The Nova Wireless Flash for iPhone (Review)
Any photographer worth his or her salt (no salt print pun intended) will tell you that light is the key to great photos. A well lit subject has an appeal, whether it’s a portrait, a landscape, or a product that you’re going to sell; good lighting makes photographs better. The Nova Wireless Flash Unit for iPhone (Nova) excited me when I saw it. I definitely wanted one and I needed one. I’m guessing a lot of other people did as well because they received $85,480 of their $25,000 Kickstarter goal. Not many projects do that well on Kickstarter or any other so-called crowdfunding sites.
I’ve demonstrated the Nova for several people and they love it. I don’t simply run up to unsuspecting friends and coworkers and show them the Nova and give them the elevator speech. I have a clever way of introducing the product: I let them hold it and try to figure out what it is that I’m showing them.
While they’re figuring out what I’ve handed them, I grab my phone, open the Nova app, and snap their picture. It’s always a shock to the system, but after that initial shock, they always want to know all about it and they also want one.
The cool part of it is that the photos are always natural and unexpected, as you can see in the photo of my son analyzing the Nova.
You can also see that, although I didn’t tamper with the default settings and he’s holding the Nova quite close, his face isn’t washed out with light. That’s an amazing feat for camera flash of any kind.
The Nova flash unit is small–about the size of a credit card. It’s also quite thin (less than the iPhone’s thickness). The size makes it easy to handle and use in a variety of situations. You can hold it high to light large areas, you can hold it close for spotlighting, or you can have your subject hold it to get a nice even light for portraits.
The price for the Nova Wireless Flash for iPhone is $59, which to me, is high. I think a better price point would be in the $29 to $39 range, but apparently people knew the price going into the Kickstarter campaign, so I might be wrong. I’m sure that if it’s ever sold on Amazon, the price will be more along the lines of what I’ve suggested.
- Size: 86mm × 53mm × 6.3mm (3.4″ × 2.1″ × 0.25″)
- Weight: 28g (1oz)
- Supported OS: iOS 7
- Supported devices: iPhone 4S/5/5C/5S, iPad 3/4/Mini/Air, iPod Touch 5G
- Wireless communication: Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy
- Battery: Built-in lithium-ion polymer battery
- Charging: USB Micro B cable (included)
You can change the flash settings from Off to custom settings, as shown in the photo. If one of the presets (Default is Warm) doesn’t work for you, you can setup custom lighting conditions that fit your needs.
If you select Custom, you’ll see two sliders that offer a range of brightness and lighting tone. The two scales are: Cool Brightness and Warm Brightness. I suggest that you test a range of custom lighting settings before you attempt to use it on a field shoot. And I’m not telling you that because the settings are random or that they don’t work–they do, but you’ll need to understand what changing the sliders means to the light output that you get.
For those of you who aren’t pro photographer types, “Cool” means that it will have a bluish tone and “Warm” means more yellows/browns in the light.
Experimentation will give you the best results. If you’re in a hurry, my suggestion would be to use the default (Warm) setting or the Bright setting. The Bright setting gives you kind of a standard bright blue light.
Why it’s Frugal: The Nova is frugal if you take a lot of pictures with your iPhone and you require good lighting. The iPhone has a pretty good back-facing camera and some photographers and iPhoneographers use it extensively. The off camera flash gives you the opportunity to use more professional lighting for your shots, without investing hundreds of dollars on light fixtures that are cumbersome and power hungry.
If you’re an avid iPhoneographer and you need better light than the built-in flash can give you, the Nova is a great item to have. It’s there when you need it and it’s not big, bulky, or cumbersome to use. It powers up in a couple of hours via the mini USB cable that’s included and a full charge will carry you through hundreds of well-lit photographs.
Recommendation: Buy it and take your iPhoneography to a whole new level.