Lighting in the great outdoors has historically been a case of owning a stable of illuminating devices and then choosing one, or several, to take out with you on each trip depending on the outing at hand. A head lamp. A camera flash. A bike light. A multi-purpose hand-held torch. But in recent years that’s changed, a by-product of the surging popularity of digital videography. Videography—at amateur, prosumer, and pro-levels—made it apparent there was a need for an ultra-lightweight, constant-beam light source suitable for taking into the field. In response, in 2016 Litra (pronounced “light-tra”) launched its Litra Torch as a Kickstarter campaign.
The unit was originally designed as a video and DSLR camera attachment. But then, (and I can’t resist this) the light switched on (ha ha). What worked for video would actually work for a range of uses, as long as the unit was sufficiently modular. The company set about producing varied mounts, so that now the Litra Torch can not only be used for its originally intended purpose as a lightweight source of illumination for video, but then, given a different mount, it can function as a head lamp, a hand torch, a bike lamp or a portable work lantern. For outdoor photographers it can replace a camera flash (it’s waaay lighter than your average DSLR flash) and then, if on an overnighter, double up for use as a head lamp. It can be placed on a tripod, mounted to GoPros, mobile phones, even to drones. The magnetic function means it can be placed on a car while, for example, putting on snow chains at night. It can even be for used diving (as long as you don’t go too deep).
The platform on which this relies is the Litra Torch base unit. The roughly cube-shaped unit (38mm x 38mm x 42mm) is constructed of aluminium, and weighs just 90 grams. Don’t let that featherweight-ness fool you, though. It’s not fragile, and it meets MIL SPEC 810G (a multi-test process to test ruggedness developed by the US military). Litra claim the torch is waterproof to ten metres (I’ve not tested this claim, although I did have it turned for 30 minutes in a glass of water with no problems). The unit includes two standard ¼”-20 threaded camera mounts (top and back) and the unit’s back is magnetised strongly enough to stay firmly on any metal surface. The torch is charged using a micro-USB cable and can be recharged while turned on. A full recharge takes around four hours.
However, the Litra Torch’s most impressive feature is the actual light. It’s incredibly bright, especially for something this diminutive. It’s simple to use, too. A single one-touch button delivers four modes: ‘Low’, ‘Medium’, ‘High’ and ‘Strobe’. At ‘Low’, the eight LEDs give 100 lumens for four hours; ‘Medium’ delivers 450 lumens for 70 minutes; ‘High’ blasts a retina-searing 800 lumens for 35 minutes; and on ‘Strobe’ a massive 2200 lumens flash for seven hours. For photographers and videographers, the LEDs provide flicker-free lighting (no hotspots), and the beam angle matches the human eye (i.e. it’s wide-angle rather than focused).
On the downside, battery life is somewhat limiting. Even on ‘Low’, having just four hours of burn time will restrict the activities the torch can be used for. Another potential downside is that the wide-angle beam, while useful in specific circumstances, doesn’t provide the same focused beam distance of many other lights. The unit gets warm, too, even after only short periods of use. Lastly, and this isn’t necessarily a drawback—in many instances it’s actually a plus—rather than the light getting dimmer as the battery drains, the torch simply turns off. The advantage is that you’re always receiving maximum brightness. The downside is reduced battery life. There’s a workaround, though: If the torch dies after running on a more powerful mode, simply turn it back on and select a lower mode. Fortunately, a red/green LED provides a few minutes warning when the battery is low.
I’ve already mentioned many of the Litra Torch’s uses, but two accessories I particularly like are the Litra Hand Mount and Litra Handle. Also, the unit’s utility for photography/videography can be further extended when it’s paired with silicon light diffusers and coloured filters, which can break up light, or provide colour balance and variation. Belt clips and varying camera mounts are also available. And it’s been designed to quickly and easily be interchanged with existing GoPro add-ons.
While the Litra Torch does have some limitations (battery life and beam distance), as an all-purpose light source, the Litra Torch is probably brighter than any equivalent-sized light out there. Small, highly versatile and incredibly functional (especially when mounted to a camera), the Litra Torch is a winner.
Need to Know:
Lumens: Up to 800 for 35 minutes
Dimensions: 38mm x 38 x 42