The Elgato Key Light is a powerful WiFi-enabled LED light in a small form factor, designed to bathe the subject of a camera’s frame with a flattering luminescence. That’s my pretentious way of saying “pretty light go brrrrr!” and yet its snappy setup, portable size, and simple application make it one of the most impressive peripherals on my desk.
Why would a key light be on your radar? LED key lights have quickly become one of the best ways to frame a strong focal light without casting too heavy a shadow on the subject. Previously, those big bulky box lights were the hotness that you probably remember from school photos. LED key lights cut the power cost of traditional high-watt box light bulbs, and have a significantly smaller form factor. Most importantly, they can wash a subject in an even light that two or even three separate light sources would normally be required to produce. It effectively evens the field for amateur setups wanting professional camera lighting in smaller spaces.
It’s most essential use for the average Elgato buyer – providing vibrance and life to a streamer’s portrait with a chroma-key-friendly single light source.
As a key light marketed to Elgato’s streaming crowd, it makes sense that it is designed for desk space. The installation is a piece of cake and easily my favourite thing about this light. The light panel can be mounted on any side, attached to a telescopic pole with a generous desk clamp. Gone is the awkwardness of trying to manoeuvre a tripod rig between your desk and wardrobe. Whack in the power and it’s off to the races.
A good key light hides unflattering signs of Vitamin D deficiency
Another small touch that nods to Elgato’s consumer base is the inclusion of every major international power plug connection standard. While it will probably be overlooked by many, a strength of this unit is its portability. The reinforced LED panel and robust frame mean that this light could easily accompany those border-hopping streamers living out their digital nomadism.
Controlling the light is about as complicated as it needs to be for this crowd. The Elgato Control Panel is a simple app that acts as a single dashboard to control a range of Elgato accessories. Even with only this light to test, adding it to the WiFi through the app took seconds. A power button alongside warmth and brightness sliders is all the dashboard offers, but they’re immediately responsive. It is an elegant control panel that has let me spook my partner in the computer room while I’m operating the light from work.
I cannot fault the Elgato Key Light for what it is not. By virtue of its competitive $199 RRP, it is not an RGB key light. With Elgato virtually married to the streaming space, the desk clamp means it will not function without a desk or similar mountable furniture. There are cheaper units that provide the same function in a similar form, but without the ability to enable WiFi control from a range of devices. It runs the standard spectrum of white colour warmth and can emit noticeable heat when seated at your desk.
The control panel is simple yet functional
With the Elgato Key Light, what we see is what we get. A wireless LED single-light professional setup with no gimmicks and an elegant application all around. An essential for streamers and those needing a discreet yet robust desk light on the go, its wider appeal is only limited by its clamp-only setup.
Review unit supplied by the manufacturer