Hobolite Mini and Avant LED lights review: Style meets substance


Just because they’re pretty, doesn’t mean they aren’t capable. Old school Hollywood style combines with modern design aesthetics and ergonomics, in the Hobolite Mini and Avant LED lights.

Pro

  • Lightweight and portable
  • HD back panels on both lights crisp, detailed, highly intuitive and simple interface
  • App control is so much cooler than a separate remote
  • Super silent cooling fan won’t be picked up by audio devices
  • Included battery pack (Avant) is a nice added value to the system

Cons

  • Bowens mini mount (Avant) limits light modifiers without an adapter — fortunately, there is an adapter available making your favorite Bowens mount light modifier usable on the Avant
  • The Mini doesn’t have an official mount for a modifier; everything clamps on over the light itself.
  • The Mini is limited to hard and semi hard light with modifiers available
  • Pricing on the Avant may be a bit out of reach for many professionals
  • Power cables are different between models as are modifiers — I wish there were more cross compatibility between the lights

Hobolite Mini and Avant — Technical Specifications

  • Weight: Under 1lb (Mini) / Under 3lb (Avant)
  • Light power: Powerful LED light at 20W (Mini) / 100W (Avant)
  • Color: Optimal color rendering CRI and TLCI of 96
  • Dimming: 0-100%
  • Control via onboard screen or app
  • Warm to cool color selection
  • High-definition LCD screen

What’s included

Mini Creator Kit

The Hobolite Mini Kit
  • Mini 20W light
  • Charging cable and adapter
  • Barn door
  • Honeycomb filter, color gel filters
  • Diffuser dome
  • V-mount ball head tripod adapter
  • V-mount cold shoe adapter
  • Desktop tripod

Avant Creator Kit

The Hobolite Avant Creator Kit
  • 100W light
  • Power supply and cords
  • Barn door
  • Honeycomb filter and color gel filters
  • Diffuser dome
  • Softbox
  • V-Mount handle
  • V-Mount clamp
  • 240mm carbon fiber tripod

A quick disclaimer

Before we get into this review, I was writing this article against the backdrop of Hurricane Ian. Since, I live in Southwest Florida, we are literally less than 10 miles away from ground zero. I am this up because the number of opportunities I was presented to use the Hobolites were somewhat limited. Timing is everything.

Additionally, the Hobolite has an app under development for both Apple and Android. Considering, the app is spoken about in Hobolite’s marketing pieces, as of this writing, the app is not available, it’s important to note as we weren’t able to test the apps capabilities. Lastly, please keep in mind these are pre-production models and final firmware and feature sets have not yet been finalized, the finished production versions may be slightly different.

Those things aside, I have to say, these are an impressive collection of lighting tools for professionals and content creators alike.

Hobolite Avant and Mini — Ergonomics and build quality

Build quality is excellent! Dials are big and obvious and the back panel is bright and crisp!

“Design isn’t just what it looks like and feels like — design is how it works.”

Steve Jobs

Let me start by saying these are lovely lights. Simply lovely! I’ve been a long time user of Aputure lights, which are in and of themselves a great, capable line of lighting products.

However, what Aputure and most other lighting systems lack is style. Most of the designs in lighting today are highly functional, not stylish. As a matter of fact, on more than one occasion Steve Jobs would point out the importance of design in the whole experience of using a product.

Those thoughts on design crossed my mind on multiple occasions using the Hobolites.

The V-Lock design is simple and holds the various pieces together securely

The brilliance of the Hobolites are in the small details. The dials are big and obvious, with one dial controlling color temperature, while the other controlling light intensity. Simple.

It’s surprising to me how much light the Avant gives off given its relatively small size. The back panel is sharp and bright, easy to read. The included tripods, clamps and locks are a v-mount design where everything locks into place with a sense of security. Simple to unfold and setup, making setup a snap when in the field.

The clamps and v-mounts are made of high quality materials and snap together with ease — Shown here attached to the included battery

The faux leather finish on the sides of the lights give a nice sense of style and character. Accordingly, the whole package oozes of quality. Even the cases that hold the lights, stands and modifiers are a high grade of plastic and canvas respectively.

The 240mm carbon fiber tripod included with the Avant kit is a brilliant, easy to set up and very lightweight design. Moreover it folds up into a compact size, easy for transport and storage.

Hobilite Avant and Mini — In the field

Almost every detail about everything that goes into the Hobolites is well thought out. The tripods fold into a very small footprint

Build quality and ergonomics are nice, especially if you run and gun in the field. In these instances, the light weight, easy setup and practical nature of the Hobilites are a joy to use.

The 240mm stand in the Avant kit is a brilliant, simple fold out design that sets up in seconds. I wish every softbox were a pop out softbox design that Hobolite is using here — many do — but it’s still surprising to me how many softbox manufacturers still use the speed ring and rod set up.

Ease of use, the included tripod is a simple, efficient design — kudos to Hobolite here

Cables, plugs, clamps, V-mounts and the included battery (Avant) all work together seamlessly.

Whoever designed the Hobolites has clearly worked in the field themselves and have created a product based on actual usage and not from an engineering standpoint. Hobolite claims these lights were built by artists for artists — I have to agree.

On both the Avant and Mini, the included barn doors have magnets and attach securely

I’m primarily a photographer, but I do video interviews and I run a YouTube channel. Meaning, I’m not completely unfamiliar with video lighting. I used the Avant on both an interview and a photoshoot. I was only able to use the Avant in both scenarios and it is definitely my preferred light of the two given how I use lighting in my line of work. Content creators will LOVE the Mini, photographers and videographers will love the Avant. I need soft light when I’m shooting an interview — it’s my preference. The other modifiers — gels, honeycomb and diffuser dome all attach to the barn doors with magnets.

The Mini in the field with the barn doors and diffuser dome for some close-ups of a camera lens

If I had a nit, the biggest drawback of the Mini is that there is no mount I can attach a softbox or difffusion ball to. However, I’m sure Hobolite will come out with modifiers that will attach to the mini the same way the barn doors do to soften the light. As it is, the Mini produces harder light. Which is fine depending on the scenario.

The included battery pack lasts about an hour at full power on the Avant, it’s a nice v-clamp design that doesn’t get in the way and contributes to the simplicity of the system. At any rate, setup doesn’t get much easier or more efficient than the Hobolites.

Hobolite Avant and Mini — Quality of results

At the end of the day, deign, build and ease of use are nice, but how do the lights perform? In a word, perfectly! I use a lot of lights both as a photographer and part time videographer. In my experience, the Avant and Mini from Hobolite produce nice, quality light — both soft and hard light — for a variety of applications.

The included kit with the Avant is a complete and robust solution for run and gunners who work in the field. The quality of the design and ease of use for setup/hookup is a nice bonus and separates these lights from many of their competitors.

A little BTS with Hobolite Avant

In the below examples, you’ll see the lighting isn’t edgy or compelling, just nice and soft. The Hobolite was on camera left and you can see nice even light on the skin with just a bit of falloff on the subject’s face camera right.

Hobolite claims “Optimal color rendering CRI and TLCI of 96.” It’s hard for me to verify those claims, but I have no reason to dispute them. My results sort of speak for themselves.

In photos, the Hobolite Avant with the softbox gives off a nice, soft quality of light that’s similar to diffused window light. This is how I prefer to use them in photos, specifically portraiture, but you can get very creative with the included grid, barn doors and gels.

All in, getting great results are a snap with the Hobolites. Below are some additional sample images.



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