CameraReady Deluxe LiteBar Kit review: Great 3-Source Videoconferencing Lighting, A lot of Wires
CameraReady Deluxe LiteBar Kit
A great lighting solution for video conferencing. Adjustable levels of lighting and flexible mounting options help illuminate any situation. USB-driven power would be preferred over the provided power supplies and wires. The CameraReady Deluxe LiteBar Kit may be of even more value to photographers than to those living and working in video conferences.
CameraReady Deluxe LiteBar Kit: 2020 taught us to compromise and to look beyond expectations. It also taught us that we need good lighting for video conferencing. These two concepts come together in the CameraReady Lighting kit that arrived post-CES. These cinema-inspired light bars offer a comprehensive lighting solution for video conferencing and other activities like taking pictures of review products. Unfortunately, they serve up their light through individual bars connected via a gangly set of power cords and connectors. If you want adjustable, adaptive lighting to make you look good, you may need to put up with a few wires. That’s the compromise.
What we like
Christien Methot knows his lighting. As the owner of Design One Lighting Design (d1ny.com), he lights television shows, music videos, fashion events, and buildings. With the CameraReady Deluxe LiteBar Kit, he brings professional lighting to the consumer desktop. Single light bars run $99. The complete kit, which is reviewed here, runs $274.99.
Unlike single light sources, this kit leveraging good lighting techniques from film and television with three light bars removes shadows and evenly brightens faces.
CameraReady Deluxe LiteBar Kit employs kickstands and tripods with magnets to arrange the light bars. The kit includes magnetic tripods as a base for the lights on the side. The front light should shine from below, so it only requires a kickstand. All of the lights are interchangeable. There is no worry about putting a particular light in the same place each time.
If you don’t read this (or the manual) before getting started, just jumping into setup, as I did, can cause some frustration. The lights accept power from both ends. If you don’t plug into the side with the switch, they will not adjust their brightness, though they will work. In fact, the lights can be used without the switches. With power through the option switch, each light can be adjusted for a different level of brightness.
The light bars can also be daisy-chained so one switch can synchronize the light levels across all three bars. And the power cable includes an on/off switch to manage the entire array. Experiment to find the best power situation for your needs. Daisy-chaining does eliminate some of the wire spaghetti.
Because the tripods are metal, when not secured in position, they rattle, which makes them sound cheap. While not the highest end of small tripods, rest assured they are adequate for the job when locked into position. The strong magnets hold firm, and once set, the tripods remain balanced.
The well-designed, and well-made case protects all of the components for storage or travel.
What’s in the box
Three LiteBars with removable power switch/dimmer controls
Two Mini tripods w/ magnetic mounts
One Power supply
One 4-way power splitter
Three power cables
One Storage case
What could be improved
As noted above, the CameraReady Deluxe LiteBar kit relies on a lot of wires. If deployed as individually adjustable lights, four power cables spider off a proprietary connector. One input, up to three outputs. There is also a fourth power port should it be required for an extra light bar.
I would like to see the cables leverage standard computing connectors rather than power connectors. Lose a CameraReady cable, and one would be hard-pressed to find a replacement in a drawer. Use USB-C as the connector, and not only can people easily replace a lost cable—more importantly, the CameraReady could be powered from a computer or other standard USB power source.
Switching to USB-C should not compromise any non-computing use cases. This would also make the unit a great light source during power outages. USB-C support would help the CameraReady line compete against battery-powered solutions like those from LumeCube. [Note, want to eliminate the need for wall power? Pick up a mophie powerstation® rugged AC to power the CameraReady Kit. See a picture of this working in the gallery below].
The CameraReady bars do not support control over color temperature. For video conferencing, the warm white hue is fine. For other uses, a wider color range would be useful. It would be nice if the light bar power/dimmer button indicated that it included a dimming function. It would be great if more user guidance was built into the hardware.
USB-C power would help make the CameraReady system more computer forward, and bring much more flexibility to light bar placement, as well as give owners more options for cable length, and easier replacement for lost connectors.
Space becomes the most difficult obstacle to using the CameraReady system. I use a 34-inch curved monitor, with PCs on both sides of it. I have to rearrange my workspace to put the system in place. I can’t leave it up as it interferes with access to ports and laptop covers. On the right I have a pull-out drawer with a solid top, on the left, I don’t. A space for a tripod, and well, just space.
The further the light bars get from the power splitter, the more they pull on each other for position, or on the power cord. That suggests another good reason to consider USB-C. The light bars could be powered individually when the splitter position doesn’t work well. And mine is a challenge of mostly space abundance. Some people don’t have desks or work from small rolling carts which would make positioning more than one light difficult. In space-challenged situations, a battery or USB power binds the light source to the work area more efficiently.
While the tripods work well, they are small. Their spindly legs must spread completely (taking up a fair amount of desk space) before they stabilize. Without the legs fully deployed the tripods seem to think for themselves at times, challenging the best plans for balance with an untimely tuck or dive.
CameraReady adhered small clear feet to the bottom of each tripod foot. Unfortunately. this appears to be remediation for tripod slips. Alas, some of the feet fell off before the review unit arrived, and others detached during the review process. This makes for uneven footing and a loss of whatever advantage the clear dots were meant to impart. I have removed all of them to keep the tripods level.
A small monopod with a footing, such as this one from CameraReady competitor LumeCube, might serve better. Also making the magnetic head removable, atop a house with standard threads would be great. The magnets could be transferred to a larger tripod empowering additional positioning options.
CameraReady Deluxe LiteBar Kit: The Bottom Line
The CameraReady Deluxe LiteBar Kit delivers professional lighting to the desktop. The design does not offer a computer-friendly design, as it relies on a mesh of wires plugged into an outlet for power. A more technology-aware version might be more appealing to those with ready access to USB power. Improved tripods would make for a more polished product.
CameraReady provided the CameraReady Deluxe LiteBar Kit for review.
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Daniel W. Rasmus
Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.