This setup is for someone who wants to retain the flash on top of the camera and control the rest of the lights in their setup. This setup is also for someone who can afford to pick up 3-4 of these lights and may also already have some Godox gear.

 

 

Godox TT350-O – $85

If I am traveling, chances are I have the TT350 with me. The TT350 packs a ton of features in a small package. This flash can act as a master and commander, has full TTL, and can also do HSS! This flash has a little more then half of the power of the V860II weighing in at a GN of 36 and runs on 2 AA batteries.

Pro’s

  • Light weight
  • Small form factor
  • Same features as it’s older brother the V860II
  • Runs on 2 AA

Con’s

  • Not as powerful as a full size flash
  • Changing the groups is not the most straight forward
  • Sometimes the menu can get a bit confusing

Note this unit uses AA Batteries, I recommend the Eneloop batteries from Panasonic

Who is this Flash for?

This flash is for everyone in my opinion. The size and price of this flash make it a necessity for any M43 shooter.

 

 

Godox TT600 – $65

Last but not least, the TT600. The TT600 is the workhorse flash that keeps going. I love the simplicity of this flash. You have power control wheel and a few other buttons and you are set to go. This flash will work in master and commander mode to remotely control your other Godox hear. The TT600 can be connected to an external battery pack which will shorten your recycle time and ensure your flash will make it through the entire event.

Pro’s

  • Runs on AA batteries which can be purchased at any gas station in America
  • Ability to connect external battery back
  • Simple interface
  • Powerful flash

Con’s

  • No TTL

Who is this Flash for?

This flash is for the budget conscience buyer that wants to keep a flash on camera at all times but wants to get started with off camera flash.

Note this unit uses AA Batteries, I recommend the Eneloop batteries from Panasonic

Self Image Critique: Soft Lighting Done Wrong (ish)

The purpose of this blog is to share what I learn with lighting in hopes that it will help you guys as well! In this video I share how I screwed up a portrait and what I would do to fix it in the future! Leave a comment below if you have ever had the same issue.

Here is the video where I go step by step on what I screwed up. In the future I would put more diffusion on the bottom and also make sure the face is the brightest part in the image. I will also use my meter and check the shoulder to make sure there is not to much light and not enough detail.

 

Here is a more in depth video that talks about soft lighting from James Schmelzer

 

Camera: https://amzn.to/2DP9g25
Lens: https://amzn.to/2ueDko3
Light: https://amzn.to/2pAyImM
Stands: https://amzn.to/2IME5b3
Trigger: https://amzn.to/2GkbzPS

 

Hope this helps!

Thanks

TJ