iBlazr 2 Wireless LED Flash REVIEW
Growing up the in 80’s and 90’s, I remember my father lugging around his large Canon camera, lens, and flash. I remember him struggling to find AA batteries, to power the flash, as he forgot to bring them on our trip. This generation may never know about polaroid cameras or how cool it was to have an immediately available printed picture. The flip phone started the decline of the stand-alone camera and the smartphone has further hastened the decline. Other than higher end photography and movies, there really is no need for film, now that we are in a digital age. Our smartphones have taken over as our computer, our personal communicator, our gaming device and our camera. With each generation, the lenses and optics get better, the flash/flashlight gets better and the software for photo-editing improves as well. It is amazing to think that the current iPhone 7 plus has a 12MP rear facing and 7MP forward facing camera. Despite this technology, sometimes the light on the flash is not bright enough in lower light situations.
iblazr2, designed by Concepter, provides a wonderful wireless LED flash option for your smartphone or tablet. The packaging is clean white, with a picture of the flash on the cover, reminiscent of Apple’s styling. The back of the packaging is a little busy, with numerous pictures, logos, compatibilities and the UPC code. Within this information, you will learn about the touch sensor control, temperature adjustment, and the ability to sync wirelessly with the app. You can expect to find the iBlazr 2 device, mount clip, silicon diffuser, key clasp and USB charger within the packaging. It promises to be compatible with iPhone 4s through 7 Plus, iPod touch 5, iPad 3/4/Air/Mini/Pro and Android phones with 4.3 and newer OS. Lifting the magnetic flap of the cover, you will see additional information. The flash will add shutter remote, native app sync, brightness adjustment, no red eye, 300 flashes per charge and a 3-hour battery life. The back has a touch sensor for adjustment, a power indicator to alert you to remaining life and the front has a mixture of cool and warm LEDs.
With the flap open, look towards the right panel. If you are not careful, you may just miss the product, as it is deceptively hiding within the picture. There is a phone with an image of an attractive woman and the flash at the top of the screen. That is not an image, rather a clear window displaying the actual device. Personally, I feel that iBlazr did a rather nice job with their clever packaging.
I removed the product from the box and then separated the pieces from the form-cut foam. The listed product accessories were all present and easily identified. The instruction manual proved to be very helpful. It was actually much thicker than I expected but does provide instructions in multiple languages. The first step to utilizing the device is to charge it. Plug it into any USB A slot and wait for it to charge. This will take just at about 1 hour. If you press the mode button on the side (the only actual button on the device), the LED will illuminate to detail the amount of charge on the device: 1 led <25% power, 2 LED 25–50% power and 3 LED 50–75% and all 4 LED 100% power. The manual does a good job at detailing the functions of the device. As stated, there is a single mode button, but the lightning bolt on the back is a touch sensor as well. Along the bottom is a microUSB charging port.
Once charged, press the mode button on the side of the flash and then navigate to settings and then Bluetooth on your smart device. You will then want to download the Shotlight app from the IOS or Google Play Store. It is important to note that you can use the flash both with the camera app as well as with the Shotlight app. Within the camera app, you will need to double tap the touch button on the back of the iblazr2. To use the Shotlight app, press the lightning across the top, and then add iBlazr. Through the app, you can update your device through the main menu and devices. This will keep the device up-to-date. If you are shooting video and you notice that the lighting is poor, you can use the iBlazr as a video light. There are 2 modes for this function. Double pressing the mode button will activate low light and triple pressing the mode button will active high light level. The low function should last an hour on a full charge, whereas the high output will give you anywhere from 20–30 minutes (25 minutes is listed in the manual).
The 130 mAh battery for the device was fully charged in about 1 hour. All 4 LED were illuminated and I began to take photos. After about 50 captures, all 4 LED illuminated when I checked the remaining power. At 100 pictures I was at 3 LED (75%) power. I then left the light on low ~20 LUX and waited another 20 minutes to check remaining power. I imagined this step as a flashlight or reading light mode. After this step, I still had 50% power. I thus left it on another 20 minutes and was down to 1 LED 25%. By then, I was tired of taking pictures so I put it back on charge. I was actually quite impressed with the device. If you check out their website you will notice that they sell a few extra accessories, namely a mount for DSLR and a flexible USB cable to allow the device to be a desk lamp/reading lamp.
Another cool feature of the iBlazr is you can change the temperature of the light. While utilizing the device in video mode, you can slide up on the touch sensor, to increase the light temperature or slide down to lower the temperature. If desired you can also use the device in strobe mode. To access this mode hold the mode button for 3 seconds. I was never able to get this to work. I would “press the button a few times,” as instructed, and then hold the button and it would strobe x2 but wound never remain in strobe mode. For selfies and less sharp light, you can add the silicone diffuser to the LED. This will cut down on the glare of the light as well. I found that this worked well as an added light for my product review photos. The included key ring clasp is neat in that it also serves as a way to attach your diffuser to your camera bag zipper or to your backpack. You can store the iBlazr inside of the silicone for temporary storage as well. The entire kit is incredibly convenient.
The previous generation of iBlazr relied upon the 3.5mm jack for input. The iPhone 7/7plus do not have this port. The generation 2 of iBlazr connects via Bluetooth and has a convenient clip that will attach to phone tablet or laptop. The clip is made to accommodate devices measuring 6–9.5mm wide (.24″ to .37″). Unfortunately, my iPhone 7plus currently resides inside of an Otterbox Defender case. The case is too wide to accommodate the iBlazr clip. Even though the clip does not hold the light onto the camera, does not mean you cannot use it. You can still hold the flash by hand to get the extra light. It did not work with my iPad Air 2 inside of Catalyst case either. It will work with many of the simple silicone back style cases.
The Shotlight App (Powered by Conceptor) is very similar to the native iPhone camera app except it has more control of the flash. In the native camera app, you cannot control the flash with the phone. Rather, you will need to double press the lightning touch button. Once you download the app, you will need to give permission to use the camera, gallery, and microphone and then enable location services (if desired). I tried to take a few pictures of the light, but LEDs do not photograph that well. I really like the option to have a more soft yellow light or a bright, daylight like white light. The ability to change the temperature is really pleasing. I personally wish that the clip would accommodate slightly wider phones, this is the only negative I found with the app. The always on video light, adds to the ambient light very well. I also found that there was an occasional issue with pairing with Bluetooth and some lag between flash and photograph. Overall the experience was very positive. For anyone who uses their phone as their predominate camera, I would highly encourage the iBlazr 2 device. I would rate it at 4/5 stars.
Originally published at macsources.com on February 16, 2017.