Despite its expensive price, I’ve always adored the Elgato Key Light. It was truly innovative, and it solved a problem that was growing more widespread as streaming grew in popularity.
I’ve previously used big softboxes to light the way, but they’re huge, hot, and extremely impractical to utilize in a household setting. There was no need for any of this with the Key Light, and even better, you could manage your lighting from the same PC you were broadcasting from.
With the addition of the Key Light Mini, the family is now complete. Like the Air, it takes everything excellent about the Key Light and condenses it into a package you can carry around with you at all times. That broadens its appeal much beyond the typical at-desk streamer.
What you’ll like about the Elgato Key Light Mini
From the moment you take this thing out of the box, you’ll notice it’s a high-quality item. I’ve been using a pair of similar-sized LED light panels to brighten up my office for a while, but the difference in hardware quality is night and day.
The Key Light Mini is a big fat hector, but it’s quite sturdy. It also features a built-in diffuser, just like the other Key Light products, which my much less expensive LED panels lack. And you’ll need a diffuser if you don’t want to be blinded all day. And you’d be dazzled because, despite its diminutive size, the Key Light Mini shines brightly. A handful of them in your setup will make a huge difference, with a maximum output of 800 lumens and a color spectrum of 2900-7000K.
Unlike the larger Key Light, all of the necessary controls and connectors are on the side, including a built-in brightness dial for this more portable form. It’s not as important on anything that’ll be fastened to your desk, but it’s a must-have and incredibly handy feature here.
Because IRL streamers and filmmakers will be able to use a Key Light Mini with their camera equipment, this is the case. A conventional tripod thread mount is located on the bottom of the item, allowing you to quickly attach it to your camera’s cold shoe. It charges via USB-C, so it’ll work with your existing chargers and cords, but the built-in battery can last up to four hours depending on how brightly you use it. That’s not too shabby, is it?
You can also use it in “studio mode,” which is just a fancy way of saying that you can use it with AC power.
The Key Light Mini’s smarts, on the other hand, remain its party piece. The Mini, like the other Key Light products, features wireless control by smartphone or PC, as well as full interaction with Elgato’s Stream Deck. The PC application is small and unobtrusive, sitting in the system tray until you need it.
What you won’t like about the Elgato Key Light Mini
There isn’t much to dislike about the Key Light Mini, but there are a few minor flaws that detract from the overall experience. The first is the cost, which has been a point against every other Elgato Key Light.
It’s not cheap
It’s the most affordable Key Light, but the difference between it and the Key Light Air isn’t as significant as you might expect. However, given that this device contains a 4,000mAh battery, you can see where some of that comes back. However, if you’re a PC-based streamer, you’ll need two of these, which is a substantial expenditure.
In addition, there is no stand in the box. While the larger Key Lights are more expensive, they come with one of Elgato’s Multi-Mount arms or the table stand. With the Key Light Mini, such a thing would be impractical, but would it have been too much to throw in a mini-tripod? Especially given the price tag of $100.
However, the lack of a stand is surprisingly inconvenient. I have a spare little tripod that I could use with it, but you’ll need to invest in additional equipment if you want to use it in a studio setting.
You could also just slap some Command strips on the back and affix it to the wall, as I intend to do.
Competition: Elgato Key Light Mini
The Key Light Mini’s only notable competitors are its siblings, the Key Light and Key Light Air. Elgato is the clear top in this category at this time, and while they are an investment, they are well worth it.
Both the Key Light and Key Light Air are substantially larger and intended for use in a studio setting. They may still be a better option if you never plan to generate material away from your setup, but the flexibility the Mini offers while keeping similar performance is hard to dismiss.
Should you buy the Elgato Key Light Mini?
If you’re looking for a unique way to express yourself, this is the book for you
If you’re looking for a unique way to express yourself, this isn’t the product for you
The Key Light Mini is the most visually appealing of Elgato’s Key Light offerings. With the addition of a battery and a reduced size, it’s no longer solely for in-studio video creation, but can now be used by any type of content maker.
It will, regrettably, continue to be expensive, but the quality you will receive cannot be denied. The Key Light Mini is now portable and operates just as well as its larger siblings. If you need it to be bright, it’s bright enough, and it’s just as hands-free as the others.
While I mourn the lack of a tripod or stand, the Key Light Mini is tiny enough to allow you to be more creative with your mounting options. My old mini-LED panels have been discarded; the Key Light Mini is superior in every aspect.
Elgato Key Light Mini
Although it is the most enticing Key Light to date, it still comes at a premium. But it’ll be worth it in the end.