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Ukraine’s bitLighter reviewed: a flexible flashlight for photographers

2 minute read

Despite the chaos around them, many Ukrainian companies are still successfully manufacturing and distributing products. bitLighter is one of them.

I discovered bitLighter last spring through its Kickstarter campaign, and decided to take a chance on it. During the campaign I realized that BitLight was based in Kyiv. Impressively, the bitLighter team managed to get the second version of its light designed and manufactured in spite of the war, though it took quite a bit longer than originally planned and there were a lot of shipping delays.

bitLighter shipped mine out in August and it got lost in transit, so they re-shipped in December and I finally received it in mid-January. The standard package includes an AC power supply, a clamp with quarter 20 and 3/8 threaded screw holes for tripod mounts and choice of one LED globe. I added barn doors and a second globe, opting for 5000 Kelvin and 3000 Kelvin. 

It has a single large bitLighter branded lithium ion battery in it, and can operate while plugged into AC power as well. The power knob has two zones, one for high power and one standard. In the standard range it drives the LED with 17 watts and bitLighter says it can run indefinitely at that output, while in the higher range is runs at 34 watts and will turn off before it gets hot enough to risk damage. The heavy duty aluminum chassis doubles as its heat sink.

Changing globes is pretty straightforward, though it takes a few minutes: unscrew the ring holding the lens in place, remove the lens, and unscrew the globe from the lamp. Reverse the steps with the new globe.

The barn doors are made of solid aluminum, and snap onto the collar around the globe assembly. The barn doors have only two leafs, but they're still useful.

The beam is smooth and even. I measured the color temperatures with both globes using my Illuminati meter and found that the color temperatures are quite close – less than 50 Kelvin off from the target 3000 and 5000 Kelvin. 

My first time using this lamp was on an independent feature film. It's great as a hairlight, but it's powerful enough for more interesting applications, like here where we used it as a background light. For the foreground we had a SkyPanel dialed into 8000K lighting the actors, and for the background we had the bitLighter with the 5000K globe and a straw filter aimed through a chain link fence onto the back wall, at around 10%. 

bitlighter shot one

In this second shot we have the SkyPanel on the left and the bitLighter, still with the straw filter on it, providing the back light, this time at full power. Its output is quite impressive, especially relative to the light's size and power draw.

bitlighter shot two

It turned itself off after a couple of takes, but it required only a couple of minutes too cool down so that we could get our last take. In hot weather it will probably be a little harder to keep cool.

The two main down sides in my opinion are not having a USB charging port, which precludes charging it with a portable powerbank, and the carry case has room only for the light and none of the accessories, not even the clamp.

With a planned retail price of $399 the bitLighter is not exactly cheap either, but for the combination of compactness, versatility, and power, it's a good value. As solidly constructed as it is, it ought to last quite a while as well.

For now though, availability is limited. Because bitLighter is based in Kyiv manufacturing and shipping are all going slowly, but — impressively — the company is still continuing to manufacture and deliver and will be opening sales again in a couple of months once it has fulfilled all its Kickstarter orders. Head to its website to find out more and give the team a bit of support.


Tags: Production Lighting