LEDs Still Can’t Beat a Flash: LitraTorch 2.0 LED Light Review

At the same price point, I think a photographer can get a better flash than the LitraTorch 2.0 LED light.

The long term complaint from many photographers is that learning how to use a flash is hard. And with the prevalence of LED lights, it seems like the industry is trying to fight the tried and true flash. But at similar price points to the LitraTorch 2.0, I think a photographer might get more from a flash. LEDs are fantastic; don’t get me wrong. You can have endless fun with them. But if what you want is power output and that extra sparkle, then only a flash will do the job unless you spend a long time in Photoshop or Lightroom. While everyone has told me over and over again that LEDs have gotten better and better, there are still major limitations.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • Lots of cool accessories
  • Far easier to use than a flash
  • USB charging is wonderful

Cons

  • Lacking on power output vs. a flash at the same price point
  • Can’t overpower the sun’s output even when using electronic shutter mode on various cameras. The physics behind this is a big part of it
  • It dies after an hour of continuous use
  • It gets hot

Gear Used

We tested the LitraTorch 2.0 with Sony, Olympus, Canon, and Panasonic cameras.

Tech Specs

Tech specs for the LitraTorch 2.0 taken from their product page

• 800, 450, 100 Lumen settings
• 90+ CRI / 92 TLCI
• Lux @ 1m 500
• 5700k Daylight Temperature
• 70º Ultra wide beam angle
• Waterproof up to 20m/60ft
• Flicker-free, smooth light pattern (daylight temperature)
• Lithium ion rechargeable battery
• Standard Micro-USB charge port
• Use cordless or with external power
• Intelligent thermal management
• Simple one-touch button operation
• Drop proof, 810 mil. grade aluminum body construction
• Flexible mounting with two 1/4-20 standard camera mounts, embedded magnet, GoPro mount, belt clip.
• No center hot spot
• Battery life up to 7 hrs (strobe) / 4 hrs @ level 1 / 70 min @ level 2 / 35 min @ level 3
• Size: 1.5in x 1.5in x 1.65in
• Weight: 90 Grams / 3.17 oz

Ergonomics

Here’s what the LitraTorch 2.0 looks like on the front. If you wish, you can mount gels here. But you can’t dial in a color temperature. It’s straight daylight and you need to use the gels to otherwise get the temperature you wish.

LitraTorch 2.0 has an area at the back covered by a tough flap. This not only protects the internals but also lets you charge it up.

In the bottom is a female tripod slot. You can include a cold shoe where you put it on a light stand.

On top of the LitraTorch 2.0 is a single button. There are five settings: low, medium, high, flashing and off. It’s simple to use.

The LitraTorch 2.0 can also be put inside of a softbox. The company makes their own.

Build Quality

This thing is solid. In fact, the LitraTorch 2.0 has a significant advantage over pretty much any flash at the same price point when it comes to building quality. Not only is it smaller, but it’s made of all metal. So in terms of the build quality, it’s far superior to anything else out there. Couple this with its super small size, and you’ll be thrilled. The metal body means that it’s very well protected. Because I’m a complete savage who can’t have nice things, I decided to do a test where I dropped the LitraTorch 2.0 from a little higher than waist level onto the floor of my apartment. All the while, it was still powered up. I’m glad to say that the LitraTorch 2.0 kept working without a problem at all. So, as far as I go, I think the build quality is stellar.

I didn’t take it far enough with dropping it. The LitraTorch 2.0 is also waterproof up to 60 feet. So, I put it in a glass of water and used that to light a product. Luckily the LitraTorch 2.0 stood up to it with no issues. Now the pressing question is whether or not someone would do this. In all likelihood, probably not. But it goes to show that if the LitraTorch 2.0 can survive being submerged in water, then it can withstand being in the rain. Make sure that before you do this that the USB port is closed. Thankfully, it’s actually pretty difficult to pry it open: I needed to use a knife at times.

Ease of Use

The LitraTorch 2.0 has four different power settings: low, medium, high, and blinking. Then it goes off. Since it’s such a small light, it’s also not incredibly powerful overall, but it’s got a lot of punch for what it is. Said punch is probably best for only small products, though. When you put it in a large softbox, the light output quickly becomes super weak. So with that said, it’s probably best to use it just for smaller products. And we did just that. What we found is that, like many other LED lights, the LitraTorch 2.0 is best used indoors and with controlled lighting. If you try to use it outdoors with an electronic shutter, it’s not going to overpower full sunlight. That’s because of the laws of physics. With a flash, the aperture and the ISO directly correlate to flash output when set to TTL. But with an LED, you’re not getting the same thing. It can probably overpower a very weak sun. But we tried it in both cloud coverage and full sunlight, and still the LED was weak.

Just to show you what overpowering the sun means, take a look at the image below. It’s what’s also known as killing the ambient light and using a flash to spotlight a specific thing in the scene.

Image Quality

We showed you what the LitraTorch 2.0 can do indoors with small products. And it works well. But outdoors, it’s not that great. Take a look at our Sigma FP product shoot.

For video, I’ve used it for our Pro Camera Reviews show. And after about an hour of continual use, it dies out. That’s unfortunate.

Conclusions

Likes

  • Build quality
  • Ease of use
  • Small size

Dislikes

  • It’s weak
  • At the same price, you can get a more powerful light output from a flash

The LitraTorch 2.0 is a solidly built light. It’s an easy to use option for a hobbyist at home. If you’re shooting videos of small products or macro type of videos and photos, then maybe it’s okay. But even with macro photography, you’re going to find the light output to be weak. In fact, LitraTorch 2.0 is fantastic in every single way except for light output. And that’s the unfortunate part. I have free LED flashlights that are stronger than this though not as small. Then there are all the problems that compound with how LEDs still can’t overpower natural lighting even with electronic shutter speeds. As it is, I still don’t trust electric shutters as they create lots of banding issues with artificial lights.

The LitraTorch 2.0 receives three out of five stars. You can pick one up for around $89.