Hobolite - Testing a New Light with New Babies
By Elli Cassidy
LED Lighting: A Mirrorless Photographer's Dream
I’ve been testing out the new Hobolite Avant to see how well a continuous light works in my studio sessions. I shoot with a Fujifilm X-T5 mirrorless camera so I’ve been really keen to see how the two marry together. Mirrorless cameras and continuous lighting is like a photographer’s dream combination, what I see through the lens is exactly what I get on file. You can see the white balance and exposure in real time, you can tweak either the light or the baby’s position to get the perfect shadow placement. It takes all the guess work out and enables you to nail it in camera every time.
Unboxing the Hobolite Avant was a Delight
Unboxing the Hobolite and it’s photography accessories was something else, everything is so well designed and thought out. Really smart but practical travel cases, a compact lighting system that is beautiful as well as practical. It looks professional and smart, but also easy enough to carry on the tube if needed. The lighting stands are a quick twist and raise, no clips or screws to use, and lots of the light modifiers attach with nifty magnets making it really quick to change your lighting up.
Achieving Perfect Lighting: A Close Look at the Hobolite Avant
The Hobolite Avant light itself is a thing of beauty and wouldn’t look out of place as a feature light in my living room. The design is elegant and tasteful, a retro styling but with quality finishing. I want all the Hobolite continuous lights, just because they look so good.
In studio sessions I like to shoot with a warm white balance, and the variable colour temperature dial on the Avant let me select exact the Kelvin I wanted. The bonus is that gave the baby set-ups a cosy feel in the studio which help win over my new parent clients. My primary interest was to see if I could easily switch from stills to video with the same camera and light settings. More and more we’re expected to include behind the scenes snippets into our social media reels and rather than my underexposed phone clips I wanted to see what they looked like with the right exposure and white balance, and even be able to film them on my main camera to get high quality video.
Seamless Transition from Stills Photography to Video
The Hobolite didn’t disappoint. Switching between video and stills and having the same consistency has been great. What I loved more than I thought I would though was the accuracy of getting it 100% in camera before I even press the shutter. It takes out any guess work and testing, meaning you can shoot less and get more accurate results. Another advantage is that it’s chargeable with a V-Mount battery, so you can use it on location, or in the studio plugged into the mains.
Continuous Lighting vs Flash for Newborn Photography
I strongly believe that using flash lighting with babies is absolutely fine and they genuinely don’t get disturbed or woken by it, however I’ve had more than a handful of parents be concerned about it over the years and it’s nice to know I can give them an alternative that will still deliver great quality portraits.
Keeping my feedback balanced, I’ve struggled with the size of the softbox when it comes to the family and parent photos of my newborn session. The Hobolite softbox for Avant is lovely to use and gives a nice soft light, but I need a larger modifier to achieve the lighting that I currently use for the parent part of my sessions. As this softbox is smaller I have to pull it further back to get the coverage I need but then you lose the softness. I’m hopeful that either I can get a larger Hobolite softbox, or that they will bring out an adaptor that I can use with my Elinchrom softboxes. (TFC Edit: Elli, this is coming out soon!)
Who Should Consider the Hobolite Avant?
So who do I recommend the Hobolite for? Anyone new to newborn photography that shoots mirrorless as it really will help you learn where to place your lights and how small tweaks will affect your results. It hugely reduces the learning curve of using flash. I also think this light is perfect for anyone working in small spaces, for mobile photographers, and also for anyone who focuses solely on the newborn rather than family portraits (until bigger softbox options are available). Ultimately, I found it easier to focus on being creative and having fun as it reduces the technical thinking side, you can move the light around and see immediate results.
It’s motivated me to get better at videography too, I never want to step away from being a photographer, but perfecting the small video snippets that I take and upping my quality game with those will only lead to increased sales.
Going forward I’m going to test the Avant (along with the smaller Hobolite Mini light) in a maternity session to see how the included colour filters and barn doors work. If you’ve ever worked with color gels before you’ll understand why I’m excited to use continuous lights for this, to be able to see exactly what color strengths and placements I’ll get before I press the shutter. Let the creativity flow! I’ll keep you posted, and in the meantime if you’ve used any of the Hobolites I’d love to know how you got on.
About Elli Cassidy
Elli Cassidy is a passionate portrait photographer specialising in capturing moments that evoke pride and joy. With over 12 years of experience, Elli operates from her stunning studio nestled in Swaby, within the picturesque landscapes of the Lincolnshire Wolds.
Her expertise lies in photographing newborn babies and children. With a philosophy centered on creating images that stand the test of time, Elli's portraits are cherished keepsakes that adorn the walls of families for generations, eliciting smiles and happy tears for years to come.
Elli Cassidy isn't just a masterful portrait photographer; she's also an expert mentor with over a decade of experience. Her training programs in posing, lighting, and business strategies have empowered photographers worldwide to elevate their craft and achieve remarkable success. If you'd like the opportunity to tap into Elli's wealth of knowledge and take your photography career to new heights, you can find out more on her website HERE
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