CameraReady’s motto is “look good online”. Does its Deluxe LiteBar Kit, which is said to use the same lighting techniques as TV lighting designers use, do this?
Prans Dunn

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With the COVID-19 pandemic turning most people’s homes into their own office, we’ve had to become streamers overnight. CameraReady was founded by EMMY-nominated lighting designer, Christien Methot, during the pandemic in response to this increasing adoption of video conferencing, whether it’s for attending meetings, keeping in touch with our close ones or, of course, video game streaming.

Having worked on projects like US Open performances and Oscar de la Renta fashion shows with his main company, Methot pivoted his business to bring his lighting design experience to the home streaming office with the CameraReady LiteBars in the absence of live events. These rectangular slabs are said to use the same angles and color temperature that TV lighting designers use, while being user-friendly. Those LiteBars were even awarded an honorable mention in the 2020 LIT Lighting Design Awards and given the opportunity to review them, I was quite intrigued regarding what they had to offer.

On its official store, CameraReady has 3 types of LiteBar kits for sale: the $100 Single, the  $200 Double LiteBar kit and the Deluxe LiteBar kit at $275. The kits essentially differ in the number of LiteBars they come with and the one under review is the Deluxe kit. It comes with the following items and specs:

  • 3x LiteBars ( each with their own power switch/dimmer) 
    • The LiteBars are High CRI (Color Rendering Index)
    • LEDs at 3000K (warm white) 
    • with Magnetic Mounting to the Tripods
  • 2x Miniature Professional Tripods with Magnetic Mounting to the LiteBars
  • 1x Power supply
  • 1x 4-way plug
  • 3x extension cables
  • 1x Reusable Zipper Pouch to conveniently carry your LiteBar with you

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Right off the bat, you will notice that the LiteBar doesn’t pack the circular design that most streaming lights add-ons have opted for. They are sleek and rectangular, making them easier to carry and store while also being less bulky. However, only one LiteBar will beam light from a narrow angle, so I would suggest looking into two or more units.

Each LiteBar has a mid-range plastic build with a touch-sensitive power button on one end. At the back, you’ll find a magnet that attaches to the included tripod and two small stands whose angle you can adjust for use without the tripod.

While the build isn’t really a premium one, there is quite some value-for-money to be had in the kit’s content; most notably, it comes with two telescopic tripods to which a LiteBar magnetically snaps to and a handy hard carry/storage case.

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Using the LiteBar is very easy and user-friendly as it only involves plugging each to the 4-way plug and the power supply and you’re good to go. One tap on the power button area powers it on/off while holding your finger on that area will increase/decrease the brightness. I am quite fond of the brightness adjustment happening across a spectrum rather than at fixed intensities so that you can find the sweet spot for your needs.

This is particularly helpful if you don’t want some blinding light beaming at your face for hours while you’re staring at the camera. The LiteBars can indeed be binding if the intensity is cranked all the way up but you can easily tilt the mount and move the tripod around to avoid the light to shine directly on your face. This adds a layer of customization to fit your streaming setup which isn’t possible with fixed ring lights.

CameraReady’s LiteBars emit “warm white” light which has a yellowish hue to it, and this means that your face will also have a yellowish tinge on-screen. I myself prefer cool white lighting as images look more natural but these can be a bit more blinding than warm white. That said, with the LiteBars on, you definitely look better than with no lights on and ultimately, how good you look will also depend on the quality of your camera. But even with generic, built-in VGA laptop cameras, I found videos to look much more decent than without any additional external light. It takes some getting used to in order to find the LiteBar’s appropriate angle and positioning for your setup but once you find that sweet spot, it does help better illuminate your face on-camera so that your facial expressions are more visible.

Nevertheless, in comparison to ring lights, the LiteBar doesn’t offer uniform illumination as each LiteBar is beaming light from a different direction and not all around your face. I would say that ring lights are a better option for displaying your face better through a camera.

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But outside of streaming and video calls, I also found another use for the LiteBars. Given that they aren’t bulky, are easy to move around and can be positioned at different heights thanks to the tripod (or without it), I can illuminate items I want to snap a picture of, like for reviews. And below you can see some shots with and without the LiteBars.

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This versatility of the LiteBar is its real forte because if it were to be a standalone external lighting for cameras, you would find better options in the same price-range like the Elgato Ring Light and cool white is arguably a better choice over warm white for streaming. But since you can easily move the LiteBar around to adjust the angle and even use it for some photoshooting, this aspect gives the LiteBar more functionality. In addition, it’s very portable and you can easily pack it in a bag if you move around a lot.

However, the LiteBars don’t use standard cables, meaning they can be harder to find if they need to be replaced. A better option would be to power them through a USB cable which would make them even more versatile. This would allow them to be less dependent on the power supply as you could also plug them directly through your computer or a USB hub. Alternatively, they could have packed built-in batteries as the need for a cable for each LiteBar creates a wire fest in our already over-tangled tech lives.

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Overall, I would say that the LiteBar is a versatile and travel-friendly lighting accessory that does help in enhancing images with more illumination. It’s adequate if you want an easy-to-use external lighting solution for video calls or some light video game streaming if you’re just getting into it. But for a more professional look on videos, I’d opt for cool white light as images tend to look more natural with those and circular options for more uniform illumination.

As CameraReady’s first home streaming lighting accessory, the LiteBar gives a promising outlook for the company. I look forward to what they come up with next and hope they offer different types and shapes of lighting options and opt for a PC or phone compatible connection.

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Verdict
What We Liked . . . Easy setup Adjustable tripod Brightness adjusts across a spectrum Handy carry/storage case included What We Didn't Like . . . Doesn't illuminate uniformly Doesn’t use standard cables Wire fest No clamps and camera mount
6.8
out of 10
Overall
Easy to use and versatile, CameraReady’s LiteBars are taking steps in the right direction to get ready for the external lighting game, even if they are taking baby steps.

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