Yes, we take photos of basically everything in the known universe with our smartphones. It’s how we roll these days, and best to just accept it. But the one persistent drawback with this is trying to get a good pic at night or in low light without a good flash for your smartphone. And let’s face it, in these social media times, if you didn’t snap a pic and share it, did it really happen?
Well, fret no more, and say hello to your new little friend: iblazr, a new LED flash for smartphones and tablets that could be useful to some of you mobile photographers for a few reasons.
Cellphone native flashes are notoriously cruddy. I don’t know anyone, except maybe my mother-in-law, who even bothers using theirs. The makers of the iblazr know this all-too well, so they’ve designed a neat, little flash that plugs into your phone or tablet’s audio jack, to help us all fall back in love with photography in low-light conditions.
While the Pocket Spotlight iPhone flash is a continuous light source and not an actual flash, the iblazr is both. It’s made up of four LEDs and runs on an independent battery that must be the size of pinhead, which can be charged by way of USB port. The plus there is that it doesn’t drain your phone’s juice. And if you do choose to leave it on in “light mode” you can use it to brighten videos shot at night.
(We’re thinking like an impromptu karaoke show in your living room from your kids, not two-for-one Jager night at the bar. This is a family site, friends.)
There’s a free companion app that works with Android and iOS devices to let you adjust the brightness of the light–huge plus. Then you actually snap pics from within the app. However the one hiccup for me was I couldn’t hear the “click” of the shutter going off, so it’s easy to miss the fact that a photo is actually snapped the first couple go-rounds.
Real deal: I found the the iblazr results just slightly warmer than my iPhone 4s flash. It made my chair test shot not as harsh or like “spotlight beam.” Definitely way better than no flash at all, of course.
For selfies, portraits and macro shots, there’s a silicon diffuser that’s included. Just slip it over the front of the flash to bring a little softness to image. But I have to say, even with the diffuser on, the light is still pretty bright for the eyes — some might say that it’s bordering on blinding. You may end up with quite a few squints, complaints and frowns from your portrait subjects.
The tiny flash also comes with an equally tiny microfiber carrying bag, USB charger, and cold shoe mount, which means you can use the LED light for dSLRs and other compact cameras. Or use it as a super-teeny flashlight in bed when you unplug and read books with actual pages.
Overall, I would say the iblazr is a smart move for the food blog photographer, people shooting lots of macro images or those folks who are way serious about their smartphone portrait photography and can handle a little squinting in your nighttime selfies. Everyone else, you could probably live with the charm of those dim, shadow-y photos from your night on the town. Or just tote along your dSLR.